United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable Question

Every year, once the season ends, the United Cardinal Bloggers, a blog I write about the Cards for, holds a roundtable discussion.   Via google email chat groups, one person sends out a question in the morning and the rest of the crew answers.  Today, I posted my question about the hottest topic at Busch right now.  The Shortstop Dilemma.

Elvis+Andrus+2011+World+Series+Game+2+Texas+Vj3Mb-phEnsl

This is my official question/paragraph opener to the group-

Since it hasn’t been broached yet, I am going to ask what is the best measure to take in the hunt for a shortstop?   Who do you want Mo to target and who would work best for this team?   Do we want the big splash of Tulo?  The lineup changing speed of Andrus(40 + SB in 2013)?  A guy like Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera?  Do you want to go young with Jurickson Profar?
Who do you want playing shortstop in 2014 for the Cardinals and why?
Here are the responses.
*Honestly, I don’t want to go young (Profar), I want someone established but not “old”.  The team needs a long-term fix that is more of a certainty, not a two-year fix or a gamble on a rebound.

 
Andrus makes the most sense to me, though if the rumors are true the price of players being asked for is crazy.  If you could get him for a couple of arms and a position player, I’m good with that.  The Cards have the financial freedom to absorb the salary and he’s a player that has established what he brings to the table.  
 
Tulo is an injury risk.  Lowrie and Cabrera offer interesting and viable fall back options.  Otherwise, there’s not much out there and it may be another stop-gap player that can be there for a year or two. *sigh*
 
I have a feeling that we will wake up with a player like Peralta because Mo will not overspend.  It’s not a bad thing, but I wouldn’t be disappointed if they gave up a little more than they were comfortable with for a guy that could be here for a good, long time.
Thanks,
Bill Ivie
Founder | I-70 Baseball
Freelance Writer | i70baseball | Bleacher Report
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As long as they can hit the ball and play Gold Glove caliber defense, I’ll be happy.  That and I want stability at the position.  No more automatic outs when the position comes up to hit.  No more screaming when another ball gets booted when it could easily have been stopped.  No more revolving shortstop come opening day.  This has been the Cardinals biggest problem.  They went from stability with Ozzie from 1982-1996 to Royce Clayton to Edgar Renteria to David Eckstein.  But since the end of the 2007 season, it’s been a new SS each year come Opening Day and that has to stop.  I don’t care who the new guy is as long as they can play GG defense and hit the ball.
 
The Cards drafted SS heavy this past summer.  They took Oscar Mercado with their second round pick and two others in the first ten rounds.  What is their ETA with Mercado?  Will he be a fast riser through the system like Piscotty and Wacha?  Or do they have other plans in mind?
 
Daniel Solzman
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As I put on Twitter yesterday, I would like the Cardinals to go after someone that you did not list in the question. The players that I like on your list will take a large crop of players to get, and I am not ready to part with those types of prospects just yet.

 
This leaves me with two players–one player I have been pulling for all season–Jonathan Schoop from the Orioles–or a player I just came across from a friend (@LuckySTLFan) and eventually after digging through statistics, projections, highlights–Chris Owings from the Diamondbacks. I am actually leaning more towards Owings to be honest. After running the numbers and checking out projections, I legitimately believe that Owings could be the right-handed version of Matt Carpenter for years to come.
 
To acquire either, it would likely require one big name, a la Matt Adams, Lance Lynn, or possibly even Shelby Miller, but neither will require the Cardinals to trade players that I consider “untouchables”–Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, and Oscar Taveras.
 
Will they necessarily go after either of the players I just listed? We will likely never know, but I assure you all that the front office “won’t leave any stone unturned” when it comes to searching for the shortstop of the future.
 
Also, when it comes to SS’s in the system already, Juan Herrera, the player acquired in the Scrabble trade, is likely to prospect to watch. I love Mercado, but I think Herrera is better defensively and hit decently well in Peoria after the trade.

Joseph M. Schwarz
Butler University
Pharmacy Class of 2015
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If we are looking for a stopgap then I would be ok with JJ Hardy. If we want someone young NOW then the D-Backs have a few they are willing to listen about in Gregorius and Owings.

Our farm shortstops are about 2-3 years away in Kenneth Peoples-Walls and Oscar Mercado. The other two, Garcia and Lemmerman, are not likely to make the grade. 

