Did the Cardinals Lose Ground in the Off-Season?
Isn’t the idea of the off-season in baseball to find ways to make your team better?
Let’s consider what the Cardinals have done this off-season. They lost Skip Schumaker and added Ty Wigginton. What makes this an improvement? Nothing, really. In fact it is very close to a loss. Randy Choate was brought in for 2 years as a lefthanded reliever. We moved Barret Browning down so this makes a very small plus on the side of the Cardinals. Recently, Ronny Cedeno was added as insurance at shortstop in case Furcal is unavailable. This move is a plus over Pete Kozma and Ryan Jackson. Cedeno has extensive major league experience where the others do not. Cedeno may not be an offensive explosion but he can get the ball and hit some. This was a decent plus.
The Cardinals did not improve by leaps and bounds and surely people will tell you they are good enough as they are. Let’s just say I’m cautiously optimistic.
The pitching is obviously full of more question marks than many Cardinal fans will admit. Wainwright will be pitching for a contract but last season so him struggle for quite a bit but seemed to even up at the season’s end. He has to remain more constant to be a #1 pitcher on the staff. Carpenter came in the last month and was up and down in his results. Until about 5-8 starts in the season are completed, will be what we know about the structure of his arm and if he is able to compete and win.
Jamie Garcia was shutdown with injury and will be a question mark at the beginning. Jake Westbrook is the whipping boy of the fans and will be given a small window of opportunity. Lance Lynn was a surprise and now we find out if he can maintain his ability to start every 5 days.
Kyle Lohse is gone and unsigned. He was the best on the staff last season. Who takes his place? Many names are bantered around with Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and others getting the most talk.
Defense is below average. We only have two plus defenders on the team and they are John Jay and Yadier Molina. After that, we muddle through. Before you throw names at me like David Freese and his defense, be sure you check the stats. He was the 12th best at his position. We need improvement and maybe Cedeno can help that a bit.
Offense is an area that I am not going to talk about today as that comes in another column. Suffice it to say that it is really good and has potential to lead the league in several categories.
So what does this mean to me? Second place and 88 wins which will put us slightly better than the 86 wins of the Brewers and behind the 91 of the Reds, in my opinion.
The Cardinal minor league system is ranked #1 in MLB. However, until that translates to productive players at the major league level, it’s meaningless. And since the current status of the minor league system is basically the result of the departed Jeff Luhnow’s work, it remains to be seen how productive it will be in the future. People can debate Jocketty’s methods v. Mozeliak’s and I don’t intend to take a side, but we can’t refute the success Jocketty had or is now having with the Reds. Overall Mozelaik has made shrewd moves that have paid off, but I will restate he has done nothing to substantially improve the 2013 team over last year’s roster. And again, if you aren’t improving, you’re regressing.