Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa spoke briefly today about a shift in the defensive alignment that the club will enact in 2010. In light of struggling negotiations for a left field option, they will instead opt to play Colby Ramus in left-center, Ryan Ludwick in right-center, and 5 positions on the infield.
“We feel it’s a good call,” said Tony LaRussa of the unprecedented move in the defensive alignment, “We’re very confident in the defensive abilities of both Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus so we think we can get by with just those two out there. Skip has adjusted so well to 2nd base that we’d hate to switch him again, Brendan Ryan has been solid at shortstop, Julio Lugo has proven to be a valuable member of this club, Albert is a Gold Glover, and David Freese…well that kid is really trying, so we feel really good about those five as our infield.” The Cardinals have already drawn up what the new defense will look like. It primarily consists of a regular infield with Julio Lugo standing directly behind David Freese.
“We were originally a little concerned about Freese’s defense at 3rd, but we really think this will alleviate our worries,” said LaRussa, “We want to give David a chance to prove himself and this will take a lot of the pressure off of him since he won’t have to worry about making defensive stops all the time. This way if he catches the ball that’s great, but if not, Lugo will be there to ensure that we don’t suffer on defense. We also know that anything remotely to his left will be taken care of by Brendan Ryan.”
When asked about the shift to only 2 outfielders, LaRussa said there was a great deal of reasoning behind the decision. “We have great ground-ball pitchers with the exception of Waino who’s a strikeout kinda guy, so we figure everything hit should mostly stay in the infield. If someone does hit a fly ball, the organization is confident in the defensive abilities of Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus.” LaRussa went on to say that this alignment was only a trial run and if Ludwick couldn’t cover the entirety of his zone, the defensive responsibilities of both left and center-field would be moved to Rasmus. When asked if he thought the 2009 rookie could handle the responsibility, LaRussa was confident. “That kid is ridiculously fast, so yeah I think he can handle it. I mean, we don’t have a lot of other options.” When questioned about simply finding a replacement for Matt Holliday in left, LaRussa scoffed, “Yeah, like that’s gonna happen.”
Julio Lugo was excited about the possibility of redefining his role with the club. “It’s an honor to be given an everyday position. I was originally concerned when I was told I would be playing 3rd base behind David Freese, because I was not particularly excited about being the #2 man to a rookie, but when I learned I would literally be playing 3rd base standing behind David Freese, that really changed the situation.” Lugo will be labeled as the team’s 3rd basemen in the 2010 season and David Freese will be the “Associate 3rd basemen” for the Cardinals.
John Mozeliak adamantly defended the move to give Freese a shot at a full-time “3rd basemenish” role, “Look right now, he’s the cheapest… I mean, “best” option we have and this allows us to consolidate our monetary resources as much as possible.” When asked about the current financial situation of the organization, Mozeliak simply pointed to an oil drum full of cash next to his desk labeled “Matt Holliday please, for the love of God, come back to St. Louis fund”
The Cardinals are still working on Freese’s approach at the plate and are trying to refine a better system than hitting coach Mark McGwire yelling “SWING” from the dugout whenever he identifies a pitch for the rookie to hit.
Tony LaRussa was a staunch defender of his managerial move, “Everybody laughed when I hit my pitchers 8th to give Albert more at bats and look at how that worked out,” LaRussa later added, “4-time NL Manager of the Year bitches!”
The Cardinals are eager to try out their new defensive alignment in 2010. When asked if this move showed a lack of confidence in Rookie David Freese, Tony LaRussa responded, "What would give you that idea?" before snickering to himself and walking away.