Looking Ahead to 2009: St. Louis Cardinals Offseason

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Looking Ahead to 2009: St. Louis Cardinals Offseason

Back at the start of August, I provided you with my offseason for the St. Louis Cardinals. Well, a month has gone by now, and I have a completely different outlook now. The Cardinals are sinking and they need more reinforcements than what I originally provided to survive.

So, I have changed my entire layout. I’ve spent more in the free agent market, setup a completely new roster, and I must say, I like what I see.

I have looked and looked, but I think now for the Cardinals to win, they have to spend money to win. The farm system will provide benefits down the line, but not until 2010. It has taken a giant step forward this season, but 2010 is when it’ll provide the talent it is developing.

Here is my updated offseason. I’ll tell you right now, the Cardinals are going to have to pry open DeWallet (otherwise known as Bill DeWitt, Jr or he and his wallet). My payroll for 2009 is: $118,578,000. Not what DeWitt wants to see, but that’s what it’ll take to win now a days.

Without further ado, here it is:

 

Trades

St. Louis Cardinals receive: OF Matt Holliday

Colorado Rockies receive: RHP Joel Pineiro, OF Jon Jay, 3B David Freese, RHP Kyle McClellan

 

St. Louis Cardinals receive: RHP Daniel Cortes

Kansas City Royals receive: 2B Adam Kennedy

Ending money result: $13.5 million added for Holliday; Dropping Pineiro, McClellan, and Kennedy’s contracts results in $11.89 million; $1.61 million added to payroll.

Breakdown: This is fairly easy to breakdown. The Cardinals need an impact bat behind Albert Pujols in this lineup and Holliday is it. It won’t take much to get him, well, not with what the Cardinals are giving up. First, they have to take on Pineiro and his contract. That results in the Rockies dropping six million in pay, the Cardinals adding six million.

The Rockies GM, Jim O’Dowd, has a man crush on McClellan. In the Brian Fuentes talks, McClellan was in on every discussion because O’Dowd likes his stuff. Plus, McClellan could start 2009 for the Rockies, or be a setup man to Manny Corpas.

In Jay, the Rockies get the 2010 replacement for Holliday. Jay is a leadoff caliber player with a lot of speed and 10-15 home run pop. He’s a .300 hitter in the making. Freese would add a power bat to the lineup. He could play left in place of Holliday, maybe third base as well. With Garret Atkins available in the offseason, Freese could provide the Rockies with some major depth.

Of course, you can add Bryan Anderson to this deal as well, depending on what the Rockies really want for Holliday.

Kennedy wants to be traded; the Royals need a stopgap at second. With Kennedy being a free agent after 2009, it makes sense. Cortes doesn’t project as much, but has put up some good numbers. It’s a good return for the Cardinals and the Royals, who have a deep system anyway.

 

Signings

AJ Burnett OR Ryan Dempster: Four years, $54 million ($16 million club option for 2013, $4 million buyout)

2009: $10 million; 2010: $12 million; 2011: $13.5 million; 2012: $14.5 million; 2013: $16 million, $4 million buyout

 

Derek Lowe: 3 years, $31 million

2009: $9.25 million; 2010: $10.25 million; 2011: $11.5 million

 

Will Ohman: 1 year, $3 million ($4.35 million club option for 2010, $350K buyout)

2009: $2.65 million; 2010: $4.35 million, $350K buyout

 

Juan Cruz: 2 years, $6 million

2009: $2.5 million; 2010: $3.5 million

 

Orlando Hudson: 4 years, $39 million

2009: $8.5 million; 2010: $9 million; 2011: $10.25 million; 2012: $11.25 million

 

Felipe Lopez: 2 years, $5 million

2009: $2.25 million; 2010: $2.75 million

Breakdown: OK, so I hope you guys see what I’m doing here. The Cardinals need a frontline starter. Chris Carpenter is in doubt, and Adam Wainwright is only so good. They need someone to match up with Wainwright at the front of the rotation. Burnett or Dempster meet these criteria. I say “or” because it’s one or the other. I’d offer both the same contract; first to bite gets the contract.

Lowe is something entirely different. The Cardinals need a true middle-of-the-rotation starter that can act as an ace when he has to, but is actually a number two or three starter. That’s where Lowe comes in. Signing Lowe would provide insurance if Carpenter isn’t ready to go, and is more of a number three than Todd Wellemeyer.

Ohman and Cruz are different all together. With McClellan and Ron Villone gone, the Cardinals need to fill the glaring holes. Justin Fiske won’t be ready to be a left hander out of the bullpen until 2010, at the earliest. Ohman fills that hole.

