Cardinals Major League Notebook: 01/24/10

Three former Cardinals found new homes as free agents – Khalil Greene, Joel Pineiro and Rick Ankiel.



   Three of the Cardinals' free agents signed with other teams in a 48-hour span.


   Infielder Khalil Greene, sent home by the Cardinals after being left off the playoff roster last fall, signed a one-year contract with the Rangers. Right-hander Joel Pineiro signed on with the Angels for two years, and the Rick Ankiel era ended after 11 seasons when the outfielder agreed to a one-year deal with the Royals.


   The Cardinals had little or no interest in retaining Greene, who twice was disabled with what was termed a social anxiety disorder. They didn't have much interest in negotiating with 15-game winner Pineiro when Pineiro wanted more than a one-year deal. And Ankiel really didn't want to return to the Cardinals, with little playing time seemingly available to him with the emergence of young center fielder Colby Rasmus and the re-signing of left fielder Matt Holliday.


   General manager John Mozeliak didn't make an offer to Pineiro, pointing out that the Cardinals had obligations to three starting pitchers through 2012 -- right-handers Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse. That's why the club signed right-hander Brad Penny to a one-year deal, reportedly worth $9 million.


   Ankiel had been with the Cardinals organization since it drafted him as a high school pitcher from Port St. Lucie (Fla.) High in 1997. He made it to the majors as a 20-year-old in 1999 and was 11-7 in his only full season as a pitcher in 2000, helping the Cardinals to the National League Central title.


   But it all unraveled for Ankiel in the playoffs that year, as his control and command disappeared after he worked two scoreless innings in Game 1 of the NL Division Series. In three postseason appearances covering a total of four innings, Ankiel gave up seven runs, walked 11 and threw nine wild pitches.


   In 2001, he was sent back to the minors and he battled various arm problems before quitting as a pitcher and re-inventing himself as an outfielder in the spring of 2005. Again on the fast track, Ankiel made it back to the majors as an outfielder in 2007, hitting a three-run homer in his first game as a position player.


   Ankiel, 30, ran into a wall at Busch Stadium last May and never recovered his groove, finishing with a .231 average, 11 homers and 38 RBIs for 122 games.




   --General manager John Mozeliak has between $2 million and $3 million left to procure any bench and pitching help for next season. He's expected to look for a veteran to challenge rookie David Freese at third base.


   --Besides working on his swing with new hitting coach Mark McGwire, SS Brendan Ryan has found himself adopting the stance of three-time Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols. "I started doing what Albert did (last year), and I started taking better swings," Ryan said.


   --RHP Brad Penny, the only starting pitcher signed by the Cardinals as a free agent this offseason, said he's receptive to any ideas formulated by pitching coach Dave Duncan.

   "I've heard some great things about (Duncan), and I'm definitely going to listen to him," Penny said.


   --OF Ryan Ludwick agreed to a $5.45 million contract, avoiding arbitration.


   --2B Skip Schumaker filed for arbitration at $2.75 million, while the club was offering $1.45 million.


   --3B David Freese, considered the leading candidate to start at third, said he hadn't had a drink since his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on Dec. 14 in St. Louis County.

   "I take full responsibility for the mistake," Freese said.


   BY THE NUMBERS: 210 -- Runs batted in by OF Ryan Ludwick in the last two seasons.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I imagine it will go north of where we went with (Matt) Holliday." -- GM John Mozeliak, answering a fan's question about 1B Albert Pujols' next contract.




   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), INF Khalil Greene (free agent, signed with Rangers), OF Rick Ankiel (free agent, signed with Royals), RHP Joel Pineiro (free agent, signed with Angels).


   FREE AGENTS: RHP Todd Wellemeyer, RHP John Smoltz.

   The Cardinals have some interest in Smoltz.



   Schumaker filed for arbitration at $2.75 million, while the club was offering $1.45 million.




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

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