St. Louis Cardinals Trade Talk: 5 Sluggers Who'd Help Replace Albert Pujols

Colton Kokrda@kokrdaCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals Trade Talk: 5 Sluggers Who'd Help Replace Albert Pujols

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    With Albert Pujols leaving the Cardinals this offseason for the Los Angeles Angels, there is some concern amongst the fanbase on how to best replace his bat in the lineup.

    The Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran to help replace a little bit of the offense they will lose without Pujols, however, there is always room to improve.

    Here are five potential targets the Cardinals can target to help replace Pujols.

Carlos Lee, Houston Astros

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    While his days of 30+ home runs are behind him, Carlos Lee of the Houston Astros can help replace some of the offense lost by Pujols' departure.

    Last season, Lee hit .275 with 66 runs, 18 home runs and 94 RBI for the last-place Astros. If he was in a better lineup, the RBI total could push over 100 once again.

    Lee would essentially be replacing Jon Jay in the Cardinals' lineup. Jay hit .297 last season with 56 runs, 10 home runs and 37 RBI. Lee has better stats than Jay in every category except for batting average. Adding Lee to that lineup would help replace some of the power threat that was lost with Pujols' departure.

    If acquired, the Cardinals would have to do some creative maneuvering. Lance Berkman would likely be pushed back to right field with Carlos Beltran shifting back to center, while plugging Lee into first base.

Chris Young, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    With the Diamondback's signing of Jason Kubel this offseason, they suddenly have an abundance of outfielders. This move pushed Gerardo Parra to the bench until further notice.

    There has been speculation that Chris Young may be shopped to open a space for the cheaper Parra in the lineup, and free up center field for prospect A.J. Pollock in the future.

    Young provides a rare combination of speed, power and defense for a team in center field. Last season, Young hit .236 with 89 runs, 20 home runs, 71 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

    Adding his type of play to the Cardinals' lineup would provide new manager Mike Matheny with a variety of options, and certainly help replace the loss of Pujols.

Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

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    Long-time White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko could plug nicely into the Cardinals' lineup.

    Last season, Konerko hit .300 with 31 home runs and 105 RBI with a .517 slugging percentage. His bat would certainly help replace Pujols.

    The only downside to Konerko is how much it would likely take to acquire him. He is under contract through 2013 and is a cornerstone of the White Sox offense.

    The White Sox may demand a combination of the Cardinals' top pitching prospects, and their top first baseman prospect in Matt Adams (ranks in at No. 10 on the Cardinals' top prospect list, and No. 10 on top first basemen prospects) in order to part with Konerko.

    If acquired, he would push Berkman to right and Beltran to center, essentially replacing Jay's spot in the lineup (just like Carlos Lee).

    If the Cardinals are willing to part with the pieces necessary to acquire Konerko, they could have a formidable offense when you add in Beltran as well. This offense could be just as strong as, if not better, than when Pujols was manning first base.

Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals

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    While he is currently serving as a primary designated hitter, Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals can still man first base and would serve as an improvement to the offense for the Cardinals.

    Last season, Butler hit .291 with 74 runs, 19 home runs and 95 RBI. If acquired, he would push Berkman to right and Beltran to center, essentially replacing Jay's spot in the lineup (just like Lee and Konerko).

    Long regarded as the top hitter on the Royals' squad, Butler had his normal position of first base taken by top prospect Eric Hosmer last season. If the Royals struggle this season, there is the chance they may shop their veteran DH.

    Butler is still very young as he turns 26 in April, so he could be controlled for a long time after acquired. His bat would fit well into the Cardinals' lineup.

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

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    Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles would be a fine addition to the Cardinals' lineup. He would take over at center field for Jay and provide a boost in offense.

    Last season, Jones hit .280 with 68 runs, 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 12 stolen bases for the last-place Orioles in the AL East.

    As he is only 26 years old, Jones would provide the Cardinals with a center fielder for a few years that has the ability to blossom into a star.

    Just like Konerko, Jones would likely command a bounty in a trade. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Braves were trying to acquire him earlier this offseason for a package centered around Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens. The Orioles allegedly turned down the offer, which means it will require more than that to pry Jones away.

    If the Cardinals are willing to part with the necessary pieces, Jones would create a dynamic addition to the lineup.