Good morning folks,
As Major League Baseball’s offseason dial starts to pick up with fierce intensity, Cardinals fans can be safe and assured that their general manager isn’t sleeping with his cell phone attached to his eye lobe. John Mozeliak filled out his big need cards before Thanksgiving hit, and at the moment is sitting pretty at his desk waiting for smaller deals to materialize. After acquiring Peter Bourjos through a trade and signing free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a multi-year contract, Mo is now looking to fill out smaller spots on his roster but doesn’t necessarily feel the need to bend over backwards for any team. That’s a good feeling for him and the fans.
This is where being a Cardinals fan has its supreme virtues. When the games are over and the suits take the field for offseason trade jockeying and free agent bidding, fans get tense and probably lose more nerves than they do during the season. For Cards fans, we can look back just 2 years and remember the anxiety following the Albert Pujols trade rumor mill. It wrapped up in early December but for more than 4 weeks, that was all anyone could think about. Since then, the Cards have done pretty well, stocked their team with young talent and now sit as a team ready to start spring training.
What else is there for Mozeliak to possibly look at improving? Finding a power bat that can come off the bench and put in some time at third base or second base would be nice. A player like Michael Young, who spent the last part of 2013 on the bench of the Dodgers. He has pop, can play multiple positions and be a fine asset to have to protect against injury and give you depth on a bench that ranked as one of the worst in baseball in 2013. Sure, you have Matt Adams on days where Bourjos, Oscar Taveras and Allen Craig play but Adams could easily be at first base for a decent portion of the season unless zero injuries happen. If Mo needs to look at anything, it’s finding another veteran bat that can be counted on in late innings. This isn’t a huge need but one that I am sure our guy is keeping an eye on this month.
Jon Jay is another question. Does he stay or does he go? He will be asking for 3-3.5 million dollars, which isn’t bad money for a 4th or 5th outfielder. If you keep Jay, do you also keep Shane Robinson around with the steady diet of young outfielders coming up through the ranks of Springfield and Memphis. If I am Robinson, I don’t want to start the season as the 5th outfielder or go down to Memphis. Shane played very well last year in a smaller role and deserves more playing time. If Jay stays, I see Shane on the way out for his own sake. It will be different in 2014, with Bourjos and Taveras playing factors in the playing time slots. If I were Mo, I would look for a trade suitor for Jay, who could have some value with his overall performance the past 2.5 years in center field. Sure, he was once a very good bench player but that was before every team in the majors built up a book on pitching him. Now may be the time to sever ties with Jay.
The one thing the Cardinals don’t need is pitching of any kind. That is a sweet fact. It’s nice to not have to be the team to hand an aging pitcher like Scott Karmir 2 years and a lot of cash to fill a roster spot. The Cards have 8 pitching candidates for the rotation and a heavily loaded bullpen with plenty of arms working their way through the ranks of the minors. I don’t think this team needs to be thinking about acquiring serious pitching talent for many years. When Shelby Miller is being set up as a contender for a rotation spot, you know you are in good hands.
What will Mo do? The options aren’t great. Michael Young, Jeff Baker and Kevin Youklis are among the available hands. Anyone higher will cost too much? I doubt we see anything done by our GM before the New Year hits. He will be patient and can afford to be with his quick movement.
Other M.L.B. offseason news tidbits-
*The Jacoby Ellsbury/Yankees deal is atrocious. Right when the Yankees were starting to move away from outrageous contracts, they step back into the bank theft role and give Brian McCann and Ellsbury huge deals. The McCann one is sound on a few levels, with his LH hitting and relatively young age and value. The money there isn’t too smart but when compared to the 7 years and 143 million given to Ellsbury, it’s definitely wiser. Look, I think Ellsbury is a good player and worthy of a decent contract. However, he isn’t a spring chicken and is very injury prone. This contract reeks like the Carl Crawford/Boston Red Sox deal did and that is horrible. Every time a crazy contract like this is finalized, I look back at the deal John Mozeliak struck for Matt Holliday in January of 2010 and cherish the bargain that it was.
*If Mike Napoli seriously thinks he is getting 17-20 million per season, then I should put myself on the market to see what I am worth. Napoli isn’t worth 15 million much less 20 million and not if the deal is over 2 years.
*If it is true and the Royals really did offer Carlos Beltran a 3 year/48 million dollar deal, good for them. There isn’t a guarantee he will take the money but he is exactly what that team needs and he would be returning to the place where he started his career. He would also get to face the Cards twice a year and that is a scary if comforting though. Most of all, I respect Kansas City for putting themselves out there and doing their best to secure a big prize. If it is true, that’s a good move for them. Update-The Royals did not offer Beltran the contract and he will go elsewhere.
*The Houston Astros have acquired Ryan Jackson, Adron Chambers and Dexter Fowler in the past 2 weeks. Watch out contenders! They will lead the American League in infield singles and strikeouts easily.
*While the Nationals gave up a few young players to make it happen, I really like their acquisition of Doug Fister, an underrated starter from Detroit who was overshadowed by Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Fister put together decent numbers in the American League and could improve coming over to the NL. Sure, Comerica Park was a pitcher’s park, but Washington isn’t necessarily a sandbox and in my opinion, Fister will fare well there.
*It is not true that the Yankees are trying to lure Barry Bonds out of retirement to come be their DH and accept a 6 year, 280 million dollar deal with a guarantee of high quality “clean protein shakes” on a daily basis. Completely false.
*It is also false that the Yankees offered Charlie Sheen a healthy wage to reprise his role as Rick Vaughn in a real life relief role. Let me be the one to shoot that down.
*Robinson Cano just signed a 10 year/240 million dollar contract with the Mariners. Blame the game, not the player. People always get in an uproar about player contracts in baseball and forget that the suits started this game and the players are only playing it very well. Cano gets out of Yankee land(where he got a ring) and now goes to a Seattle team begging for some true firepower. Jay Z got him his money and that is that.
*Curtis Granderson leaves the Yankees for the Mets for 4 years and 60 million. Solid deal and puts the Yankees in play to land Carlos Beltran.
It is indeed the season to be jolly and for owners and agents to be crazy. That’s December in baseball. Let the games begin. It’s a good thing the Cardinals and Mozeliak are mostly spectators.
Thanks for reading this,
Dan L. Buffa
@buffa82 on Twitter
Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org