Cardinals Major League Notebook: 12/26/10

Milwaukee is threatening the Cardinals' National League Central pitching supremacy in 2011.


   The Milwaukee Brewers raised some eyebrows in the National League Central when they acquired pitchers Shaun Marcum from Toronto and Zack Greinke from Kansas City. The Brewers' top four of those two, Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf would seem to rival the Cardinals' four best starters although St. Louis also has veteran right-hander Kyle Lohse, a 16-game winner in 2008, healthy for the first time in a couple of years, as its fifth starter.

   But the Cardinals still would seem to have a slight edge over the Brewers and the 2010 division champion, the Cincinnati Reds, too, because they have two of the few National League pitchers who have won 20 or more games in the last decade. Adam Wainwright bagged 20 in 2010 after winning 19 games the year before and Chris Carpenter won 21 in 2005 in capturing the Cy Young Award.

   Add to those two rookie Jaime Garcia, who was 13-8 with a 2.70 earned run average last season, and Jake Westbrook, re-signed to a two-year deal plus an option after posting a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts for the Cardinals following his acquisition from Cleveland in July.

   The Cardinals even have a chance to have the same five-man rotation for the 2012 season, but that would require the club picking up Carpenter's $15 million option when he would be 37 years old.

   If each of the five Cardinals starters for 2011 matches his best season, their win totals would be 85 -- 21 for Carpenter, 20 for Wainwright, 16 for Lohse, 15 for Westbrook and 13 for Garcia.




   --After taking a brief break over the holidays, general manager John Mozeliak will resume the club's quest to sign 1B Albert Pujols to another long-term deal. Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, have said they would not want to negotiate during the regular season. One of the issues might be whether Pujols, who will be playing at age 31, wants to sign a "lifetime" contract with the club. He might see himself getting another contract after his next one.

   --One of the Cardinals' biggest weaknesses last season was that they didn't have a sixth or seventh starter available when a starter or two would break down, as happened on back-to-back days in late May when RHP Brad Penny (for the season) and then RHP Kyle Lohse went out for extended absences. So far, the weakness hasn't been corrected. The leading candidates, so far, would be RHP P.J. Walters, who made just three starts in a couple of tours with the club in 2010, and perhaps RHP Lance Lynn, who is not on the 40-man roster but had 13-10 mark at Class AAA Memphis. Lynn, however, is considered a year away from being ready for the majors.

   --Assistant general manager John Abbamondi, 39, left the club to accept a vice president position with the San Diego Padres, specializing in strategy and business analysis. "It is a very good opportunity for him," Mozeliak said. "I've enjoyed the last three years working with him, and I know he expressed a concern about leaving the baseball side and joining the business side. He can always come back. I told him it's not a door closing on the baseball side, it's just opening a door on the business side." Mozeliak, who was assistant general manager before being promoted to his current position, said he plans to take some time to evaluate candidates for the position, and his intent was to look internally.

   --Abbamondi's departure was the Cardinals' second front-office move of the offseason. Matt Carroll, the manager of professional scouting, left the Cardinals to go to Atlanta's front office.

   --Longshot player to keep an eye on in spring training? OF Adron Chambers, 23, hit .282 at Class AA Springfield and .280 at Class AAA Memphis last season and stole a total of 14 bases.

   BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Outfielders on the 40-man roster who have played more than one full season with the Cardinals (CF Colby Rasmus).

   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just don't think he's ever going to change, and the inability to get serious about things kind of makes people really tired of you." -- RHP Kyle Lohse, speaking in an interview on radio station KFNS about departed SS Brendan Ryan, who was traded to Seattle.




   The Cardinals entered the offseason with one of the best core groups in baseball: 1B Albert Pujols, LF Matt Holliday, RHPs Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter and Gold Glove C Yadier Molina. They have tried to upgrade the supporting cast, particularly by signing outfielder Lance Berkman.

   ARRIVALS: C Gerald Laird (free agent from Tigers), RF Lance Berkman (free agent from Yankees), LHP Brian Tallet (free agent from Blue Jays), SS Ryan Theriot (trade with Dodgers).

   DEPARTURES: INF Brendan Ryan (traded to Mariners), LHP Dennys Reyes (free agent, signed with Phillies), RHP Blake Hawksworth (traded to Dodgers).

   FREE AGENTS: 3B Pedro Feliz, RHP Mike MacDougal, OF Randy Winn, INF Aaron Miles, RHP Jeff Suppan, RHP Brad Penny.

   It is probable that none of them will be brought back.


   McClellan is one of the best middle relievers in the game but doesn't have much in the way of stats covering saves and wins.


   --3B David Freese (right ankle surgery in August 2010, left ankle surgery in September 2010) should be ready for spring training.

   --LHP Jaime Garcia (left arm fatigue), RHP Adam Wainwright (right forearm strain) and C Yadier Molina (right knee inflammation) all were shut down at the end of the season. All are expected to be ready for spring training.

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