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Mark DeRosa among the game’s top free agents?

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According to the media, the most coveted free agents of 2009’s relatively thin market are outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay and pitcher John Lackey. But versatile infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa might very well be sought by more teams, many of which could contend in 2010.

Mark DeRosa is a free agent in 2010.This past season was a bit of a let down for DeRosa. A Cub’s fan-favorite, DeRosa was surprisingly traded from Chicago to the Cleveland Indians last winter for three minor league pitchers. When Cleveland finally called it a season, he was then sent to St. Louis for future closer Chris Perez. Shortly after coming to the Cardinals, DeRosa partially tore a tendon in his wrist. He spent a stint on the disabled list but fought the injury throughout the remainder of the season.

The surgery to repair DeRosa’s wrist was done shortly after the Cardinal’s quick exit from the post season. While his limited time in St. Louis was mostly uneventful, DeRosa was a valuable asset to a team during its hunt for the National League Central Division championship. He shored up a troubled position and brought leadership to a clubhouse that relied solely on Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter.

DeRosa’s flexibility and versatility made him a perfect match for Tony LaRussa. And LaRussa and the Cardinals paid dearly to get him. Even as the veteran manager handed the ball to flame-throwing Jason Motte on Opening Day, many fans speculated that the impressive Perez would be the team’s closer before the season ended.

But that was well before Ryan Franklin dominated the job during his All-Star season.

The trade was welcome in St. Louis. The fans knew that third base was a huge issue for the club with Troy Glaus’ return undeterminable. The rumors and call for action began early. DeRosa was wanted by the fans. The front office, knowing that their fans are among the most knowledgeable in baseball, listened.

DeRosa ended his season with a .250 average and 23 homeruns. For the Indians, he hit .270. With the Cardinals that production dropped to .228. While the tendon injury hampered DeRosa’s bat, it didn’t prevent him from playing the field like the veteran he is. His attitude about the situation, upbeat and even apologetic, showed the team and the fans that there was more to the Cardinals than just one or two players.

Any team that lands DeRosa gets a better than average ball player. He’s incredibly versatile, a natural second baseman that can also start at third and play the outfield. He can hit anywhere in the line-up. He will give his manager 100%, no matter what. He’s also a leader.

DeRosa will join any team with the intention of making the best of the situation. He will greet his teammates. He will talk and chat. Then he will lead them onto the field and in the clubhouse. That makes him more valuable than Holliday’s bat or Lackey’s arm.

Written by LS Murphy. Mrs. Murphy is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and is a consistent contributor to Cardinal’s Mix. She can also be followed on Twitter.

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