Final Grades: Every 2010 St. Louis Cardinal Player, Coach, and More

Evan BruschiniCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2010

Final Grades: Every 2010 St. Louis Cardinal Player, Coach, and More

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    It's no secret that this was a disappointing season for the St. Louis Cardinals. 2010 saw many ups and downs, but in the end, the Cardinals missed the playoffs, and that's what matters.

    This offseason will be all about helping the Cardinals get back to playing meaningful October baseball in 2011. But to perfect the future, we must analyze the past. In this case, the very recent past.

    So, who do the Cardinals need to bring back to make 2011 successful?

    Welcome to my handy guide. Here, I'll look at how each and every  Cardinal performed in 2010, and a brief look at what their future holds, whether with the Cardinals and beyond. Then I assigned each a helpful final grade for judging their performances.

    So, you can continue reading this introduction, or click ahead to the good stuff.

    Bold Led Team

    Bold Italicized Tied for Team Lead

    *Asterisks* Led League

Bryan Anderson

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .281/.314/.344, 4 RBI

    After spending three years in the Cardinals farm system, Bryan Anderson finally made his much anticipated big league debut this year when backup catcher Jason LaRue went down with a concussion.

    He got into four games before being sent back to Memphis.

    For the season, Anderson batted .270/.341/.448 with a career high 12 homers and 42 RBI in 82 games for Triple-A Memphis, and batted .281 in 15 games with the big club.

    Anderson did show some weakness in St. Louis. He struck out (7) far more than he walked (1), but he hit a pair of doubles, and at the young age of 23, Anderson still has plenty of time to develop into the catcher the Cardinals envisioned when they drafted him.

    Final Grade: C

Mitchell Boggs

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 2-3, 3.61 ERA, 1.292 WHIIP, 52 K

    For Mitchell Boggs, 2010 was a season of self-discovery. After competing for a starting job in Spring Training, Boggs pitched out of the bullpen, and became a reliable pitcher capable of racking up strikeouts in key situations, and might have thrown his hat into the competition for closer as soon as Ryan Franklin decides to retire.

    With a devastating fastball that occasionally reaches the high 90s and a slider that leaves even the most experienced major league veterans shaking their heads, Boggs is the poor man's Aroldis Chapman.

    Thanks to his sharp slider, Boggs dominated righties this year, holding them to a .238 batting average and posting a K/BB ratio of 3.23, a significant step up from his 0.71 mark against lefties.

    If Boggs can figure out the left handers, don't be surprised to see this hard-throwing 27-year old locking down Cardinal wins in the future.

    Final Grade: B+

Chris Carpenter

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 16-9, 3.22 ERA, 1.179 WHIP, 235 IP, 179 K

    When leading the league in game started and finishing second in innings pitched is considered an off year, you know you're good.

    Chris Carpenter did exactly that in another All-Star season. He also ranked top ten in the league in wins, batters faced, and BB/9, as well as having the dubious distinction of second most hit batsmen.

    In reality, Carpenter was as great as usual, although his command suffered a bit this year. When compared to last season's campaign, Carpenter's 2010 is somewhat disappointed, but overall, it should be appreciated as another masterful pitching performance from one of the greatest Cardinals aces ever.

    Final Grade: A-

Allen Craig

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .246/.298/.412, 4 HR, 18 RBI

    After hearing of Allen Craig's minor-league expenditures in 2009, many Cardinals fans were eager to get the reigning Hitter of the Year up with the big club.

    Although Craig broke camp with the big club, he struggled from the start, going 1-for-21 to start his career. Despite opening the season in the bigs, Craig didn't manage his first homer until July.

    However, after the ugly stretch to start the season, Craig seemed to figure things out, batting .290/.340/.495 to finish the season, including a big 3-5 day with a walk-off single against the rival Cubs.

    If he's not included in a a trade, Craig will probably be back with the 2011 team as a fourth outfielder.

