Jupiter, Florida- Cardinal Manager Mike Matheny has to replace the offensive contributions of a future Hall of Famer and has to do it with a bits and pieces approach. One of these pieces the Cardinals are counting on is World Series MVP 3B David Freese.
Unfortunately, Freese has never played a full season, hasn't even reached 100 games in a season, due to arthritic feet and a surgically repaired ankle. Freese is doing all he can to "push the envelope" to get ready for the regular season, but Matheny wants to take a conservative approach. This brings prospect Matt Carpenter in to take reps at third, and pressure off of Freese, as well as already working at 1b, 2b, and corner outfield. Carpenter hopes to head north with the big club as a utility player.
Last year's back-up at third, Dangerous Dan Descalso, is in the mix for the starting 2b job, thought more likely to break camp as a utility, as the club has expressed it's desire to see Tyler Greene win the job this spring. That usually means the competition is over unless someone completely overwhelms while Greene completely fails and it would take an epic fail.
Expectations should be tempered despite the whirlwind of projections flying around in the warm afterglow of the historic postseason performance Freese displayed. He won't hit 30 home runs, won't get enough at bats, but if Freese hits a slash line anywhere near .285/22/75 it would be more than enough for the Cards to contend again.
From the "Release the Hounds" file: The St. Louis Rams have "officially" announced the club is willing to trade the second pick in the upcoming NFL draft in April. This is the worst kept secret in the NFL since Jim Irsay's decision to hold onto his $28 million rather than give it to his aging, injured QB.
The Rams are terribly undermanned at several positions and the club's track record in recent drafts is abysmal despite picking high year after year. Team needs include, not necessarily in order, offensive line, wide receiver, defensive backs (multiple), defensive tackles, kick returners, running back. The club is happy with QB Scrambling Sam Bradford.
The NFL rumor mill indicates that the Rams have heard from the Browns, the Dolphins, the Redskins, and at least three teams outside the top ten in draft order. Those three would be considered longshots as the Rams would like to remain in position to bring in a guaranteed impact player.
The team is reported to be seeking a package similar to that received by the San Diego Chargers from the New York Giants in 2004 which including two first round picks, one third round pick, and one fifth rounder. The Chargers turned these into QB Phillip Rivers, LB Shawn Merriman, and K Nate Kaeding. RB Michael Turner was also selected in this draft, one that turned the Chargers fortunes around.
At the time of this draft, the Chargers were so bad that Eli Manning announced that he would not play for San Diego because they were so far from being competitive, finishing the 2003 season with a 4-12 record.
The Redskins are said to have already offered two first round picks, but one would have to think that nothing will be done at least until the Peyton Manning sweepstakes plays out. Washington is in the hunt for a QB and may be more willing to attach their future fortunes to Robert Griffin 111, but this pick is Cleveland's for the taking if they want as the Browns possess two first round picks in the 2012 draft.
This draft must be about accumulated quality for the Rams in order for Fisher to turn things around. And that means extra high-quality picks.