Inbox: Will Cardinals pursue Fielder?

Inbox: Will Cardinals pursue Fielder?

Inbox: Will Cardinals pursue Fielder?
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 email, 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 emails arrive every week, so they can't all be used in the inbox or receive personal responses.

With the Roots' new album "Undun" playing on the speakers, let's get on with the questions. And, yes, you can pretty much guess what most of them focus on.

Why wouldn't the Cards try to get Prince Fielder now that Albert Pujols is gone?
-- Cameron K., Dallas

It's fair to say that the Cardinals went far past their comfort zone in their attempt to sign Pujols. They did so because he is not simply a great player, but was a franchise icon, a signature player. If the same player had been another team's free agent, it's exceedingly unlikely that the Cardinals would have bid so high on that player. They offered what they did for more than just baseball reasons.

So, given that it will almost assuredly take a very similar deal to acquire Fielder, you can deduce why they're not likely to get involved. Fielder is a terrific player, but he doesn't have that extra factor that pushed the Cardinals to go as far as they did with Pujols.

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Question:

With Pujols leaving, I'm interested to know where you rank him among the all-time Cardinal greats. Also, do you think the Cardinals will eventually retire his number?
-- Chris K., Louisville, Ky.

He's pretty clearly the second-greatest hitter in franchise history. Comparing him to the pitchers is all but impossible, but the only hitter who had a greater Cardinals career was Stan Musial. As for the number, yes, I do believe that ultimately will happen -- but not soon. It's pretty much a sure thing that Pujols will go in the Hall of Fame, and I'd say more likely than not the Hall will choose a Cardinals hat for him. If that happens, you can expect that at some point No. 5 will be retired.

Are the Cardinals looking at Yoenis Cespedes? If so, what are the chances of signing him?
-- Brad K., Kewanee, Ill.

My information is that the Cardinals are not a player at all for Cespedes, a player who actually might represent a highly intriguing fit for them. Cespedes is a right-handed-hitting center fielder with an impressive offensive game. However, it's my understanding that they have not made any serious inquiries and will not be a player for Cespedes.

All I've been hearing is that the starting five for next year is set, but is it? Is there any chance of the Cardinals unloading Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, or both? Westbrook, in my opinion at least, is not a trustworthy starter. Even if we don't get much for him, would it be worth it to at least take a look? I'd love to see what the Cardinals could come up with.
-- Chad G., Edwardsville, Ill.

Yes. In short, it is set.

The Cardinals will listen if other clubs call about starters, but they're not at all motivated to move one. Lohse is coming off a very strong year. Westbrook had a rough 2011 but has historically been better than that, and selling low is generally not good business. (Yes, the corollary would be that trading Lohse now would count as selling high, and it's a fair argument, but it's still unlikely to happen.)

The biggest factor at play here is that both of those right-handers have blanket no-trade protection, and both are happy in St. Louis. They don't want to go anywhere. So while it's possible that the Cards could be overwhelmed by an offer for one of them and try to work out an arrangement where the pitcher accepted the deal, it's exceedingly unlikely.

If Edwin Jackson signs with another ballclub, will the Cardinals receive any compensation Draft picks in return? Thanks!
-- Brian S., Centralia, Mo.

Yes. The Cardinals would receive a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds for Jackson, and they will also receive one for Octavio Dotel. They will receive two picks as compensation for Pujols' departure.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer, and follow him on Twitter @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.