Ranking St. Louis Cardinals’ 5 Biggest Offseason Needs
The St Louis Cardinals Five Biggest Offseason Needs
After leading the National League in wins, the St Louis Cardinals narrowly missed out on World Series glory, losing 4-2 to the Boston Red Sox. Yet, their postseason run failed to demonstrate this team was full to capacity with offensive ability.
Power from the bat of Carlos Beltran certainly helped early in October, but it was Matt Holliday who chipped in when it mattered. Matt Carpenter's regular season heroics failed to make their mark on the Cardinals' playoffs, whilst the lack of hitting down the lineup should be a big worry for Cardinals management.
However, despite boasting the MLB's highest run scorer in Matt Carpenter, who also set a Cardinals' record for most doubles in one season, the Cardinals' offensive fragility was evident throughout 2013. They combined for a mere 125 home runs, ranking 27th in the MLB, whilst the teams Ground Out/Fly Out rate ranked as one of the league's highest at 1.25.
Amongst the every day starters, only two managed to hit more than 29 HRs (Beltran 24, Holliday 22), which again demonstrates the issue the Red Birds had in the power department. Yet, the Cardinals scored the most runs in the National League, and boasted an all-time best .330 average with RISP. Just consider that for a second... It is utterly astounding.
With that in mind, where are the weaknesses in the lineup?
Well, both David Freese (who is currently in contact with the New York Yankees) and Pete Kozma are susceptible to replacement after a mixed bag both at the plate, and defensively, whilst Jon Jay's start to the season was as worrying as his .192/.283/.192 slash line through October.
Away from the lineup, and on to the mound, there is little change ahead. Jake Westbrook is out, and Michael Wacha will be expected to hold down a place from the start of 2014. From there, only one question remains, that being the fate of Lance Lynn. He presented the Cardinals with a mixed bag, pitching a couple of gems amongst a slate of average performances. His high ERA could cost him, but the starter may not have run out of good grace just yet.
Let's take a look then at exactly what the Cardinals' biggest offseason need is...
5: Right Field
With Carlos Beltran likely out of St Louis, the Cardinals are potentially in the market for a replacement. It is tough to argue that they are already in possession of one with Allen Craig, who plays right field as well as he does first base. That, of course, would leave the first bag open for Matt Adams on a daily basis, thus killing two birds with one stone, but John Mozeliak, Cardinals' GM, may yet decide to go outside of the club to fill the position.
4: Starting Pitcher
The Cardinals opted not to bring Jake Westbrook back in 2014, which leaves a full time gap in their rotation, whilst Jamie Garcia spent most of 2013 on the DL. Joe Kelly, and down the stretch, Michael Wacha, filled in nicely, and should be on the rotation to start the season.
Lance Lynn continued to demonstrate the frailties that make him such a divisive character amongst fans, and he is on the brink of losing his place in the rotation. The Cardinals may be in the market for a starter going into the spring, despite enjoying a raft of talent on the farm.
3: Center Field
As mentioned in the introductions, Jon Jay both started and ended 2013 in a bad way, and his place in the everyday lineup could be a jeopardy, especially after hitting just .192 in the postseason.
Again, the Cardinals have options within their own system (I hope you see the pattern starting to build), but should they look outwith that, then they aren't at a loss, given the talent available.
2: Third Base
Stop worrying, we have reached a true position of need for the Cardinals. Despite being able to make reasonable arguments for the replacement of Jon Jay and Lance Lynn, the Cardinals may well opt to keep them where they are. For David Freese, well, the future isn't as bright.
In a title chasing town, you can only live off heroics of a World Series win for so long, and for Freese, that 2011 postseason is a long time ago. His error-strewn play at third, combined with his recent lack of pop, makes him a liability to Mike Matheny, and it is time the Cardinals start looking for someone else.
When, in the spring, Rafael Furcal went down, the chatter about who would be starting everyday at SS for the Cardinals was intense. It mostly consisted of trade rumors, amongst which was the name Troy Tulowitzki, but severely lacking from that was Pete Kozma's name.
Yet, it was Kozma who nailed down the gig, splitting some time with the consistently average Daniel Descalso. Whilst Descalso has done little to warrant a place in the lineup everyday, he is yet to prove he isn't worthy of a spot on the bench. For Kozma, the story is different.
His lack of presence at the plate will be the main reason he will be axed in 2014, but his split personality defensively played a part. As proven in the World Series, he can make a blinding play one moment, and follow up with an all-time bone head play.