Cardinals Sign LaRue

The St. Louis Cardinals have re-upped with catcher Jason LaRue, bringing back the veteran for a third season as Yadier Molina’s backup, and they have signed six-year free agent Ruben Gotay to a minor-league deal that comes with an invitation to major-league spring training.

Both players were signed to one-year deals, the club announced this afternoon.

The return of LaRue was reported earlier here at Cardinal Beat and also this morning on the club’s official Twitter feed (@MLBSTLCardinals). The Cardinals had expressed an interest in exploring options at backup catcher, possibly looking for an offensive upgrade or a catcher that could handle more innings. Molina led the National League in starts at catcher this past season, and he finished second in the NL in innings caught to Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.

Financial terms of the deals were not immediately known. LaRue is coming off a deal that paid him $950,000.

Gotay, 26, spent last season with Class AAA Reno, where he played both second base and third base. Gotay has nearly years of major-league experience, including stints with the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets. In 2009, he hit .272 in Triple-A with a compelling .429 on-base percentage and a .450 slugging. He had 11 home runs and 29 doubles for Reno, but he also had more walks (102) than hits (101). He struck out 69 times. As a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions in the field he fits the mold of players who have made the major-league roster out of spring training before, from Abe Nunez and Aaron Miles to lefthanded-hitting Joe Thurston.

                        Gotay has a career average of .255 with a career .315 on-base percentage in 316 big-league games.

Hall Of Fame Ballot Announced

Today, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2010 ballot which contains 27 players. Any player getting votes on 75% of the ballots submitted will be admitted to the Hall in the Class of 2010. Here’s the complete list:
*Roberto Alomar
*Kevin Appier
Harold Baines
Bert Blyleven
*Ellis Burks
Andre Dawson
*Andres Galarraga
*Pat Hentgen
*Mike Jackson
*Eric Karros
*Ray Lankford
*Barry Larkin
*Edgar Martinez
Don Mattingly
*Fred McGriff
Mark McGwire
Jack Morris
Dale Murphy
Dave Parker
Tim Raines
*Shane Reynolds
*David Segui
Lee Smith
Alan Trammell
*Robin Ventura
*Todd Zeile

In this 2010 class of Hall Of Fame Players I only see maybe a handful of players that ight get some consideration. Here are my picks.

Seventeen years in the bigs and a seven time All-Star MVP puts Roberto into the limelight. He had 11 Gold Gloves in a row from 1991 to 2001.  He has maintained high batting averages in his career and was always known as one of the best defensive fielding 2B during the 90’s. My pick would be with Alomar.

Barry Larkin batted .295 with 198 home runs and 960 RBIs over his 19-year career with the Reds. Barry would also get voted in at the top.

Here are my maybes:
Andre Dawson
Fred McGriff
Lee Smith

I was a Lee Smith fan when he was a Cardinal, so I do wish him a lot of luck in getting into the Hall. Heres to you Lee Smith!!!

Here’s To Lee Smith!!

Cardinal Team Report

Now that Pujols has captured his third National League Most Valuable Player award and second in succession, the temptation is to turn to Pujols’ contract status. But the 29-year-old slugger, signed for 2010 with a club option for 2011, says he’s in no hurry to negotiate an extension.
“They don’t need to deal with me right now,” Pujols said. “They need to deal with their free agents (such as Matt Holliday. What do we need? Or what did we miss to get to the next level, which is the World Series? That’s kind of where I am.
“This is my place. This is where I want to be. I don’t hide that. I’m still going to be a Cardinal for two more years and hopefully 15 more years—if I can play that long —and retire as a Cardinal.”
General manager John Mozeliak said he has received the same message from Pujols’ representatives, the Beverly Hills Sports Council. There is no rush to push for an extension.
“I think our goals are all the same,” Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re going to want him to be here.
“We want to do it when we think the time is right. Right now, he does not want the organization to feel that we need to be focusing on anything else but putting our club together.”
Pujols, who tied Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial at three MVP awards, won his first NL home run title this year with 47. He also hit .327 with 135 RBIs, and he led the league with a .443 on-base percentage and a .658 slugging percentage.

General manager John Mozeliak did not make any offers in the early going of free agency. “There’s a level of patience right now,” he said. “There’s a sense. … that the (market) might be slow to develop.”

