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CARDS TO BEGIN SEARCH FOR POWER PITCHER

No one summed up the St. Louis Cardinals' failure in the World Series better than Scott Rolen.

"When you have the aspiration as a little kid of playing in the World Series, throwing the ball up and hitting it, you at least sneak one hit in there in your backyard," Rolen said.

After a season in which the Cardinals led the majors with 105 wins, their potent lineup went down meekly in a four-game sweep to the Boston Red Sox.

Rolen, the major's RBIs leader before straining his left calf on Sept. 11, went 0 for 15 during the Series. The rest of the team didn't do much better, hitting .190 and going 4 for 28 with runners in scoring position. Jim Edmonds, who batted fifth behind Rolen, was 1 for 15 with no RBIs.

Less than 16 hours after the Red Sox completed their four-game sweep, the Cardinals began their winter business.

Manager Tony La Russa called his return for his 10th season as Cardinals manager "a slam dunk" as he is expected to sign a two-year contract before his current deal expires at year's end.

Pending free-agent shortstop Edgar Renteria quickly slipped from the clubhouse, stopping only briefly to say he would "wait and see" what the Cardinals might do to retain him.

Pitching coach Dave Duncan said the addition of a power starting pitcher "is our biggest need."

Pending free-agent pitcher Matt Morris (4.72 ERA) quietly left the clubhouse after Wednesday's 3-0 loss after asking that his belongings be mailed to him. He would not be returning. The Cardinals must decide whether to exercise the $8 million option or the buyout on Woody Williams' (11-8) contract.

Chris Carpenter, Jason Marquis and Jeff Suppan are under contract or control next season. The club hopes to find two power arms to place among them.

Reliever Steve Kline is scheduled to have surgery Nov. 11 to repair a partially torn tendon his left index finger. He believes the team does not want him back.

Beltran leads charge

Sixty-five players filed for free agency Thursday.

Among those was Carlos Beltran. Acquired by Houston during the season from Kansas City, Beltran has said he would consider re-signing with the Astros if they keep the core of the team together.

"I experienced being on a team where they don't do anything to help the ballclub," Beltran said.

Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who led the major leagues with 48 home runs, also filed along with Dodgers outfielder Steve Finley. Beltre had arthroscopic surgery to remove two bone spurs from his left ankle.

Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado, Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez, Minnesota right-hander Brad Radke and Philadelphia right-hander Kevin Millwood also filed.

The New York Yankees ended three days of high-level meetings in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday. They may restart trade talks with Arizona for Randy Johnson.

"Make no mistake about it. We are hard at work and will be back with a strong team for our loyal New York Yankee fans," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement.

Expos move debated

WASHINGTON -- Residents packed the District of Columbia Council chambers to praise or pan the mayor's $440 million proposal to refurbish RFK Stadium and build a new ballpark for the Montreal Expos.

Hundreds of people -- more than 230 individuals were scheduled to testify -- shared their opinions on Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan during a hearing that lasted more than 14 hours, stretching into this morning.

"There's more people here than an Expos game," Councilman Adrian Fenty said.

Councilman David Catania called it "the worst deal in America" and railed against the arguments of City Administrator Robert Bobb and other mayoral appointees during the hearing.

Eric Price, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, argued that the plan is an investment.

Baseball's agreement to move the Expos to Washington next season is contingent on the proposal becoming law.

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