Mailbag: Will Grudzielanek return?
Cardinals fans ask about Hoffman, Ryan, World Baseball Classic
Welcome to the latest Cardinals mailbag. As always, if you have a question, use the form 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.
There has been a lot of talk about the Cardinals upgrading at the middle infield positions. I was wondering if there was any chance the Cardinals bring back Mark Grudzielanek to play second base? He had a great year previously with the team, and I think he is underrated and an upgrade both offensively and defensively at the position.
-- Mike C., Bozeman, Mont.
Grudzielanek is an interesting name. Some free-agent second basemen may hesitate to sign with St. Louis before a trade is completed with Adam Kennedy, but when and if that gets done, Grudzielanek is likely to have interest in a second tour of duty. I've been told that he has no hard feelings about the parting after 2005, and that he'd be very happy to play for Tony La Russa again. The question is the team's level of interest, but Grudzielanek was well-regarded when he was here, and if the price were right, he could be a good fit on a short-term deal.
Since Trevor Hoffman will be a free agent, is that someone that Cardinals would look for as a closer since he is one of the best closers ever? Would he be too expensive since he is that good and the Cardinals don't want to spend that much money on a closer when they have plenty of potentials already in the system?
-- Ryan B., Indianapolis
It's possible that Hoffman won't be that expensive. The last offer from San Diego was reportedly for $4 million, which is certainly reasonable. The questions are, how long will Hoffman be available, does he want to leave San Diego, and how much money will the Cardinals have left when they're done addressing their other needs?
In theory, though, Hoffman would be a great fit because of the short-term nature. He's unlikely to command three or four years, and the Cardinals don't want to commit three or four years to a closer when, as you mention, they have developing alternatives in-house.
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-- James P., Sikeston, Mo.
This sort of thing would be pretty rare and almost certainly would not happen with a young player such as Perez. In the case of an established veteran, it would at least be possible. And if a player approached the organization to ask about his status, he'd get an answer. But for the most part, they'll rarely consult in such a manner.
What are the Cardinals' plans for Brendan Ryan next year? It seems to me that he was more than adequate defensively at three infield positions. His hitting was a little spotty this year, but he does seem to make consistent contact. Does he have a future here?
-- Mark R., Los Angeles
Ryan took a step back on the field in 2008, struggling at the plate in St. Louis and at Triple-A Memphis. As a result, it appears he's no longer considered a viable alternative as a starter, which is a shame because if he'd stepped forward last year he might be a solution at either second base or shortstop. Ryan is not out of the picture entirely; he does some things well. But his status is shakier than it was a year ago.
Since it looks like Albert Pujols will be ready in plenty of time for Spring Training, is there any hope of seeing him in the World Baseball Classic? Also, which Cardinals (including Jose Oquendo) do you foresee participating in the 2009 event?
-- Jeff B., St. Charles, Mo.
Yep, Pujols does expect to participate in the Classic, barring any setbacks. Other Cardinals who have expressed an interest include Ryan Ludwick, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.