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Need(s): Upgrade The Infield
Despite the need to re-tool an infield that was sub-par at second, short and third, the St. Louis Cardinals most pressing need heading into the 2011 season, isn't on the baseball field - it's at the negotiating table.
With Albert Pujols' contract set to expire at the end of next season, the countdown is on to resign the three-time league Most Valuable Player. That's what's most important because no matter who else is on their roster, without Pujols, the Cardinals are no longer a contender.
But in the meantime, before Pujols officially become a free-agent, there's a full season to be played. While the city of St. Louis sits anxiously with trepidation, that this might be the last season of Pujols in a Cardinals uniform, they wonder what the 2011 roster is going to look like.
The Cardinals have had a busy off-season thus far, re-signing Jake Westbrook, trading RHP Blake Hawksworth to Dodgers for Ryan Theriot, and signing 1B/OF Lance Berkman, Berkman, will primarily play left field, and most likely will be used at first base when Albert Pujols is given off-days.
But who's going to play shortstop?
It's no secret, after hitting.246 with 10 homeruns, 47 RBI and 24 doubles in 2010, to go along with the emergence of Reid Brignac, Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett is a trade target. And since the Cardinals traded shortstop Brendan Ryan, maybe Bartlett is on his way to St. Louis.
It appears Theriot will be the team's shortstop, with Skip Schumaker sticking at second base, but if the opportunity presents itself to acquire Bartlett, while moving Theriot to second, that is a deal that must be finalized.
But before any trades are made, the most important deal is signing Pujols. Then, and only then, will this offseason be complete.