> Rick Ankiel‘s agent Scott Boras says the rumor of him returning to the mound is bogus.  This would have meant Strauss’ last scoop as a beat man was patently false, but then he made up for it today:

> Mark McGwire is leaving the Cardinals to be the Dodgers’ hitting coach.

Tony LaRussa brought him on for the 2010 season shortly after he confessed to steroid use in January.  Since then, the Cardinals have ranked sixth, first and second in League runs scored; though they were wildly inconsistent.  How much of an effect McGwire had on that is yet to be seen.

The Cardinals, of course, have taken to carrying two hitting coaches at a time.  John Mabry is the left-handed coach, and the Cards will presumably hire a right-handed replacement for Big Mac.

EM would like to congratulate Mark for the new job and thank him for his successful run as a coach in St. Louis.

> UPDATE: Hey, look!  A right-hander has volunteered already!

> UPDATE: The Cards have made a qualifying offer (about $13 mill) to Kyle Lohse.  Good move on their part.  By doing so, they get a high draft pick if he declines and a markedly cheap ace-level pitcher for one year if he accepts.

> UPDATE: Sounds like Rafael Fucal’s opting out of having surgery has the front office somewhat up in arms.  John Mozeliak told KMOV that Pete Kozma cannot be allowed to start an entire season at short, and that the team may make a move if Furcal’s health forces their hand.

> Sounds like the Cards will be pressing hard to sign Adam Wainwright.  I don’t agree with that, especially since they’re willing to lock him up for the rest of his career.  Wait until he pitches a whole year healthy before doing anything rash based on past performance.

> Commissioner assistant LaRussa on instant replay:

“Before the playoffs, you probably would have guessed instant replay was 12th or 13th on the list of priorities when we meet in the offseason.  But after some of the calls we’ve seen in the playoffs, it’s probably moved up to 2 or 3.”

It also sounds like MLB is only considering a challenge system for instant replay.  Probably because Bud Selig wants to make this as difficult as humanly possible.

> Albert Pujols and several of his former Cardinal teammates will be playing in a charity softball tournament in California.

> MLB Trade Rumors methodically estimated what the Cards’ arbitration-eligibles might be getting this offseason.

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