(BaseballStL) – Every major league baseball team has offseason issues to resolve. The Cardinals less so but the ones they have cannot be ignored. Front office past performance would indicate they will not be. But sometimes even obvious problems have no obvious solutions.
In no apparent order then, for the Cardinals they are:
1). Where’s the gap power? The lack of a consistently potent offense cannot be dismissed as an aberration. Individual hitting comes and goes but a team must be able to generate hits and runs to win games. Duh. The Cards were last in homers, last in extra base hits and second in grounding into double plays. I’m not as smart as John Mozeliak, but I’m pretty sure that’s bad.
Solving the problem is two-fold. First, who is available and what would it take to get him; second, whose position does he take? First and third base and left and right field are the traditional power positions and the majority of the RBIs should come from those spots. No need to dissect the first two because Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams are part of the future. Matt Holliday makes $17 million for the next three years so it would be hard to trade him if they even wanted to. That leaves right where two young prospects, Randal Grichuk and Oscar Taveras will battle for playing time. A lot of upside for both. Unless Miami decides it will never be able to pay Giancarlo Stanton and is willing to move him for young prospects, not many options on the table at this time.
2). Is Trevor Rosenthal going to be an effective closer? Yes, he had 45 saves, but he walked a lot of people and was behind in the count far too often to be a reliable closer. Not too many of his innings were clean and by the end of the year, he was largely ineffective. A WHIP of 1.4 means that he puts one or two men on base for every inning he throws.
3). Who is going to back up an aging Yadier Molina? Tony Cruz is a nice young man and a Cardinal farm product but he cannot catch for extended periods. The Redbirds know that or they would not have signed A.J. Pierzynski. Cruz has a weak bat and average catching skills. That’s fine for a once a week catcher but not a guy who will be called on for longer periods as Molina breaks down.
4). How much is the organization going to have to pay Lance Lynn, Jon Jay, Pat Neshek and others? (the subject of another article).
5). Did John Lackey pitch well enough to be in the rotation in 2015? And if so, for how long? We know Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and presumably Michael Wacha will be every fifth-dayers. Lackey will be pushed if Jaime Garcia comes back strong, Carlos Martinez matures enough or Marco Gonzales continues to impress. A 36-year-old veteran cannot be kept as insurance, even at minimum wage.
6). Consistently dependable defense. Matt Carpenter had 16 errors, way too many at that position. Peralta played above expectations but lacks range. Kolten Wong made great plays but struggled with routine ones. Matt Holliday can look like a cow on skates at times and Jon Jay is not nearly as good as Peter Bourjos. If you can’t hit, your defense better be airtight.
7). Who is healthy and who is not? Will Wacha return as the next Wainwright or will he be the Cardinals’ Mark Prior? Is Wainwright really alright or has he begun the slow slide to mediocrity? Will Jaime Garcia return and at what level? How much longer can Molina catch 135+ games a year?
Sleep tight, Mr. Mozeliak.