    Final Grade: C-

Daniel Descalso

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .265/.324/.324, 4 RBI

    Daniel Descalso certainly had an interesting major league debut, although he might not have made his presence known for those of you keeping your own scorecard.

    On September 22 against San Diego, Descalso stepped up to the plate as a pinch-hitter, forcing Padres manager Bud Black to make to move to his bullpen, which then prompted Tony LaRussa to pinch hit Nick Stavinoha for Descalso. Without ever making a plate appearance, Daniel Descalso officially became a member of the St. Louis Cardinals family.

    Those of you who are interested in the Cardinals farm system may remember Descalso from a year ago, when he set Double-A Springfield on fire with a slash-line of .323/.396/.531 with eight homers, 23 doubles, and three triples in 73 games in before receiving a well-deserved call-up to Memphis.

    This year, making his first appearance in the bigs, Descalso showed off some versatility. Despite being a second baseman by trade, he made his first major league appearance at third. His versatility could prove very valuable if he hopes to make the club as a backup infielder out of Spring Training next year.

    Final Grade: C-

Dave Duncan

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    After nearly leaving the Cardinals this offseason, mastermind Dave Duncan came back and showed why he may be one of the greatest coaches in baseball, or even sports, history.

    After returning for his 30th season as a pitching coach, Duncan helped several Cardinals pitchers take a big step forward, and also returned one former ace to Cy Young form.

    2010 saw the emergence of Jaime Garcia, a rookie lefthander, who flourished under Duncan's tutelage. In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, Garcia joined the starting rotation and posted a stellar 2.70 ERA.

    Duncan also oversaw the return to form of Brad Penny, who was having a spectacular season before he was derailed by injury, and Jake Westbrook, who came over from the Indians at midseason and became the sort of groundball pitcher Dave loves.

    Finally, and most importantly, 2010 saw continued development of Adam Wainwright, who won a career best 20 games and 2.42 ERA, both good for second in the league. Wainwright led the Cardinals in almost every measure of greatness, and, under Duncan's guide, has become one of the best pitchers in baseball.

    With Tony LaRussa signed for next year, it is almost guaranteed that Duncan will join him next year.

    Final Grade: A-

Pedro Feliz

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: ,208/.232/.250, 1 HR, 9 RBI

    After losing rookie David Freese to injury, and growing tired of the atrocious play of Felipe Lopez at third, the Cardinals went out and acquired third baseman Pedro Feliz from the Astros.

    A simple look at his stats will tell you that the deal didn't exactly work out for the Cardinals.

    Feliz, who has played in two World Series with the Giants and Phillies, crumpled under the pressure of a pennant chase, driving in just nine runs in 40 games with the Redbirds.

    Although Feliz's defense was solid as usual, the acquisition of a no-hit, good-field third baseman was baffling for a team that had no trouble preventing runs, but needed help scoring them. In retrospect, the move to get Feliz was probably made out of desperation.

    As for Daniel Carpenter, who the Cardinals traded to acquire Feliz, the 24-year old finished off a top-notch season as the closer for Class-A Lancaster and Palm Beach, posting a 2.53 ERA with a 1.180 WHIP and 20 saves in a season split between the St. Louis and Houston organizations.

    Hopefully, this trade won't come back to bite the Cardinals in the backside.

    Final Grade: F-

Ryan Franklin

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 27-30 SV, 3.46 ERA, 1.031 WHIP, 42 K

    In a tumultuous season fraught with moments that had Cardinals Nation holding its collective breath, Ryan Franklin quietly turned in another solid season.

    His 1.031 WHIP led all Cardinals pitchers, and although he didn't put up gaudy stat lines, he got the job done for a team that had trouble winning the close games.

    Although he didn't quite live up to last year's standards, Franklin put up a quality 3.46 ERA, which, when further examined, was probably skewed by a few rough games. He had a 2.67 ERA in save situations, but Tony used him more often when the game wasn't on the line, despite his .185 batting average against in situations of high or medium leverage.

