Is Jhonny Peralta Really an Upgrade for St. Louis Cardinals?

By Sara Lefebvre
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals made it very clear after their 2013 World Series loss that they were in the market for an upgrade at the shortstop position. Yesterday, they announced a four-year $53 million deal with free-agent Jhonny Peralta, formerly of the Detroit Tigers. Many Cardinal fans are wondering how much of an upgrade Peralta will be.

For the 2013 season, Peralta’s offensive numbers were higher than Pete Kozma‘s, no doubt, but by how much? He had 10 more home runs, 20 more RBI’s and a batting average 86 points higher. For this modest improvement, the Cardinals will be paying Peralta about 24 times what Kozma makes.

Peralta’s career-high numbers might’ve been even higher if he hadn’t missed 50 games due to suspension for PED use. He took responsibility for his “mistake” as soon as he was caught and did not appeal. This was smart on his part, as his suspension was over before he became a free agent. Looks like he was following the Melky Cabrera plan.

The picture above shows Peralta making a throw to first, but not getting the out, vs. the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Not an error, but not an out either. GM John Mozeliak has admitted that Peralta is “average” defensively. Kozma was one of two “plus” defenders on the Cardinals last year (the other was Yadier Molina).

So, for a modest PED-enhanced offensive upgrade and a defensive downgrade, the Cardinals have signed their largest free-agent contract ever with a player not formerly affiliated with the team. Cardinal fans not pleased with this deal can console themselves with the fact that Mozeliak didn’t have to give up Shelby Miller, Matt Adams or any other rising stars, just a big chunk of cash. They can only hope that this will work out better than the Ty Wigginton deal of last offseason.

Sara Lefebvre is a St. Louis Cardinals writer for Connect with her on Google.

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