INSIDERS - Cardinals Roster Report

Despite being the World Series champions, the Cardinals have many holes to fill for next year, both on the mound and at two or more positions.

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Cards need three starting pitchers to go with RHPs Chris Carpenter and Anthony Reyes, the only two they control, other than RHP Adam Wainwright, who may stay in the bullpen.

There is also need for another outfielder, and a second baseman if Ronnie Belliard isn't re-signed.

Signing one of two free agent pitchers, RHP Jeff Weaver or RHP Jeff Suppan, seems paramount.

FREE AGENTS: RHPs Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan and Jason Marquis, LHP Mark Mulder, 2B Ronnie Belliard, OF Preston Wilson, INF Jose Vizcaino, C Gary Bennett.

Marquis is certainly gone. Mulder, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, might have interest in returning to the Cardinals on an incentive-laden basis. Wilson and Vizcaino probably are gone, though there may be some interest in Wilson. The others might be back, although Suppan and Weaver may have priced themselves out of the Cardinals' market with their strong postseason performances.

ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF So Taguchi, OF Larry Bigbie, INF Aaron Miles, RHP Jorge Sosa and (possibly) C Yadier Molina, LHP Randy Flores and RHP Josh Hancock.

The last three could be "super-twos," although probably not. Sosa and Miles might be tendered a contract, Taguchi probably not and the oft-injured Bigbie surely not. If Molina, Flores and Hancock are arbitration-eligible, they all would be re-signed.

IN LIMBO: Trade bait is marginal. RF Juan Encarnacion, a postseason disappointment, could go, although the last two years of his three-year, $15 million contract are backloaded. Probably nobody is on the market else unless the Cardinals don't feel they can play OF Chris Duncan every day because he is such a poor fielder. His market mostly would be to the American League as a designated hitter or as a first baseman.

PROSPECT WATCH: CF Skip Schumaker was impressive on the U.S. team that played in the Olympic qualifying tournament. He has speed and defensive ability and should make the club next year. LHP Chris Narveson, who was the best pitcher on a bad Triple-A team at Memphis, looked good in a late-season start at Houston and might make the rotation or the bullpen next season.


LHP Mark Mulder, who had rotator cuff surgery, thinks he'll be back early in the season, but he is a free agent and may not be re-signed.

RHP Jason Isringhausen, who had left hip surgery, may miss the first month of the season.

CF Jim Edmonds had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Nov. 15, and he may have to have something done to his left foot, which pained him late in the season.

RF Juan Encarnacion is expected to have something done to his left wrist.

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