A familiar name will be coming to Cardinals camp next month.
ST. LOUIS — The Cardinals and outfielder Ryan Ludwick avoided arbitration on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year contract for the 2010 season. The deal will pay Ludwick $5.45 million. The club announced the deal on its official Twitter feed.
Unlike 2009, club and player didn’t even get to the point of exchanging arbitration figures. A year ago, Ludwick and team representatives actually traveled to Arizona, expecting to attend an arbitration hearing, before settling in the final hours before the scheduled session.
Ludwick, 31, saw his numbers dip in his second full season with the Cardinals, but still managed 97 RBIs. He hit .265 with a .329 on-base percentage and a .447 slugging percentage, 22 home runs, 20 doubles and 63 runs scored.
The right-handed hitter will likely bat fifth for the Cardinals in 2010 as the team’s starting right fielder. He made $3.7 million in 2009.
Second baseman Skip Schumaker is the only remaining Cardinals player eligible for arbitration. Schumaker said on Sunday that he is close to getting a deal done to avoid arbitration.
The Winter Warm-Up is wrapping up and it’s almost time for the Writers’ Dinner. Here are some tidbits from another busy day. Hard to remember a Warm-Up with this much news.
Maybe Jim Edmonds was dead serious. Maybe it was all an elaborate put-on. When it comes to Edmonds and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, it can be tough to tell. This much is certain: Edmonds said on Sunday night that he wants to come back and play for the Cardinals in 2010.
The long-time Angels and Cards star hasn’t played since 2008. Before that year, St. Louis traded him to San Diego. After the Padres released him, he signed on with the Cubs, with whom he played his last game on Sept. 26, 2008.
On Sunday night at the annual “Stars to the Rescue” benefit for La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, Edmonds said he was “challenging” La Russa to let him rejoin his old team.
The exchange started after the final bows for the event, which featured country star Dierks Bentley and comedienne Kathleen Madigan, among others. La Russa said that “someone” had sent him a text and wanted to come onstage. That someone turned out to be Edmonds, who made his way from his seat at the opposite end of the arena.
Edmonds took the microphone with a grin and addressed the crowd.
“I’m challenging him to let me come back and play for the Cardinals
again for free,” Edmonds said to the crowd at Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis.
Edmonds then modified his offer to playing for the league minimum, rather than for free. He and La Russa engaged in some playful banter, and at the end, La Russa quipped that he wished he had a rewind button so that he could simply skip Edmonds appearance — but he said it with a grin.
The Cardinals could use a backup center fielder as well as a left-handed bat off the bench, and there have been rumblings that Edmonds might be interested in a return to the game. Still, it’s a long way from that sort of speculation to a return after missing a full year.
La Russa and Edmonds have what can fairly be called a complicated relationship. They didn’t always get along when Edmonds played in St. Louis, but their mutual fondness was always obvious. La Russa chastised Edmonds for what he believed to be dismissive comments about St. Louis after Edmonds joined the Cubs, and the criticism seemed to sting Edmonds at the time.
On stage on Sunday, though, Edmonds referred to La Russa as like a father figure to him, and the warmth in their relationship, rather than any strain, dominated the scene.
Neither La Russa nor general manager John Mozeliak could be reached for comment after the event ended.
Hello from what is likely the most memorable Winter Warm-Up day in the eight years I’ve covered this event. The McGwire introduction and news conference were certainly experience. Hopefully later in the week I’ll be able to post an entire blog entry on all the weirdness, but if you haven’t checked out my tweets and Twitpics, that should provide at least a little color. And I have a story on all of it going up on the site shortly.
Another round of notes for you from today’s Winter Warm-Up. The main story coming a little later this evening at StLCardinals.com will be on McGwire, after a long chat with John Mozeliak today regarding the hitting coach.
Hello to one and all from the Winter Warm-Up, being held this year at the Hyatt Regency for the first time. Just a few tidbits from some of our sessions with players, and some other stuff:
You may have heard there was some news regarding Mark McGwire recently. We have covered it a bit at MLB.com. In the meantime, though, there are some other things going on with the Cardinals. So here are some other tidbits around the club from recent days:
* Spring Training dates were officially announced today. Cardinals pitchers and catchers will report to Jupiter, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 17 and begin workouts on Thursday, Feb. 18. The full-squad report day is Feb. 22, with full-squad workouts starting on Feb. 23.
The club had already announced its Grapefruit League game schedule, which begins with a March 4 game against the Mets at Port St. Lucie.
* In response to a question I recently received on Twitter, the following Cardinals prospects will attend the annual Rookie Career Development Program: Bryan Anderson, Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Francisco Samuel. Thanks to friend and colleague Jonathan Mayo for the info.
* I’ll be posting an Inbox before the end of the week, so if you want to get questions in, send ‘em my way. Click on this link to do so.
* Chris Carpenter won the Tony Conigliaro Award. The award is given to a player who “has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage.” Another fine colleague and good friend of mine, Ian Browne of RedSox.com, wrote the story on the award. You can check that out here.
* There’s a lot going on in St. Louis and the surrounding area this week. For information on the Cardinals Caravan, click here. For Winter Warm-Up info, click here. And for details on the St. Louis Baseball Writers’ Dinner (I’ll be presenting an award!), click here.
Hockey: “Too Fake”
The Farm: “All Together Now”
Nitzer Ebb: “Lightning Man”
Gossip: “Heavy Cross”
Just a few odds and ends from today’s Matt Holliday deal…
* It’s likely that the deal will officially be announced, with a formal news conference, on Thursday rather than tomorrow. The Hall of Fame election announcement is on Wednesday, and they likely will try not to steal any of the spotlight from that.
* I laid out the terms in the story on the site, but here they are in a nutshell just in case. Holliday will receive $17 million for each season from 2010-2016. He has full no-trade protection. If he finishes in the top-10 in MVP balloting in 2016, a $17 million option vests for 2017. According to AP, there is a $1 million buyout if the option does not vest. I was told it is not a club option in any way, simply a vest or no-vest situation. That would make the guaranteed value $120 million (at minimum, $119 million plus the $1 million buyout) with a potential value of $136 million.
* My personal take: I’m fine with the AAV. $17 million per year is pretty reasonable for a player of Holliday’s caliber. I am not at all sold on the combination of seven years and complete no-trade protection. That could definitely put the club in a precarious spot over the final few years of the contract. I think Holliday and Scott Boras got a very good deal.
* By my estimation, the club still has approximately $6-7 million left to spend this winter.
More blogging coming soon, including my top-10 albums of 2009.