Of their own free agents, the Cardinals would have the most interest, in order, in LF Matt Holliday, INF/OF Mark DeRosa and RHP John Smoltz. With David Freese likely to get a shot to be the regular at third base next spring, DeRosa would be perceived as either a utility player or a fall-back in left field if Holliday isn’t re-signed.

The Cardinals have large interest in keeping Holliday and DeRosa and some interest in both LaRue and Smoltz. The others probably are gone.

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.

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.

Hail, Hail King Albert!!!

As he explained why he would intentionally walk Albert Pujols even when baseball tradition and accepted strategy screamed not to, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre offered a seven-word defense of his action: “Albert is in a class by himself.” If Pujols wasn’t then, he took a step closer to it Tuesday.
The St. Louis Cardinals first baseman won his second consecutive and his third career National League MVP Award, sweeping the first-place votes from all 32 writers around the NL cities. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America made the announced Tuesday afternoon on its Web site. The vote, as expected, wasn’t close, with Pujols out-distancing other candidates such as Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder and Florida’s Hanley Ramirez.
Pujols becomes the 10th player in the eight decades of the award to win three MVPs. Only Barry Bonds, who has seven MVPs in his career, has more than Pujols, Stan Musial and the seven other players also tied with three.
Only Musial and Mickey Mantle have three MVPs and three runnerup finishes like Pujols. Musial finished second in the voting four times. Pujols has eight top-five finishes in the MVP voting, and that ranks third behind Musial’s nine top-five finishes and Mantle’s nine top-five finishes.
Pujols is the first unanimous selection since Bonds in 2002. He is the seventh player to win the NL award unanimously, joining fellow Cardinal Orlando Cepeda (1967), Bonds and four others: Carl Hubbell (1936), Mike Schmidt (1980), Jeff Bagwell (1994) and Ken Caminiti (1996).
The MVP punctuates an offseason that has included the annual harvest of awards for Pujols. Earlier this month, he won a Silver Slugger, the Hank Aaron Award for the NL and, this past weekend in St. Louis, a National Sportsmanship Award.
Pujols joins Musial as the only Cardinals to win three MVPs in their career. Only the Cardinals and the New York Yankees now can boast multiple three-time winners in their club’s history.

Anaheim Angels Give Hudler Some Wings

According to a statement from Fox Sports and sent, it says, on behalf of Fox Sports West and the Angels, Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc will no longer cover Angels games for the local sports network.

The statement read:

“We are going in a different direction next season and will use single announcing teams on TV and radio that will include Rory Markas and Mark Gubicza on Fox Sports West and KCOP and Terry Smith and Jose Mota calling the action on radio (KLAA AM 830). We believe this approach will create greater consistency on our telecasts, as well as a deeper familiarity with fans and viewers. We would like to thank Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc for their contributions through the years and we wish each of them well.”

Royals Sign Brad Thompson

The Royals, anxious to deepen their pitching options, have agreed to a Minor League contract with former Cardinals right-hander Brad Thompson.
He was a free agent after five years with St. Louis.
Thompson, 27, had a 2-6 record and a 4.84 ERA last season in 32 games including eight starts for the Cardinals.
He will not go on the 40-man roster but is expected to be invited to the Major League Spring Training camp.
In five years with the Cardinals, Thompson compiled a 21-17 record and 4.36 ERA in 185 games (32 starts). He posted his best numbers as a rookie in 2005 when he was 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA and his only big league save in 40 relief appearances.
Thompson has postseason experience including two-thirds of a scoreless inning in the 2006 World Series against Detroit. He appeared in the National League Division Series and League Championship Series in 2005 and 2006.

