Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols douses manager Tony La Russa with a cooler full of ice following the team's clinch of the National League Central Title. AP photo.
Season ending report card
3 -- Khalil Greene, Incomplete: I think that pretty much sums it up.
4 -- Yadier Molina, A: Another great season of defense should win Molina a second Gold Glove. It wasn't too long ago that it was said that any offense he provided was a pius. Well, his .293 average -- which included a .312 pace in the second half -- means that he adds an awful lot of positives at the plate.
5 -- Albert Pujols, A+: It would be a shock if The Mang doesn't win the National League MVP Award with a .329 batting average, 47 homers and 135 RBIs. He also set a league record for assists by a first baseman, as if his defensive credentials needed to be padded.
7 -- Mark DeRosa, C+: It's impossible to grade intangibles, otherwise they would be tangible. But DeRosa is well known for his qualities as a teammate and leader, which drive up his value. On the field he plays decent defense at several positions, although the Cardinals used him almost exclusively to fill the hole at third base left by Troy Glaus. DeRosa, who we know is hampered by a wrist problem that needs off-season surgery, hit only .231 after being picked up by the Cardinals in July. But he did hit 10 homers in that short time.
8 -- Troy Glaus, Incomplete: He hit only .172 in a whopping 29 at bats after he waited too long to get off-season shoulder surgery and missed almost the entire year.
12 -- Julio Lugo, B: His late season pick-up from the Red Sox was largely unheralded and it may go down with the more considerable legacy of being the thing that caused Dave Duncan to go over the deep end. Duncan was upset about the handling of his son, Chris, who was eventually traded for Lugo after Lugo was designated for assignment... On the field, Lugo gave the Cardinals offense a top of the order spark against left-handed pitchers. He has lost quite a bit of range a shortstop and no longer appears to be an everyday option there. But he plays a decent second base and could play short in a pinch.
13 -- Brendan Ryan, A-: Finally getting a chance to play, Ryan proved that he is one of the best in the NL with his glove and he provides a lot of potential at the plate. He still doesn't have much patience at the dish, often swinging at the first pitch he can reach. He's back in manager Tony La Russa's doghouse because of a couple of baserunning mistakes in the season-ending series with Milwaukee. But he's a high motor guy who is going to have problems like that from time to time.
15 -- Matt Holliday, A: The numbers speak for themselves -- .353 with 13 homers and 53 RBI in 62 games. But Holliday not only made the St. Louis offense better with his numbers. He made Albert Pujols and others around him better by keeping opposing pitchers honest.
16 -- Chris Duncan, D: It's a shame that there were so many hard feelings about the end of Li'l Dunc's time with the Cardinals. He was a very promising young power hitter before he suffered a hernia and later an injury to his neck that seems to have sapped his power. Duncan managed only a .227 average with five homers and more strikeouts than hits before the front office traded him to Boston's Class AAA club. He lasted less than a month there before he was released.
21 -- Jason LaRue, B: He's not flashy. But he's a solid backup who works well with the pitching staff. It would be nice if the Birds could bring him back next season to serve as a capable number two receiver.
23 -- David Freese, incomplete: He was hurt before he showed up at spring training due to a car accident. Unfortunately he never had a chance to compete before he was shipped back to the minors. He hit well in Class AAA and earned a September call up where he at least earned another chance to impress at spring training in 2010.
24 -- Rick Ankiel, C-: He hit .231 with 11 homers, a major disappointment after the promise he showed in the first two-thirds of last season. Ankiel probably hurt himself statistically by playing hurt. He wasn't the same after hitting the wall hard and missing several games while making a fantastic catch before the All-Star Break. It looks like Ankiel wil move on from the Birds next season, drawing interest from the Cubs, Reds and Pirates in the NL Central.
26 -- Kyle Lohse, D: The Cardinals bucked up, paying him $41 million over four years after an excellent 2008. But he couldn't stay off the disabled list in 2009. And when he was on the field, he was only 6-10 with an ERA way too high for comfort.
27 -- Tyler Greene, C+: It was beginning to look like the longtime farmhand would never make it to the majors. He did in 2009, albeit as a utility man. But he did a respectable job, especially with the glove.
