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Kyle Lohse Signs With Cards For 1 Year, $4.25M

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Kyle Lohse reaches $4.25 million, 1-year preliminary agreement with Cardinals

The St. Louis Cardinals strengthened their thin rotation on Thursday, reaching a preliminary agreement with pitcher Kyle Lohse on a $4.25 million, one-year contract.

The Cardinals said the 29-year-old will take a physical on Friday at the team’s spring training site.

Lohse can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses: $100,000 each for 160, 170, 180, 190 and 200 innings. He would get a $500,000 payment if he’s traded.

Lohse was 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA with the Cincinnati Reds and Philadelphia Phillies last year, throwing 192 2-3 innings. He has made 30 or more starts five of the last six seasons.

St. Louis is desperate for starters, uncertain whether Matt Clement and Joel Pineiro will be ready for the start of the season.

Clement threw batting practice for the third time on Thursday but there’s no timetable for his first start following shoulder surgery that sidelined him last season. Pineiro is to resume throwing on Friday after missing his last scheduled start due to tightness below his shoulder.

Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder also are rehabbing from surgery. Mulder could return in May and Carpenter in July.

Right now, the opening day rotation looks like it could be Wainwright, Lohse, Looper, Wellemeyer, and Anthony Reyes, assuming that Lohse can get tuned up that quickly. Piniero and Clement are iffy, but could come along in April, while Mulder and Carpenter aren't expected to be available until May and June at the earliest.

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Thank you Cardinals. Glad the O's didn't sign him.

You're welcome.

Cards wrap up their spring on positive swing

The Cardinals completed a remarkable Grapefruit League reversal Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium, defeating the Florida Marlins 2-0 on a combination five-hitter started by Lohse. A camp that appeared in chaos barely two weeks ago completed a 12-1-1 finishing kick that coincided exactly with general manager John Mozeliak's reaching terms March 13 with Lohse's agent, Scott Boras, on a one-year, $4.25 million deal.

"I don't think I've seen us lose since I got here," Lohse quipped after working five shutout innings. "I guess I'm a good luck charm. … Yeah, right."

For whatever it's worth, the Cardinals leave Florida with a 17-10-2 spring record. They did not allow more than five runs in any of the past 14 games, worked shutouts in two of the past three and outscored opponents 88-39 during the rush. Their 17 wins tie the record for most Grapefruit League victories since the club relocated to Roger Dean Stadium in 1998. The Redbirds have won 17 games four other springs at The Dean; each time, they reached the postseason.

A little too optimistic, I think, but there's no doubt that the outlook is much brighter than it was just a month or two ago.

One of our concerns was that Cesar Izturis, never much of a force with the bat, seemed to have deteriorated greatly on defense since his 2004 GG. Then he turned in a series of sparkling plays against the Mets last Sunday which the Mets broadcasters described as a "defensive clinic". La Russa had been defending Cesar's defense, describing him as incredibly smooth and with quick hands during practice sessions, despite the plague of errors during games. Maybe it finally came together?

Shortstop Cesar Izturis furthered a transformation from enigma to a contributor with a diving stop Thursday that turned into a double play.

"I've felt more comfortable lately," said Izturis, a former Gold Glove winner tagged with more errors than hits for most of camp before hitting safely in seven of his final 10 games. "I'm showing what I can do."

Outfielder Rick Ankiel made the most plate appearances in camp, hitting .351. First baseman Albert Pujols led the club with a .407 average, five home runs and 18 RBIs.

Skip Schumaker secured an opening day spot for a third consecutive season by showing himself able to handle the leadoff role. He leaves Florida on an eight-game hitting streak. On Thursday, La Russa didn't argue with the description of Schumaker as an "everyday player."

Coincidence or not, the edges to camp began to smooth after Lohse was added.

I'm under no illusions that the "12-1-1 finishing kick" will last long once the season begins. The team still has an unproven rotation, a questionable double play combination, and significantly weaker defense at 3rd base. But there is some cause for optimism, given that Colby Rasmus and Joe Mather had to be sent down to Memphis despite having excellent springs. We've got a rule 5 pick in Brian Barton that reminds me a lot of Lou Brock, great speed, great bat, great hustle, an indifferent arm and a little raw on defense. However, he's the 5th outfielder on the team, behind Ankiel, Duncan, Schumaker, and Ludwick on the depth charts.

Barton hit like crazy from the start of camp. He finished Wednesday with a .351/.424/.596 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) line. He scored 13 runs in his first 22 games and legged out three triples. ... Now the question becomes just how much opportunity exists in-season for Barton. The Cardinals appear to have a primary player, if not an everyday starter, at each of the three outfield spots. However, all three of those players -- Rick Ankiel, Chris Duncan and Skip Schumaker -- are left-handed. Barton's right-handed bat and top-of-the-order skill set may help him wedge his way into the lineup with some frequency.

Brian might have been better off at Memphis, but the outfield there is crowded with prospects too. Experience warns me that prospects don't equate to everyday major league players -- one of the reasons I couldn't understand the determination of O's fans to deal off Bedard and Roberts -- but our minor league looks the best stocked it has in years.

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