Filling the Holes: St Louis Cardinals Roster Analysis: Part 1

Using the Oliver projection system available at the Hardball Times, I have compared the NL Central’s teams by position to determine the St Louis Cardinals main areas of interest for this offseason. As we all have heard numerous times, Albert Pujols‘s departure freed up a good size portion of money for the Cardinals for this season and beyond. What to do with that money, however, is the challenge facing John Mozeliak and his front office team. Today I will discuss potential areas for improvement in the starting lineup. On Tuesday, I will look at the pitching staff and the bench.

In order to get a better feel for the Cardinals areas for improvement, I created the following table to look at all six NL Central teams rosters and ranked each team by position to see which had the most balance. Obviously this isn’t an exact science as players don’t always hit their projections, but it at least gives up an initial point for analysis.

Most areas of the starting lineup can be ignored. The Cardinals have a top three player in the division at catcher, first base, third base, and left field. That leaves second base, center field, and right field as areas for potential improvement.

Second base is a questionable position. As it stands now, Daniel Descalso is slated as the starter. Descalso presents a solid defensive option, but he hasn’t been an offensive contributor since his time at AA. The issue with second, though, is there are really no viable options through free agency. The only interesting candidates are Brooks Conrad and Felipe Lopez and neither present a tangible upgrade. The only player of interest that could be available through a trade is Gordon Beckham, but between his inconsistent play and the impending arrival of Kolten Wong make a trade less feasible. I think the best option here is to stick with Descalso.

Center field and right field carry the same importance this offseason. They are both currently slated to be filled by serviceable players, but could see some improvement. Jon Jay and Allen Craig are currently penciled in as the starters, but Jay is coming off of a season and a half that has seen him post very high BABIPs and Craig could miss the first month of the season. The best solution is to sign a player who can play both positions. The player in question could cover Craig for the period of time that he is out of action, start in right field while Craig covers Lance Berkman’s off days, start in left to cover Matt Holliday’s off days, and start in center to cover Jon Jay. The four names that jumped out initially were Cody Ross, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Beltran, and Coco Crisp. Ross and Fukudome don’t present very noticeable upgrades, so we are left with Beltran and Crisp. Crisp presents the cheaper option, but he is also very injury-prone and is anemic against lefties. UZR is also not very high on his defense, so if he falters at the plate there would be no way to get value out of him. A lot of ink has been spilled about Beltran’s fit with the Cardinals and I am also on board with this idea. If the Cardinals could get him on a maximum three year deal worth 7 to 10 million annually, he could be a great solution to a team that will lose offense with the departure of Albert Pujols. Even if the contract maxed out at 3 yrs/$30 mil, Beltran would need to put up just under 7 WAR over the life of the contract to present positive value. He is projected for 2.1 WAR and put up almost a 5 win season last year, so he could definitely hit the numbers.

Looking over the trade market, there really aren’t a lot of names that would be noticeable upgrades over Jay or Craig. Mitch Maier, Denard Span, Chris Coghlan, or Melky Cabrera, but none of their career numbers or projections are very overwhelming. I definitely think signing Beltran is the best move for the Cardinals in 2011.

What are your thoughts? Can you identify a better option for second, center, or right? Is there another position in the starting lineup that could use an improvement?

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Tags: Allen Craig Brooks Conrad Carlos Beltran Coco Crisp Cody Ross Daniel Descalso Felipe Lopez Free Agent Gordon Beckham Hot Stove John Mozeliak Jon Jay Kosuke Fukudome Lance Berkman Matt Holliday MLB St Louis Cardinals

  • koorsr

    Wow we agree on this pretty well. I really like the idea of aggressively going after Beltran, though it would make the bench outfield heavy. How would you feel about starting Schumaker at 2nd instead of Descalso? Though neither of them should ever start against a left-handed pitcher, so that kinda leaves Greene giving us lots of lefties to pinch hit, which would be all the more reason to sign Beltran.

