February 2009

Monday camp tidbits: Ludwick deal imminent

Hello from sunny, breezy, slightly cooler Jupiter. Very nice day, and best of all, Arti Gras ends today — so soon we’ll be able to get to the park much easier.

Today’s news:

* Ryan Ludwick and the Cardinals front office skipped their flights to Phoenix, and a contract agreement is imminent. Could be this afternoon or tonight, could be tomorrow morning. But it’s going to get done.

* Albert Pujols told me this afternoon that he’s not playing in the World Baseball Classic. That was all but a done deal. Now it’s a done deal.

* Larry Walker has arrived to fill his usual duty as a part-time instructor helping out the outfielders.

* Khalil Greene, Jon Jay and Brian Barton reported today, leaving Troy Glaus as the only player who did not report early.

* TLR told us today, in not a big surprise but still a bit of news, that Skip Schumaker and Joe Mather will work as infielders during the workouts between now and when games begin. As the club goes through various drills, Schumaker will work at second base and Mather at third, rather than either one with the outfielders.

* TLR and Mozeliak both answered questions about the possibility of a Jason Isringhausen reunion. Long story short: not a great deal of enthusiasm on the club’s side.

* Not news, but just to let you know: I’ll have a big Chris Carpenter story going up in the morning, on StLCardinals.com as well as hopefully on MLB.com.

Today’s playlist is all R.E.M., culled from the late 90s:
“Lotus”
“The Great Beyond”
“So Fast, So Numb”
“Low Desert”
“Hope”

-M.

Sunday camp tidbits: The MVP arrives

Sorry for another late blog entry, still getting my timing down and getting back in the routine. Also, a relatively light day turned into a very busy one when Albert Pujols arrived and held court with us scribes.

* Pujols held a wide-ranging chat with reporters, lasting nearly half an hour. He touched on the World Baseball Classic, his contract, the direction of the organization, his elbow, steroids and plenty more. I’ll have two different stories on it going up on the site tonight.

* Mike Matheny stepped behind the plate to catch prospect Tyler Herron for Herron’s bullpen. Matheny was adamant that we not make too much of it — he has no desire to come back as a player, or even to begin coaching yet. But it was fun to see, and he enjoyed it. Matheny’s reveling in being a full-time dad and is very unlikely to get back in the game on a full-season basis until his kids are all out of the house.

* Ryan Ludwick arrived late yesterday afternoon and worked out today. He’s still hoping to avoid an arbitration hearing. If a deal isn’t resolved by tomorrow afternoon, though, he’ll begin the same dance that Rick Ankiel did — flying out to Phoenix for a hearing that may or may not happen. Part of Ludwick’s decision to come to camp right away was that Ankiel avoided a hearing, giving him some hope that he can too.

* I saw Chris Carpenter throw for the first time this spring today and he looked, well, he looked like a pitcher in mid-February. He threw fastballs and breaking balls, and the curve looked like it’s very early in Spring Training. But the throw was uneventful, and that’s all that anybody is looking for right now. Talking to people who have seen him throw already this spring, it sounds like he had a little more pop on his fastball than in his previous bullpens. Which is to be expected.

* Attendance (by players, that is) is excellent. Brett Wallace, Brian Barden and of course Pujols all reported today, meaning that only four players have not shown: Khalil Greene, Troy Glaus, Brian Barton and Jon Jay. With two days before report date, that’s a really good ratio.

* TLR acknowledged that the off days in the schedule could force some creativity. He said that as of now, all of the off days will remain actual days off for the players, but left it open to other options. Those days definitely have the potential to wreak havoc with pitching rotations and getting guys their innings.

Today’s Playlist:
New Order: “Crystal”
Elvis Costello: “Brilliant Mistake”
Martin Gore: “Compulsion”
Cars: “My Best Friend’s Girl”
REM: “Can’t Get There From Here”

-M.

Saturday camp tidbits

Well, first, it’s Valentine’s Day, so above all else, a Happy V-Day to my beloved Mrs. Dude, who I wish could be down here in Florida with me. They couldn’t start Spring Training on the 16th?

Anyway, on to the tidbits. Plenty to report today.

* All pitchers and catchers were present and accounted for.

* Mitchell Boggs got some good news about his tight right shoulder. The tentative plan is to rest him for a few days, let the anti-inflammatory medication take effect and re-evaluate him early next week, but we were told that the concern level is lower than it was yesterday.

* Matt Scherer has some forearm tightness; unclear at this point how severe the issue is.

* Nick Stavinoha is in fact working out at catcher, but it’s not a position change in any kind of long run. He’s just helping out at a time when the team needs as many catchers as possible.

* Francisco Samuel caught a lot of people’s eyes with his bullpen session today. It was well known that Samuel throws hard, but what I and some of my colleagues noticed was the ease with which he brings that heat.

* Two members of the band Disturbed dropped by camp today. And no, sorry Mrs. Dude, I did not procure any photos/autographs/etc. They didn’t really mingle with us scribes.

* Funny moment of the day: Rick Ankiel was talking up Skip Schumaker, and noted that if he (Ankiel) is in the outfield and Schumaker is at 2nd base, “

If you guys can show me a better relay combo, I want to see
it.” To which Chris Duncan promptly piped in, “Me and Eckstein!”

Welcome to Spring Training.
-M.

Today’s playlist:
Maps, “So Low, So High”
Kanye West, “Love Lockdown”
Kasabian, “Club Foot”
Gran Ronde, “Wisdom”
Doves, “There Goes the Fear”

Cards, Ankiel settle

The streak lives.

The Cardinals avoided what would have been their first arbitration
hearing since 1999 when they reached a last-minute settlement on a
one-year contract with outfielder Rick Ankiel on Thursday. Cardinals
assistant general manager John Abbamondi confirmed that an agreement
had been reached.

The deal is worth a reported $2.825 million, which is the exact
midpoint of the figures submitted by Ankiel and the club last month.
Ankiel requested $3.3 million in the last season before he is eligible
for free agency, while the club countered with an offer of $2.35
million.

Ankiel and the Cardinals were literally down to a couple of hours to
get a contract done. Their hearing was scheduled for 3 p.m. CT, and the
involved parties had all made their way to Arizona to take part.

St. Louis still has one remaining arbitration-eligible player who has
not signed. Ryan Ludwick would have a hearing on Tuesday if no deal can
be reached before that time. Ludwick has asked for $4.25 million, while
the club has offered $2.8 million.

–Matthew Leach

AK open thread

Leave your thoughts here —

Good move? Bad move?

What should they do next?

Etc etc.

KEEP IT CIVIL, but otherwise have at it. I’m fascinated by the whole deal.

-M.

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