Questions for the Cards

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Will the St. Louis Cardinals be able to replace Mike Matheny?

Matheny was overlooked and underappreciated with the Blue Jays, playing in 57 games behind Darrin Fletcher in 1999. With St. Louis, he averaged 124 games with the Cards, winning Gold Gloves in 2000, 2003 and 2004.

Matheny has joined the San Francisco Giants as a free agent.

Left to handle the pitching staff of the National League champion Cardinals is Yadier Molina. Molina, 22, is the third and youngest of the three catching Molina brothers.

How many 22-year-old catchers guide a pitching staff to a post-season berth? Molina does not qualify as a rookie this season after appearing in 51 games in 2004. He hit .267 with two homers and 15 RBIs.

"He's a great young talent," right-hander Jason Marquis said. "He's still learning and I'm still learning."

His older brothers Bengie and Jose Molina are with the Anaheim Angels.

Yadier was recalled from triple-A Memphis on June 3 to replace Matheny, who was injured. Molina threw out 50% of opposition base-stealers.

To help with the catching the Cards have added former Cleveland Indians catcher Einar Diaz. Diaz appeared in 55 games with the Montreal Expos, hitting .223 with one homer and 11 RBIs.

They both will be expected to keep an eye on Matt Morris, along with pitching coach Dave Duncan. Morris had off-season labrum surgery. The Cards would turn to Rick Ankiel if Morris is not ready by opening day.


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