    Franklin's contract is up at the end of next year, and he has contemplated retiring after his current deal ends. If he chooses to walk away from the game, the Cardinals have a bevy of young arms waiting to step into the closer's role.

    Final Grade: B+

David Freese

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .296/.361/.404, 4 HR, 36 RBI

    Before David Freese went down, the Cardinals looked like the favorites to win the Central. After losing him for the season, they were a drastically different team.

    With Freese in the starting lineup, the Cardinals were 37-27 (.579), but without him, they were 50-50 (.500). Freese's biggest impact was in high-pressure situations, where he came through more often than not, batting .327 with runners in scoring position.

    That's why not replacing Freese with Joe Crede, or some other offense threat, rather than Felipe Lopez and Pedro Feliz, was the second biggest mistake the front office made.

    Next year, the Cardinals expect Freese to be fully healthy, and he'll be the heavy favorite for the third base job heading into Spring Training, barring some sort of acquisition.

    Final Grade: A-

Jaime Garcia

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 13-8, 2.70 ERA, 1.316 WHIP, 132 K

    Of all of the surprises, both good and bad, that the Cardinals experienced this season, Jaime Garcia may have been the least expected, and also the most welcomed.

    Looking for a complementary arm for their duo of aces, the Cardinals added Brad Penny, who joined a four-man rotation heading into Spring Training. Garcia battled with Kyle McClellan and veteran Rich Hill for the fifth spot.

    Heading into the competition, I was a staunch supporter of McClellan, who had been nails in the bullpen in 2009. I'd hoped that he'd make the transition well into a starting pitcher. In fact, I looked at Garcia, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, as the underdog in the three-man competition.

    Here's what I wrote:

    "Garcia has a slim chance of making the Opening Day roster, but could fill in down the line, should McClellan or Hill go on the disabled list. Until they do, this is still a two-man competition."

    Luckily for myself and the St. Louis Cardinals, I was way off the mark. Although McClellan's 1.38 ERA was tops among Cardinals pitchers this spring, Tony LaRussa wisely chose to keep McClellan in the bullpen, where he's most effective.

    Garcia was one of the top pitchers in baseball. His 2.70 ERA was good for fourth in the league.

    It's amazing in how just a few months, Garcia went from being the underdog for the fifth starter's role, to a favorite for Rookie of the Year.

    Final Grade: A+

Tyler Greene

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .221/.328/.327, 2 HR, 10 RBI

    In a season where the Cardinals had mediocre play from the infield, Tyler Greene stepped in... and was just as mediocre.

    Stepping in for Felipe Lopez and

    He struggled at the plate hitting just .221, and actually managed to have a slugging percentage lower than his on-base percentage despite just drawing 13 walks.

    He also had trouble defensively. His .934 fielding percentage won't cut it, and if Greene wants to contribute to next year's team, he has plenty of time to figure it all out between now and Spring Training.

    He's not eligible for free agency until 2016, so he'll probably be a Cardinal for quite some time, unless he's included in a trade.

    Final Grade: D+

Mark Hamilton

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .143/.200/.143

    Mark Hamilton only got 14 September at-bats with this year's squad, so I'll use this space to focus on his overall season performance.

    Spending most of his time at Triple-A, Hamilton was impressive, hitting .298/.391/.582, with a career high 20 homers, in just 81 games. The downside for Hamilton is that he's never played a position other than first base, and, although he's very solid defensively, there's not an opening at first base for hopefully the forseeable future.

    Hamilton has a shot at a bench job coming out of spring, but it's more likely that he's included in some sort of trade package by next July. He'll be 26 in 2011, so the Cardinals will have to capitalize on his value soon.

    Final Grade: B+

Blake Hawksworth

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 4-8, 4.98 ERA, 1.638 WHIP, 61 K

    After posting a 2.03 ERA a season ago, Blake Hawksworth came into 2010 as a pleasant surprise looking to build on a solid season.

    Instead, he found himself forced into a starting role, and struggling.

