While La Russa and the Cards aren't officially conceding anything in 2007, he acknowledged that some Cardinals veterans may be on the move. Outfielder Juan Encarnacion, shortstop David Eckstein and several relievers could make appealing trade targets for teams in contention.
"If you look at our whole club, I would say the bullpen, they've been so good and so consistent for so long," La Russa said. "That would be one place [that other teams would look]. The outfielders are picking it up. Juan's had a big six weeks, two months."
The Cards' two most tradeable relievers both come with complications, however. Jason Isringhausen has no-trade protection, and the club holds a 2008 option on him. Isringhausen said Tuesday that he would listen to any trade the club brought to him, but that he's not looking to go anywhere. Russ Springer, meanwhile, came to St. Louis largely because of a school that has benefited his autistic son.
"I know how this organization works," La Russa said. "They're going to be very aware of why Russ came here in the first place. Unless you're offered somebody that's a can't-miss, can't-turn-the-deal-down [player], there's going to be some humanity to a Russ Springer deal. Plus, we need him. We want to win some games down the stretch."
Saturday starters: The order of Saturday's Cardinals starting pitchers remains undetermined, and may stay that way until Friday. Brad Thompson and Anthony Reyes will be the two pitchers to take the ball for St. Louis against Milwaukee in the day-night doubleheader. The question is who will start Game 1 and who will start Game 2.
"There's a couple different theories, and we've talked about both of them," La Russa said. "We haven't decided which of the two is the best for us yet."
Either way, the Cardinals are likely to make a roster move between games. Reyes is not currently on the 25-man active roster, so he could be called up for the opener, then optioned in favor of a reliever for the night game. Or the Cardinals could keep their roster intact for the early game, then activate Reyes for the night game before sending him out on Sunday.
Bits and pieces: Mike Maroth was listed as an emergency option in the bullpen for one last day Wednesday, although he's slated to start Friday. La Russa jokingly predicted that Maroth would "strike out Cliff Floyd with the bases loaded." ... Chris Duncan got the start against lefty Ted Lilly on Wednesday, while Jim Edmonds and Adam Kennedy sat out in favor of right-handed hitters. ... The Aug. 6 Cardinals-Padres game at Busch Stadium will start at 6:08 p.m. CT to accommodate an ESPN broadcast.
This date in Cardinals history: On July 25, 2006, the Cardinals won a true rarity -- a 1-0 game at Coors Field. It was just the third 1-0 game in the history of the ballpark. Chris Carpenter pitched seven innings for the win, and Albert Pujols hit a solo homer.
Baby 'Birds: Rick Ankiel homered and walked in Triple-A Memphis' 8-2 loss to Sacramento on Tuesday. ... P.J. Walters had a rough introduction to Double-A, allowing four runs in 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings as Springfield lost to Arkansas, 4-2, on Tuesday. ... Class A Palm Beach was rained out Tuesday against Daytona. ... Jared Schweitzer, Jaime Landin and Steve Hill had three hits each for Class A Quad Cities, which beat Lansing, 11-4, on Tuesday.
Andrew Brown went 3-for-4 in short-season Batavia's 9-3 loss to Brooklyn on Tuesday. ... Rookie-level Johnson City was rained out on Tuesday. ... The Gulf Coast League Cardinals held on to beat the GCL Nationals on Tuesday, 4-3, with contributions from a pair of rehabbing players. Cody Haerther went 1-for-3 with a triple, and Mike Sillman allowed a hit and struck out two in one inning.
Schweitzer and Landin share player of the day honors for their identical strong showings. Each player went 3-for-5 with two doubles, a run and three RBIs. Infielder Schweitzer was a 30th-round pick out of the University of Kansas in 2006. Landin, who has played infield and outfield, signed as an undrafted free agent.
Coming up: The Cards and Cubs finish their series on Thursday night at Busch Stadium. Braden Looper tries to even his record at 8-8, while Jason Marquis takes the mound for Chicago. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. CT.