• HaroldHecuba: Mike Mussina is EASTERN EUROPEAN, not Italian....

The Cardinals offense was just so-so in 2009, despite the presence of hitting god Albert Pujols. St. Louis was square in the middle of the pack in slugging, wOBA, and OBP. Where they excelled was pitching. The Cards’ pitchers issued the fewest walks in the league and had the third best FIP, allowing St. Louis to run away with the NL Central.

colby-rasmus1This offseason, St. Louis is faced with the prospect of losing midseason acquisitions Matt Holliday, John Smoltz and Mark DeRosa — no small potatoes. Joel Pineiro, Rick Ankiel, and Troy Glaus are also free agents.

How will the Cardinals repeat as NL Central champs, in light of this large group of likely departing players?

Let’s start with the easy one. DeRosa isn’t coming back. The Cardinals have a perfectly good third baseman in September-call-up David Freese, who’s hit over .300 at every minor league stop he’s made, and also has a reputation as an above-average defender. Freese might not light the world on fire in 2010, but Cardinals GM expects he’ll be a two-win player, and for a guy making the minimum, that ain’t bad.

In left field, Holliday probably won’t be back. I mean, maybe he will. But as the biggest name on the free agent market there will be a lot of pressure on Holliday to go to whichever team offers the most money. Maybe St. Louis will outbid the Yankees and Red Sox, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Other outfield options include Johnny Damon, Coco Crisp and Jason Bay. The Cards might consider Marlon Byrd, who made about $3MM last season and is generally worth around $10MM (though his value would decrease if he shifted to LF). But I’d be wary that he could repeat his hitting success away from the cozy confines of Arlington and hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo. I’d advocate the Cards pursue a left fielder via trade, but I could only speculate about who would be available and what that player might cost.

The other outfield spots will be manned by Ryan Ludwick and Colby Rasmus, who is primed for a breakout season. (He will be on my fantasy team. Oh yes, he will be on my team.)

As for the pitchers, the Redbirds will return the bulk of their starting staff, including Cy Young runners-up Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. Kyle Lohse will also return. Mozeliak recently told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the team will try to upgrade its rotation if they fail to land Holliday, though John Lackey isn’t in the team’s plans. I say bring back Smoltz, who won’t command a multi-year deal. After Smoltz moved to the NL last season, he struck out 9.5 per 9. The final spot could go to Pineiro, or another B-level SP like Brett Myers, Carl Pavano or Brad Penny (aka the d-bag group).

Conclusion: The Cards have Pujols, a maturing Rasmus, two Cy-Young candidates, a promising rookie third baseman, a loyal fanbase, a pretty stadium and roughly $20MM to burn this offseason. They’ll be fine, even if Holliday doesn’t return.

What They Need Index

Leave a Reply

Marketplace

    Subscribe via email

    Enter your email address:

    Archives

What's Popular

Featured posts

220px-Bbwaa_logo_web

December 5, 2011

Will anybody get elected to the Hall of Fame this year?

Last week, we asked you to vote for who you would like to see enshrined in baseball’s Hall of Fame. The verdict? If it were up to UmpBump readers, nobody would make it in. The leading vote getter (so far) is Jeff Bagwell, who has 60% support. Of course, in the real voting, players need […]

January 5, 2011

Annual UmpBump Hall of Fame Balloting: 2011 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, we here at UmpBump cast our ballots for the Hall of Fame on the eve of the announcements of the voting for the real Hall of Fame. Voters can vote for anyone ever who has been retired from baseball for at least five years and is not already […]

According to the internet, "The Little Napoleon" John McGraw was the greatest manager of all time.

October 19, 2010

Crowdsourcing the Greats: The Top 10 Managers of All Time

Now that we’ve looked at every position on the diamond, as well as relief pitchers, we are nearing the end of our “Crowdsourcing the Greats” series. But before we finish, let’s turn one more time to the internet hoi polloi for answers on who the greatest baseball manager of all time was. As usual, we […]