Something and Nothing

Even though there is nothing firm to report, the Cardinals front office remains busy.

I am told that while the Cardinals have no deals imminent, that could change with one phone call. The team has a lot of proverbial irons on the hot stove. Those who work in the office expect a long and busy week ahead after which there should be new players on the Cardinals, with others leaving.


Again, these are rumors, not fact. Some or none may eventually come to pass. Please keep that in mind.


Non-tender pitching target – Kyle Lohse?

While I did not see their working list of potential non-tenders, the only pitching name the Cards apparently like is Kyle Lohse. However, they fear that bidding for him will escalate beyond what they would be willing to pay.


In fact, there is a chance that some team will make a push to trade for Lohse on Monday or Tuesday to head off his free agency. But, if so, that team would assume the risk of being taken to arbitration by Lohse, as happened to the Twins last year. For example, Lohse is from Texas and the Rangers have reportedly expressed interest in him in the past.


Second base non-tenders – Willie Harris and Junior Spivey?

The Cards have apparently given thought to Willie Harris and Junior Spivey, two other names on the projected non-tender list. However, they are generally not viewed as improvements over the players they already have. I disagree about Spivey, but they didn't ask me.  


Trade targets – Jose Vidro and Ryan Church?

Another reason they may be less interested in the non-tenders is Jose Vidro. He is apparently the second baseman they want most. The main issue here is medical. They would first need to complete a review of medical records requested from the Nationals, then their own doctors would have to satisfy the front office that Vidro could play enough games over the remaining life of his contract (three years, $23 million) to justify trading for him. 


The Nats reportedly want to move Vidro quickly, with the reason apparently that they want to make a run at free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood. Remember that Washington had previously participated in the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes. But since then, they traded for second baseman Alfonso Soriano, who could earn as much as $10 million if he goes to arbitration.


The Cards have also asked Washington about outfielder Ryan Church, but so far, the Nationals have not shown return interest. It doesn't look like he would hold up a proposed Vidro deal. 


Jeff Suppan and prospects to Baltimore?

This past week, the Cards were reportedly approached by the Orioles about Jeff Suppan. The Orioles dangled reliever Jorge Julio, their former closer. Later, the discussions expanded to include outfielder Jay Gibbons. At that point, the Orioles asked about Chris Duncan, Rick Ankiel, John Gall and Skip Schumaker


It is not clear which names generated positive reinforcement, but I hope all four of them did. The O's also asked about young pitching. This is but one of the many lines being worked, so there is a decent chance it will go nowhere.


Craig Wilson not likely?

As predicted by Ray Mileur last week, the Cardinals apparently do have interest in Pittsburgh infielder/outfielder Craig Wilson. But, they don't think the Pirates will trade with them unless they were overwhelmed. The Cardinals do not seem to be prepared to do that. 


The Austin Kearns and Kevin Mench deals that I covered in detail in Saturday's "What Next" article seem to remain the preferred route to get an outfielder.


Carl Pavano from the Yankees not dead?

The idea of a trade with the New York Yankees for Carl Pavano as discussed here a few days ago is not as much on the back burner as I had thought. The biggest problem is reportedly that the Yankees want a solid minor league centerfielder in the deal. Of course, the Cardinals don't really have one to offer. As a result, the only way the Pavano deal may have a chance of getting serious is if the Yankees acquire a centerfielder elsewhere.


Too bad the Cardinals can't trade for one and move him on to the Yanks.


Ricardo Rincon's physical overdue?

As of the end of last week, new reliever Ricardo Rincon had not surfaced from Mexico to take his physical. That formality is expected to be completed soon, however.


Non-roster invitees – Brian Daubach and Kirk Rueter?

As speculated elsewhere, the Cardinals are interested in both first baseman/outfielder Brian Daubach and lefthanded pitcher Kirk Rueter. The team may offer minor league contracts and non-roster spring training invitations to both.


Left-handed reliever pecking order?

I want to moderate the excitement a bit of those who have been reading the reports (including mine) about Carmen Cali's success in Winter ball. While it is certainly good that Cali is succeeding in the Dominican, be aware that the league's batting leader is Estaban German (.353). That mark is just over 100 points higher than German's career MLB average generated via cups of coffee the last four years. The rest of the names of the league's top ten hitters are even more obscure.


At this point, Tyler Johnson reportedly remains ahead of Cali in the left-handed reliever pecking order. If Rueter signs, Johnson and Cali would be his primary competition to make the team in spring training. This assumes La Russa will come north with 12 pitchers (an almost given if Rule 5 pickup Juan Mateo sticks) and carry three lefties in the pen (not a given).


In summary

Several new players may be joining the Cardinals this coming week and others would be departing as a result. Remember, the roster is currently full at 40.


Brian Walton can be reached via email at


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