-Tom Knuppel

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Bill hit it on the head that the Cardinals will not overspend. Now the question becomes where the limit is and who sets it? Mo and Co. surely could go to ownership for the right player/contract but in a trade situation the assets are the key.

I’ll admit to enjoying the Tulo talk because if nothing else St. Louis did it on the team’s terms. Yes, every team knows that SS is a need under the Arch but not for an unlikely deal. Andrus could be an option with the right pieces going to Texas but the most appealing in my opinion could be dealing with Oakland again.

Lowrie has proven to be less of a gamble and already was a target for the Cards on a few different occasions. Reading the letter of the law in regards to the question, however, I’m going to stick with Tulo just because it makes the potential lineup even scarier. We can talk about 2015 and on at a later date 😉

-Joshua and Christi Gilliam

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As long as it’s someone better than Kozma, I won’t be too picky. If I can have someone that can hit .275 and have comparable defense to Kozma, then it would be perfect. 

Getting Tulo would be a dream. as he is one of the best, if not the best SS in the league right now. He’s a bit older, but he has a lot of time on his contract and he is superb. I think a more realistic option, and one that would not make the Cardinals “bet the farm” on him, would be Andrus. 
 
The Cardinals have been stocking up on SS prospects this last year, through the draft and the trade that was mentioned earlier. I would like to see if one of those options would be good in a year or two. If that is true, then Tulo could be the stop-gap needed to get to one of those prospects. My mantra right now, like most others, though, is “In Mo I Trust”.
 
-Ben Chambers
The View From Here
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We can’t rely on a future SS in the system. Peoples-Walls is moving to OF and the others are still really raw. I am starting to lean towards Elvis Andrus, but it depends on what it would take to get him. I am also not one that wants to hold on to all the prospects. 
 
Peoples Walls is a great athlete and that’s why he is getting moved to the outfield. 
 
Sorry for the short response. I’m on my lunch break and on my phone!
John Nagel
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My preference would be the 2003 version of Edgar Renteria. Barring that, the preference is Elvis Andrus because of his age (25), speed (165 steals in 5 MLB seasons) and adequate hitting (796 hits in 757 career games). Cardinals lineup needs an infusion of speed (Andrus and Kolten Wong would create havoc  for opponents) and, with Andrus, Cardinals can have a premier shortstop who hasn’t even entered his prime years yet.

Mark Tomasik

www.retrosimba.com

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I feel like this is the offseason to fix shortstop for a good long time.  You never know how highly prized these prospects will be again, you don’t know when you’ll have the money again.  It really is a perfect confluence.
 
I think there are a number of solid options out there.  I was initially hesitant over Andrus due to his contract, but I think 1) the Cards would get Texas to pay some, 2) they can absorb that into their payroll readily, especially with the new contract money, and 3) Andrus is younger than I thought he was.  Put all that together and he’s a desirable trade target once again.
 
I’m not sold on Tulowitzki and I’d really not like to see stopgaps like Drew and Peralta, but many of the other names bandied about sound just fine to me.
-Daniel Shoptaw
Author, C70 At The Bat  Twitter: @C70

Co-Admin, CardsClubhouse
Radio Shows: Gateway To Baseball Heaven (Sundays) and UCB Radio Hour (Wednesdays, in host rotation)
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It is clear that shortstop is THE position this winter, and with that said, I’m sure that something comes of it, albeit at a cost one way or the other that will make Cardinal followers do the Brett Wallace-for-Matt Holliday gasp (remember that? It’s even funnier now). 

 
With that said, the field breaks into a couple of tiers to me: the property elite (Tulowitzki & Andrus), the property second raters (Lowrie, Hardy, Astrubel, Aybar, Everth Cabrera) and the property projects (Gregorius, various back ups). Then there are the free agents (Drew, Peralta, Furcal…kinda kidding).
 
The problem here is that the elite is going to cost big in money and talent, the second raters are prone to create overpays in talent, at a cheaper price and the youngers are uncertain commodities.
 
At this point, while Andrus and Tulowitzki are relatively affordable, sexy team upgrades, I don’t like the loss they take to gain. In the same vein, I’m not a fan of overpaying for a Lowrie or Hardy, who’s value is certainly boosted more because of the lack of what the Cardinals have over what their actual value is. 
 
The real problem is that there’s a steep fall off from Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez to Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly. Basically, the cost is too great to deal for All-Stars when its not necessary.
 
