Cardinals Major League Notebook: 01/08/12

Dave Duncan's decision to step aside has injected more uncertainty into the defending World Champions 2012 equation.

INSIDE PITCH

 

With the potential loss for the season of pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is caring for his seriously ill wife, Jeanine, the Cardinals' pitching situation is more fluid than it has been for the last 16 seasons.

Duncan, who asked for a leave of absence for this season, similar to what happened in August and September last year, has handled the staff with La Russa since 1996. The two, who had been together since 1983 with the Chicago White Sox and Oakland, were in concert on many issues although retiring manager La Russa generally thought the closer was the most important pitcher while Duncan often thought it was the top starter.

What will be interesting to watch this spring is how Derek Lilliquist, the new pitching coach, looks at such two-way pitchers as Kyle McClellan, Mitchell Boggs and Lance Lynn, all of whom have started and relieved in the majors in the last couple of years.

All finished the 2011 season in the bullpen and all may well begin there this year as the Cardinals have five veteran starters in place. But Lynn may figure as a starter for 2013 and Boggs might also figure as one before that.

The Cardinals' right-handed side of the bullpen already encompasses closer Jason Motte and set-up men Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez, so it isn't likely to have six righthanded relievers this season.

NOTES, QUOTES

The Cardinals, having lost Jeff Luhnow, vice president of player development, and amateur draft analyst Sig Mejdal to front office jobs in Houston, have named St. Louis native Dan Kantrovitz as director of scouting and Matt Slater as director of player personnel. Kantrovitz, who was drafted by the Cardinals in 2001 out of Brown University, was a member of the Cardinals' front office from 2004-08 when he was director of college scouting. The 33-year-old Kantrovitz, with Oakland the last three seasons, holds a master's degree in statistics from Harvard. Slater joined the Cardinals' organization in 2007 and has held the title of special assistant to the general manager.

Former major league left-hander Brent Strom, who has been an instructor in the organization, was named minor league pitching coordinator and Jamie Pogue, who played in the Cardinals' system as a catcher, has been named bullpen catcher.

From last year's staff, only hitting coach Mark McGwire and third-base Jose Oquendo will remain in their same positions. Mike Aldrete has moved from assistant hitting coach to bench coach and Derek Lilliquist switched from bullpen coach to at least interim pitching coach to replace Dave Duncan, who has requested a leave of absence.

The Cardinals won't be raising their world championship banner until April 13 when they open their home season with Chicago. The club will make stops at Miami (one game), Milwaukee and Cincinnati after leaving spring training.

1B Matt Adams, the organization's minor league player of the year for 2011, is expected to get a long look this spring. Adams, who hit .300 with 32 homers and 101 RBIs at Class AA Arkansas, figures to be the 1B at Class AAA Memphis this season but could be starting for the Cardinals in 2013 if Lance Berkman, the current first baseman, didn't return.

BY THE NUMBERS: .175 - RHP Kyle Lohse's 2011 batting average, highest for a returning Cardinals SP.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You just expect him to be Adam Wainwright. Nothing more. Nothing less."

- New manager Mike Matheny on the return of the RHP who missed all of last season following elbow surgery.

ROSTER REPORT

 

The Cardinals are coming off a World Series title, but general manager John Mozeliak realizes the big turnaround in the season came in late July and early August when the club changed 20 percent of its roster with five additions. Now that first baseman Albert Pujols is gone, the Cardinals are entering a new era, and they replaced some of Pujols' offense by signing OF Carlos Beltran.

 

ARRIVALS:

 

OF Carlos Beltran (free agent from Giants), LHP J.C. Romero (free agent from Rockies).

 

DEPARTURES:

 

1B Albert Pujols (free agent, signed with Angels), RHP Octavio Dotel (free agent, signed with Tigers), C Gerald Laird (free agent, signed with Tigers), INF Nick Punto (free agent, signed with Red Sox).

 

FREE AGENTS:

RHPs Edwin Jackson, OF Corey Patterson, LHP Arthur Rhodes, INF Ryan Theriot.

ARBITRATION ELIGIBLE:

RHP Kyle McClellan, RP Jason Motte.

MEDICAL WATCH:

OF Allen Craig (knee surgery) is out until May.

RHP Adam Wainwright is expected to go to Jupiter, Fla., just after Jan. 1 to begin throwing in earnest. He expects to be ready for spring training.


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