Cardinals Sign Franklin, Ankiel and Cabrera

Pitcher Ryan Franklin receives a major league contract while outfielder Rick Ankiel and utilityman Jolbert Cabrera get minor league deals.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced that they have agreed to terms with right-handed swing man Ryan Franklin on a major league deal, while also signing Rick Ankiel and utility infielder Jolbert Cabrera to minor league contracts. All signed one-year deals and received invitations to Spring Training.

Franklin, 34, split the 2006 season between Philadelphia and Cincinnati, appearing in a career-high 66 games while going a combined 6-7 with a 4.54 ERA in 77.1 IP (10th among N.L. relievers).

Franklin has compiled a career mark of 41-57 with a 4.35 ERA in 247 games, including 106 games started. He started 30 or more games for the Seattle Mariners from 2003-05 and logged over 200 innings pitched in both 2003 and 2004.

"Ryan's a durable pitcher who can help us in a number of ways," said Cardinals general manager Jocketty. "We'll bring him to camp and see where he is best suited to help our staff."

Pending the re-signing of Jeff Weaver and the expected first-half rehab of Mark Mulder, Franklin gives the Cardinals another starting option for the number five position in the rotation in addition to stated Spring Training candidates Braden Looper and Brad Thompson. Franklin was suspended for ten games during the 2005 season for a first-offense steroids violation.

Ankiel, 27, missed the entire 2006 season due to a left knee injury suffered in spring training. In 2005, he batted a combined .259 with 21 home runs and 75 RBI at Double-A Springfield and Single-A Quad Cities in his first full season as an outfielder.

Expect Ankiel to return to Springfield in 2007 to demonstrate his health.

Cabrera, 34, looks to return to the Major Leagues after spending the last two seasons playing in Japan. He batted .260 with eight home runs and 50 RBI while playing for the Fukuoka Hawks last season and .297 with eight home runs and 58 RBI for the Hawks in 2005.

Cabrera last appeared in the States as a reserve with the Seattle Mariners in 2004. Perhaps his finest season came in 2003 with the Dodgers, when he batted a career-high .282 with 32 doubles, six home runs and 37 RBI while playing seven different positions. Cabrera owns a .258 lifetime batting average with 15 home runs and 145 RBI in 561 career Major League games.

Cabrera's younger brother Orlando is the shortstop for the Los Angeles of Anaheim. Both brothers were originally drafted by the Montreal Expos organization.

With fellow right-handed utilityman Scott Spiezio already inked to a two-year deal, Cabrera seems a redundant addition to the Cardinals. If he sticks, look for him to serve as an injury reserve at Memphis (Triple-A) in 2007.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

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