It has been an interesting offseason thus far for the St. Louis Cardinals. Coming out of the gate, General Manager John Mozeliak vowed to be aggressive on the free agent market. Then, on Dec. 3, they made their first move of the offseason.
Aggressive? I don't think so.
I have not yet decided which direction I lean on if Mozeliak has potential or is just a hand-puppet for Bill DeWitt. As far as this offseason has gone, I'm leaning towards the latter.
Anyway, without further ado, I give you my grading of the St. Louis offseason. It will first start out with departures, with its overall grade of talent. Following is the arrivals and its overall grade. After that, the overall grade of the offseason.
OF Juan Encarnacion
INF Cesar Izturis
INF Aaron Miles
RHP Jason Isringhausen
RHP Mark Worrell
RHP Russ Springer
LHP Randy Flores
LHP Tyler Johnson
LHP Mark Mulder
There are only three players of significance on this list: Isringhausen, Miles, and Johnson. Worrell, Flores, Mulder, Izturis, and Encarnacion (not by choice) didn't do anything of substance for the 2008 Cardinals. The aforementioned three, however, are significant loses.
Despite his ups and downs (mostly downs) in the 2008 season, Isringhausen is a top-notch closer. He owns the most saves in Cardinals history and can serve as a stopping point in a bullpen.
Though Johnson did not pitch in 2008, he is still a very talented left hander with a devastating slider. If healthy in 2009, he could serve as a force from the left side.
Springer is a big loss. He has good stuff and was very dependable the entire season. He never gave out, despite his overexposure.
Miles is the most significant loss. He plays three infield spots, not to mention the corner outfield spots now (he better send a thank you note to Tony La Russa), with a little center field. I think he even serves as an emergency catcher now. With Miles going to the rival Chicago Cubs, the Cardinals may be in for a world of hurt when it comes to late inning match-ups.
Oh yeah, Miles is one heck of a pitcher too.
Departure Grade: B-
LHP Trevor Miller
LHP Royce Ring
LHP Charlie Manning
INF Khalil Greene
C Jason LaRue (resigned)
INF Joe Thurston
Lets look at this list. There is a infielder with 59 games played (four starts) in the Major Leagues with three teams. Yes, this is Thurston. He was signed almost immediately after non-tendering Miles. Thurston has also only played in the outfield and at second base in the Majors. Good replacement there, right?
LaRue was a good (re)sign. He's a very good backup catcher and proved to be a great asset when Yadier Molina is unable to play.
Greene...well...he can hit? He hit .213 last season, but had 27 home runs the year before. He's just as good of a fielder as the departed Izturis and obviously has more power. His strikeouts are high and he isn't a strong contact hitter when it comes to getting on-base and having a high average.
The three lefties are a completely different story. Miller was a good sign, no question. Even with his "injury" (sorry, but anything Dr. George Paletta diagnoses I will question because of horrible of a team doctor he has been), Miller will improve the left side of the bullpen.
Manning is a decent pitcher, but will be a travel-man his entire career. He's going to be a Randy Flores reincarnate.
Royce Ring? Well, 8.60 earned run average. All I have to say there.
Arrival Grade: C-
Lets recap. The departures got a grade of a B-, which means they were a significant loss. The arrivals grade out at a C-, which means they are below-average adds. This rounds out to an Overall Grade of the Offseason of a C.
Yeah, it has been a very average offseason so far. For this grade to at least get a B-, the Cardinals need to sign a good starting pitcher (and not on the bargain basement level with a Kris Benson purchase) and/or a good hitter or relief pitcher signing (an Orlando Hudson type player, Joe Beimel, or even Will Ohman).
Random Thoughts of the Day
Allen Craig is a solid hitting third base prospect for the Cardinals. He's third on the depth chart (behind David Freese and Brett Wallace), but what about on the second base chart? He was a college shortstop. Maybe a move to an organizational hole could work...
Troy Glaus is hurt and will miss Opening Day. The exact date of his return is unknown, but the end of April seems realistic. That leaves a spot open...
David Freese and Joe Mather are the favorites to take the third base job until Glaus is ready to return and with good reason too. Freese could have cracked the roster, though it would have been difficult, without Glaus being hurt. Seen as a legitimate building piece for the future at either third or left. Mather? Well, the kid is insanely athletic and is seen as a utility player at either third, second, first, or the outfield...
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch annoys me. I know I'll get bashed for this, but I don't like the guy. His writing isn't good, he has an annoying voice, and he's too outspoken to be an impartial media guy...
Finally, I'll leave you with this video I found on a blog. I watched it and laughed. Not at the video itself (it is the Beatles singing), but what it could stand for. You can't watch this video and not think it isn't Bill DeWitt's theme song.
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