    As a reliever, Hawksworth was mediocre, but acceptable. His 2.36 K/BB and 4.25 ERA were passable, although they left something to be desired.

    However, in eight starts, Hawksworth really struggled. His K/BB ratio dropped to 1.33, and his ERA jumped over a run and a half, to 5.83. It's pretty clear that Blake Hawksworth was a different pitcher when he came out of the bullpen.

    Hawksworth already has locked up a role in the bullpen, barring a sort of breakdown between now and Opening Day. Time will tell if he can hold on to that role, or even advance to playing the part of major league starter.

    Final Grade: C-

Steve Hill

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    Key Stats: .333/.333/1.333, 1 HR, 1 RBI

    Steve Hill's call-up to the big leagues was purely happnenstance, a matter of scheduling. As a result, he only got 3 at-bats. He sure made them count.

    Because both Bryan Anderson and Robert Stock were previously occupied with games for Triple-A Memphis, while Hill's Springfield team had an off day, the Cardinals brought up Hill to replace Jason LaRue.

    In the ninth inning of his big league debut at Busch Stadium against the Cubs, Hill became the eleventh Cardinal to go yard in his big league debut, and the first since Hector Luna in 2004. He joins, among others, Ken Boyer and Wally Moon.

    This season, six rookies have gone deep in their debuts: Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, Daniel Nava, J.P. Arencibia, Luke Hughes, and Hill. He also became the 33rd player to homer in his first game as a Cardinal.

    His home run launched a ninth-inning rally for St. Louis, who managed to score five runs that inning to cut the deficit to two, before Hill stepped up again and this time grounded out with the tying run on second to end the game.

    After the game, Hill was sent back to Springfield.

    Since he only appeared in one game, Hill still has a chance to become the fourth Cardinal to homer in his first two career games next season, joining Keith McDonald, Leon Wagner, and Joe Cunningham. No Cardinal has homered in his first three games.

    Despite being fifth among catchers in the Cardinals system, Hill has great potential. In just 102 games, split between Springfield and Memphis, Hill hit .271/.345/.529 with 24 homers and 92 RBIs, excellent numbers for a catcher. At the ripe age of 24, and with an opening for a backup catcher, Hill could be on his way to a role as a right-handed bat off the bench, or could be dangled as trade bait by the Cardinals this offseason.

    Final Grade: B+

Matt Holliday

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .312/.390/.532, 28 HR, 103 RBI, 186 H, 45 2B, 9 SB

    When the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday last year, they expected him to be a strong compliment to Albert Pujols. After resigning him this winter, the Cardinals found that Holliday nearly eclipsed Pujols as the team's top hitter.

    In fact, Holliday's .312080537 average just edges out Pujols's .311754685 for the team lead in average. Holliday also led the team in hits, and a strong finish brought him within one of Philadelphia's Jayson Werth for the league lead in doubles.

    According to WAR, this was Holliday's second finest season, behind only his monster 2007 season, which may be one of the most underrated this decade.

    By continuing to prove that he can be a consistent MVP candidate outside of Coors Field, Holliday may be setting himself up for the fast track for the Hall of Fame. One day, we may be talking not about Holliday's Hall of Fame chances, but whether or not he goes in as a Cardinal.

    Final Grade: A+

Jon Jay

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .300/.359/.422, 4 HR, 27 RBI

    In a year of surprises, the most surprising Cardinal really shouldn't have been much of a surprise at all. Jon Jay had the athleticism. He had the track record, batting .321 last year with Memphis. All he needed, it turns out, was the chance.

    After moving between the minors and St. Louis early on and posting a .302 average in his first 43 at-bats. Tony LaRussa gently began to work Jay into the lineup, and after a scorching July he was batting .383, prompting the Cardinals to trade All-Star right fielder Ryan Ludwick, leaving Jay to take over the starting job.

    After being handed the keys to the Corvette, Jay promptly crashed into the nearest streetlight.

    After batting .431 in July, Jay followed up with a .266 August and .218 and September/October.