Cruz fills the hole vacated by McClellan and provides another closer candidate to the mix, in case Chris Perez can’t fill the hole. Plus, Cruz would be a better option for a setup man and a closer fill-in than Ryan Franklin.

Hudson fills another void. The Cardinals don’t really have a fill-in at second base for the future. Jarrett Hoffpauir isn’t an everyday Major League player, neither is Brendan Ryan.

Hudson is a Gold Glove second baseman that makes the right side of the Cardinal infield the best in baseball. Plus, he’s an everyday leadoff man (another thing the Cardinals need) who hits from both sides of the plate.

Lopez is another need. He has proven that he is a quality player with a good attitude when he’s in the right environment; however, he’s not an everyday player. That’s where the platoon comes in handy. Lopez and Aaron Miles will platoon at shortstop for 2009, since there really isn’t any better option.

Rafael Furcal is a good player, but he’s been a little too injury prone the past few seasons. Of course, the same goes for Hudson, which is why you go with one or the other. Since the Cardinals don’t really have any good second baseman coming up through the system, this makes Hudson the better choice.

 

OK, that’s my created offseason in its entirety. Here is the completed financial status:

2008 Payroll: $103,248,500

2009 Payroll (pre-offseason): $81,818,000

Updated 2009 Payroll: $118,578,000

 

2009 Roster

Pitching

SPs: Adam Wainwright, AJ Burnett/Ryan Dempster, Derek Lowe, Todd Wellemeyer, Chris Carpenter or Jess Todd/Mitchell Boggs/PJ Walters/Clayton Mortenson

Bullpen

RP: Ryan Franklin, Juan Cruz, Josh Kinney, Jason Motte

LP: Tyler Johnson, Will Ohman

CL: Chris Perez

 

Offense

2B: Orlando Hudson
SS: Felipe Lopez/Aaron Miles
1B: Albert Pujols
LF: Matt Holliday
RF: Ryan Ludwick
CF: Rick Ankiel*
3B: Troy Glaus*
C: Yadier Molina
Pitcher
* = Flip against left handed starters

Bench: C Bryan Anderson/Jason LaRue, IF Brendan Ryan, IF Lopez/Miles, OF Joe Mather, OF Skip Schumaker

 

Let’s take a look at this. The Cardinals front three starters would be solid, and maybe the best in baseball. The back end would also be strong. Wellemeyer has shown flashes of brilliance this year, and in his second full year of starting, he can only get better.

The fifth starter role is kind of up in the air. If Carpenter is healthy, then he obviously takes the job and makes the rotation the strongest in baseball, without a doubt. If he isn’t healthy, the Cardinals should make it an open competition from the Memphis starting pitchers: Todd, Mortenson, Walters, and Boggs. It’s truly only fair. The Cardinals are trying to rebuild the farm system, and this would make 2008 worth it. This would show what the system is made of.

The bullpen is different. Six of the seven roles are taken. It’s Johnson’s role that could be up in the air. If Johnson isn’t healthy enough to take the job, Fiske (who I mentioned earlier) should be given the opportunity to win the job. Of course, if Brian Fuentes or some other strong left hander is still on the open market, the Cardinals should sign one of them to fill the hole.

The lineup is totally different. With Hudson and Miles/Lopez at the top of the lineup, the Cardinals would have two strong table setters in front of Pujols. Plus, all three are switch hitters, which would make late inning pitching matchups difficult.

Pujols would finally have a capable bat behind him in Holliday. Plus, with Ludwick providing secondary protection, that makes the lineup deeper. When you add the streaky Ankiel and Glaus after the heart of the order, the Cardinals would have great third level protection for Pujols.

Plus, switching their positions in the lineup when a left hander is on the mound makes this lineup even deadlier. Any time you can bat a 30 home run threat seventh, your lineup is extremely deep.

Molina would be bringing up the rear, but not by choice. Molina has proven to be a solid bat, but has to bat ninth with the five 30 home run hitters in front of him. It’s out of necessity.

The bench is also more solid. You still have your power threat on the bench in Mather. Schumaker provides a quality defender who bats from the left side on the bench for when one of the three outfielders need a day off. Ryan has been becoming more valuable by the day recently, and if he could hit again, it would make this lineup even deeper. LaRue would only come back if Anderson isn’t thought of being ready (or if he’s traded for Holliday).

 

Well Cardinals fans, let’s put 2008 behind us. We tried our hardest and we overcame a lot of obstacles along the way, but in the end, we just didn’t have it. Retooling for 2009 needs to happen, and if the offseason is shaped as I have shaped mine, 2009 could be a very good season.

Let’s look forward and hope John Mozeliak and company have a grand plan.

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