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Rumor Mill: Cardinals close to a deal with Penny

From the Man This Would Have Been Sweet About Five Years Ago file...

The Cardinals are apparently near a deal with former Marlins, Dodgers, Giants and Red Sox hurler Brad Penny, according to the San Jose Mercury-News. The right-handed hurler, who was 11-9 with a 4.88 ERA last season before being traded to the Giants where he was 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA.

We've talked about Penny before on these pages. He's from Oklahoma and supposedly grew up a Cardinals fan. Rumors circulated in the past that he could be a trade target. But nothing ever came of it and he went on to post back to back 16-win seasons with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2007. But he was 9-9 with a 6.27 ERA in 2008 with the Dodgers and had recurring bouts of arm trouble that saw the team let him go as a free agent.

Penny, 31, signed a deal with the Red Sox in 2009 that called for him to make a base salary of $5 million plus up to $3 million more in incentives. Although he was released in August, it is safe to assume that Penny is probably taking the spot in the Redbirds rotation that was once thought to be reserved for John Smoltz. Penny, however, could probably command more than smoltz at this point of his career. So I wonder if this is a sign that the Birds are starting to turn away from their thoughts of re-signing slugging outfielder Matt Holliday.

It's hard to say what Penny still has in the tank. He used to be one of the hardest throwing pitchers in baseball. But, in addition to his arm problems in 2008, he has only managed to throw as many as 200 innings in a season twice in a 10-year career.