October 27, 2012

#Cardinalnation — #Stlcards look in good shape for 2013

What will Trevor Rosenthal's role, and spot on the team,
be for the 2013 Cardinals??St. Louis Post-Dispatch picture
On Thursday, I blogged about the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2012 season. Near the end, I said they looked to be in generally good shape for 2013, and how they probably didn’t need to do much in the free agent market. Today, I’m going to detail that more.

First, Cot’s Contracts has a list of potential 2013 free agents.

Second, here’s the Cards’ contract obligations for years ahead.

A couple of thoughts, combining both what I think the Cards need to do about salaries of some current players, their situation with current players, and what I think they should and should not do with free agency.

1. I’m not looking for any pitchers, if I’m the Cards. There’s young arms — Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller — who are good for a few years. Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agrees. Which of them starts the year in St. Louis, and whether as a starter or in relief, will make for a fun spring training.

2. I am looking at extending deals for two arbitration eligible pitchers — Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs, followed by MarcRzepczynski, then Kyle McClellan

3. I’m waiting until spring training to decide what to do with either Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, both of whom are free agents in 2014. Assuming Waino’s arm looks even better, I’m looking at a long-term deal for him. On Carp? No more than two years plus one mutual option year — a retirement deal. Jake Westbrook? Either extend his relative bargain contract two more years, or else look to trade him if the deal is right.

4. Position player free agents? A Mark DeRosa, or a Placido Polanco if willing to accept the likelihood of not starting, for a solid utility infielder, for a “veteran presence” on the infield, with Lance Berkman likely gone. Maybe a Ryan Ludwick for outfield depth, although the Reds have a $5M option on him, or possibly Ichiro, though the Yankees will pay about any price for him, I bet. Beyond that, Carlos Beltran, like Carp and Waino a 2014 free agent, gets a spring training health look, with decision on contract extension then. I would not chase a Torii Hunter, whom the Angels will pay lots for and will probably regress this year. If the Angels don’t resign him, the Rangers may try to snag him as a Josh Hamilton replacement. In any case, he may well be out of the Cards’ range and not worth the price.

5. Trades? If the Matt Carpenter era is here at second base, Skip Schumaker is indeed trade bait. I’ve already mentioned Westbrook. I would NOT, as some fans want, trade Matt Holliday for Adrian Beltre. Why? You’ve got David Freese at 3B already, healthy for a full year last year and younger than Beltre at a demanding position. (Longer-term questions about Beltran’s knees, etc., are another reason not to trade Holliday.) If the Cards don’t want a long-term deal for Rzepczynski, then a trade for a LOOGY is obviously a priority. Other than that, I don’t see the need for major trades at this moment.

What the Cards need otherwise, simply put, is development:

1. Another year of development for young arms, and Wainwright to step up more besides Carpenter as co-leader of the staff;

2. Another year of development of Yadier Molina as the team’s overall leader and completing the adjustment to post-Pujols life;

3. Another year of development for Mike Matheny as a manager.

Bottom line?

The Birds, barring major injury issues, should at a minimum equal this year’s 88-win season. Really, they should be at least a co-favorite with the Reds for the division title, if not a hair ahead of them.

And, as this year has shown, Bud’s Folly, the second wild card and one-game play-in, isn’t a spot any team wants.

So, the Cards have good reason for the push. With a tougher schedule with no Astros, and a Cubs team that can’t be worse than this year, 92 wins is doable, and should be enough to win the NL Central.

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