Cardinals Major League Notebook: 01/09/10

What is next for the St. Louis Cardinals after signing a new contract with outfielder Matt Holliday?



   Now that Matt Holliday has signed a seven-year, $120 million deal with the Cardinals, where does that leave Albert Pujols?


   Though the three-time National League Most Valuable Player might command as much as $25 million a year, Cardinals ownership seems confident that it will have enough money left to negotiate an extension with Pujols, who has one year and then a club option year left on his contract.


   To do that, the club might have to commit as much of 40 percent of its payroll to two players for a half dozen or so years.


   "The key is to have enough pre-arbitration players to go with the mature players," club president Bill DeWitt III said. "We feel like we can manage that."


   Club chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said, "I think it's unusual to have that opportunity," referring to the Cardinals being able to give Holliday a large contract, only to have to top it with a prospective pact for Pujols.


   "You see it in the big markets that can go out and do it through free agency. We didn't do it that way. Albert was a draft pick. We got Holliday in a deal and retained him. If you look at our history, that's how it's typically happened."


   Mark McGwire, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen all signed lucrative contracts with the Cardinals after having been acquired by the club in trades.


   Retaining Holliday, who drove in 55 runs and hit .353 in 63 games with the Cardinals, meant that the Cardinals joined the Yankees and Mets as the only clubs with two $100 million players. Pujols is in the later stages of a $100 million, seven-year deal.


   The mid-market club, at least as far as population and television market are concerned, also has a $63.5 million player in Chris Carpenter, who has two years left on his five-year deal.




   --The signing of LF Matt Holliday seemed to preclude the Cardinals signing a veteran infielder to play third base, such as Miguel Tejada or Felipe Lopez. Both are reportedly interested in multiyear contracts, so rookie David Freese, a St. Louisan, is the leading candidate for the job. With the re-signing of Holliday, Freese wouldn't have to move up in the lineup. He might instead be a seventh- or eighth-place hitter.


   --Holliday, citing the impact that CF Jim Edmonds had with the Cardinals in the eight seasons he wore No. 15 for them, has decided not to wear that number this season. He inherited the number last year. This season he will wear No. 7 instead. Holliday wore No. 5 before coming to St. Louis, but he said, "I offered Albert (Pujols) a watch. Apparently, he has one already."


   --The Cardinals are searching for a veteran right-handed reliever to take some of the load from RHP Ryan Franklin, the team's closer, who tired at times late last season.


   --Concerns about the Cardinals' bench are legitimate. So far, the only proven extra men on the roster are backup INF Julio Lugo and C Jason LaRue. The Cardinals are looking for left-handed punch off the bench and might be interested in OF Ryan Church.


   BY THE NUMBERS: $47.5 million -- Combined salaries of LF Matt Holliday, 1B Albert Pujols and RHP Chris Carpenter for next season.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I can't think of a better combo in baseball. You may just have to walk both of them." -- RHP Adam Wainwright, on the Cardinals' 1-2 punch of 1B Albert Pujols and LF Matt Holliday.




   The Cardinals didn't have many needs as the season ended although they probably could use one more veteran starting pitcher to go with RHPs Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. RHPs Joel Pineiro and Todd Wellemeyer, who filled out the rotation, both likely will be gone as free agents.


   BIGGEST NEEDS: Third base becomes a question mark with Mark DeRosa having left as a free agent.


   ARRIVAL: RHP Brad Penny (free agent from Giants).


   DEPARTURES: RHP Brad Thompson (released, signed minor league deal with Royals), INF Joe Thurston (free agent, signed minor league deal with Braves), 3B Troy Glaus (free agent, signed with Braves), INF Mark DeRosa (free agent, signed with Giants).


   FREE AGENTS: RHP Joel Pineiro, RHP Todd Wellemeyer, RHP John Smoltz, INF Khalil Greene, OF Rick Ankiel.

   The Cardinals have some interest in Smoltz. The others probably are gone.


   ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: OF Ryan Ludwick, 2B Skip Schumaker.

   Schumaker will make more as a second baseman than an outfielder. Ludwick likely will get close to $7 million and might have to be traded for payroll relief if Holliday signs a multiyear deal.


   IN LIMBO: OF Ryan Ludwick, a candidate to be traded last year, could be dealt this time. RHP Josh Kinney, a playoff hero in 2006, probably won't return.




   --1B Albert Pujols (arthroscopic right elbow surgery in October 2009) should be back at full strength for spring training.

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