MLB Insiders - Cardinals Reassessing?

"We thought we had a pretty good shot at Schmidt," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We're kind of reassessing where we are."

The Cardinals made a strong bid for free agent right-hander Jason Schmidt and took a quick look at outfielder Barry Bonds but left the winter meetings at Disney World without either of them, or anybody else of substance.

The Cardinals reportedly offered Schmidt some $42 million for three years, or a contract slightly higher on average than the one they gave staff ace Chris Carpenter a few days earlier. Schmidt wound up signing a three-year, $47 million deal with the Dodgers.

"We thought we had a pretty good shot at Schmidt," Cardinals general manager Walt Jocketty said. "We're kind of reassessing where we are."

The Cardinals weren't really serious players for Bonds, but manager Tony La Russa admitted he was intrigued by the possibility of adding Bonds to the lineup. La Russa added, though, that Bonds would be playing for "pennies," relatively speaking, in St. Louis, and Jocketty said, "We don't have money for Bonds. We're trying to sign pitching."

Bonds returned to San Francisco on a one-year, $16 million deal.

St. Louis remained in the hunt for Arizona free agent right-hander Miguel Batista. The Cardinals' biggest signing of the week actually was the extension of Carpenter's contract through 2011, with an option for 2012 at a total value of nearly $65 million, with a chance for it to reach $78 million if the option is picked up. Carpenter had one more year and a club option remaining on his current contract.

"It's a great feeling," Carpenter said, "knowing that you have people believe in you that much to invest what they've invested in me to have me around."

Jocketty said, "It's something we felt was very important to do. It's something we've wanted to do for a long time."


--RHP Russ Springer, a middle reliever who pitched for St. Louis in 2003, returned to the Cardinals as a free agent. Springer, 38, agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal. He was 1-1 with a 3.47 ERA this year with the Astros, one of seven teams he's pitched for in a 14-year major league career.

--Manager Tony La Russa said that, pending the acquisition of a few more starting pitchers, he intends to stretch out relievers Adam Wainwright, Brad Thompson and Braden Looper as potential starters in spring training. Looper has made only 12 professional starts, all at Class A Prince William, his first minor league team, in 1997.

--The Cardinals and Indians will play the first exhibition game in what is planned to be an annual event honoring the civil rights movement when they meet March 31 in Memphis, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. The Cardinals will play their Triple-A Memphis affiliate the night before that exhibition and now will have no off day before they open the season at home against the Mets on April 1.

--La Russa said that after an entire spring's work, converted 1B Chris Duncan will be "at least average" in the outfield.

--The Cardinals had interest in RHP Octavio Dotel before he signed with Kansas City. They also pursued OF Luis Gonzalez, but he signed with the Dodgers.

--La Russa is the final year of his contract and will be starting his 12th season as Cardinals manager. He said he hadn't thought about an extension of his deal.

BY THE NUMBERS: 51 -- Of RHP Chris Carpenter's 100 career victories, 51 have come with the Cardinals and 49 with Toronto. But he has lost only 18 times with the Cardinals after losing 50 with the Blue Jays.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Getting Kip Wells is a first step. That was a nice first step." -- RHP Chris Carpenter, on the Cardinals' offseason attempts to rebuild their starting staff.


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.

ARRIVALS: 2B Adam Kennedy (free agent from Angels), RHP Kip Wells (free agent from Rangers), UT Eli Marrero (minor league free agent from Mets), RHP Russ Springer (free agent from Astros; pending physical).


BIGGEST NEEDS: The Cards need starting pitchers to go with RHPs Chris Carpenter, Anthony Reyes and Wells, as RHP Adam Wainwright might stay in the bullpen. Signing one of two free agent pitchers, RHP Jeff Weaver or RHP Jeff Suppan, seems paramount. There is also need for another outfielder.

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

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.

RHP Kip Wells, who had foot surgery, should be ready for spring training.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories