The St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak has stated that he is comfortable with his club and a trade or a free agent signing is unlikely. Mozeliak feels the roster, which is mostly the same from last season after winning the most regular season games in 2015 just needed little adjustments.
The club added Brayan Pena behind the plate, giving the team a better offensive back-up than Tony Cruz. Gone are Peter Bourjos and Jon Jay, which should clear up playing time for the Cardinals younger players.
But, with Justin Upton, Chris Davis, Yoenis Cespedes and trades for the likes of a super-star like Carlos Gonzalez on the market there is speculation that Mike Leake was not the only addition this team would make.
Breaking down the roster, Mozeliak may have a point if he truly believes that his younger players such as Randal Grichuk, Stephen Piscotty, Tommy Pham and Matt Adams can produce.
Catcher: Yadier Molina is the key to the Cardinals defense and controlling the pitching staff. However, he hasn’t been a force offensively in two full seasons and with him missing most of Spring Training and aging, it is reasonable to consider he will never be a force again. But, the Cardinals need him on the field and healthy first and foremost. In the very early stages of his career they were pleased with his offensive production – which was less than stellar. Brayan Pena will share more of a load behind the plate than what Tony Cruz ever would. It seems likely that Molina will sit a little more often this season to ensure he is more healthy in September and the playoffs.
First base: The Cardinals appear ready to platoon at this position. Matt Adams and Brandon Moss should both receive playing time at the position. Adams’ kryptonite has been left-handed pitchers throughout his young career. He could be pinch-hit bat when he is not starting the team needs. If Adams somehow can prove that he can hit consistently, Moss could see more time in the outfield.
Middle infield: Jhonny Peralta and Kolton Wong will be the starters. Both had their numbers slip in the second-half of the season and it is likely due to having to play everyday because of depth issues. Jedd Gyorko has been brought in to give each more regular rest, which should help their second half numbers. Gyroko can also play third base.
Third base: Matt Carpenter is in the prime of his career and should be able to continue to produce at a high level. He was also dealing with a sting of exhaustion which might have caused him an All-Star spot as his production declined dramatically weeks before. But, he kept the Cardinals going in the second-half.
Left field: Matt Holliday has to be considered a question. He is now 36 years old and very few hitters improve at that age. Holliday is also coming off a season in which he only played 73 games. If he cannot stay on the field or cannot produce, Holliday could become an expensive platoon player. Yet, if he can give the Cards a .280 batting average and 20 home runs, that is what the offense would need.
Center field: Randal Grichuk put up solid numbers as a rookie but was overshadowed by a stellar class. Being just 24, the Cardinals have to be wondering if he can hit 35+ home runs if given a full season to do so. Yet, there are a couple of concerns that must be addressed. 1. Can he stay healthy? 2. Are they prepared to take a hit at center field defensively? Grichuk is a good defensive right fielder, not great. His defensive numbers are bound to take a drop, but if he can hit-well the risk is worth it. Pham will be able to platoon in the outfield positions off the bench.
Right field: Stephen Piscotty is the go-to in right field and was the Cardinals best hitter in the post-season against the Cubs. He is still young and learning the game, as he goes into his first full season there are bound to be ups-and-downs with the stick. This is the type of example Mozeliak is referring to with blocking-playing time. If Piscotty needs to be sent down, Moss becomes the answer in right field or a mid-season trade.
Obviously the Cardinals plan hinges on health – like many Major League teams. Fighting injuries is something all ball clubs have to overcome. This plan also relies on the production of Grichuk and Piscotty as well as the health of aging veterans like Holliday and Molina.
The team could help clear some of the clutter by moving Matt Adams in a trade for an outfielder like Carlos Gonzalez or Charlie Blackmon from the Rockies. This would likely move Piscotty to first base (or possible Holliday). This would block Moss from any significant playing time unless a player were to be injured or have a steep decline in production.
The FBI investigation still remains a mystery of what is yet to come
The top-brass of the organization also has to be concerned about any fall-out from former employee Chris Correa hacking the Astros’ system. It is not unlikely or unreasonable that the team could lose draft picks. A trade or a signing could put the team at a significant disadvantage in the future if those picks are taken away.
The Cardinals may be playing the waiting game:
- See if their current roster produces like they project.
- If Grichuk, Piscotty, Holliday and Moss produce like they can, a trade or big signing would be unnecessary and would tie up resources in the future.
- Await fallout from the hacking-scandal
- MO is always prepared. It really is not unreasonable to believe he went after Leake because he was not tied to the draft pick and has not signed or trade anyone that would be to see what the MLB hands-down. Whether for this draft or future drafts.
- Trade mid-season
- While this is not always the best option for a team, this would give the time necessary to see how production and injuries come about.
- If the fallout is solved from the hacking, he can make the necessary adjustments knowing what the punishment is rather than speculating. If they lose draft picks, they might not want to trade or sign. If they do not lose as many draft picks than they can be more aggressive making moves.
Check out more articles from Arch City Sports. Read about Carlos Gonzalez here.