Left-handed reliever Carmen Cali and outfielder Larry Bigbie were placed on waivers and removed from the 40-man.
Dennis Dove is coming off an the Arizona Fall League stint during which he allowed just two runs in 9-1/3 innings and held opponents to a collective .129 batting average. However, his stint ended early as a precaution when he reported forearm tightness.
The right-hander was selected by the Cardinals in the third round of the June, 2003 First-Year Player Draft from Georgia Southern University. The 6' 4", 205 pounder began his professional career in 2003 where he went 1-3 with a 3.51 ERA in seven starts for short-season New Jersey. The 2004 season was pretty much a loss as Dove battled an injured right ankle that eventually required surgery.
Dove split the 2005 season between low Class A Quad Cities and high Class A Palm Beach. With the Swing, Dove went 7-5 with a 3.88 ERA in 18 starts, striking out 72 and walking 30 in 102 innings. He then posted a 4.85 ERA in eight starts in the Florida State League. He cracked the organization top ten list in wins (12) and innings (144-2/3) and was the system's June, 2005 Pitcher of the Month.
In 2006, Dove, now 25 years old, returned to Palm Beach, and converted to relief. He did a fine job, posting a 2.81 ERA while striking out 56 and walking just 13 in 51-1/3 innings. That led to a promotion to Springfield, where the going was a lot tougher. Dove was winged for 14 runs in 14-1/3 Double-A innings, fanning 15, but walking eight.
Blake Hawksworth was a former top Cardinals prospect who completed his first injury-free campaign in some time, restoring his luster.
Not only does the 6'3, 195 pound right-hander have one of the coolest names in baseball, but perhaps now Hawksworth can return to his lofty perch. After all, Baseball America named him the #1 prospect in the Cardinals system just three years ago.
Yet, as a result of his many health problems, including an ankle in 2003 and shoulder in 2004, Hawksworth remained unclaimed in last December's Rule 5 draft. A year ago, I labeled 2006 as the make or break year for Hawksworth. He passed the test with flying colors; hence the Cardinals wouldn't dare risk exposing him again.
Still only 23, Hawksworth went a combined 11-4 with a sparking 2.92 ERA between Palm Beach and Springfield. Most importantly, he answered the bell for 27 starts, pitching 163-1/3 innings. During that time, he fanned 121 while walking 50.
Cody Haerther also 23 years of age, was originally selected in the sixth round of the June, 2002 First-Year Player Draft. He moved up quickly before a hairline fracture ended his 2004 campaign prematurely.
The lefty-hitting corner outfielder was on the fast path a year ago, being named to the club's Arizona Fall League roster after the 2005 season. During that regular season, Haerther split his time between Palm Beach (A-Advanced) and Springfield (Double-A), where he put up a combined .307/.355/.538 line, contributing 18 home runs and 67 RBI in 381 at-bats.
The 6'0", 190 pounder went through an uneven 2006 with Springfield, however. He posted a .277/.336/.437 line, and dropped to 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 412 at-bats, yet improved considerably as the season went on. Batting only .234 on July 1, Haerther hit .320, .326 and .333 in July, August and September, respectively.
Overall, Haerther's career batting average remains a very solid .304.
Troy Cate was eligible for minor-league free agency, but was re-signed by the Cardinals just over a month ago. At the same time, the Cardinals also re-inked right-hander Andy Cavazos to a 2007 deal and added him to the 40-man, also.
Now 26 years of age, the lefty is behind many his age due to the fact that he went on a two-year Mormon mission following high school. He signed with the Seattle Mariners after being selected in the sixth round of the 2002 amateur draft.
The finesse lefty's command is considered a plus as his ability to change speeds. His two and four seam fastballs are in the 85-90 MPH range, while his curveball is his strength. Cate's changeup is slightly above average, but his slider is inconsistent.
Cate was suspended for 15 games in 2005 due to a negative test for banned performance-enhancing drugs. He was ranked #29 in Baseball America's Mariners prospects in 2003 and moved up to #26 in 2004 before falling off the map.
Cate was switched from starting to relieving prior to 2005, when he fanned 54 in 42-2/3 innings. However, keeping matters in perspective, it was his fourth season in A-ball.
He was clearly ready for Double-A in 2006 and excelled after his mid-season promotion to Springfield. Cate must have liked the number 127, as that was both his ERA (1.27) and his opposing batting average (.127). His strikeout to walk ratio was an out of this world 4.4.
The Cardinals' 40-man has undergone significant change since the conclusion of the regular season with more to come. At that time, the team had 43 players in total, as three players were on the 60-man disabled list and did not count against the sum. However, after the season, they had to be restored.
Following are the various puts and takes with the 40-man in this off-season so far:
(40) Starting point
(-10=30) Free agents: Jason Marquis, Mark Mulder, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, Gary Bennett, Ron Belliard, Scott Spiezio, Jose Vizcaino, Jim Edmonds (option), Preston Wilson
(+3=33) Restored from the 60-day disabled list: Ricardo Rincon, Rick Ankiel, Larry Bigbie
(-2=31) Removed from the 40-man: John Nelson (Memphis), Mike Rose (free agent)
(+1=32) Added to the 40-man: Andy Cavazos
(+2=34) Re-signed: Jim Edmonds, Scott Spiezio
(+1=35) Signed: Randy Keisler
(+4=39) Added to the 40-man: Troy Cate, Dennis Dove, Blake Hawksworth, Cody Haerther
(-2=37) Removed from the 40-man: Larry Bigbie, Carmen Cali
While this could imply the Cardinals can only bring in three players the rest of the off-season, that is not the case.
There are several players who remain on the 40-man but are at risk of being non-tendered due to eroding performance or limited ceiling and therefore, would be removed from the roster.
Major-leaguers in possible jeopardy: Jorge Sosa, So Taguchi
As a point of reference, one year ago, the at-risk players I identified included Mike Lincoln, Scott Seabol, Bo Hart, Rhett Parrott and Mike Mahoney. All are long gone.
So, if the Cardinals needed to free up four or five more spots on the 40-man beyond the three apparent openings now, that seemingly could be accomplished without sacrificing the team's future.
Another possibility that would increase the 40-man would be if the Cardinals were to decide to be active in the major league phase of the upcoming Rule 5 draft. Last year, pitcher Juan Mateo was selected from the Chicago Cubs and was on the Cardinals' 40-man from December until he was returned in March.
Come back this week for an analysis of the Cardinals' protected players and what that might mean in terms of possible Rule 5 losses.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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