The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals were very close to winning their 12th World Series Championship, but in the end fell two games short.
The front office will have the opportunity to put a couple of finishing touches on the roster for the coming season when they meet up in Orlando, Florida next week for the 2013 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.
The meetings are often a hotspot of postseason trade and free agent activity. The Cardinals, on the other hand, have likely made their biggest splashes in the market, but there are still a couple of minor needs that could be addressed.
General manager John Mozeliak has already addressed the team’s most glaring need: a new shortstop. The acquisition of Jhonny Peralta is a significant addition at the position and could be a difference maker for the club as they move toward 2014.
The trade of local product David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels is also a clear win for the Cardinals. To get a solid centerfielder in Peter Bourjos and a viable prospect in Randal Grichuk in exchange for Freese and Fernando Salas was a good pickup for the Cardinals.
While the team is in all likelihood nearly finished, there should still be a couple of minor acquisitions in their future.
Bolster the Bench
This particular issue is almost as important as the need for a shortstop.
Throughout the 2013 postseason, bench depth was a serious issue for the Cardinals. Sure, the Shane Robinson home run hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS will always be fondly remembered, but the fact remains that Robinson should not have been the Cardinals best option off of the bench.
For a team as consistently competitive as the Cardinals to have to turn to a bench late in October games that consists of Robinson, Adron Chambers and Daniel Descalso is simply not good enough.
Of course, there were factors at play that put the Cardinals into that position (most specifically the demise of the "Ty Wiggington experiment"), however that doesn’t negate the need for improvement.
Bench depth should be high atop Mozeliak’s shopping list during the Winter Meetings this year. At this point, it appears to be the most obvious remaining need on the roster.
The question remains whether to make a minor trade or to look via free agency and, in the end, I would expect them to address this need via free agency if they don’t find a legitimate internal solution.
Mozeliak managed to find the team a shortstop and center fielder without tapping into the pitching surplus, so I don’t expect him to do it for a position player who will start once a week.
Right-handed Hitting Infielder
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote on Wednesday of Mozeliak’s desire to acquire a right-handed hitting infielder.
Miklasz gave several examples of possible candidates, but was also clear he expected this to be an issue addressed via free agency.
Regardless of how they approach it, there’s no doubt it should be addressed before the coming season.
The Cardinals were killed by left-handed pitching in 2013 and held to only a .238-batting average while they hit right-handed pitching for a .280 average. They need another infielder who can hit left-handed pitching given the current lefty-heavy infield lineup they have constructed.
The Cardinals also batted better from the left side of the plate in 2013, so for this player to be a reasonably consistent righty would be a bonus. The Cardinals hit .260 from the right side of the plate and .281 from the left in 2013.
This is another obvious area Mozeliak could stand to make some improvements.
While these needs may not be shiny, exciting upgrades and major signings, think of them as a tune up on an already flashy car. The fact is, this team doesn’t need the major upgrades.
I expect another move or two from the Cardinals' front office, but no major moves coming anytime soon.
All stats current through Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, and were acquired from Baseball-Reference.com.