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Hello from Qatar! I am currently deployed with the USAF and have been trying as often as possible to read the updates online on how the Cards are doing! I do have one question. With the Cardinals undoubtedly willing to spend a lot of money on Albert Pujols this winter, do you think there will be any room for them to add any depth to the rest of the lineup, either before season's end or during the offseason? I really hope we can retain Pujols, but will that mean we will have to forego bringing in any outside veterans we could use at say, shortstop or closer? I like the thought of being able to use mostly homegrown talent throughout the lineup and bullpen, but will it be enough? Thank you!
-- Micah R., Pierre, S.D./Qatar
Well, first of all, thanks for your service and stay safe.
Second, a non-answer. Because we really don't know what a potential Pujols contract would end up looking like, it's hard to say what kind of flexibility they would have for 2012 when and if a deal gets done. But I do believe that such a deal wouldn't swallow up all remaining payroll room. It wouldn't make sense to do that.
Finally, an answer. It's my understanding that the Cardinals do have some flexibility between now and the end of the regular season. Whether they use it to make a significant upgrade remains to be seen. However, I have been told that the club can add some payroll between now and the non-waiver Trade Deadline. That's not really related to Pujols, because most likely a deadline acquisition would be a player signed only through the remainder of the 2011 season.
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Any chance the Cardinals will go after Jose Reyes in a trade if the Mets decide to start dumping players? He would give us a legitimate leadoff hitter and be a defensive upgrade.
-- Dave B., Springfield, Ill.
I have no doubt that if Reyes is made available, the Cardinals would make a call. It would be professional negligence not to call and find out what the price would be.
However, I don't expect that a deal would get done. The Cardinals, as mentioned above, do have some financial flexibility, but not tons. And they have some prospects to trade, but not a truckload. So they likely can only make one significant addition at the Deadline. My read is that they would upgrade another position with that "one bullet," such as the bullpen, rather than acquiring a shortstop.
I wouldn't rule it out 100 percent. But I'd say the odds are very long.
I saw recently that Zack Cox was promoted to Double-A. Is there any possibility the club is rushing him a little bit after seeing three consecutive seasons of David Freese getting injured?
-- Jared F., Sullivan, Ill.
No, I don't think that's why Cox is on the fast track. There are two main reasons he's advanced so quickly.
One, quite frankly, is that he's earned it. After a little bit of a slow start at Class A Palm Beach (a notoriously tough place to hit), he came on with a huge flurry and just abused the Florida State League for several weeks. There was no reason not to move him up.
Two is that he's on the 40-man roster. Cox signed a Major League contract when he signed last summer. That is plenty of incentive to advance him as fast as possible, because every year that he's not on the active 25-man roster is another year that he's being optioned. Cox was drafted with the thought that he'd be able to move quickly. So far, he's lived up to it.
I have been pretty impressed by Daniel Descalso since he's been getting more playing time. His average may not be super high, but he seems to get hits when they are needed and looks pretty decent on defense. If he keeps playing well, I'm wondering what the Cardinals would do long term with him, especially since Freese seems to not be able to play very long at all without getting hurt. Any chance that Descalso would become the starter even after Freese returns? -- Michael C., New Madrid, Mo.
I think you may be underestimating what Freese offers when he plays. Freese is a significant offensive contributor, a player who has both on-base skills and power. He's the regular whenever he's healthy, and he should be. Descalso has an intriguing skill set, but may be best suited to being a utility player. He's a terrific defensive third baseman, thanks in large part to his powerful throwing arm. But his bat probably plays better at second base. He'll be around for a while, but I don't see him as an everyday third baseman in the bigs.