ST. LOUIS (Baseball STL) -- Recently, I wrote how GM John Mozeliak flat out swung and missed on the trade for Indians starter Justin Masterson. It was a waste of trade asset James Ramsey, who was blocked in AA-Springfield.
Well, if you’re going to rip people for the poor moves they make you have to praise them for the good ones too. And let’s be honest. Mozeliak has made far more good moves than bad ones in his tenure as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta to a four year contract worth more than $50 million this past offseason was met with a lot of trepidation around the country in baseball circles. First and foremost, fans and players couldn’t believe someone who had just been suspended for PED use would be given such a big contract.
But not only that, Peralta isn’t exactly 24 anymore and several teams were looking at him as a third baseman or left fielder. Few thought he could even play shortstop anymore.
Well, five months into this first installment of that deal and it’s quite clear that was a good move. The 11 year veteran is hitting .272 with a .802 OPS and, most importantly, 18 home runs. On days Matt Adams isn’t in the lineup Mike Matheny is trusting Peralta to hit clean up behind Matt Holliday as well.
The 32-year old’s defense has been the biggest surprise. While no one will confuse Peralta with Ozzie Smith, there have been very few times this year where he’s failed to make a play that he SHOULD make. If the ball is hit in his general vicinity, you’re out.
And that’s all the Cardinals could really ask for. They knew they weren’t going to get highlight reel quality defense out of Peralta. They just needed him to be steady. And he’s done that.
Mozeliak negotiated the contract with Peralta to front load his four year contract. He’s making the most in the first two years before the salaries drop down in years three and four. That’s by design. At 32 he’s more likely to provide value this year and next year. But by the time the contract comes to a close and Peralta’s 34 and 35 years old he probably won’t be the same player he is now.
That would make it more likely to justify his place on the team or – possibly – eat his salary and find someone else to play shortstop.
But those decisions are a long way away. Right now the Cardinals are getting terrific production out of Jhonny Peralta at a position that’s given them fits for the last few years. He’s not the answer to their shortstop prayers forever.
He certainly is their answer right now.