Cardinals minor matters – March 19

With little unreported news of note on current St. Louis Cardinals, it seems a good time to sweep up some miscellaneous items from the last few days about ex-Cards still active across the game.

Worrell wounded

San Diego reliever Mark Worrell, unhappy with the Cardinals over a lack of opportunity, received his with the Padres this spring. The sidearmer had pitched well enough that he was expected to make the team.

That was before elbow soreness hit. Now he is shut down with this ominous comment from manager Bud Black, after talking with team doctors.

Black said, “It doesn’t look great.”

No news yet on the second player to head to the Padres in the Khalil Greene trade, but whoever it is, I still like the Cardinals side of the deal.

Perdomo still fighting among Giants

Taken in the December Rule 5 Draft, Luis Perdomo is one of nine relievers vying for two spots in the San Francisco Giants bullpen. It he doesn’t make the team, he will passed through waivers and if unclaimed, will return to the Cardinals minor leagues.

Izzy’s first outing with Rays

Nobody is getting too excited in Tampa Bay yet, but Jason Isringhausen made his first spring appearance the other day. Not dominating, nor should it have been expected with Izzy coming off elbow surgery.

Still, there is hope that Izzy can be part of the pen mix and given closer Troy Percival’s age and health risk, this could be a good place for the exiled Cards all-time saves leader to get his career back on track.

Julian brutally honest

After turning down an earlier offer from Washington, former Cardinals reliever Julian Tavarez accepted this time – a non-guaranteed minor league deal with a spring camp invite.

Since leaving the Cardinals after the 2005 season, the 34-year-old right-hander has pitched (and departed from) Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. If he makes the cut, Washington will become his 11th MLB club.

Never known for taking things very seriously, here is what Tavarez said about joining the Nationals:

“Why did I sign with the Nationals?” Tavarez told a group of reporters. “When you go to a club at [4 a.m.], and you’re just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like J. Lo. And to me this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It’s [4 a.m.]. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me.”

“I would like to be a starter, but it’s like my father said: ‘You want Jennifer Lopez, but does she want you? No.’ You just take whatever she is giving to you. So I just take whatever they give to me … They give to me as a long man, I take it as a long man. Set up man, I take it. Starter, I take it. I can do whatever.”

The Kipper is back!

I had recently been dogging the Toronto Blue Jays as the destination for old Cardinals to die. Perhaps that is now the Washington Nationals. Ray “Burger” King passed through there on his way out of the game and Ronnie Belliard and now Tavarez are there today.

There is another recent addition – former Cardinals starter Kip Wells. The Nats’ brass are tantalized by his 90-93 mph fastball and movement on his slider. Right.

Since leaving St. Louis, where he was an awful 7-17 in 2007, Wells couldn’t stick with Colorado or Kansas City, either. He hasn’t had a winning season since 2003. Wells can earn $500,000 if he makes the team.

Good luck with that.

Maroth to minors, Clement doing ok

Speaking of Toronto, left-handed pitcher Mike Maroth was sent down to the minors by the Jays. No surprise there. He surrendered five runs, four earned, and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings in his first start on Saturday.

One of the players that beat him out was another former Cardinal, Matt Clement. He’s still in camp, having allowed three runs in six innings. For the Jays, that is good, I guess.

Haerther hits the field as Rolen sidelined

In his first action of the spring, outfielder Cody Haerther went 2-for-2 and drove in two runs for the Jays on Wednesday. If the former Cardinal minor leaguer can ever put the injuries behind, he has a chance to eventually make it as a reserve outfielder.

In response to a reader question, though he was taken in the Rule 5 Draft last December, Haerther does not have to be returned to the Cardinals when he is sent down. That is because he was on the Springfield roster and was taken in the minor league phase of Rule 5.

Former Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen has been eased into spring action with just 13 at-bats so far. He had to leave Wednesday’s game due to a sore back that is not supposed to be serious.

There were rumors that the Jays were hoping for a hot spring from Rolen to attract trade interest. With him being owed $22 million for this season and next, there aren’t going to be any takers.

Sir Sid’s groundhog day

The Kansas City Royals signed pitcher Sidney Ponson to a minor league contract, with an invitation to spring training.

They want to see if he “has anything left in the tank”. If that means ample food and drink, the answer is “yes”. If they mean the ability to pitch consistently well, the answer is “no way”.

Though I didn’t peg the team, the first part of my earlier prediction has come true. I figured Sir Sidney would pitch well enough in the World Baseball Classic for the Netherlands (Dutch Aruba, remember?) that he would be signed somewhere.

Step two will be to pitch well in a game or two. Step three is to revert to being himself. Step four is to be waived. Step five is to be re-signed by the Yankees, before a repeat of steps two through four.

By the way, Ponson finally settled with the Orioles on his grievance based on being released in 2005 with a $10 million deal for 2006 in place. There were those alcohol-related problems…

Rico to China

Last year’s Joe Thurston-come-from-nowhere to make the team feel-good story was career minor leaguer Rico Washington. He made the 2008 opening day roster due to Brendan Ryan starting on the disabled list and lasted less than a month in the bigs, but he did make it after a dozen years of trying.

Rico is on a different career trajectory now, having signed with defending champion Uni-President Lions in the Chinese Professional Baseball League for 2009.

Pomeranz back on the mound

The White Sox signed former Cardinals right-hander pitcher Stuart Pomeranz. It was a minor league deal, of course.

The 24-year-old was the Cards’ second-round pick in 2003 and at one point, was a top-ten prospect in the organization. He never made Triple-A, though he did pitch in the Arizona Fall League in 2006.

Pomeranz’ shoulder was injured for most of 2007 and after being released last spring, he didn’t play the rest of the season as far as I can tell. I assumed he had retired.

Spivey-man sighting

Now, here is one that floored me. The Mets signed second baseman Junior Spivey to a minor league contract.

I don’t know what was more surprising – that Spivey is still playing or the fact that he was given a professional contract. After spending 2005 with the Nationals, he came to Cardinals camp in 2006 hoping to win the second base job, but spent the entire season in Memphis. That is a good thing. After all, I don't think I could have survived a whole season of Mike Shannon calling him "Spivey-man".

Junior played in indy ball in 2007 and also had a short Triple-A look-see with the Red Sox that season. Where he was last year, I have no idea. Maybe hanging out with the "Simo-man".

is limping back

Speaking of indy ball and retired guys I thought I would never see again, Preston Wilson signed with Newark Bears in the Atlantic League. (What the heck? They also signed Pete Rose Jr. and have Carl Everett on the team, too.)

Wilson’s chronic knee problems must have improved enough to hobble out there. He last played in 2007 and managed just 64 at-bats for the Cardinals.

(A tip of the cap to Cardinals Best News Links for the Rico and Wilson news.)