Welcome to the first Cardinals mailbag of the offseason. 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.
I was wondering what the chances are of the Cardinals re-signing Braden Looper or Felipe Lopez? Also, will Troy Glaus exercise his player option and will the Cardinals extend his contract? Lastly, any chance of David Eckstein in Cardinals red next spring? -- Mark S.
Plenty of questions here, and they're all appropriate now that we've hit the offseason.
Looper's return now looks very unlikely in light of the contract given to Kyle Lohse. According to general manager John Mozeliak, if the Cardinals add another starting pitcher through free agency, it's likely to be a No. 5 starter type.
I think Lopez is very much on the radar, possibly as the primary second baseman for next year and possibly as a 400-at-bat super-utility type.
Glaus exercised his option as a condition of his trade from Toronto. Given the number of third basemen in the system, the club won't hurry to give him a new deal beyond 2009.
And as for Eckstein, I'd consider that very, very unlikely. He said the polite and diplomatic things when he returned to St. Louis, but he had a lot of hard feelings as to how the parting went.
Have Joe Mather and Chris Perez both lost their rookie eligibility this year? -- Randy W., Ont.
Yep. Mather got 133 at-bats, and the cutoff is 130. Perez didn't cross the 50-inning threshold, but he did get too many days of Major League service time. A player loses his eligibility when he has 45 days on the active roster (not counting September).
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With the Cardinals missing the playoffs, what would you say are Albert Pujols' (or even Ryan Ludwick's) chance of getting the National League Most Valuable Player Award this year? -- Dan K., Bettendorf, Iowa
I know we've talked about this a lot, but let's give it one more look. It's clear no one will come anywhere close to unanimity, but I do believe Pujols is the most likely player to win. His remarkable final numbers drew a lot of notice -- a sampling of various voters' stories and comments indicates he's going to get a lot of votes. Ludwick will get some down-ballot votes, but he won't be a serious contender to win the award.
I have really been impressed with David Freese, the kid who the Cardinals got for Jim Edmonds. Is there any chance he gets to play part-time or full-time next year? -- Nick W., Tulsa, Okla.
I noticed Allen Craig had a good year at Double-A Springfield, and last season he hit really well. Is Craig the Cardinals' third baseman of the future? Is there any chance of seeing him play next season, if an injury occurs to Glaus? -- Ryan G., Florissant, Mo.
Freese definitely is ahead of Craig on the depth chart, and, honestly, Craig is in a tough spot. Brett Wallace's arrival means Craig is squeezed in both directions, and it won't be shocking if they try to find another position for Craig -- or deal one of the two high-Minors third basemen.
I'd guess there's a good chance Freese at least gets a taste in 2009, given the aforementioned fact that Glaus will be in the last year of his contract. The Cardinals are likely to want to see what they have in Freese.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.