Manager Tony La Russa will return
for a 15th season, which wasn't a big surprise other than that he signed for
just one more year rather than the customary two- or three-year deals he had
But the big surprise was that La
Russa lured former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire away from eight years out of
the game and hired him as his sixth hitting coach in those 15
One of the issues, of course, is
that McGwire will be buttonholed, at least initially, with questions about
steroids -- a topic McGwire basically has refused to discuss before. While
McGwire was not at the press conference announcing the rehiring of La Russa and
the retention of the entire coaching staff, sans hitting coach Hal McRae, club
officials made it clear that McGwire, 46, would be available to the media later
This presumably would take place
after the World Series.
"By no means is he trying to hide,
and by no means are we trying to hide him," general manager John Mozeliak said.
"How he answers questions is really going to be up to him. But if you look at
how (the organization) is trying to push this, we look at what he's contributed
to the game of baseball and look at it in a very positive way. More importantly,
we think his attributes can make us better. None of us ... know exactly what
happened in the past, and what we do know is that he is very energetic. ... We
recognize Mark's importance in the game and the legacy he
Commissioner Bud Selig, a longtime
fan of McGwire, said he was "delighted that Mark's coming back to the
"I give (manager) Tony La Russa a
lot of credit and (chairman) Bill DeWitt a lot of credit for making this happen.
I was -- and am -- very supportive of their decision. I wish everybody well.
When Mark was there, I had a lot of affection and admiration for
Selig said he had no problem with
McGwire being hired despite the persistent linking of McGwire to a steroids
culture that once had engulfed the game.
"I'm proud of where the sport is,"
Selig said. "We had two or three positive (drug) tests all year, and we've since
banned amphetamines. The culture has completely changed.
"I have no misgivings about this
at all. Mark McGwire is a very, very fine man, and the Cardinals are to be
--Pitching coach Dave Duncan, like
manager Tony La Russa, will return for a 15th season with the Cardinals.
been with La Russa since 1983, when the two were with the Chicago White Sox.
They later worked together in Oakland.
La Russa said he came back, in
part, because of the tradition of the Cardinals, including the many Hall of
Famers who are still actively involved with the club.
"You've got to be a mummy not to
be affected by that," La Russa said. "The next guy to manage is going to be
lucky. Selfishly, to heck with them. I'm going to take
--INF Mark DeRosa had surgery to
repair a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. DeRosa, a potential free agent,
will be ready for spring training, although general manager John Mozeliak has
said that St. Louisan David Freese would get a real shot to win the third base
job next spring.
--Hal McRae, dismissed after five
years as hitting coach, left without complaint. "The way I look at this is that
it was a good five years. When it's over, it's over," McRae said. McRae
indicated he wanted to keep coaching.
--1B Albert Pujols did not have
the serious elbow surgery that had been feared. Instead, he had some bone chips
and spurs removed by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and said he would be ready for spring
training. After telling a Dominican
Republic radio station that he was not "desperate" to sign
a contract extension, Pujols told a St. Louis radio station that he wanted to finish his career
as a Cardinal. The two-time Most Valuable Player who surely will win a third MVP
crown this year is signed for one more season, plus a club
--C Bryan Anderson, who has been
at Class AAA the past two seasons, is trying to restore his image as a prospect
by playing in the Arizona Fall League after suffering from shoulder issues much
of the 2009 season. Anderson had five hits in his first 12 AFL
BY THE NUMBERS: 28 -- Consecutive
seasons manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan will have been
together when the 2010 campaign begins.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's relentless
with his work. He goes until you're tired. He'll be there all day long if you
need him, and he doesn't leave until he knows you're ready." -- 2B Skip Schumaker, on new hitting coach Mark McGwire, with whom he has worked for
several years in the offseason.
The Cardinals didn't have many
needs as the season ended although they probably could use one more veteran
starting pitcher to go with RHPs Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. RHPs Joel Pineiro and Todd Wellemeyer, who filled out the rotation, both
likely will be gone as free agents.
BIGGEST NEEDS: When the Cardinals
were dismissed early from the playoffs, they set the wheels in motion to try to
re-sign free-agent LF Matt Holliday and also 3B Mark DeRosa. Holliday, however,
seemed likely to go into the open market.
FREE AGENTS: Free agents likely to
file are RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Todd Wellemeyer, RHP John Smoltz, C Jason LaRue,
INF Khalil Greene, INF Mark DeRosa, 3B Troy Glaus, OF Rick Ankiel, LF Matt
Holliday. The Cardinals have large interest in keeping Holliday and DeRosa and
some interest in both LaRue and Smoltz. The others probably are
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Brad Thompson, 2B Skip Schumaker, OF Ryan Ludwick.
Thompson, left off the postseason
roster, probably won't be tendered. Schumaker will make more as a second baseman
than an outfielder. Ludwick likely will get close to $7 million and might have
to be traded for payroll relief if Holliday signs a multi-year
IN LIMBO: Thompson won't be back.
Ludwick, a candidate to be traded last year, could be dealt this time. RHP Josh Kinney, a playoff hero in 2006, probably won't return.
3B Mark DeRosa (left wrist surgery
in October 2009) should be ready for spring training.
1B Albert Pujols (arthroscopic
right elbow surgery in October 2009) should be back at full strength for spring