The Cardinal Nation blog

Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals minor matters – March 1

Does Ludwick wish for Team USA do over?

On Friday, Colorado’s Brad Hawpe injured his hand when it was stepped on and spiked on a play at second base. (Note to Skip Schumaker: Please stop sliding head-first!) As a result, Hawpe, previously named a starting outfielder, bowed out of the World Baseball Classic.

Hawpe’s move was on the heels of Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore also suffering a injury that will keep him out of the WBC. With two of Davey Johnson’s starting outfielders out, do you suppose Ryan Ludwick regrets his decision to not join Team USA because he was not guaranteed a starting role?

Villone joins Mets

On Saturday, free agent left-handed reliever Ron Villone signed a minor league deal with a spring training invite from the New York Mets. Was it just coincidence the contract was announced the day after the Cardinals spanked the Mets staff for one run per inning?

It is a deal just like he signed with the Cardinals last spring. To make the Mets, Villone may require another break like he received last spring when Tyler Johnson couldn’t answer the bell.

Mulder still looking

With the Villone signing, only Mark Mulder remains unsigned from the group of six Cardinals free agent pitchers. The list included Braden Looper (Milwaukee), Jason Isringhausen (Tampa Bay), Russ Springer (Oakland), Randy Flores (Colorado), and Tyler Johnson (Seattle).

In January, ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote that Mulder could be a “hidden gem” among this year’s crop of free agents. Apparently the cost of diamonds is depressed as Mulder is still jobless. Returning to his initial club of Oakland is rumored once the lefty actually throws for scouts.

Choi gets NRI

A repeat of the embarrassing situation that resulted when Tony La Russa publicly complained about not having enough arms in camp to the point he floated the idea of borrowing pitchers from his team’s opponent was apparently averted when Hyang-Nam Choi was added to major league spring training.

The 37-year-old Korean was signed just last month. He previously pitched in the minors for Cleveland in 2006.

I’ve kept my Cardinals NRI list up to date, which notes seven additional pitchers since the original rosters were announced. With that, there are now 61 players in camp, which is just one away from the team’s average from 1996 through 2008.

Mortensen’s MRI was negative

Choi’s NRI was due to Clayton Mortensen’s MRI. OK, not exactly, but the former supplemental first rounder is on the sidelines indefinitely due to elbow discomfort. Choi was added to offer another arm.

Harris salutes Cards

13th round draft pick Mitch Harris, a right-handed pitcher from Navy, signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals on Saturday. Currently on active duty and committed to four more years of the same, Harris and the Cardinals have to hope the Navy changes their policy sooner. Otherwise, Harris will have quite the challenge as a pushing-30 year old first-time professional.

17 “agree to terms”

The Cardinals “came to terms” on 2009 contracts with 17 players with less than three years of MLB service time. These players technically can negotiate, but realistically were obligated to take what was offered as long as they receive the major league minimum. That will change when they become arbitration eligible in a year or more down the road.

In a subscriber-only article at on Saturday, I listed the service time of all 17 and forecasted when each will become arbitration eligible.

Spring training schedule update

On Saturday, I updated the master Cardinals spring training radio and television schedule to include additional XM satellite radio broadcasts. Keep checking back there all month long as more games are added to Gameday audio, XM and MLB.TV.

My opening day roster predictions

I went on record last week at with my forecast for the opening day Cardinals roster (subscription required). Rather than list all 25, here are the players I have on the outside looking in:

Pitchers: Boggs, Hawskworth, Manning, Motte, Ostlund (NRI), Scherer

Infielders: T. Greene, Hoffpauir, Wallace (NRI)

Outfielders: Barton, Stavinoha, Rasmus (NRI)

Photo day

I’ve posted the results of 2009 photo day for the Cardinals pitchers/catchers and position players. If you’re not a subscriber, you can still access the new photos from each individual player profile page.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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