Cardinal Tidbits

On the first week of December Ken Rosenthal reported that Brad Penny and John Smoltz will return as Free Agents for 2011. Well Keith Law reported Dec. 27 that Brad Penny, whom many believe will fit in with the St. Louis Cardinals again once the smoke clears.
If Brad is in good health and show he can still pitch, I can see the Cardinals signing him to a very cheap price. If the Cards do sign him he will be a late inning relief pitcher.

What’s Going On With David Freese?

When I heard that David Freese almost got hit in the head by a hockey puck during a Blues game, I began to wonder is Freese healing from his last injury? So I did a little research to see what is up with David Freese.
In a interview David Freese said his rehabilitation from two ankle operations is going extremely well, and he’s filled with optimism for the 2011 season. He expects to arrive in Jupiter, Fla., well ahead of the required mid-February report date. He recently received a checkup in Colorado with Dr. Thomas Clanton, the surgeon who performed the larger of the two procedures — a reconstructive operation on his right ankle in August. Freese has been cleared to go full go but he is taking it step by step. Right now he is building up strength but not running yet, .he’s likely to start Spring Training more or less on schedule.

 Freese is ready to go when the season starts, he projects as the Cardinals’ starting third baseman. The club has implicitly expressed its confidence in him by not moving to add a veteran to serve as insurance at third.

Rangers Signed Brandon Webb

The Rangers’ search for additional help for the starting rotation might have come to an end.
According to a source, the team has reached a one-year deal with free-agent right-hander Brandon Webb . Neither general manager Jon Daniels nor manager Ron Washington was available for comment.

A deal with Webb, which is pending a physical that likely will come early this week, is full of potential and risk.
He’s four years removed from winning the National League Cy Young Award and he was one of the top starters in the NL for a four-year period with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The risk comes because of Webb’s shoulder. He hasn’t pitched in a big league game since opening day of 2009. Webb had surgery on his shoulder in August 2009, a procedure performed by Rangers team doctor Keith Meister.

Webb, 31, made strides in his return this year and pitched in the instructional league. The Rangers, Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals were thought to be the most interested in signing him.

Webb, who is expected to be at full strength when the Rangers open spring training in February, figures to compete for a spot in a wide-open rotation. Aside from C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis, there are no other guaranteed starting spots for the reigning American League champions.

The top candidates for the other three spots figure to be Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Scott Feldman , Matt Harrison , Michael Kirkman and Webb. The Rangers also could move closer Neftali Feliz back into the rotation, which is where he started last spring.

Webb made at least 28 starts in each of his first six years with the Diamondbacks. He was an All-Star selection three-consecutive seasons and followed his Cy Young Award in 2006 with second-place finishes in 2007 and 2008. The workhorse also put together five consecutive seasons of at least 208 innings.
Anthony Andro

Wishing Cardinal Baseball Fans a Merry Christmas

Another year of joy and peace but will it happen inside the clubhouse with LaRussa and Rasmus. Will the team jell together or better yet will they get along. With Lance Berkman as the newest Cardinal, will he spread good cheer. Will Pujols get signed by the start of the 2011 baseball season. With all the questions about the team one constant stays the same….Cardinal Baseball. The fun of watching a Pujols homerun or Wainwright striking out a Cubs player. This is what a Cardinal Fan dreams of duing the winter months.

                 Merry Christmas From The McBrayer-Baseball Blog

Ankiel Signs with the Nationals

Outfielder Rick Ankiel and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract.

The deal announced Monday includes $1.25 million in performance bonuses: $200,000 each for 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances, and $250,000 for 375.

The 30-year-old left-handed hitter batted .232 with six homers and 24 RBIs this year with Kansas City and Atlanta.

His best season came in 2008, when he hit 25 homers and batted .264 with St. Louis.

The former pitcher is a career .248 hitter with 55 home runs and 181 RBIs

My Take: I am surprise that the Nats are gambling on Ankiel at this point in his career. With injuries and other personal problems, I tend to think he was on his last leg. The Nats must see something in him or they maybe very desperate. Good luck RIck.

Grienke Traded to Brewers

On the first Friday night of last season, the Kansas City Royals held a pregame ceremony to present Zack Greinke with his 2009 American League Cy Young Award. The team’s prior winners, the retired right-handers David Cone and Bret Saberhagen, showed up to honor him, all three aces dressed in official team warm-up jackets. Greinke was treated as a king among Royals, with gifts including a specially made Cy Young ring, a set of golf clubs, a framed jersey and lineup card, and the pitcher’s rubber and home plate from Kauffman Stadium. His father received a watch, his wife and mother a Cy Young pendant.

