The Cardinals are one of several teams reported by Fox Sports to have inquired with Tampa Bay about shortstop Jason Bartlett.
Other teams to have dropped a dime on the Rays include the Giants, Nationals, Padres and Orioles.
Bartlett is 31 years old and arbitration eligible. He made $4 million last year and could be in line to make $5-$5.5 million or so in 2011, according to the Fox Sports report. He hit .254 with four homers last season down from .320 with 14 homers in 2009. He has a .281 career batting average through seven seasons with a .345 on base percentage. Bartlett stole 30 bases in 2009 and had stolen 20 or more three seasons in a row. But he dropped down to only 11 swipes last year.
Bartlett is a good player. But I still question the Cardinals priorities to try to replace Brendan Ryan at shortstop over Skip Schumaker at second base. Schumaker's bat can still find a place in the lineup if he moves back to his natural position in the outfield. But Ryan, who had a lousy year at the plate in 2010 after hitting .292 the year before, is a superior defender. Schumaker, no matter if he returns to his 2009 and before .300-hitting ways, is still going to be a lousy defensive second baseman.
The Rays are in a rebuilding mode and would prefer to trade away Bartlett instead of Ben Zobrist -- who starts at second base but can also play shortstop and the outfield corners. But I would really love to see the Cardinals try to land Zobrist who hits for more power and could take over at short if Ryan proves that 2010 was no fluke.