Cardinals Offseason Update
The Cardinals began their offseason in disarray, not knowing for sure who would
manage the club next year or who would lead the front office. It turns out
that a familiar face will return as manager, in Tony LaRussa. However, the GM
who hired him is not returning after a front office power struggle left Walt
Jocketty out of a job just one year after orchestrating an improbable World
Series title run in 2006. By rehiring Tony LaRussa, former Jocketty protégé
turned General Manager inherited a heated dispute between former gold glove,
all star third baseman Scott Rolen and future Hall of Famer, Tony LaRussa.
Meanwhile, as the Cardinals waste time and energy trying to trade Scott Rolen,
a big whole at shortstop has opened while the Cards need to add at least two
solid, front of the rotation type starters in order to be competitive again.
The outfield is pretty much stocked with CF Edmonds, LF
Duncan, RF Ankiel, and spot starter Ryan Ludwick.
First base is of course set with Albert Pujols. They have
three guys who can play second, in Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan and Aaron Miles.
The problem is that none of them are gold glove or silver slugger material.
Even before season-ending knee surgery, Kennedy appeared headed to one of his
worst seasons and was pretty much platooning. Indeed he is the last vestige of
Walt Jocketty’s poor free agent signings a la Tino Martinez, Juan
Encarnacion, and Kip Wells. Aaron Miles, despite having a strong season last
year, is better served as a super sub and Brendan Ryan is still unproven. Ryan
also faces Tony LaRussa’s preference for a veteran player while Ryan is
young and inexperienced.
With David Eckstein an unrestricted free agent, and the
Cardinals unable to reacquire Edgar Renteria and lacking the depth and financial
guts to trade for an elite SS such as Miguel Tejada, it seems possible that the
Cards will open 2008 with a starting SS such as Eckstein, FA Izturis, Brendan
Ryan. If the Cards go really low budget/non-flashy they could even open with
Aaron Miles at SS after he filled in admirably there the last couple of years.
Yadier Molina and his should be golden glove will start at
catcher and names such as Paul Bako have been thrown around as a backup
option. Yesterday, however, former Reds starting catcher and most recently a Royals backup Jason LaRue was signed for under a million to backup Molina. Duncan and LaRussa like what he brings behind the plate including a plus arm. However, he batted under .150 last season which indicates that Hal McRae has his work cut out for him if LaRue is going to contribute at all offensively. The bullpen looks strong again with the Cardinals picking up Izzy’s
option and overpaying for Russ Springer to return. Joel Pineiro will return
to rotation after a strong stretch run with the Cardinals. Chris Carpenter is expected to
contribute by August but after Mulder’s disastrous 2007, please do not count
The rotation looks something like this right now:
If the Cards have a good offseason you can look for that
question mark to be filled with front line starters who will plug in before
Wainwright. The Cardinals are supposedly eyeing Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse
but it is unlikely that they can afford Silva and Lohse is not that much better
than what they have. As I write this article I realize that the Cards should
be markedly improved simply by not throwing Kip Wells out there every fifth day
and the same is true for Anthony Reyes if he cannot regain what he had in
I will have more on the Rolen saga as it continues to play out.