    Despite his overall strong season, Jay showed to be a streaky hitter. He's still clutching the steering wheel now, but one slip-up or a free agent signing and Jay will find himself relegated to the bench again.

    Final Grade: B+

Jason LaRue

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .196/.274/.321, 2 HR, 5 RBI

    After his late-game home run against Colorado led the Cardinals to the division title last year, Jason LaRue's season was looking bright.

    Sadly, his season and career were both tragically ended during the infamous brawl with the Cincinnati Reds, in which Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, pinned against the backstop, lashed out and kicked several players, including LaRue.

    On August 19, LaRue went on the disabled list with a concussion stemming from the Cueto incident. A month later, LaRue announced his retirement from baseball, citing ongoing postconcussion symptoms.

    Although LaRue contributed little to the 2010 Cardinals other than taking up a roster spot, Cardinals fans' hearts go out to the Fu Manchu-ed catcher whose Texas-bred heart was almost big as his oversized Hummer.

    Final Grade: D+

Tony LaRussa

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    After a season filled with disappointment, many were quick to blame Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa as the source of St. Louis's misfortune.

    However, a simple look through of the numbers will show that LaRussa did a fine, even admirable job of managing.

    For example, the Cardinals were not as far from winning the division as many may have you believe. Despite being five games behind Cincinnati, the Cardinals had a Pythagorean Expected Win-Loss record of 91-71, while the Reds had an expected record of 92-70. Clearly, the Cardinals and Reds had similar seasons, but runs just didn't come at the right times for St. Louis.

    Some might even go ahead and blame that on LaRussa. After all, isn't it his job to make sure the team scores when they need to? As Joe Morgan would say, isn't it LaRussa's job to make sure they "manufacture runs"? In fact, the Cardinals seemed to excel at that very thing, placing fifth in baseball in number of "productive outs", i.e. outs that produce a run or advance a baserunner. If you believe in that sort of thing, LaRussa was darn good at it.

    So, did LaRussa live up to expectations in 2010? No. But was he the only reason the Cardinals missed the playoffs? Definitely not.

    He's already signed his contract for 2011, and it gets more likely every year that he'll end his career as a Cardinal.

    Final Grade: B-

Kyle Lohse

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 4-8, 6.55 ERA, 1.783 WHIP, 54 K

    A few years ago, with Chris Carpenter on the DL once again, and Adam Wainwright just beginning the transition to starter, Kyle Lohse became a savior for the Redbirds, going 15-6, along with a 3.78 ERA. The wins and ERA were both career bests for Lohse, who reached double digits in the win column for the first time since 2003 with Minnesota, and it was the first time that his ERA dipped below four. St. Louis management saw fit to reward him with a 4-yr/$41M extension.

    This year, that mistake finally reached its nadir, as Lohse struggled with injuries and consistency for the second straight season, pitching in a career low 18 games, and posting a career high 6.55 ERA.

    To be fair, Lohse hasn't been the same since he was hit trying to lay down a bunt against the Royals' Ron Mahay last year. Things got even more frustrating for the righty when he was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome, an extremely rare arm condition that requires surgery. ECS is common in the legs of runners, but Lohse's case may be the first in a pitcher.

    Hopefully, Lohse can see some sort of return to form in 2011. If not to his 2008 form, at least to a semblance of the effective pitcher he was in the early 2000's with Minnesota.

    Look on the bright side, Cardinals fans: Todd Wellemeyer was just as effective for the 2008 Redbirds. Thankfully, they didn't sign him to an extension.

    Final Grade: D-

Felipe Lopez

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .231/.310/.340, 7 HR, 36 RBI

    Back in Spring Training, the Cardinals were pretty set around the infield. Albert was Albert, David Freese had locked up the third base job, and Skip and Brendan were coming of .303 and .292 seasons, respectively.

    Then the Cardinals signed Felipe Lopez.

    I'll admit, at the time, it seemed like a great deal. A million dollars for a player who had batted .385 after joining St. Louis down the stretch in 2008, and knocked the cover off the ball in 2009? Heck, I might be willing to pay some of the contract to get it done.

