The Cardinals appear to be done adding to the 2011 major league roster. After the recent moves to get Ryan Theriot, move Brendan Ryan, and bring in Gerald Laird as the backup catcher, the winter hot stove is shutting down in St. Louis. Now, it’s time to enjoy the holidays and wait for spring training. Still, there’s plenty to watch for until the Redbirds report in Jupiter. Notes on the aftereffects of the Cards offseason deals after the jump.
Cards News & Notes
The biggest winner in the Brendan Ryan deal may have been Tyler Greene. Greene now becomes the first option off the bench in the middle infield. After spending parts of the last two seasons in St. Louis, the infielder will get a chance to prove himself as a bona fide major leaguer. He has struggled to find his comfort zone in St. Louis, but with a defined role in 2011 and his past experience, he should be ready for the challenge. Matthew Leach says Greene will be a defensive replacement late in games and a spot starter at second base. He has also played third base in the past and that position remains a question mark with David Freese coming off an injury-plagued season. If Greene performs well, he could become more than a defensive replacement, but he’ll have to make the most of his opportunities early on.
Cards’ bullpen options are looking good in winter ball. Eduardo Sanchez, Francisco Samuel, and Raul Valdes are all throwing well. Sanchez is a top reliever in the Cards system. The right-hander with a live arm and electric stuff has been very good in the Venezuelan Winter League. He has not allowed a walk in his last seven appearances. Overall, he has seven strikeouts, six walks, and allowed three runs in 8 2/3 innings. In the Dominican Winter League, Samuel has given up one run on one hit in five innings of work. Also in the Dominican, Valdes has actually started in eight of his nine appearances, striking out 46 and walking 12 to go with a 2.54 ERA in 49 2/3 innings. That’s impressive for the lefty, who has a good shot at making the major league roster to fill a need in the bullpen. The Cardinals don’t see him as just a lefty specialist either, he can get all hitters which only adds to his value. He’s a name to watch come spring training.
The Epstein Group has been hired by the Cardinals for marketing purposes. The marketing organization will take care of media negotiations for the club. The Epstein Group already has an influence in St. Louis through other businesses like On the Run by Mobil, Dalco Home Improvement, and Target Windows & Doors of St. Louis. The firm said it is excited to work with the Cardinals, “one of the city’s most iconic brands.” The marketing group may have quite the challenge to market the team after this season if Albert Pujols is gone. The Cardinals brand is strong, but it would take a hit without the face of the organization.