Greinke smiled to the crowd and gave a little wave. But he did not say a word, and embarked on an ordinary season in which he seemed to struggle for motivation.
The Royals nurtured Greinke for nine professional seasons, and they had learned not to push him or expect too many social graces. He had left the game for almost a full year, in 2006, and is under medication for social anxiety disorder.
But that did not excuse the snub of last April, which deeply offended some in the organization. It was not the reason the Royals traded Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers in a six-player deal Sunday, but it symbolized a relationship that had run its course.
Greinke acknowledged that on Sunday by waiving his no-trade clause without asking for anything in return. The Brewers also received shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt while sending four young players to the Royals: shortstop Alcides Escobar, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, reliever Jeremy Jeffress and the Class A starter Jake Odorizzi.
“We would love to be sitting here discussing a long-term contract with Zack Greinke,” Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said on a conference call from Kansas City. “You want to hold onto your best players forever. That’s a formula for winning championships as well.
“But there has to be a willing partner to go forward with that, and we actually went down that trail and discussed that trail with Zack, long term, and it was apparent that wasn’t something that he wanted to do. Therefore, we had to maximize his value and get players in return that blend in with what we have.”
The Royals have finished last or next to last in the American League Central in all seven of Greinke’s major league seasons. He has two years and $27 million remaining on his contract, and the Royals feared that Greinke could leave just as a celebrated prospect group started making an impact in 2012.
For the Brewers, the trade improves their chance to win while they still have their slugging first baseman, Prince Fielder, who can be a free agent after the 2011 season. Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, almost always takes his players to the open market, and the Brewers would seem unlikely to outbid other teams.
Greinke is the second top pitcher the Brewers have acquired this month, joining the right-hander Shaun Marcum, who started last opening day for the Toronto Blue Jays. Marcum, who was acquired for the infield prospect Brett Lawrie, was 13-8 with a 3.64 earned run average last season.

Cardinals Get Back Up Catcher Laird

The Cardinals had hoped to find a backup catcher who could provide more of an offensive punch than previous seasons but after not getting top choice Bengie Molina, they appear to have altered their plan.

A press release issued by the club late Tuesday confirmed reports that the Cardinals had signed catcher Gerald Laird to a one-year deal to be the backup for Yadier Molina.

The 31-year-old Laird is a career .242 hitter in eight big league seasons with the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers. He hit just .218 the past two seasons in Detroit with nine home runs and 58 RBIs in 683 at-bats.

General manager John Mozeliak said several times this offseason that he hoped to find a backup who could do more than catch and throw. The Cardinals sacrificed offense for defense with several recent backup catchers but had planned on changing the mold this time around.

Molina would have been the perfect fit but apparently hasn’t made a decision whether or not he wants to retire or play next season. So with not many other options available, the Cardinals signed Laird and will go with defense over offense yet again.

Known more for his defensive skills, Laird has hit .225 or worse in five of his eight seasons in the big leagues. Laird struggled to a .207 batting average and just five home runs and 25 RBIs in 89 games for the Tigers in 2010.

The catcher will fill the Cardinals desire to have someone capable of handling more action and giving Molina more rest. Laird played at least 78 games in each of the past five seasons and averaged 358 at-bats the past four years.

B J Rains

Brendan Ryan Traded to the Mariners

Seattle just acquired infielder Brendan Ryan from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league right-hander Mikael Cleto.

“In acquiring Brendan Ryan we have added a player who is athletic, has played multiple positions, has been an everyday Major League shortstop, and is playoff tested,” Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said in a release. “We look forward to Brendon’s contributions as well as him competing for a starting position.”

Ryan appeared in 139 games for the Cards last season, hitting .223 with 19 doubles, three triples and two homers.

Sounds like a guy who can be shortstop insurance for Jack Wilson, as well as a temporary second baseman until Dustin Ackley is ready.

Ryan, 28, hit .292 in 2009 and has a .259 career batting average over four major league seasons, while playing solid defense.

     Cleto, 21, went 4-9 with a 6.16 ERA in 23 games for Class A High Desert last season. He was one of the players acquired in the J.J. Putz deal two years ago. The Mariners added him to their 40-man roster a few weeks back.

Geoff Baker                                                                    

Hot Rumor: Michael Young to the Cardinals

I just learned that the Cardinals where in talks to get Michael Young from the Rangers. The Rockies are apparently favored to land Young instead. Young did tell the team he wanted to stay a Ranger and he doesn’t want to play for anyone else. I find this a bit unique from the Cardinals point of view. Young would cost a lot of money for the Cards to keep. Does this mean the Cardinals are giving up on David Freese. To tell you the truth, I would love to have Michael Young on this Cardinal team. He would give the Cards another productive bat and much better number two hitter. This may not happen at all but what a great thirdbaseman Young would be for the Cards. I guess its okay to dream.