In this situation, I’d like Stephen Drew. Yeah, he’ll get more than he’s worth, but he’ll essentially get Beltran’s money and fill an instant need the same way Carlos did when he showed up. He can play a plus shortstop, can hit enough to make the 8 spot a threat and won’t cost anything that’s here as is. So keep the Shelby’s, Martinez’s and Adams in house and add at the cost of nothing more than money that’s been vacated any way.
-Matt Whitener
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The Cardinals are certainly leaving no stone unturned in their search for a shortstop.  The Cardinals have checked in on Profar and Andrus with the Rangers, Tulowitzki with the Rockies and Lowrie of the A’s, among others.Personally, I would like to see them get Andrus or Profar, as Texas has already said one of their 3 infielders (along with Kinsler) is available. Given the choice, I would prefer Profar.

While Andrus is proven, he has the extra baggae of the large contract.  Profar would be under team control for at least the next 5 years and at a much cheaper rate than Andrus.  

Profar gives the Cardinals more payroll flexibility, especially when all these young hurlers start reaching arbitration in a few years.

While he is not as proven as Andrus (or the others), he has tremendous upside and, in my opinion, is worth the risk.

-Mark Sherrard(Cardinals Fan in Cubs Land)
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I like the Andrus option myself all things being equal. Could you imagine Andrus and Carpenter at the top of a lineup, followed up by Holliday, Craig, Molina, Taveras (?). I am always a sucker for the longball, but have to keep in mind that power is down across the league and very few shortstops hit a lot of HR.The Cardinals are obviously wanting an offensive upgrade (since they have a great defender with Kozma) while not sacrificing too much defensively. Specifically to the question I want Mo to target a high OBP speed guy with good defense. This team is not going to hit .330 with RISP next season no matter how much we want to believe that.Create more runs by stealing bases. If the new MO of this team is power arms, good situational hitting, and fundamental defensive play, I would like to see them get a shortstop who could defend the position well for years to come while providing decent pop and speeding up the game a little bit.

Chris Mallonee
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There it is.  The perspective of many Cardinal writers in and outside the city of St. Louis.   If you are still alert, awake and willing, here is my take.  Short and blunt.
While the idea of Tulowitzki is dreamy and sweet, I really see the Cards going another way.   Colorado will ask for too much and force Mo to straighten his bow tie and go elsewhere, which is fine.   In order to part with their superstar player, the Rockies will want at least 4 of our diamonds and Mozeliak won’t give them up.   I don’t blame him.  Call him whatever you want and repeat his favorite line(At the end of the day) all day long but respect the man for being smart, practical and sharp in player related discussions.   He won’t part with too many of his toys for a 30 year injury prone guy with 134 million due to his bank account.   You have to stare at the mustang before you move onto the economically friendly sedan.
My choice would be Elvis Andrus.   He has years on his contract but is younger than Tulo and will bring a different element to the Cards lineup.  SPEED!  He stole over 40 bases in 2013 and gets on base, drives in a fair share of runs and can hit the triples.   His defense is solid and he will fit brilliantly into the #2 hole in the lineup.   When he played us in the 2011 World Series, he showed true skill and an ability to change a game.  Pair him up with a young Kolten Wong up the middle and inside the same lineup and you have two players who could easily steal 35+ bases a season for a long time.  It would be a complete transformation for this ballclub.   Going from the slugging days of La Russa to the base stealing days of the future.   He my choice.
I understand the arguments for Profar, Owings and Schoop.  They are young controllable and cheap.   They don’t have a real baseball card yet but they have mountains of potential.   Profar is the most enticing but may cost you a lot because he is the #1 rated prospect in baseball(right ahead of Oscar Taveras).  Owings may be cheaper.
Jed Lowrie also makes a lot of sense and may cost a few players but won’t cost you too pretty a penny at the moment.   He was big time producer for Billy Beane’s Athletics in 2013.
I absolutely don’t want Stephen Drew and Jhonny Peralta.  The time is now to strike and get a long term solution at shortstop.  Don’t waste it by signing one of those hacks.  Trust me on that.
Andrus is my logical first choice, Lowrie seems a decent second,  but the younger guys aren’t that bad of an option either.   If I want to hop on a cloud, I will take Tulo. Somehow, I just don’t see that happening.
Thanks for reading and head to http://www.unitedcardinalbloggers.com for more Cards commentary and information.
-Dan Buffa
@buffa82 on Twitter
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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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