St. Louis Cardinals Let Another One Slip Through Their Fingers

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IJanuary 11, 2009

"And another one's gone, and another one's gone..and another one bites the dust.."

These familiar words seem to ring true when it comes to how the Cardinals have treated this past offseason. With the list of available closers already down to the bargain basement, that very list got even shorter Saturday.

Takashi Saito signed a one-year contract with a 2010 club option with the Boston Red Sox. Now, Saito was never a name I was high on, but as teams continue to bolster their bullpens with former closers one has to wonder just how much longer can St. Louis can wait.

With the way things are going, it would seem that anyone in the St. Louis area should try out for the closer's role at Busch Stadium. Open tryouts I say!

I was one of the first voices to scream my displeasure at the Redbirds for even thinking about signing a closer with critical health issues. Cardinals brass echoed my sentiments by refraining from inking a multi-year deal with such an injury risk. There must have been something left in the tank if the Red Sox deemed him worthy.

"He's done an amazing job since coming over from Japan three years ago," said General Manager Theo Epstein of the former Dodgers closer. "If you look at his performance and how he's gone about it the last three years, he's been just about as good as anyone in baseball. We were pleased to see him available in free agency, and we engaged and wanted to see if we could work out a contract that made sense for all the sides, and we did."

Saito had an obvious down year last year with his lingering elbow injury but, the man does have 88 career saves with a 1.95 ERA in 180 games. Epstein saw the upside in him, but St. Louis won't commit or take any risk it seems.

I know I'm talking about an organization that plays it conservatively, but there comes a time to know when to pull out all the stops. The money is there, lets use some of it.