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.
With the new Kings of Leon album playing on the iPod and a view of Philadelphia International Airport out my hotel window, let's get on with the questions. It's a bit of a lightning-round mailbag this week.
Have we seen the last of Mark Mulder? What are the chances that he might return?
--Bobby O., Kevil, Ky.
Mulder's tenure in St. Louis is almost certainly over. The club will decline his 2009 option, and general manager John Mozeliak said that it is very unlikely that a smaller deal will be pursued to replace it.
Wondering if there is any thought to keeping Braden Looper and having him go back to his original role as closer?
-- Brad B, Jonesboro, Ark.
That idea is a non-starter, no pun intended. The club might or might not be interested in such a move with Looper, but he has zero interest. He considers himself a starter now. That's what he wants to do and how he intends to market himself on the free-agent market.
Although he was only in Double-A last year, what are the chances of Jess Todd making the roster next year?
-- Brian B., Little Rock, Ark.
The chances of him cracking the Opening Day roster are slim, but not entirely impossible. He did make a few appearances at Triple-A Memphis, but he merely did well rather than spectacularly (as he fared at every previous level). The right side of the bullpen is already crowded, and it's hard to envision Todd cracking the rotation out of Spring Training. By the end of the year, however, he might well make his way to St. Louis.
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Regarding Adam Kennedy's request for a trade (and I understand where he's coming from), what do you think we get for him? Pitching? Prospects? Just let somebody eat his salary for a bag of balls? Your thoughts?
-- Greg G., Arvada, Col.
If that. I suspect a Kennedy deal would look an awful lot like the Tino Martinez deal from a few years back. If the Cardinals were willing to pay the vast majority or all of the $4 million remaining on Kennedy's contract, they might get a prospect. If not, they'd likely get a non-prospect Minor Leaguer. Kennedy bounced back some in '08, but his trade value would seem to be very limited.
I have heard talk about different closers either being signed by the Cards (Brian Fuentes, Francisco Rodriguez) or current relief pitchers being put into the closer's role (Chris Perez), what do you think the Cards are most likely to do? Also, is Joe Nathan on the Cards' radar considering the ERA and save numbers he put up in Minnesota?
-- Mark H., St. Charles, Mo.
To answer the last part first, I'm sure they'd love to get Nathan, but the Twins have no reason to trade him. He's signed through 2011. Fuentes is obviously someone the team likes a lot, but not if it requires the entirety of the remaining budget to get it done. Rodriguez quite certainly isn't going to happen. One possibility that seems very realistic: you might see them sign a free agent like Juan Cruz, Dan Wheeler or Brandon Lyon. Or they could open up a competition in Spring Training.
Who do you think will be the Cardinals' fifth starter next season? We have Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer, would Joel Pineiro be it? I would like them to trade him in the offseason and put in someone like Jaime Garcia.
-- Josh K., Urbandale, Ill.
The problem with trading Pineiro is that he's coming off a rough year and due a fairly healthy amount of money. So the value would be limited. As it stands now, the '09 rotation includes Wainwright, Lohse, Wellemeyer and Pineiro. If Carpenter is healthy, that's your starting five. Given that it's unsure how healthy Carpenter will be, they may pursue an additional pitcher for rotation depth. Garcia will not be available due to elbow surgery.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.