Well, as the 2009 baseball season draws nearer, it appears as if the Cardinals are done with their offseason shopping (as if they ever started). They improved at shortstop by adding the Padres' Khalil Greene to fill a vacant void.
They added some lefties to their depth chart, and they have locked up starting pitcher Kyle Lohse. But some gaping holes remain. Another starter and a closer are needs, and the recent injury to 3B Troy Glaus only adds to the fact that this club could use another bat, someone like free agents Adam Dunn or Manny Ramirez.
Adam Kennedy and his $4 million mistake called a contract are settled at second after GM John "Mo" Mozeliak couldn't find a taker for him. Slugging outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick are awaiting their rewards in arbitration, and the fans are left frowning over the Cards' recent reluctance to invest in free agents.
Rumors swirl that the team may be sold in the near future, a move many fans would accept. Spring Training is right around the corner, so let's take a look at the 2009 St. Louis Cardinals.
First Base-Albert Pujols: The slugger is a key member of the team. He is a two-time MVP, and a man nearing the end of his contract. The Cards are in good shape with him in the lineup, but one can only guess where he'll be three seasons from now.
Second Base-Adam Kennedy: Ak hasn't been a fan favorite since he took the turf on Opening Day 2007. He tripled that game, but didn't hit much the rest of the way. 2008 was more of the same.
He was again superb with the glove, and his average was very decent. He's a capable 2B, but the Cards need more production there. This is very likely his last season in St. Louis. He's a free agent after 2009.
Third Base-Troy Glaus: Troy Glaus was traded to the Cards last offseason—a move that made Mo a popular name in Cardinals Nation. He hit 27 bombs and stayed healthy, while Scott Rolen struggled in Canada with the Blue Jays.
Glaus recently had shoulder surgery, and the Cardinals will have to find a replacement for the first month or so of the season. Such a replacement is likely in-house. David Freese and draft pick Brett Wallace lead the list.
Glaus' pending departure after 2009 makes for some heated debate. Who mans third in 2010? Wallace or Freese? Most scouts and officials favor Wallace, but fans want Wallace to move to the outfield. I, for one, choose Wallace at 3B in 2010.
Shortstop-Khalil Greene: Acquired from the Padres for two minor leaguers, Greene is another pending free agent. He is a better hitter than last season's .213 average suggests, and moving to hitter-friendly Busch Stadium from PETCO Park will probably help.
He has power, and the Redbirds will likely try to lock him up if he has a good first half or so.
Catcher-Yadier Molina: What to say about Yadi? He is a hero from the 2006 NLCS victory over the Mets, but he's recently became a fine hitter. Is a .300 average Molina's ceiling? Probably, but it's not impossible that he won't hit that again in 2009. I still think he's got 10+ HR pop.
Left Field-Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick's 2008 season was magical. He earned All-Star status, and hit 37 home runs as a first time starter. Here is the problem—he is injury prone, and it's possible that last season was a fluke.
The Cardinals have shopped him, and even had a deal in the works to bring in the more consistent Matt Holliday. The deal fell apart, and Holliday headed to Oakland.
Center Field-Colby Rasmus: Colby is ready. He was ready last year. What are the Cards waiting for?! The five-tool prospect of the future is one of the most exciting players in the minors.
With 25+ HR potential and 20 stolen base potential, he's a star in the making. Hopefully he's not like Anthony Reyes, a star prospect who didn't pan out.
Right Field-Rick Ankiel: Roy Hobbs...err, I mean Rick Ankiel didn't make it thought the whole year without the injury bug biting him. He stayed relatively healthy, however, and put up nice numbers. Another big season and the free-agent-to-be will likely cash in big. Don't forget that Scott Boras is his agent.
Adam Wainwright: A future ace, Waino has emerged as a workhorse with a beautiful curve ball, and a mind as sharp as nails. Last season, he signed an extension with the Cardinals to be the staple of the rotation for years to come.
Kyle Lohse: Signed in spring last year, Lohse went 15-6 with the Cardinals, and Dave Duncan worked his magic yet again. Lohse cashed in on a four-year deal worth about $41 million this offseason and he should again be a stable arm.
Todd Wellemeyer: What were the Cardinals thinking? Claiming Todd Wellemeyer off of waivers on May 15, 2007 from the Kansas City Royals?! Well, it paid off. Todd had 13 wins and was a welcome arm in the starting five. He signed a one year deal to stay with St. Louis for another year.
Chris Carpenter: Will Chris be healthy in 2009? Will he start or close? Many question surround Chris. The Cardinals chances are determined by Carp's contribution in 2009. Check back in the spring to see if he's ready for the season.
Joel Pineiro: Mozeliak's biggest mistake was giving Pineiro a two-year deal last winter. He is getting paid $7.5 million this season and will also be a free agent. The Cards are still in the market for a SP, which might push Pineiro out of the mix this season. Stay tuned.
Well, there is the recap of the 2009 Cardinals. Of course, Mo may wake up eventually and surprise up with a move. But as of right now, the roster appears capable. Will it compete with the Cubs? Not likely, but a wild-card berth is a possibility. I may make another outlook closer to the season, but as of right now, this is the team.
Hopefully the Cards will get a starter and a bat, but don't hold your breath. Only time will tell if we have enough. But this much is certain: the 2009 Season should be full of fun and excitement!