Ok, the off season is here let the speculations fly. A number of fans are upset and climbing on ledges that we haven't made the playoffs the last 3 years. While that may be disturbing the Cardinals have faced longer times with no playoffs. (anyone want to remember the 70s)? So what options do we have and which way do we go?
*Some say we need to blow everything up and start over. They want to trade all of the top prospects for big name veterans.
*Others say we are one superstar away, so luxury tax be damned sign big Free Agents to long term deals.
*Others think that just tweaking the lineup with second tier Free Agents and a shrewd trade or two
*Then there is that small group that thinks we are fine and all of our answers are internal.
So what is the right answer? we can take a look at each approach
The BLOW UP - dismantle the team with exception of say Yadi, Wainwright and those with NTCs like Fowler and Cecil Everyone else would be available in whatever deals good be done do get more prospects . Not a direction I see the organization going because we have been relatively close to the top of division and no losing seasons in the last decade. not usually the reasons you would blow up the team.
Get a BIG MONEY Superstar - Whether by Free Agent or Trade going after a Superstar has inherent risks. Long term contracts with high money payout and details (NTCs and Opt Outs) that favor the player not the team. Also you are only affecting one position. NOW if that is the only position you need that is fine. For a team like St Louis who has questions in at least 4 areas (3B, RF, SP, RP) and at least 2 more in the next year or two C, 1B. Because of this a BIG MONEY Superstar may not be the best answer.
STANDING PAT - While it can be noted that the St. Louis Cardinals had many issues in terms of slumps and bad showings, Carpenter, Wong, Fowler, Holland, Cecil, Weaver and injuries to Molina, DeJong, Ozuna, Wainwright, Greggerson and Leone. Had we gotten the expected performance out of all those players or had the injuries we dealt with then being in the post season mix would not have been a problem. Having said that when you have poor performances and injuries it does show just how strong your team is. While we had great fill in performances by Bader, Munoz and the stable of young arms, this year revealed the holes we have. 3B, RF, durability in the Rotation and stability in the bullpen. Is Wisdom the answer at 3B? Is O'Neil ready for prime time? Will the young stud arms be able to go deeper into the season? I don't see any way we can Stand Pat.
TWEAKING where you need with SECOND tier players - For a team with multiple questions and a strong farm system that may not be ready yet This is not a bad strategy. Get what you need for right now while allowing your farmhands to develop naturally. Again whether by Trade or Free Agency there are the right parts out there that can provide what his needed to push us back into the division title and the post season. While at the same time allowing us to develop our young players for long term success.
I am actually in favor of Tweaking by adding the following:
3B Josh Donaldson, Eduardo Escobar, Anthony Rendon. Donaldson has become an injury concern but if healthy he can be a big bat. Rendon is a BIG BAT but not a real strong fielder Escobar is both Good bat and solid on Defense. Other options would be bringing in a SS such as Fransisco Lindor, Aldrelton Simmons, Trevor Story or Trea Turner then move DeJong to 3rd
RF. Here is a place where we actually be okay with internal options but that would depend on Fowler Bouncing back to the 2017 form and O'Neil continuing his progression to the point where a platoon situation would work. Some names that could work here Mitch Haniger from Seattle, A.J. Pollack from Arizona or Nickolas Castellanos Detroit. Any of these guys would work
Rotation durability - We started out with Martinez, Mikolas, Wainwright, Wacha and Waever
Reyes and Flaherty were set to make impacts. Martinez 3 stints on the DL and ended up being the closer. Wacha 15 games in and his season was over. Weaver was terribly inconsistent and Wainwright spent more time on the DL than he did active. The only one who lasted the whole season was Mikolas. Had it not been for Flaherty, Gant, Gomber, Poncedeleon and Ross shoring things up it could have been a horrific season. however the young arms faltered in Sept. Mikolas is a lock for next year as is Flaherty. Martinez has been penciled in as a starter for next year. Wacha is a question mark as is Weaver. I can see Gomber being the lefty in the rotation. I do think a stable seasoned arm would be a great addition A couple of FA pick ups could be Pat Corbin or Dallas Keuchel. There also trade possibilities rumors are names like Scherzer, Syndergaard, DeGrom and even Greinke could be available. I like our young guys but to have anyone of these six added to the current rotation would be great.
Bullpen stability - The pitchers added in the off season to address the bullpen Gregerson, Leone, Norris and eventually Holland. On paper this looked doable then reality set in. injuries to Gregerson and Leone and the late signing of Holland pushed Norris into the closer role. Then the Holland was a total washout, add to that the ineffectiveness of Cecil, Bowman, Lyons, Sheriff, Mayers was hot and cold, Tuivailala had some issues. Hudson and Hicks were highlights of the pen. The late season additions of Shreve and Webb may have places in the pen as lefties. The long man looks to be Mayers and possibly Wainwright middle part of the pen 6th and 7th innings look to be solid with Webb, Hudson, Brebbia. it is the 8th/9th/closer role Hicks has been looked at as the next man up to be the closer. Then you have the question marks of Cecil, Gregerson, Shreve and Leone. Can they help? Shreve and Cecil will get every opportunity given they are Left handers. IF Gregerson can get back to his 2015 levels(31 saves) He could be the closer.
Going outside the organization there are 3 on my radar; Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Kirby Yates.
Whatever the organization decides to do. They need to strike quick. playing the waiting game may not work as well this year. but I don't see much happening until winter meetings which start start December 10th.
Thanks for reading
Donald A Glenn Jr