A few odds and ends from the Cardinals on day one of the Winter Meetings:
* The Padres’ interest in Brendan Ryan is real and acknowledged. What exactly would constitute a fit between the two teams remains to be determined, but if the Cardinals decide to move Ryan, San Diego looks like a prime landing spot. Pittsburgh is a possibility, but the Pirates’ interest seems less ardent.
Moreover, it’s worth noting that the Cardinals and Padres have a good relationship, having dealt with one another several times in recent years.
Manager Tony La Russa said in a radio interview on Monday that one way or another, Ryan will not be the Cardinals’ starting shortstop. The skipper seemed to indicate that Ryan would be best suited by getting a change of scenery.
“If he stays with us, he’s a utility player,” La Russa said on the Bernie Miklasz show on WXOS radio in St. Louis. “I think he would
be useful as a utility player. I don’t know at this point in his career if that
something that would fire him up to come to the ballpark. I think ‘Mo’ is going to
be checking out to see where his value is. If there’s value in an area that we
can do some good, then that’s probably a better situation, to get him a place
where he can play. He would be an excellent utility man, but I don’t know that
that would motivate him to be excited to come to the park. He’s young and he
wants to be a regular.”
* A couple of outlets today reported that the Cards should not be ruled out as a suitor for Rays infielder Jason Bartlett. SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted “don’t coun’t them out,” while the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals “retain interest” in Bartlett.
However, in the same radio interview, La Russa dashed that notion.
“We’re not chasing Bartlett,” La Russa told WXOS. “I just don’t think that that makes sense for us. We probably need to figure out what we’re going to do in the utility role. We’ve still got Brendan and stuff like that, but I don’t think that… nor do we have the resources to try to add a multimillion dollar player. What we’ve got here is now finishing up and complementing the roster. But I don’t think that’s accurate [that the Cardinals are pursuing Bartlett].”
* Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown tweeted Monday that Gregg Zaun is a player of interest to the Cardinals, and that’s one rumor that makes some sense. Zaun is a well-regarded veteran, widely considered an excellent clubhouse guy — and that’s clearly one of the aims of the front office in reshaping the roster for 2011.
Additionally, Zaun can hit. In 2010, he put up a 265/350/392 line. Over the past seven seasons, he’s at 256/353/401, which is outstanding for any catcher.
The question is Zaun’s health. He didn’t play after May of last year, and underwent surgery on the labrum of his throwing shoulder in early June. That could be off-putting to a team that places a great deal of emphasis on stopping the opponent’s running game.