The Cardinals Major League Notebook 11/02

Young outfielder Colby Rasmus, the crown jewel of the Cardinals' farm system, had a mediocre, injury-plagued season at Memphis this year in his first exposure to Class AAA ball. But that doesn't mean that he couldn't make the Cardinals' club out of spring training next year.

In a chat with STL Today (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), general manager John Mozeliak said, "If he shows up in shape (Rasmus had a sprained left knee) and has a strong spring, then you will watch him wear a St. Louis Cardinals uniform."

If that is the case, the Cardinals probably would have an outfielder or two for trade, and they might not even wait that long. Presuming Chris Duncan will be recovered from the surgery he had to repair a disk in his neck area, the Cardinals already have four regular outfielders without Rasmus -- Duncan, Rick Ankiel, Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick.

But Ankiel, too, is coming off surgery for a sports hernia-type condition, so there is no guarantee about his health either. Since he can be a free agent after next season, it's not impossible that the Cardinals would consider moving him.

Ludwick, who hit .299 with 37 homers and 113 RBIs, is the most likely to stay put. All the aforementioned outfielders but Ludwick is a left-handed hitter.

Given the Cardinals' predominance of right-handed power in first baseman Albert Pujols, Ludwick and third baseman Troy Glaus, the outfield must have at least two left-handed-hitting starters.


--The Cardinals are hesitant to make a move for a starting pitcher, pending a further exam on the nerve condition in RHP Chris Carpenter's right shoulder. That exam should take place before the December winter meetings.

--SS Tyler Greene is rising in stature after a good showing in the Arizona Fall League. Green hit .259 for Class AA Springfield and .234 for Class AAA Memphis last season.

--Indications are that the Cardinals won't re-sign SS Cesar Izturis, who played for $2.5 million and was solid defensively but didn't show much pop. St. Louis could be interested in dealing for San Diego SS Khalil Greene, who made $6.5 million but had a terrible season, punctuated by breaking his hand in a snit.

--It's quite possible that the Cardinals would sign one middle infielder and trade for the other. If they were to sign one, it likely would be Felipe Lopez, who hit .385 for the Cardinals in 43 games after being let go by Washington.

--1B Albert Pujols, who had a nerve transposed in his right elbow, said he already was hitting and expected to be ready not only for spring training but to play for the Dominican Republic team in the World Baseball Classic next spring.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- Cardinals who won at least 15 games (RHP Kyle Lohse had 15) and who saved at least 15 (RHP Ryan Franklin had 17).

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I do think there will be reason to be aggressive in the trade market and patient in the free agent market." -- GM John Mozeliak, on early offseason maneuvers.

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