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

Cards lefties should be looking over their shoulders

There are two news items today concerning the St. Louis Cardinals’ attempt to identify a second left-hander in the bullpen to pair with free agent signee Trever Miller.

Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch reports an increasing level of concern from the coaches over the low-budget, low-results candidates in camp, with Tony La Russa and his staff expected to give general manager John Mozeliak an earful when the group meets on Thursday morning.

The current group of contenders in camp consists of Charlie Manning, claimed off waivers from Washington last November, Royce Ring (pictured), a castoff from the Atlanta Braves, Ian Ostlund, a minor league free agent from the Detroit Tigers system and Katsuhiko Maekawa, who had a tryout with the Nats two years ago. The latter two have yet to make their major league debuts and based on very early action, probably aren’t going to do so anytime soon.

Later on Wednesday morning, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirmed from “major league sources” that the Cardinals are indeed back in the market for left-handed relief. Rosenthal did not identify Mozeliak’s primary target, but highlighted three options in his article – Dennys Reyes, Joe Beimel and Will Ohman. For more on each, check out Dustin Mattison’s article from October.

Depending on the rumor source, any of the three could be had for an amount estimated between $1 million and $2 million for the 2009 season. If that is the case, here’s hoping Mozeliak does not pass go. After all, given the club was willing to spend in the vicinity of $9 million per season for then-free agent Brian Fuentes earlier in the winter, this looks like pocket change.

With the elongated spring training, any new lefty should have plenty of time to get ready for the 2009 regular season, but there is competition. Rosenthal identifies at least five clubs other than the Cardinals that are on a similar search – the A’s, Phillies, Pirates, Marlins and Padres.

In this game of musical chairs, with six contestants and only three places to land, Mo needs to ensure he is one of the winners this time.

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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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