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Second base options

Just in case the Cardinals are looking for a second baseman...

According to reports out of Washington D.C., former White Sox, Giants and Brewers second sacker Ray Durham has turned down a minor league deal from the Nationals believed to be worth $850,000 and is still on the market.

Durham made $7.5 million last year and has made $67 million over the course of his 14-year career. He said money isn't really an issue but he wants what is "fair." It's safe to say in a down market when Orlando Hudson, Manny Ramirez and Adam Dunn can't find a job that Durham isn't going to find a taker at anywhere close to half of what he made last season.

If no acceptable offers come in, the 37-year-old Durham said he plans to retire.

Durham hit .289 last season with a .380 on base percentage, which would seem to make him an offensive upgrade over the recently departed Adam Kennedy. He would be less versatile than Kennedy, however. Over the course of his career, Durham has played only one game in a position other than second base. That was an appearance in centerfield in which he had no putouts.

The Cardinals claim that they plan to go with internal candidates, which is a joke. Brendan Ryan immediately becomes the favorite. But while I think he has some interesting possibilities, he has spent the last two years next to Kennedy in manager Tony La Russa's dog house. So it's hard to think of him as an option.

I agree that young players should be given a chance. But I don't think they should be handed jobs. The Cardinals should take advantage of the buyers' market and get a veteran like Hudson or Durham to start. Then one or two of the kids can come up and try to win some playing time by playing some games at second, short and third.

The other school of thought is that there is going to be a league-wide fire sale in May as the economy drives down attendance and some of the clubs who count on walk up gate find themselves desperate to shed players. It's an interesting theory. But if the Cardinals won't spring for a pitcher in a market where guys who wanted $27 million over three years had to settle for $5 million for one and a second baseman who wanted $50 million over five years is now looking for a deal for $4 or $5 million for a single season, why are we supposed to believe that the will make a move then?