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St. Louis Cardinals roster risers and fallers

Which St. Louis Cardinals players may benefit or suffer from the club’s recent roster moves?

Following Saturday’s signing of free agent outfielder Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak declared his 2011 club to essentially be in place. Here are a few of the players who may have impacted in the short term, either positively or negatively, by the moves made by the front office since the conclusion of the season.

Risers

Matt Carpenter. The system’s Player of the Year in 2010, named by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization, appears set to become the starting third baseman for Triple-A Memphis in 2011.

With the addition of Berkman, Allen Craig was displaced from the starting outfield picture. Mozeliak announced the ex-minor league third baseman would be returned to his former position in spring camp, ostensibly to become the back up behind fragile David Freese.

If the Cardinals do not move to bring in other reinforcements at the hot corner and if a full-time replacement for Freese is needed during the season, Carpenter could find himself in the mix in St. Louis.

Fernando Salas. I am pretty sure Salas set a Cardinals record with six trips back and forth between St. Louis and Memphis as the extra bullpen man in 2010. Generally, the right-hander did a good job in his MLB introduction.

With the trade of Blake Hawksworth to the Dodgers for Ryan Theriot, a spot in the 2011 Cardinals pen has opened up. Salas would seem to be the favorite entering camp to seize that spot.

Fallers

Allen Craig. With the signing of Berkman, Craig went from the right-handed hitting part of a right field starting platoon to a reserve third baseman/outfielder. While it remains to be seen, my above comments about Carpenter indicate my skepticism that if a full-time third baseman would be needed in the event of a Freese injury that Craig would get that job.

Brendan Ryan. The acquisition of Theriot spelled the end of Ryan starting at shortstop. He does have limited experience playing at the other infield positions and could become a defensive-oriented super-sub if not traded.

Lance Lynn. The re-signing of Jake Westbrook killed off any non-injury hope of a Triple-A starter cracking the 2011 rotation, as did Jaime Garcia the spring prior. Recent vibes from the major league coaching staff indicate they do not consider Lynn ready for the unofficial “sixth starter” role, though that could change with consistent results on the mound.

Kyle McClellan. McClellan is a most important part of the bullpen, yet each spring the club holds open the promise of letting him be a starter, only to snatch it away from him every time. McClellan is a team player and while he has expressed his preference to start, he has proven he will do any job asked. In my opinion, it has reached the point that the organization needs to let McClellan be as good of a reliever as he can be and stop with the “one day he will be a starter” storyline, as it seems clear that isn’t going to happen.

In limbo

Bryan Anderson. Though defense-first catcher Matt Pagnozzi is gone, Anderson, his former job-share partner with Memphis, seems destined for a return to Triple-A for a fourth season. This will not become semi-official until a veteran reserve catcher to replace Jason LaRue is signed, but this seems highly likely. At that point, Anderson will move to the “fallers” group.

Tyler Greene and Daniel Descalso. Unless the Cardinals add another veteran infielder to the roster, there remains a chance that either could make the 2011 club as a reserve. If Ryan is dealt away, their chances obviously improve.

Another factor is who is designated as the reserve second baseman behind Skip Schumaker. If Theriot is restricted to short exclusively, being the only natural second baseman in the mix, Descalso’s chances of making the team could improve. Greene is more interchangeable with Ryan.

Poll: Which player will make the greatest contribution to the 2011 Cardinals?

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