The Redbird Report 12/15

The Cardinals rearranged the furniture on their bench a bit when they didn't offer a contract to valuable utility man Aaron Miles.

The switch-hitting Miles, who turned 31 on Dec. 15, hit .290 in 133 games last season as a quasi-regular and even made in two pitching appearances. Miles' normal position is second base, although he filled in at shortstop and third base due to injuries, committing 14 errors in all. He is considered a much better offensive player than a defender.

If they had offered Miles a contract, the Cardinals probably would have had to pay him more than $1 million. Instead, one of their backup infielders now is likely to be Brendan Ryan, who hit .289 after coming up from Class AAA Memphis. Ryan's natural position is shortstop, although he, too, filled in at second and third and made 10 errors in all.

Ryan, 25, provides more speed than Miles, and he stole seven bases in seven attempts after swiping 17 at Class AAA.

A right-handed batter, Ryan may platoon with newly signed Cesar Izturis, a switch hitter, at shortstop. Ryan started 15 games at second base, 17 at shortstop and 18 at third base.

General manager John Mozeliak said, "At this point, we're just looking to add flexibility. If we can subtly do some things to change the way the team looks, we'll look at that. We're not closing the door on other moves right now."


--The latest free agent pitcher the Cardinals have been investigating is RHP Matt Clement, who did not pitch last season after undergoing extensive shoulder surgery in September 2006 while he was with Boston.

--There may be another left-handed Flores in the Cardinals bullpen. LHP Ron Flores, 28 years old to Randy Flores' 32, was signed to a minor league contract. The younger Flores fanned 15 in 17 1/3 innings while pitching for Oakland, and he compiled a 2.72 ERA while pitching most of the season at Class AAA Sacramento.

--Chip off the old block: The Cardinals signed left-handed-hitting 1B/OF Chris Gibson, who hit .260 for the independent Gateway Grizzlies last season. Gibson is the son of Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson.

--C Mark Johnson was signed to a minor league contract but is likely to vie with free agent signee Jason LaRue to be the backup to regular C Yadier Molina.

--The Cardinals filled out their front office by appointing Moises Rodriguez as director of international operations and Juan Mercado as scouting supervisor for Latin America.

BY THE NUMBERS: .313 -- INF Aaron Miles' batting average with men in scoring position. Miles wasn't tendered a contract offer.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There are some uncertainties in our organization about how things are going to fall into place. My advice would be: The more confused it is, the simpler you keep it." -- Manager Tony La Russa talking about the job facing new GM John Mozeliak.

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