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Cards renew relationship with Memphis

Cards renew relations with Memphis

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ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals announced Thursday that they have renewed their player development contract with their Triple-A Memphis affiliate, inking a new deal that lasts four seasons.

Memphis, located approximately 300 miles south of St. Louis, has been a Cardinals affiliate since 1998, and now will remain so through at least 2012.

"Everybody knows that's where we wanted to be all along," general manager John Mozeliak said on Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

The deal had been in some doubt for a variety of reasons, and the renewal deadline was fast approaching. But the Cardinals and the Memphis club managed to strike a deal without waiting until the very last minute.

"It's an exciting moment for all of us here in St. Louis," Mozeliak said.

The Redbirds, who operate as a not-for-profit enterprise, pondered a number of options, including the potential for a club to take some sort of ownership stake in the Triple-A franchise. But for the time being, St. Louis and Memphis officials both emphasized the player development deal was the main priority.

Another factor was the competitiveness of the Memphis franchise, which enjoyed a solid 75-67 record in 2008. The previous couple of seasons had been frustrating ones for the Redbirds.

"We saw some real positive feedback from our fans," said Memphis team president Dave Chase. "We had a younger team than we've had in the past. We played hard. We were in a pennant race down until the last week or so of the season. The baseball we were watching was really enjoyable.

"[Owner Dean Jernigan] made it quite clear this fall that he wanted us to have a competitive team. We certainly got it, and we got it with young players."

Additionally, the Cardinals announced that they will play two exhibition games at Memphis' AutoZone Park at the end of Spring Training next year. The games are scheduled for April 3-4, 2009.

Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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