Cardinals Offseason Still Incomplete

St. Louis Cardinals Matt Holliday at his press conference where his 7 year contract was officially announced

The St. Louis Cardinals off-season has been an interesting one, not busy, at least in the case of a lot of acquisitions, but interesting.

The teams number one priority was to get Matt Holliday signed, Mark DeRosa, John Smoltz and other free agents quickly learned this.

Players, fans, and media members anxiously awaited the announcement of something, whether it was “we are moving on” or “Matt Holliday is a Cardinal” they just wanted something.

Finally on January 7th it became official Holliday received the biggest contract in Cardinals history.

After a long drawn out situation the man everyone wanted was a Cardinal kind of surreal figuring that this was out of the ordinary to give the top free agent a contract he was willing to accept.

Now it was out there for everyone to talk, analyze, and scrutinize about, but for the Cardinals the move was something they wanted and needed.

With this out-of-the-way the Cardinals were to begin to fill out the rest of the team, of course a month before the Holliday signing the Cards came to an agreement with Brad Penny on a one year deal.

Brad Penny

New addition to a possibly lethal rotation

Between the two signings the rotation, outfield and team was starting to take form.

There were many questions that were remaining and now we look and almost a month later those questions are still being asked.

Who is in that 5th rotation spot? Yes this should be cleared up in spring training with the open competition, but should they still think about a veteran such as John Smoltz again?

Who is at 3rd? Once again we think we may have the answer in David Freese, but what if that falls through, no one. And does Tony want to hand someone like Freese the job? I find it difficult to believe that he does or will.

Who will come off the bench? There is no answer here at this point.

Is there still another bullpen spot available? I think there is, and I think there is the perfect guy for it.

Finally who is the leader of this team? Many will say Albert Pujols or maybe Yadier Molina, but are they leaders, yes Albert is the best player but how much of a leader is he? Will he get in someones face and tell them when they need to step it up or go and help someone when they are down and are in need of a boost. ( And I do not mean steroids)

So as for that first question, the 5th starter will be occupied by either Jaime Garcia, Rich Hill, or Kyle McClellan.

Kyle McClellan should be left in the bullpen he has been effective there for the most part stop messing with him by making him compete for a spot than putting him back in the ‘pen. Make him your set-up man, unless you want to give John Smoltz  a call and see if he is interested.

Which makes me jump to that bullpen question ideally Smoltz would be the man I would love to place in there, tell Ryan Franklin that he is the set-up guy give John that closers role let Trevor Miller be that lefty set-up guy and the rest will fall where they may. This is obviously far-fetched because Smoltz will not be a Cardinal and the closers role belongs to Franklin.

The few guys left on the list that if not offered a contract I would like to see in camp would be: Kiko Calero, Russ Springer, or Troy Percival, all of them were on the team at one point.  One other guy I would be interested in the Cardinals bringing in would be Chad Bradford, he has had some problems with walking guys at times, but to be a middle reliever he would not be a bad pick up two seasons ago in a season split between Baltimore and Tampa Bay – Bradford had a low 2.12 ERA and only 3 HR in 59.1 innings. He has never let up the long ball allowing only 28 HR’s in 515.2 IP

The leader role I believe is one that is most important but seems to be one that this Cardinals organization is ignoring. There was a chance to have the leader role locked up, and instead of showing interest they ignored his offer to come back for a minor league deal, the Cards folded.

The leader during the 2006 World Series run.

Jim Edmonds was ready to take on a small role with the Cardinals, to try to put all the bad memories of him in a Cub jersey behind us. But instead the Cards sent him on his way, where gladly the Milwaukee Brewers gave him a oppurtunity.

Will this deal work out? Who knows, would he have been a huge contributor? That was all up in the air, but why not give him a chance.

Would it have killed the Cardinals to reach out their hand and say here you go Jimmy, come back and try out for the Cardinals, come and help us get to another World Series.

Is he the most enthusiastic guy? No. But is he a leader? Yes. This man led his 2006 team to the World Series, much like a Larry Walker did for the 2004 Cardinals. No he wasn’t having the best season, but in the locker he had respect, he was liked, and he was a leader. Something this team still lacks, they refused a job oppurtunity to him, after doing the same to clubhouse leader Mark DeRosa, and as they are likely doing now with vet John Smoltz.

Can this team make the playoffs? Of course it can. How far will it go? I don’t think very far, especially if the team continue to ignore this problem. To give Jim Edmonds a shot would have cost nothing, compared to what he gave us, besides who is on the bench from the left-handed side? Jon Jay and Daryl Jones, two prospects who are still unproven in the minor leagues.

Which brings me to that bench need, the ideal situation would have been to bring back Mark DeRosa, yes I know that should be answered with the 3rd base question which will be answered with this too.

Right now David Freese is your 3rd baseman, he has no one pressuring him, you bring in Mark DeRosa and he fills thrid base, also can play Outfield when needed and also fills that leadership role we discussed at nauseam. But DeRosa is a Giant now, so now the question begins, who fills the 3rd base role and who is on the bench? I am a big proponent of letting David Freese come off the bench in which he went unofficially 5/11 with 1 HR 4 RBI’s and BB, in the few games he came off the bench in late inning situations. This guy could be a nice bat off the bench, but we’ll see how he looks as a starter.

Or will we? Maybe there is still a chance Felipe Lopez could once again be a Cardinal, according to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. This could help fill the 3rd base slot: He batted .324 with 2 , a HR and 3 RBI’s in limited action at 3rd in 2008. He wasn’t the most fluent at 3rd as he did commit two errors there in ’08 and has more errors early on in his career while with the Blue Jays and Reds, so that is a question the team must answer, if they are willing to commit to this.

But a few scenarios I see happening if the Cardinals decide to go elsewhere: Robb Quinlan, he is a free agent from the Los Angeles Angels, has never been a full-time starter at 3rd, could be an interesting option if Tony LaRussa is wanting to have Freese compete for his job, and if Freese wins over Quinlan, Robb is a nice player to have on the bench and has been security on the bench over the years for the Angels especially in ’06 when he .321 with 9 HR’s and 32 RBI’s in 234 AB’s.

RF – Jonny Gomes had been offered a minor league deal by the Reds reportedly, it wouldn’t hurt to give this guy a try, not the greatest outfielder but neither was Edquardo Perez or Orlando Palmerio, but has some pop in his bat if he is not set on starting some where could be ideal.

RF – Geoff Jenkins – we know all about him here in St. Louis has been a Milwaukee retread for years could be a nice bat off the bench, once again if no offers to start arise.

One non-roster invitee to camp for me is: Darin Erstad, has not been productive in the last few seasons but let’s see if we could strike gold.

Once again they need bats off the bench now outside of Julio Lugo and Jason LaRue, I am dead set on be on the bench with players to choose from like Tyler Greene, Nick Stavinoha, and Joe Mather the Cards must bring some guys into Spring Training to compete for those last spots.

Oh how I long for the days of Edquardo Perez, Marlon Anderson and John Mabry coming off the bench.

What to look for next: My Ideal Rams Offseason, Are the Blues going to make that push, as well as Kurt Warner’s decision to hang them up.


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