Brazilian Baseball

Brazilians may one day join other Latin Americans as top major league baseball players if an academy to be opened by the Tampa Bay Rays in Marilia is successful. “We feel Brazil can be a real hotbed for baseball talent,” Rays’ Senior Vice President Gerry Hunsicker said on Tuesday at a news conference to announce the Rays would be the first Major League Baseball team to open a training camp in Brazil.
Andres Reiner, a Rays’ special assistant, said there was no reason why Brazil could not produce top baseball players since the country has champion athletes in sports such as soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball and motor racing.
“I an convinced there is a tremendous potential there. We need to teach the youngsters because they don’t know the game,” Reiner said.
No Brazilian has ever played Major League Baseball but a few have played in the minor leagues.
The Rays recently signed their first Brazilian player, 19-year old Leonardo Reginatto, who plays in Venezuela.
Baseball is mainly played in the southern half of Brazil where it is popular among the country’s Japanese community.
The Marilia academy will be similar to those the Rays and other major leagues teams have in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
The $750,000 facility will have four baseball fields and dormitory rooms for 40 players. Two of the fields will be used to coach young Brazilians between the ages of six and 13.
Marilia Mayor Mario Bulgarelli said he was happy to have the academy in his city of 250,000, which is about 230 miles northwest of Sao Paulo.
“Marilia can be the center to develop baseball,” Bulgarelli said through a translator as he signed an agreement with the Rays for the academy.

Where Are They Now?…………Gregg Jefferies

The man who once was The Next Great Met and the player Davey Johnson thought could hit .300 standing on his head is “just Gregg” now, the affable high school coach who also runs his own baseball school.
“I’m busier now than when I played,” Gregg Jefferies says during a break from his work at Total Players Center in Pleasanton, Calif., the town about 90 minutes outside Sacramento where he lives and also coaches the Foothill High varsity. “I teach hitting and see a different part of the game. We’ve got a 10,000 square foot facility. My high school team was 20-5 last year after going 12-12. I really enjoy working with the kids.”
Jefferies, now 41, has kids of his own, too – 15 and 13, from a previous marriage, a 16-month-old with his wife of four years and another child on the way. He’s turned down big-league coaching jobs because “I’m happy,” he said. “It’s flattering, but I don’t want to be away.”
Jefferies was the much-hyped hitter who the Mets were eager to get to the major leagues in the late 80s after he was twice the minor-league player of the year, though they were unsure where he’d play. He made his major league debut at 20 in 1987 and ultimately replaced Wally Backman at second base.
But he had a tumultuous tenure, marred by unmet expectations. He was criticized by teammates and fans and in 1991 read an open letter on WFAN asking for an end to the turmoil.
He was traded that winter to the Royals with Kevin McReynolds in the Bret Saberhagen deal and, he says, never got to accomplish what he wanted to in New York. But he was an All-Star twice with the Cardinals in 1993-94. His career ended in 2000 after parts of 14 seasons when he tore his right hamstring, an injury he still feels when surfing or walking up steep hills.
Now, though, Jefferies mostly holds good memories of being a Met, so much so that he and his wife nearly named their son, “Shea” (they opted for Luke instead). “We went to New York two years ago and I was a little leery of the response I’d get, but when I walked around, it was nice,” Jefferies says. “People were doing double takes and coming up to me.”
Looking back on his career, Jefferies says, “There was stuff I wouldn’t have changed and stuff I would’ve. I would’ve loved to have won the World Series. I was spoiled on the Mets in 1988, getting to the playoffs that early.
“I broke in early; I had some immaturities. I had a temper and I wish I had learned to tone that down. I did later. But I had a great time in New York. It gave me my name.”
Asked if his career might have been different had Met teammates treated him differently, Jefferies says, “Yeah, it could’ve. It was a veteran team. I blame nobody. I was a young kid replacing Wally Backman not long after a World Series. I could understand the resentment. When I got a little older and learned the game and put up some years, when I played against those guys, they were very friendly.”
Jefferies laughs when he’s asked why when he threw a bat he was perceived as a baby and, since then, players like Paul O’Neill have been seen as “warriors.” “When I stopped, I got criticized for not caring,” Jefferies said. “But when I did it in St. Louis, it was the Paul O’Neill thing – look, Jefferies cares.
“I was always very fiery. I had to be because I wasn’t good enough to just throw the bat out there. Did it hurt me sometimes, being an emotional player? Yeah. But people tell me now that I always played hard and that they loved the intensity. It’s always like that – the longer you’re retired, the better player you were.”

Happy Birthday to Stan the Man

                                       Happy Birthday Stan Musial!!!
November 21 is Stan’s 89th Birthday. It was great to see him at the All-Star Game. I always remember two Cardinal players that my dad was a huge fan of, Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial. Here at the McBrayer-Baseball Blog wishes Stan the Man a wonderful Birthday.