Cardinals minor matters – February 4

Ankiel and Ludwick arbitration dates set

You heard it here first. The dates for the arbitration hearings for St. Louis Cardinals outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick have been set. In a schedule that only MLB could devise, the two hearings will be held in Phoenix five days apart – on February 12 (Ankiel) and February 17 (Ludwick).

If I was a betting man, I would put my money on February 12 happening while the 17th would be made unnecessary by a pre-hearing agreement with Ludwick. Whether the latter would be a simple one-year deal or a multi-year contract is unclear.

The last arbitration hearing the Cardinals actually had, back in 1999, they defeated agent Scott Boras on behalf of pitcher Darren Oliver. This time, Boras represents Ankiel, the pitcher-turned outfielder. The two sides come in separated by almost $1 million in their respective views of the player’s 2009 value.

More information from my previous reports here and here. (Also be sure to read the comments below the posts.)

Korean is day-to-day, just like the rest

Regarding the contract of Hyang-Nam Choi, the 37- (or 38) year-old reliever from Korea signed by the Cardinals (reports vary on his exact age), a Korean news source reported the deal is a month-to-month agreement, somehow implying out-of-the-ordinary terms that put the import on less-firm ground than his minor league counterparts.

Not so.

Choi is signed to a standard one-year Memphis contract, and will be in minor league camp when it opens on Monday, March 9. The “monthly” aspect is standard for all minor league contracts, in that players are paid a monthly amount, rather than having it expressed as an annual salary.

Apparently the Korean writer was unfamiliar with that. That’s ok, as many of us Americans are confused by Korean names. Choi is the player’s family name followed by his given name, listed as Choi Hyang-nam in Korean sources.

Think Hee-Seop Choi, the then-Dodgers Korean first baseman whose 2005 collision with Scott Rolen‘s shoulder changed everything. On the other hand, let’s not think about that after all.

Also, Choi the pitcher has been added to my Cardinals roster matrix as its 307th player.

Rosenthal: Cards out of money

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had this sobering comment about the Cardinals in a Wednesday column.

“Club officials are telling agents that they are out of money, a stunning development considering that the team will host the All-Star Game this season.”

The reporter speculates that ticket sales and revenues are not being boosted by the presence of the All-Star Game and that the Cards are not in the hunt for free agent Braden Looper, or apparently anyone else that requires a major league salary.

I haven’t revisited the math of the Cardinals total payroll with a set roster, but it would seem to be somewhere in the low $90 millions, which could be as much as a 10% reduction from 2008. Of course, as noted above, Ankiel’s and Ludwick’s salaries could swing the 2009 total by as much as $2.4 million one way or the other.

Gorgen’s shoulder surgery?

Via a post on a social networking site (nothing seems to be private anymore), our Cardinals Minor League Rookie Pitcher of the Year with Batavia last season, Scott Gorgen, mentioned recently that he required surgery on his shoulder. I have not yet been able to reach the 22-year-old right-hander to confirm this but I will post if so.

Since the Cardinals have not yet received their signed HIPAA waiver forms which enable them to discuss 2009 player injuries, the organization is unable to comment publicly at this time.

Houston Justice served

In case you missed this good news story the other day, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle, writing for the Sporting News, offers a positive spin on the 2009 Cardinals. It is nice to see from a writer from an opposing city, especially considering some of the biased junk that has come out of Chicago in recent years.

Justice should have a good eye for bad situations as the Astros have decimated their once-strong farm system both in staff and players and despite finishing just ahead of the Cardinals last year, are an organization seemingly trending in the wrong direction.