DEPARTURES: RHP Jason Isringhausen (free agent, signed minor league deal with Rays), RHP Braden Looper (free agent, signed with Brewers), LHP Mark Mulder (free agent, unsigned), LHP Ron Villone (free agent, unsigned), LHP Randy Flores (non-tendered, signed minor league deal with Rockies), RHP Matt Clement (free agent, signed with Blue Jays), LHP Tyler Johnson (non-tendered, signed minor league deal with Mariners), RHP Mark Worrell (traded to Padres), INF Aaron Miles (non-tendered, signed with Cubs), OF Juan Encarnacion (free agent, unsigned), SS Cesar Izturis (free agent, signed with Orioles), OF Josh Phelps (free agent, signed minor league deal with Giants), RHP Russ Springer (free agent, signed with A's), RHP Kelvin Jimenez (claimed by Blue Jays, then claimed by White Sox), INF Felipe Lopez (free agent, signed with Diamondbacks), 2B Adam Kennedy (released, signed minor league deal with Rays).
SPRING FOCUS: The focus of the Cardinals' spring is four-fold: Determine if RHP Chris Carpenter is healthy enough to rejoin the rotation; determine if young RHPs Chris Perez and Jason Motte can handle the back end of the bullpen; sort through a crowded outfield that already had depth and now has young CF Colby Rasmus making a bid for a starting job; and find a second baseman.
1. RHP Adam Wainwright
2. RHP Kyle Lohse
3. RHP Todd Wellemeyer
4. RHP Joel Pineiro
5. RHP Chris Carpenter
Carpenter really wouldn't be a fifth starter for anybody, but he is listed there because of his elbow and shoulder issues of the past two years. If he is able to pitch, he will rejoin the rotation at the top. If he isn't, the Cardinals must decide whether or not to convert RHP Kyle McClellan to a starter, go with young RHP Mitchell Boggs or search for a starter outside the organization.
RHP Chris Perez (closer)
RHP Ryan Franklin
RHP Kyle McClellan
RHP Jason Motte
RHP Josh Kinney
LHP Trever Miller
LHP Royce Ring
LHP Charlie Manning
This adds up to eight relievers, and the Cardinals won't carry that many, except for emergencies. The hard-throwing Motte might even start the season at Class AAA Memphis if Perez, impressive at times last season, can show he deserves to be the closer. Manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan would prefer a veteran bridge until Perez and Motte are ready.
1. CF Skip Schumaker/Colby Rasmus
2. LF Rick Ankiel/Chris Duncan
3. 1B Albert Pujols
4. RF Ryan Ludwick
5. C Yadier Molina
6. 3B David Freese
7. SS Khalil Greene
8. 2B Brendan Ryan
3B Troy Glaus, who had shoulder surgery in mid-January, will be out until at least May, so Freese, who batted .306 with 26 homers and 91 RBIs in his first season in Class AAA, likely will open the season at third.
Rasmus, who hit only .251 in an injury-plagued season at Class AAA Memphis, nevertheless has the most overall skills among the outfielders and could push for a starting role. So, too, could Duncan, who missed much of last season with a neck ailment that required surgery.
C Jason LaRue
OF Chris Duncan
OF Skip Schumaker
OF Joe Mather
INF Joe Thurston
Schumaker, of course, will be the starter in center field if he fends off Colby Rasmus but, if not, he might turn into a super utility player who also could play second base, where the Cardinals are weakest.
The gangly Mather also may get some time at second base, and especially at third with Troy Glaus out for at least a month after shoulder surgery.
TOP ROOKIES: CF Colby Rasmus started slowly and then got hurt in his first year at Class AAA and finished with only 36 RBIs and a .251 average. But he is the only "five-tool" player on the club, and he has the look of a future star. RHP Jason Motte, who throws nearly 100 mph, may wind up being the closer if he can master an off-speed pitch.
3B Troy Glaus (right shoulder surgery in January 2009) is expected to miss the first month of the season.
OF Rick Ankiel (sports hernia surgery in September 2008) is expected to be ready for spring training.
1B Albert Pujols (nerve transposition surgery near right elbow in October 2008) is expected to be ready for spring training.
RHP Chris Carpenter (nerve transposition surgery near right elbow in November 2009) is expected to be ready for spring training. He had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2007.
OF Chris Duncan (neck disk surgery in August 2008) was healthy at the start of spring training.
SS Khalil Greene (broken bone in his left hand in July 2008) passed a physical when he was acquired by the Cardinals in December.
OF Joe Mather (left wrist surgery in September 2008) should be ready for spring training.
LHP Jaime Garcia (Tommy John elbow surgery in September 2008) likely will miss all or nearly all of the 2009 season.
INF Brendan Ryan (right wrist tendinitis) was unable to swing a bat in the first few days of spring training.