It’s no secret that the Cardinals will have some work to do this coming off-season. They missed the playoffs by just 2 games, but after three straight seasons… we are getting a little restless. In reality, most fans became restless after missing one year. One of their biggest issues this past season came from Right Field. The Cardinals need to address this moving forward, but where do they begin? Well let’s take a look.
Who do the Cardinals have that can win the job?
1. Dexter Fowler
As hard as it might be to hear, Fowler is probably going to get the first shot in RF this season for the Cardinals. And yes, it has to do with the terrible contract that he was signed to. 5 years and $82.5 Mil… Wasn’t a fan of the move then, and it seems that is still haunts me. Fowler was brought in to be a solid defender who can hit a little. But here is the problem. He has never been a good defender… Guess how many defensive runs saved he has in his career. The answer is -83. So where they got the idea to bring him in to fix the defense I’ll never know. But I digress. This past season did not go well for Fowler. He hit just .180 on the season and had a WAR of -1.4. Yikes. There is a chance that a lot of his issues stemmed from the inability to communicate with former Manager Mike Matheny, but even so, two adults should have the ability to mend their problems as professionals. I’m hoping for the sake of the Cardinals that his relationship with Mike Shildt will be considerably better so that he can contribute to this club.
2. Jose Martinez
Jose can hit. We all should know this by now. We also know that his defense is in fact… terrible. He had -5 DRS at RF this season. Despite spending most of his career as an outfielder, he still needs to be a DH. I honestly don’t expect Martinez to be back in 2019 for the Cardinals. He is a great hitter, but there really isn’t anywhere you can put him and feel comfortable. Despite his defensive woes, Martinez still held a 1.4 WAR on the season because of his ability to get on base. He wore down later on in the season, but Martinez led the team with a .305 BA which was also good for 7th in the National League. His game is better suited to the American League. It puts the Cardinals in a tough situation when they have to rely on him defensively.
3. Tyler O’Neill
Tyler O’Neill has the highest overall ceiling of the 3 players listed thus far. He has big time power. Between AAA and the Majors this season O’Neill hit 35 home runs. What’s more impressive is that he only had 368 AB’s between the two. If he played a full season with 550 AB, that comes out to 52 HRs. That kind of power could be useful. His defense is also pretty decent, but what really keeps O’Neill from having a larger role is his strikeout numbers. At the Major league level he struck out 57 times in just 130 ABs. His plate discipline will need to improve drastically before he gets more playing time. His power is there, but he needs to strike out less and find a way to get hits that aren’t home runs to bring more value to the team. In my opinion he will be a 4th outfielder for the team this year, and he could still hit 25-30 bombs.
The name Bryce Harper has been linked to many different teams, but St. Louis should be aggressive this off-season and go after Bryce Harper. If you follow me on social media @AaronArchCity , you’ve probably seen that I haven’t been too kind towards Bryce Harper, but he is an impact bat and the Cardinals have the resources to make this happen. He is liable to get multiple offers, so at the end of the day, he will get to choose where he goes, but the Cardinals can and should “Wow” Harper with an offer. He has never been a premier defender, but this season in particular was pretty bad. In a positive note, it is definitely the anomaly in his career. He had -26 DRS on the season from the outfield, which was one of the worst in baseball. The reason I say it’s an anomaly is that in his previous seasons, he never had worse than -3… So I don’t expect this poor play to continue, at least not to this degree. His defense isn’t the reason most teams are going to give him a huge contract. They want his bat. He has had some of the best years of recent memory. What I would like to see is a little more consistency from the slugger. In 2015, Harper led the league with a 198 OPS+ which is impressive, but the two years around that weren’t quite as stellar. In 2014 he had a 111 OPS +, the 198 OPS + in 2015, and followed it up with a 114 OPS + in 2016. No one can deny how great his 2015 season was, but I think some teams may be disappointed if Harper cannot replicate that season. I do think that Harper will be a little bit cheaper than Manny Machado, if I were in charge of the Cardinals baseball operations, I’d look to go for Harper first and foremost. Also, the “odds” say that Harper is going to the Cubs, and if the Cardinals want to compete with the Cubs, they cannot let a guy like this go to Chicago. At that point they would need more than just Manny Machado to compete in 2019.
There really isn’t any other free agent on the market that will make your team better in 2019. What’s worse is that there aren’t really any trade options available either. If the Cardinals want to address RF this off-season you only have a couple of options. 1. Sign Bryce Harper, or 2. Roll with someone on the current roster. As much as I’d like for them to go after Harper, I’m afraid that the Cardinals will try to run with Fowler this season. If that’s the case then I don’t know what the Cardinals goals are in 2019. I personally just don’t think Fowler is the best option for the Cardinals in RF if their goal is to win.
But that’s why they don’t pay me right?
What are your thoughts?
Thanks for Reading