Welcome to the Cardinals Inbox. As always, if you have a question, use the link below to submit it -- and please be sure to include your first name, last initial and hometown. If you send a regular e-mail, rather than using the form, be certain to use the word "mailbag" in the subject header -- otherwise your mail may be directed to the spam folder or possibly be ignored in an unbecoming manner. Also, please understand that literally hundreds of e-mails arrive every week, so they can't all be used in the mailbag or receive personal responses.
With the classic "A Motown Christmas" playing on the stereo, let's get on with the questions.
Why not sign Edgar Renteria?
-- Aaron G., Mansfield, Mo.
I wouldn't 100 percent rule out Renteria as a depth option on the bench, but it doesn't look likely. As for why, it's simple: dollars. Renteria recently rejected a $1 million offer from the Giants, going so far as to call it an insult. If he's looking for significantly more than $1 million to play in 2011, he won't be playing for the Cardinals.
Before the team signed Gerald Laird, I was told that they were pretty much maxed out on payroll, with the one exception being some money allotted to sign a backup catcher. With Laird in the fold, it's my understanding that the Cardinals don't have any additional preseason payroll flexibility to add Major League players. I still won't be surprised to see them sign some Minor League free agents, but aside from that, it would appear that they're done building the '11 roster.
It has been widely documented that Albert Pujols will not negotiate contracts during the season. If the two parties can't come to an agreement before the beginning of Spring Training, do you think the Cardinals will try to trade Pujols or ride it out with hopes of re-signing him next offseason?
-- Ty W., Marthasville, Mo.
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There is virtually no chance for a trade. Pujols has blanket no-trade protection because of his 10-and-5 status (10 years of Major League service, the last five with the same team). Meanwhile, the Cardinals view themselves as contenders for 2011, and it's hard to imagine any Pujols trade making them better for the upcoming season. If no deal can be reached with Pujols before the season starts, it's virtually certain that the club would wait and try again after the season ends.
What are the Cardinals doing about a closer. Is Ryan Franklin still the guy or will they look somewhere else in or out of the organization? Would Kyle McClellen get a look? He pitched very well in the setup role last season.
-- Lee A., Springfield, Mo.
I've gotten a lot of questions about Franklin and the bullpen recently, and honestly I'm not sure why. It was one of the strengths of the 2010 Cardinals and appears likely to be the same in '11. The right-handed depth is strong, and while there's some question as to what exactly Brian Tallet will do as a reliever, there's at least reason to think it could work out well. As far as worries about the 2011 Cardinals -- and surely, there are a few -- relief pitching should appear very low on the list.
As for Franklin, yes, he is still "the guy." He's been effective, and as long as he remains so, there's no urgency to replace him. However, since his contract ends after the 2011 season, it would be nice if the club could start getting a read on who his successor will be. The good news is that at least three candidates exist in-house: McClellan, Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs.
Is Kyle Lohse ever going to become the Lohse of old or should the Cardinals look to trade him? And if they did, what trade market would there be for him?
-- Jonny N., Hallsville, Mo.
The first question is one of the biggest questions facing the 2011 Cardinals. During the Winter Meetings, I asked general manager John Mozeliak what he felt would be fair to expect of Lohse this coming season, and he quickly and adamantly asserted that the club expects Lohse to be his old effective self. It's only fair, though, to have skepticism until Lohse proves that he can regain the form he showed before his 2009 injury.
As for trading Lohse, I get a good number of questions about it, and it's all but impossible. Lohse is owed $23.75 million over the next two seasons, and he has complete no-trade protection. He's coming off basically a lost year, so even if he approved a deal, they would be moving him at the absolute nadir of his value -- which is pretty much never the smart way to make a trade.
A more likely scenario is that the club could conceivably try to move him after 2011, if he has a good year, in order to clear some payroll for the '12 season. But even then, Lohse would have to approve any deal, and he's happy in St. Louis with no interest in leaving.
What positions will Matt Holliday play in 2011? I have read in this column he will be moving to right to make way for Lance Berkman but also that he will stay in left.
-- Tom L., Fairfax, Va.
I touched on this last week, but just to be clear: As of now, the plan is that Holliday will play left field, with Berkman in right.
Are any Cards playing in winter ball? If so, how are they faring?
-- Alex W., Provo, Utah
A few are, but not a large number. For a story updating how some of them have been doing, visit this link at Cardinals.com. And for a cool feature that many folks may not know we have, visit and bookmark this link for updated stats for all members of the Cardinals organization who are playing or have played in winter or fall ball this offseason.
A couple of highlights: Amaury Cazana is batting .272 with a .323 on-base percentage and a .457 slugging percentage for Culiacan in the Mexican League, and Raul Valdes is 5-2 with a 2.54 ERA, 46 strikeouts and 12 walks in 49 2/3 innings for Toros del Este of the Dominican League. Eduardo Sanchez had been pitching very well in Venezuela but has had a rough go lately.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.