The day began with the announcement that the Cards had
signed Yadier Molina to a 4-year-deal, and this was met by big cheers from the
crowd. I saw a lot of big name players
signing autographs: Albert Pujols
(rarely smiling but sporting a lot of bling – huge watch, diamond-studded
wedding ring, and the World Series ring), Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Mark
Mulder, Lou Brock, Danny Cox, Ken Reitz, and Rick Ankiel. Some autographs from lesser known players
like Ken Reitz were free, but most required a donation – the biggest charge
being $175 for the privilege of meeting Pujols. That’s a bit too rich for my blood.
On the main stage, Bill DeWitt III spoke about the ballpark
village plans. Centene Corp had made a deal
to open up an office as part of the complex and other plans called for a
variety of shops and restaurants and 250 condos in Phase I. DeWitt hoped there would be significant
progress in time for the 2009 All Star Game and that some of the parties could
be held under tents in the village. The
$650 million project will cost more than the stadium, so it’s gonna take a while.
Mark Mulder spoke about making some progress in his recovery
from surgery, but he would make no promises as to a return date. It sure would be great to have a healthy
Mulder back in the rotation, but I won’t get my hopes up.
New GM John Mozeliak talked with Mike Shannon. He talked about his excitement over the
Molina deal and defended the Matt Clement deal, which he felt had a low
financial risk and a huge upside if Clement is truly back to form. Clement was supposed to attend that day, but
his flight was canceled. Vince Coleman didn’t show up either but no
explanation was given – I suspect a killer tarp is involved.
Tony La Russa took the stage to lukewarm applause. There’s always been some mistrust of Tony,
and I get the feeling Cardinal fans are feeling wounded by the departure of so
many fan favorites – Edmonds, Eckstein, Rolen – and unsure of what the team will achieve this year. Tony said he looked for strong competition in
the division from the Reds and the Brewers, but that he was confident this
young Cardinal team would surprise some people. Inexplicably, Tony lambasted Adam Kennedy, stating that he was “really
upset” that Adam had not bothered to attend the Warm Up and say thank you to
the fans. Tony said Adam had a lot to prove in Spring Training and just might
lose his starting spot at 2nd Base if he doesn’t prove it. This outburst annoyed me and made me feel
like Tony just needs drama in his life, and now that Rolen is gone, he’s got to
be startin’ somethin’ with another player. Tony said he expected big things from Colby Rasmus this Spring and he
would not be surprised if Rasmus stepped up and made the team, just the way
Pujols did in 2001. He said he expects
PJ Walters will start the season in the minors, but that he too could make the
team with a strong showing in Jupiter.
I grabbed some lunch (ballpark type food) and bought a
“Smooch Your Pooch” cap for a friend. The cap had been signed by La Russa and
was being sold to benefit his ARF foundation. ARF also sponsored a benefit concert this weekend.
This was the 12th annual Winter Warm Up, and it
was the first one I attended. I had a great time and plan to be back next
year. If you’re a big Cardinal fan, you
should definitely check it out next year. Three days of fun for $40 is a great
bargain, and you’ll be supporting a good cause too – the Cardinals Care