Cardinals minor matters – January 30

Albert to the DR

Albert Pujols arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Wednesday, according to ESPN Deportes. His primary mission is to deliver over a thousand beds and other supplies aimed at benefiting disadvantaged people in his homeland. The linked to report also notes Albert will train with those World Baseball Classic players present in the country and will play as long as his elbow is ok. No mention was made of the earlier insurance problem that threatened to keep him sidelined.

Albert heats up his “Sign Manny” initiative

Meeting with the press while in the Dominican, Pujols returned to a subject that is obviously close to his heart – the Cardinals signing free agent outfielder Manny Ramirez. Albert broached the same subject earlier in the winter as well, back in November.

This time, Albert said he is speaking with Manny every three days and passed the phone number of the Scott Boras client on to manager Tony La Russa. Pujols addressed the inherent budgetary challenges by suggesting the support of St. Louis fans could be worth a discount.

Hold onto that thought for a minute.

Mo says “no Manny”

It was only Wednesday when the LA Times published a very short conversation with Cards GM John Mozeliak. Mo was asked if the Cardinals are a mystery bidder for ManRam.

“The answer is no,” Mozeliak told the paper.

Not a lot of wiggle room in that.

Déjà vu, Albert

Please read the following excerpt.

Albert Pujols wants a long-term contract from the St. Louis Cardinals, and he doesn’t plan to give them a bargain.

“What do you mean?” Pujols said Sunday at the team’s annual winter fanfest. “This is business. There’s no break here.

“You try to get what you deserve and that’s what I want. I’ve taken care of my business in the field the last three years and hopefully I get treated respectfully, that’s all I ask for.”

You read about that already, right? If the resulting message board anxiety could have been measured, a large segment of the Cardinal Nation has already been hospitalized and Albert is in the midst of looking for new houses in New York or Los Angeles, or maybe both!

The problem is that the above quote, while 100% real, is NOT from this Winter Warm-up. It is from January, 2004, prior to Albert’s current seven-year deal.

My advice to those with their undies in a bunch over the prospect of a Pujols free agency in three years, is to calm down, please!

Now, back to Manny. Albert seems to have the same disease that strikes fans all over baseball – the tendency to want to spend other peoples’ money.

If Albert says he won’t take a hometown discount with his own team, how can he expect someone that has never even played there to do so?

Right. It’s all just talk, so take it for what it is worth.

Bissinger on Pujols

Article from ESPN the Magazine on El Hombre with a 2005 perspective, yet a good reminder of the greatness of Albert.

Amaury the Hunter

Even as the outfielder was not among those invited to major league spring training this year after scoring an invite in 2008, Amaury Marti is having a solid winter playing for Licey in the Dominican Republic. He and his Tiger teammates should be on the tube starting next Monday as the MLB Network covers the Caribbean Series from Mexico. (Check out daily reports on the Series on Cardinals Best News Links.)

A recent article from the Dominican paper Listin Diario does not beat around the bush about Marti’s age, calling him the same 34 years old at which he was listed in Cuba. The Cardinals, at least publicly, still have their collective heads in the sand, asserting Marti is 30.

One other tidbit is that the well-traveled outfielder acquired a nickname this past summer while playing in Mexico – “El Cazador” or “The Hunter”.

So it shall be!

La Russa booking

In news of the weird, Tony La Russa will be autographing phone books this Saturday afternoon in Concord, CA. Turns out, TLR and one of his daughters are featured on the cover of the local phone directory, honest!

Try framing that!

The good news is that La Russa is working cheaply, with signatures just $10 a pop, all for charity of course. That is just a third of what it took for his autograph at Winter Warm-up.

Benson only “so-so”

The “most consistent interest” in 34-year-old Kris Benson is from the Dodgers, Rangers and Cardinals, says Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal’s sources. Benson is trying to come back from rotator cuff surgery two years ago. According to the report, Benson looks only “so-so” in his throwing sessions. “Better than expected,” an MLB exec said, “but not great.”

Pass. Please.

Springer signs for perhaps a small raise

Former Cardinals reliever Russ Springer signed a one-year deal with the Oakland A’s for $3.3 million with another $0.3 million in incentives. That could take his 2009 take just slightly over his $3.5 million salary with the Cards in 2008. The 40-year-old moved to his eighth team in his 16th season because St. Louis had no room for him in 2009.

Best of luck to Springer, a genuine nice guy.

Izzy still waiting

With the signing of former Arizona closer Brandon Lyon by the Detroit Tigers, ex-Cards closer Jason Isringhausen may have lost his ideal landing location for 2009. The Detroit Free Press had been actively campaigning for Izzy, obviously to no avail.

Few if any other clubs have open closer jobs without candidates already in house. Early in the month, there were supposedly six teams interested in Izzy, but as of now, he is still unemployed.

Looper back on O’s plate

With Baltimore already having signed ex-Cards shortstop Cesar Izturis, they are getting back around to considering starting pitcher Braden Looper. They were linked with the free agent earlier in the winter, but that time, interest was not confirmed.

Looks to me like it could be a good fit. (The Dodgers are also said to have interest.)

A Giant Thrill

Former Cardinals first baseman Will Clark has returned to his old club, the San Francisco Giants, as a special assistant. After coaching with the Cardinals in spring training three years ago, Clark spent the last two with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A Mac Holliday

Almost Cardinal and now Oakland A’s outfielder Matt Holliday not only credits disgraced ex-Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire for helping him develop his power, but he actually moved to Southern California this off-season specifically to work out with Big Mac.

How’s that for tight?

Boras comes up in ‘roids talk

Admitted steroids supplier to baseball players Kirk Radomski spoke to ESPN. Among his comments is one that money for PEDs on behalf of Kevin Brown allegedly arrived in an envelope from agent Scott Boras’ office. Boras denied involvement, of course.

Boras unethical to clients

A very interesting lawyerly-focused treatise on Boras’ ethics with the conclusion that his clients are the ones that suffer.