    Note: Of course it’s nearly impossible to project the bullpen right now but with J.C. Romero being signed he might take the place of either Boggs or Lynn in the bullpen. I vote for trading away McLellen, but that can be brought up in your next article.

  • jmcclary22


    Very good point about Schumaker. John Mozeliak has stated that he views him as more of a utility outfielder heading into the season, but if Descalso/Greene can’t hold things down at second, I can see him getting a handful of starts.

    That actually adds to the appeal of Beltran as he is solid against lefties so on non-starting days, he presents a good PH option off the bench.

    Pitching staff discussion will have to wait until Tuesday :)

  • johnwvideo

    I agree with Beltran its just to bad that Businessman GM Mozeliak will not move to get Beltran, I disagree with you on how to field him. Craig had knee surgery, I dont believe for a moment he will be back fully healthy by April, more like June. This would give Beltran many more at bats, Then move him to center to be re leaved by Jay. This would make the linke up sold. And by the way. Alberts WAR was just s bit over 5 for 2011, so it much easier to make that up, it was not a 7 WAR.

    Ross, Fukudome and Crisp you can send out to the laundry, not worth a dime. Of you trade list only Cabrera represents a possible action, and there is no reason to believe he will duplicate his numbers since leaving the Yankees or he would still be a Yankee.

    Beltran is the best deal out there, the question is HOW CHEAP will our so called GM be.

  • jmcclary22


    I’m not sure I follow. During Mo’s tenure we have seen Yadier, Wainwright, and Lohse all extended, Holliday signed to a lengthy deal that many criticized as an overpay, and Berkman brought in for a pretty risky 8 million dollar gamble last season. I can’t really think of any situations where we had an obvious need and the Cardinals didn’t fill it because of a budget crunch. I think if Boras doesn’t ask for an exorbitant amount of money for Beltran, he will be a Cardinal.

  • johnwvideo

    @jmcclary22 Lohse has not been a great sign., to many injuries since his signing..Absoult on Waino, Holliday and Berkman, who was a risk and paid off, lets see if he can come even close to his 2011 numbers.. My point “which I did not bring up” was he will wait on Yadie just like he did on Albert and we will lose him after 2012. I hope he proves me wrong. Now with Beltran we will see, he is a perfect fit for this team for 2 years, until Craig is fully healthy and ready. His bat and War is greatly needed as well his velveteen presence. What is MO waiting for, it seems we all on here agree with Beltran.. There is not much for you to not follow. I was pretty clear.. Will MO wait till Beltran is gone that my point.. Ken Rosenthall says the Cardinals have been checking his medical records, so lets get adeal done before he is gone. Then let resign Yadie to an extension before he is gone as well.

  • johnwvideo

    @jmcclary22 I wish there was spell check, but I think you can see what I am saying

  • johnwvideo

    @koorsr I agree, though I feel they will still need to platoon 2nd especially now that Punto is gone. Greene becomes the super utility until he proves otherwise. As for the BP, I think they will move either Boggs or Mclellen they have so many righties.. Though it seems we all agree on Beltran.

  • johnwvideo

    @jmcclary22 JM, I called MO “our GM Businessman” in reference to statements he made revering to the team as a “PRODUCT” he said quote” We will field a great product in 2012″ I dont know about you. BUT my team is not a product, its a team. I understand its a business BUT you would NEVER hear Brian Cashman call the Yankees a “:product” that just bothers me about MO.. maybe that makes it more clear as to my statement above referring to our “businessman”

  • jmcclary22


    Referring to the team as the “on-field product” has become a new buzzword as the internet has opened more and more people up to the entire business of baseball. Instead of lumping the international scouting, minor leagues, and major league teams together in conversation, it’s become popular to separate them into departments or “products”. It’s usually used more among the more stat-headed GMs like Mo, Billy Beane, and Alex Anthoupolos

  • johnwvideo

    @jmcclary22 well Mo ,Billy bean, and others can keep that term, I want a GM that knows business but fields a team !