Cardinals Major League Notebook: 01/31/10

The St. Louis Cardinals added Rich Hill to the competition for the fifth spot in their 2010 rotation.



   Trying to flesh out their rotation, the Cardinals, without much money to spend after re-signing left fielder Matt Holliday, signed former Cubs and Orioles left-hander Rich Hill to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.


   The move will cost the club no more than $575,000.


   Hill, who turns 30 in March, will receive an opportunity to compete with right-handers Kyle McClellan and Mitchell Boggs and rookie left-hander Jaime Garcia for the last starting spot on a staff, which has right-handed veterans Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny in the other four slots.


   Hill, who was with Baltimore last year, reportedly is healthy after requiring surgery in August to repair a tear in his shoulder cartilage. He compiled a 3-3 record and a 7.80 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) last season with the Orioles. He struck out 46 but walked 40 in 57 2/3 innings.


   In 2007, Hill helped lead the Cubs to the National League Central title when he had an 11-8 record and 3.92 ERA with 183 strikeouts in 195 innings. But the curveballer lasted five starts the next year before control issues forced the Cubs to option him to Class AAA.


   "We feel he's healthy," general manager John Mozeliak said. "He feels that he's stronger than he ever was last year. It's the best he's felt since '07."




   --Although RHP John Smoltz had shown interest in returning to St. Louis after an impressive September and October for the Cardinals last year, it appeared he wasn't going to be re-signed. The Cardinals might have used Smoltz either as a starter or reliever, but the salary numbers didn't seem to match up.


   --The Cardinals will bring 55 players into major league camp, including eight non-roster pitchers. Among the group is RHP Lance Lynn, the organization's pitcher of the year for 2009. Young RHPs Pete Parise and Fernando Salas are considered big-league prospects as relievers.


   --INFs Daniel Descalso, Ruben Gotay, Pete Kozma and Donovan Solano received invitations to camp. The switch-hitting Gotay, signed as a minor league free agent, is given the best chance among non-roster infielders to break camp with the club. Veteran Julio Lugo figures to have one backup infield job, and Gotay likely will be competing with speedy Tyler Greene, who was impressive at times last year in a couple of trials with the Cardinals but was found to be overmatched at the plate.


   --GM John Mozeliak suggested that the Cardinals might make additions to their club during spring training, perhaps even deep into spring training, as other teams may decide to jettison veteran players so they don't have pay them a full season's salary. The Cardinals especially will be on the alert for a left-handed hitter who might be able to play both third base and the outfield.


   --The Cardinals had mild interest in re-signing CF Jim Edmonds, who wound up with Milwaukee.


   BY THE NUMBERS: 66 -- Years since the last time a National League team, the 1942-44 Cardinals, won three straight league titles. Philadelphia has two in a row.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "David's a really good kid. I think he's got a ton of talent. But the off-the-field issues have to be cleaned up, which I think he's doing. Maybe it's something that needed to happen, to show him the reality that it can happen to anybody." -- 2B Skip Schumaker, commenting on 3B David Freese and his alcohol-related arrest in the offseason. 




   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.


   ARRIVALS: RHP Brad Penny (free agent from Giants), LHP Rich Hill (minor league free agent from Orioles).


   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. The others probably are gone.



   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.

   --LHP Rich Hill (left shoulder surgery in August 2009) is expected to be ready for spring training.


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