28 -- Colby Rasmus, B: He made his heralded debut in the majors and played very well in spots, showing mammoth power and a slick glove... But only on occasion. Overall he hit only .253 overall (and .163 against left-handed pitchers.)
29 -- Chris Carpenter, A: In spring training most prognosticators agreed that Chris Carpenter would never be the pitcher he once was. The only question is how much was left. Well, how about 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA and a series run at the Cy Young Award. He would have been the favorite if he wouldn't have missed time to a rib cage injury he suffered while batting. The Cardinals would not have been the team they were in 2009 without the leader of the pitching staff.
30 -- John Smoltz, B: I'm not sure even after he's been with the Redbirds for a month that anyone can be sure of what he has left. Smoltz has flashed his old brilliance at times and looked like the 42-year-old pitcher he is at others. At the very least, he ate some important innings down the stretch and gave the Birds a chance to win some games. Unfortunately, the offense didn't give him much help.
31 -- Ryan Franklin, A-: He made the All-Star Team and was fantastic -- until he signed a contract extension. Since then he has been tentative and terrible.
35 -- Joel Pineiro, A: He's had his best season in a decade, winning 15 games with a 3.43 ERA... And he easily could have one four or five more with a little bit of offensive help in the first half.
36 -- Dennys Reyes, B: Solid with an 0-2 record and 3.12 ERA. He allowed only 34 hits in 41 1/3 innings.
37 -- Todd Wellemeyer, C-: He looked like he was going to have a huge season in the spring. But he suffered control problems that evertually cost him his spot in the starting rotation.
41 -- Mitchell Boggs, C: With injuries and other opportunities in the starting rotation, he was ok but didn't really convince management that he deserved one of the five jobs fulltime. Later in the season, however, he switched to the bullpen and proved that he might have the type of stuff that is better suited to be dominant for an inning or two instead of trying to pace himself over the long haul.
43 -- Trever Miller, A: He came to the Cardinals under a cloud because of an injury that showed up during his physical. But he pitched through it -- and even earned a contract extension -- after inking a less risky deal that amounted to a long term tryout. Miller's sidearming motion is tough on lefties, making him one of the better one out guys in the NL.
46 -- Kyle McClellan, B+: He did a pretty nice job from the right side in the pen. As the season hit it's stride, he showed that he may have a nice future as a set-up man. But he doesn't seem to have the stamina to be the starter he was once projected to be.
47 -- Ryan Ludwick, B: He had a pretty nice season, but never threatened to be an all-star or MVP candidate like he did the year before. I think it's fairly obvious that Ludwick isn't a cleanup hitter after watching Holliday fill the position. But Luddy makes a really nice fifth or sixth hitter who can play a capable outfield.
48 -- Brad Thompson, D: With a 2-6 record and a 4.84 ERA in time spent between the bullpen and the rotation as a fill in guy, Thompson just hasn't seized a role and taken off with it. He needs to embrace the sinker like Joel Pineiro did and get back to his success of his early days if he is going to last.
50 -- Adam Wainwright, A: He's finally arrived at his full potential. He's been great in spots before, including his work as a closer his rookie year. But Wainwright has emerged as a consistent top of the rotation starter who challenged in 2009 for the Cy Young Award and seems ready to take the mantle as Cardinals ace when Chris Carpenter retires.
53 -- Blake Hawksworth, B: He had electric stuff and did a pretty nice job in the bullpen. He'll be a factor in 2007.
55 -- Skip Schumaker, B+: Did a remarkable job of making the transition on the fly from outfielder to second baseman. Not only did his defense improve a ton over the course of 2009, but he managed to hit well with all the while and maintain his presence at the top of the order.
60 -- Motte, C: His audition as the new closer lasted only a week and ruined his numbers for the entire year. But, after an awful start and a move to the middle of the bullpen, the former catcher put together a few soild months before relapsing again to his wild and inconsistent ways. Motte looked much better at the end of the season and will, hopefully, be a little more consistent in 2010 with another year under his belt.
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