    Unfortunately for both Lopez and the Cardinals, he was pretty terrible.

    His .231 batting average and .310 on-base percentage, combined with Tony LaRussa's insistence on putting him in the leadoff spot, meant less runners on base for Albert Pujols. He did succeed at getting men on base - for the other team. His .920 fielding percentage made Cardinals fans cringe whenever the ball was hit near him.

    Unsurprisingly, the Cardinals cut him near the end of the year. Also unsurprisingly, for the third straight season, he was much better with his second team, batting .267/.313/.467 in a couple of games with the Red Sox.

    Final Grade: F-

Ryan Ludwick

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .281/.343/.484, 11 HR, 43 RBI

    I'll get this off my chest from the start: Trading Ryan Ludwick was one of the biggest mistakes the Cardinals have made in years. (If you're looking for more on that, check out the slide evaluating John Mozeliak and the front office.)

    But when he still donned the Birds on the Bat, Ludwick was as clutch as they come. He got off to a strong start batting .451 with runners in scoring position heading into mid-June. He also batted .476 with runners in scoring position and two out, leading in the majors.

    Those numbers tailed off going into July, and by the end of the month Cardinals management saw fit to trade Ludwick to the San Diego Padres in a three-team deal that netted Jake Westbrook. In San Diego, Ludwick clearly struggled.

    He'll be eligible for arbitration this year, and it remains to be seen whether the Padres will bring Ludwick van Bathoven back for another chance.

    Final Grade: B+

Mike MacDougal

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 1-1, 7.23 ERA, 1.875 WHIP, 14 K

    In a surprise move, the Cardinals added fireballer Mike MacDougal on July 7.

    Making his Cardinals debut on July 28 after a stint with Memphis, the righty picked up a win in his first game as a Redbird, coming out of the bullpen in an 8-7 victory.

    He finished out the month having made three appearances and allowing no runs.

    Unfortunately, the dog days of summer caught up with MacDougal in August, as he surrendered 11 runs in just 8.1 innings, including six in a brutal one-and-two-thirds outing against his former Washington teammates to end the month.

    He got back on track in September, allowing just one run through his first 6.1 innings, before finishing the season on a low note, allowing three runs to the Pirates in his last game.

    MacDougal's contract will expire at the end of the season, and the Cardinals will probably let him walk. If he does return, it would probably be on a minor league deal.

    Final Grade: D-

Evan MacLane

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, 2.000 WHIP

    We saw very little from MacLane in his big league debut this year (he only faced four batters, giving up a walk-off homer to Chris Ianetta in the horrendous "Collapse in Colorado"), so I'll focus on his minor league performance.

    MacLane has come a long way since he was a young Mets prospect in 2004, when at the age of 21 he went 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA. Since then, he was traded for Shawn Green, spent time in the Arizona and St. Louis organization, and finally made his debut this year at the age of 27.

    His big league debut was short, only coming in when the Cardinals were running short on relief pitchers. Only making one mistake isn't so bad, but he's an extreme long shot to make the team out of Spring Training next year.

    Final Grade: C-

Joe Mather

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .217/.242/.283, 3 RBI

    Since arriving in the majors in 2008, "Joey Bombs" has certainly had an interesting major league career. After batting .315 with 12 homers in Triple-A, he received a well deserved call-up. As a starter in his debut, he got his first hit, and the game-winning RBI in the seventh inning.

    He finished that season with a .241/.306/.474, showing Cardinals fans that this fun-loving Idaho boy could slug it.His swing-for-the-fences attitude and outgoing demeanor had him a favorite for an outfield spot going into 2009.

    Instead, he was the last player cut from the 25-man roster. A combination of injuries and inconsistency made 2009 a miserable year for Joey, as he batted .188 with just 4 homers in 59 games, the same span he took to hit twelve long balls in 2008.

