The Cardinals head to winter meetings in driver's seat -

The Cardinals head to winter meetings in driver's seat

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- Will the Cardinals wheel and deal at the Winter Meetings at Disney next week?  While it seems unlikely after trading David Freese, along with signing shortstop Jhonny Peralta, the Cardinals could still do some tweaking to this roster. Here are four key points that should be examined very closely at the Winter Meetings next week.

Bench Help: The bench is priority number one for the Cardinals. Last year’s addition of Ty Wiggington was a bust. The Cards seem more determined to find players who provide offensive firepower. Last season ended with a bench of Pete Kozma, Shane Robinson, Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, Adron Chambers, and Kolten Wong.

Despite his early struggles, Wong will head to spring training as the starter at second base. When the Freese trade was announced, GM John Mozeliak hinted during his press conference that the team could bring in a veteran to compete with Wong. Read between the lines: “There’s a lot of offseason left and a lot things can still happen,” said Mozeliak.  “One of the things we pride ourselves on is creating a competitive camp. There’s still some things we’d like to see done, but from a short term view right now, I would definitely think this opens up a lot for Wong”.

2) Oscar Taveras:  The player who Mozeliak called “the best Cardinals hitting prospect since Albert Pujols” appears to be the X-Factor this winter. If he’s completely healed from his ankle injury and ready to go for spring training, Taveras provides an electric bat off a bench.  The centerfield experiment could be over for Taveras now that Peter Bourjos is in place. Allen Craig and Matt Adams could become moving parts if Tavares comes out with a hot bat in Jupiter.

3) Payroll Flexibilty: Carlos Beltran leaving St.Louis, along with the Freese trade with the Angels helped the Cards clear some space off the books.  The Cards will now look at contracts for Descalso, and John Jay a lot more comfortably, and have the cash to splurge on a potential veteran bat.

4) Young Pitching: Will the Cardinals decide to part with any of their young pitchers? They may not have to. Remember those Troy Tulowitzki trade rumors? The names that were mentioned were Trevor Rosenthal, Lance Lynn, and Shelby Miller. Those names would be too much to give up in any trade, and why would the Cardinals trade Rosenthal with the return of Jason Motte a question mark?

Through free agency and a trade, the Cards filled their two biggest needs of a shortstop (Peralta) and a centerfielder (Bourjos).  The Cards never had to move any of their young arms. Now, Mozeliak can choose whether he wants to enter 2014 with a stable of arms under club control, or make smaller deals while keeping his most prized youngsters in St. Louis.  

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