MLB Insiders - First Order of Business

Although the Cardinals' stated offseason need is starting pitchers -- they need either two or three -- their first order of business was to retain two key offensive components of their World Series championship club.

With the deadline on center fielder Jim Edmonds' $10 million club option for 2007 approaching, general manager Walt Jocketty reworked the contract into a two-year deal that will pay Edmonds a total $19 million through 2008, with $3 million of that deferred at no interest.

Then, a few days later, the Cardinals brought back utility man Scott Spiezio, Edmonds' teammate with both the Angels and the Cardinals. Spiezio, who had filed for free agency, will receive $4.5 million in a two-year deal that has an option for 2009.

While not the offensive force he has been through most of his seven-season Cardinals career, Edmonds still is needed as the center field glue for an outfield defense that is average at best on the corners. Edmonds, who was bothered by post-concussion syndrome, a sore left foot and bad right shoulder this season, recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on the shoulder to have bone shaved from near the arthritic joint of his shoulder blade and collarbone.

Having his shoulder healthy, which it should be at the start of spring training, may enable Edmonds to hit more than the 19 homers he had this season, when he batted .257.

"It's not a major deal," Edmonds said. "I've gone through it before with the other shoulder, so I know what to expect."

Spiezio, who made the club as a non-roster player last spring, was one of the club's key players down the stretch and in the playoffs. He hit 13 home runs for the season and knocked in five runs in the National League Championship Series win over the Mets.

He also became something of a cult figure with his red "soul patch" of hair on his chin.

"You hear the term 'winning player,'" Jocketty said. "Scott showed once again why he has been tabbed with such a label."

Spiezio was one of the heroes of the 2002 Angels' postseason ride to the World Series title.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--The Cardinals' full World Series winners' share of $362,173 set a record, surpassing that of the 2005 White Sox by some $40,000.

--Manager Tony La Russa became the first manager since the award was begun in 1983 not to receive a vote for Manager of the Year, yet direct his team to the World Series title. "It just shows you how lousy I was during the year -- and I was only slightly better in the playoffs," La Russa joked.

--The Cardinals will play their first major league exhibition game next year on Feb. 28 against the Marlins. The club will finish the exhibition schedule with a March 30 game at its Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

--LHP Randy Keisler, 30, signed a one-year contract with the Cardinals. Keisler has had big-league experience with the Yankees, Padres and Reds.

BY THE NUMBERS: 6 -- The Cardinals will have only six interleague games at home next season -- three against the Angels and three against the Royals.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Honestly, he's the best I've ever been around." -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, saluting Detroit's Jim Leyland, who was named American League Manager of the Year.


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