    In 2010, Mather made a strong return from injury, spending 91 games with Memphis, and hitting .275 with ten homers. He played 36 games in the big leagues as well, even receiving the loss in the 20-inning game against New York.

    At the age of 28, Mather has gained cult status in St. Louis, but if he doesn't speed things up soon, he could find himself struggling to get a big league job.

    Final Grade: C-

Kyle McClellan

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: 1-4, 2.27 ERA, 1.075 WHIP, 60 K

    When camp opened, I was rooting for Kyle McClellan to win the fifth starter's spot.

    After all, he had an impressive sophomore season out of the bullpen, and he had an excellent spring. I fully expected him to be added to the starting rotation.

    Luckily for myself, I was wrong.

    Not only did Jaime Garcia, the man who beat McClellan for the job, have an amazing season, but McClellan was also amazing, with a 2.27 ERA and 1.075 WHIP, making him one of the National League's premier setup men.

    At the age of 26, McClellan looks like he has established himself as an ace reliever, contributing 1.8 WAR to a team starved for relief pitching.

    In fact, McClellan's season could've been even better. Despite his great season, he had a career high nine home runs allowed, which can be mostly attributed to a 11.7% HR/FB rate, which, if he qualified, would be the tenth highest in the league. Several of his homers cleared the fence by less than ten feet.

    If McClellan eliminates, say four of those homers, he could have an ERA as low as 1.43. With a bit of improvement, and a fair amount of luck, McClellan could be an All-Star in a year or two.

    Final Grade: A-

Mark McGwire

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    In his first season as Cardinals hitting coach, Mark McGwire wasn't disappointing. He just wasn't what anyone suspected.

    Anyone who watched McGwire's career knows his story. A prodigious slugger who loved the long ball, but never hit for a high average.

    However, this year's Cardinals team was a polar opposite of McGwire, placing second in the league in batting average, but sixteenth in slugging. Only Albert Pujols hit more than 30 homers.

    In one regard, however, Cardinals hitters were like McGwire - they were very streaky. Like the former slugger, St. Louis hitters had a hard time keeping their batting averages stable. In fact, the only Cardinals regular who had a batting average over .300 for more than two months was Matt Holliday.

    Overall, McGwire was nothing special as a hitting coach. I admire him for overcoming adversity in the media at the season's opening, and not letting him affect his job, but it wouldn't make much of a difference if McGwire returns next year.

    Final Grade: C+

Aaron Miles

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    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Key Stats: .281/.311/.317, 9 RBI

    As much as the Cardinals need Aaron Miles, Miles needs the Cardinals. Outside of St. Louis, Miles seems to be unable to hit. But in the Gateway City, Aaron seems to be a hit machine.

    In his four seasons with the Redbirds, Miles has hit .288, a far cry from the .185 mark he put up with the 2009 Cubs.

    By contributing to a World Series championship, as well as sabotaging the rival Cubs, Miles is approaching cult hero status in St. Louis.

    He can play all the infield and outfield positions, so it would be beneficial for the Cardinals to bring him back on a one-year deal for next season, unless they find a better option.

    Final Grade: C+

Trever Miller

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    Key Stats: 0-1, 4.00 ERA, 1.278 WHIP, 22 K

    After a career bests with a 0.962 WHIP and 2.06 ERA in 2009, the Cardinals rewarded Trever Miller with a two-year extension.

    In the first year of his multi-year deal, Miller struggled to stay healthy. He pitched the fewest innings since 2000, when he split time between the Phillies and Dodgers, and the fewest games since 1999, when he was a 26-year old reliever for the Astros.

    However, when he was in the game, he didn't disappoint. His 4.00 ERA isn't good in the context of the league, but for Miller, it was the fifth best showing in a 12-year career. His HR/9 and H/9 were the second best of his career, only bested by his 2009 and 2008 seasons, respectively.

    Miller will return to the 'pen in '11, and hopefully he can stay on the field longer. Being a contract year, this 2011 season may be make or break for the 37-year old Miller.

    Final Grade: C+