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

Cardinals Minor Matters: October 25

More money mess in Memphis

Those who thought the Memphis Redbirds were rescued from their financial quagmire when one operator, Blues City Baseball, was removed in favor of another, Global Spectrum, are way off base.

The maintenance and janitorial service vendor at AutoZone Park since 2006, Florida-based Diversified Maintenance Systems (DMS), filed a breach-of-contract complaint against the Memphis Redbirds Baseball Foundation. Their claim is that the Redbirds have failed to pay over $415,000 for services provided from 2006 through the end of the 2009 season, including no payments at all over the last year.

The Memphis Commerical-Appeal provides the details, including some embarrassing quotes from both the president and treasurer of the Foundation. Neither of the gentlemen in charge of the sued entity knows how much is owed DMS or any other unpaid vendors, for that matter.

If they don’t understand their own financial obligations, who does? Is there any wonder the Memphis situation is such a mess?

Like many, I was initially disappointed when the major league organization stepped away from their option to buy the team last off-season. As more and more of the years of problems that have accrued in Memphis are coming to light, the Cardinals’ wisdom is reinforced.

Mulder muddle to move to Milwaukee?

I wonder if ESPN’s Buster Olney has a hotline connected to the cell phone of former Cardinals left-hander Mark Mulder’s agent. In an ESPN Insider post, Olney notes several of Mulder’s former coaches from Oakland are now in Milwaukee, specifically manager Ken Macha and new pitching coach Rick Peterson and suggests that as an ideal 2010 landing spot for the free agent.

If Mulder’s problematic shoulder can actually allow him to pitch at the major league level anymore, the Brewers would seem to be as good a destination as any. He would look fine alongside former Cardinals Jeff Suppan and Braden Looper (though the latter’s 2010 return is not assured).

On the other hand, Olney’s perception of reality may be off ever-so slightly. He had suggested prior to the 2009 season that Mulder might be the free-agent steal of the year after throwing for scouts. Mulder didn’t even sign a contract.

As the season progressed, Mulder’s name was offered as a potential difference-maker down the stretch for a contender. Whether he didn’t receive an offer he liked or didn’t receive any offers at all, Mulder remained home in Arizona.

If Mulder would accept a non-roster invitation from someone for next spring, he would probably get a chance. After all, what team doesn’t need pitching, especially from the left side?

Still, any club that signs Mulder and pencils him into their 2010 rotation would be mighty foolish. His odds of returning to a level of past success seem to diminish with each passing year.

Olney talks of Mulder still trying to find his old arm slot, something he could not achieve with Dave Duncan in St. Louis two years ago. That search may prove to be as satisfying as the one for balloon boy.

Hill family update

The Bismarck (ND) Tribune reports on local favorite Virgil Hill’s current activities, which include training boxers and mixed martial artists. The 45-year-old also wants to fight again, “one last time”. The former world light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion works out of his New Jersey gym.

Hill also comments on the rookie season of one of his sons, Gulf Coast League Cardinals outfielder Virgil Hill, Jr. The proud papa states both his son and the organization are pleased.

“He loved it,” Hill Sr. said. “They’re very happy with him and his work ethic.”

The 20-year-old, taken in the sixth round of the June, 2009 draft, led the GCL Cards with 22 RBI, but batted just .216.

The piece ends on a more somber note as it explains the Cardinals outfielder’s younger brother, Zakary, is recovering from a broken neck incurred while playing high school football last month in Nevada.

1987 remembrance

Exactly 22 years ago, on October 25, 1987, I was one of 55,376 screaming people in attendance at the Metrodome as Minnesota won their first World Series championship at the expense of the Cardinals.

Behind the pitching of Frank Viola, the Twins prevailed by a 4-2 score in Game 7. It was the first seven-game Series in which each team won all their home games and would be the Cards’ last appearance in the October classic for almost 20 years.

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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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