The Major League Baseball winter meetings have now come and gone, and the Cardinals still look like the team to beat in the National League.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak went with all his aces in hand intent on making a move only if he felt the need. It has to be nice as a GM to truly hold all the cards and field offers on your coveted prospects and youngsters and to know you don't have to make a move unless it is earth-moving for your organization.
The Cardinals are set to be a National League contender again in 2014 with just a few moves made by Mozeliak this offseason.
Here are my grades for the moves the Cardinals have made this offseason thus far.
This signing was one of the more controversial signings this offseason due to Johnny Peralta's suspension for suspected PED use.
The shortstop market wasn't overflowing with talent this offseason, so the Cardinals were either going to have to make a trade or sign what was out on the market. The speculation for a possible trade of Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki finally was put to rest with the signing of Peralta.
Frankly, I'm glad Tulo is not coming to St. Louis due solely to his enormous contract and lack of health.
The Cardinals kicked the tires on acquiring Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, but the Orioles wanted the talented Shelby Miller in return, so another good move (or lack thereof) by John Mozeliak.
Peralta will give the Cardinals some pop in the lineup and will hopefully smack 13-16 home runs for the Cardinals and drive in somewhere between 65-80 runs. That would be a massive upgrade from what the Cardinals got out of Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso in 2013.
Overall, the Cardinals may have overpaid for Peralta at $53 million for the next four years, but he will be an asset for the Cardinals in 2014 as they make another run at the World Series.
While it was sad to see hometown hero David Freese go, it was the best move that could have happened to him and benefited the Cardinals as well.
Freese will get a reboot of his career in Anaheim without the pressures of being a hometown kid, and Bourjos is an upgrade from Jon Jay in center field.
Bourjos is a much better fielder than Jay and has a lot of speed to bring to the bases. In 2011, when Bourjos was a regular, he led the American League with 11 triples and also stole 22 bases that season.
If nothing else, the Bourjos acquisition brings some competition to the center field job, and perhaps the Cardinals will see a different Jon Jay than the one who finished 2013. Jay misplayed his fair share of balls in center last season and was miserable at the plate during the postseason.
This was a great pickup by Mozeliak and provides some outfield depth for the Cardinals.
I think this is a great signing.
Adding a veteran presence like Mark Ellis who knows what it takes to win and is a good clubhouse presence is a perfect fit for the Cardinals organization. He has an above-average glove and provides way more power off the bench than the Ty Wigginton disaster of 2013 did.
Ellis also provides a guy who can step in and play every day, as Kolten Wong doesn't produce at the big league level. He has probably lost a little bat speed over the years and won't be a 13-16 home run guy anymore, but he can still swing the stick with a little pop.