Since Ray Lankford is still out there, and many entrants selected him to return, we had to wait until March 1 to declare our winners. That time has finally come.
The reader with the most correct answers wins a copy of Rob Rains' book, "Cardinal Nation" (2nd edition). Second prize is two "Go Cards" Rally Bands as sold by Hardees this fall.
To recap, three free-agents, Cal Eldred, John Mabry and Matt Morris, have returned to the Cardinals. Tony Womack signed with the New York Yankees, Woody Williams joined the San Diego Padres and Steve Kline inked a deal with Baltimore Orioles.
Only three readers predicted many as three of the eight, and as a result, tied for first place. Two of the readers correctly identified the three Cardinals' returnees. They are J Koch and David Sueme. Christian D also correctly selected three. He missed on Matt Morris, but gets a big nod for being the only entrant to put Woody in San Diego.
Actually, there is a fourth contest participant who has also three correct answers. It is none other than The Birdhouse's Ray Mileur, who was the only person who correctly called the Renteria signing in Boston. I am refusing to recognize that one, though.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are ten readers, myself included, who managed just one correct answer. Only because of the widely-expected return of John Mabry, not a single predictor was shut out.
Womack, Matheny and Kline were the longest shots, as not a single contestant correctly identified their new teams in advance.
The margin of difference between the winners was razor thin. Sueme has been in the driver's seat for weeks as he was the only leader who had Lankford playing in 2005 (for the Cardinals). However, Lankford's (or the Cardinals') inaction cost Sueme his edge.
As a result, the selection of the winner from the three finalists fell to the tiebreaker question; the number of free agents from other teams that the Cardinals signed to major-league deals by March 1. The correct answer is four; catcher Einar Diaz, reliever Mike Myers, shortstop David Eckstein and second baseman Mark Grudzielanek.
Therefore, our grand prize winner is J Koch, who correctly selected four as the tiebreaker. He'll receive Rob Rains' book in recognition of his prodigious prognostication skills. Congratulations!
Both David Sueme and Christian D guessed two free agents and as a result, ended up deadlocked for second. They'll each receive a pair of Hardees "Go Cardinals" Rally Bands.
Thank you to all the many readers who participated in this contest and again, congratulations to all three winners!