It is December, and the hot stove is on full blast in the MLB offseason. The Blue Jays have traded for everyone short of the Queen of England and most of the big fish free agents have found a home. However, things have been rather quiet here in the gateway to the west.
The Cardinals have thus far only signed veteran lefty Randy Choate and journeyman infielder Ty Wigginton. They also traded their long-time utility man Skip Schumaker for infield prospect Jake Lemmerman. Therefore, critics will argue that we will be seeing the same Cardinals team that coughed up a 3-1 lead in the NLCS in 2012. However, this is exactly the approach the Cardinals' front office should be taking in the 2012 offseason.
Going into the offseason, the Cardinals had three real needs; left-handed reliever, power off the bench, and shortstop. Randy Choate and his impressive bullpen track record should take care of the lefty-reliever role. Ty Wigginton has been an everyday guy in the not-so-distant past and has showed off some pop, especially against lefties, so he will fill the bench role.
That leaves shortstop. Yes, the cardinals did nothing to address their shortstop situation for 2013, but why would they? Honestly, if you took a glance at the market for shortstops this offseason, did anyone pop out at you? Marco Scutaro is great, but he only has a couple years left. Stephen Drew has huge upside, but even Furcal is a more stable option than Drew. Outside those two, there were no players that could be considered an upgrade.
I do believe shortstop is a glaring need on this team. However, now is not the time to address it. Patience will be the key to the Cards future stability as a contender. The 2013 offseason may have a much deeper pool of middle infielders.
Alexi Casilla, Aaron Hill, and Omar Infante could all be options for St. Louis next offseason. Plus, if the Rangers decide to not pick up Ian Kinsler’s option, he could also hit the market. Point being, next offseason has a much better chance of giving the Cards an answer than this past one did.
Kolten Wong also gives the Cards a valid reason to postpone signing a big name middle infielder. Wong has a very high upside, and he is almost undoubtedly the Cardinals second baseman of the future. Since Daniel Descalso has shown the ability to be an everyday shortstop, those two could be playing up the middle for the Cards this year.
Some people may argue that the Cards need a pitcher to replace Kyle Lohse, but not so fast. As I stated in my last article, the Cards have some great depth and a hell of a battle for the rotation going into next year. Collectively, that staff should be able to make up the loss of Lohse.
Another “need” that some have mentioned is outfield depth. However, it appears that this area is already taken care of. The Wigginton signing allows Allen Craig to step into the outfield if needed. Plus, Oscar Taveras could be in St. Louis sooner rather than later, which should be exciting considering he is one of the best prospects in baseball.
So yes, the Cards have been rather quiet this offseason, but they have taken care of most their needs. Most importantly, they have been extremely intelligent and have shown great regard for the future in doing so. People must not forget that this same team (besides Lohse) was one win away from an NL pennant. They will have every chance in the world to succeed once again in 2013.
The last thing the Cardinals need is a complete makeover. A few small tweaks can go a long way with this team. I truly believe that they will be right in the middle of things when September rolls around in 2013, and for years to come after that. The Cardinals appear to be building a dynasty. If it takes a quiet offseason to help achieve that, then so be it.
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