As the sun inevitably sets on the Cardinals rather dismal slide into another season without a playoff appearance, we are all beginning to collectively wonder what this team is going to look like in 2012. It’s no secret we went out and pulled off some rather big deadline deals that were supposed to benefit us in the short term, but is becoming a bigger piece to the ever widening gap of a lead the Brewers and Braves hold over any type of playoff prayer we may possibly have.
The Cardinals fortunately have left most of their roster in a one year type of situation. This season is not working out (obviously) so we have a lot of decisions to make going forward before next spring rolls around.
First off, Tony La Russa.
Tony has quite the extensive resume that is good enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. He is #2 all time in wins with, what, nearly 2,700 wins as manager of the White Sox, A’s, and the Cardinals. He is a two time world champion manager and four time manager of the year (3 in AL, 1 with the Cards). He is currently on a one year plan with a mutual option for 2012. I have been his biggest promoter over the years, but you see where that has gotten us, just one playoff appearance (2009 first round sweep by the Dodgers) since they won the World Series in 2006. It looks as if it is time to finally start anew and seek out coaching prospects for the future.
Of course Albert is a big ???
Where he lands and for how much is anyones guess. I would love to say undoubtedly he was coming back, but we need to be thinking about the franchise, not just one man. We put together what looked to be a fantastic group of individuals that should win over the Central. The closer we get to the end, we’re looking more like the Cubs, all the hype and no substance. I wish Albert the best on whatever endeavor he undertakes. He has stated numerous times he wants to remain a Cardinal, but money could prove to be MUCH louder than a verbal agreement.
Lance Berkman was signed in a one year deal that we thought would be just one more payday before the sun set on his wonderful career. Obviously there was a thought he could possibly win a championship as well. Going into the end of the season, I think it’s rather obvious this seemingly dragging career has gotten a much needed jolt. The fact he has already hit his 30th HR of the season is absolutely incredible as compared to last season when he only hit 14 between the Yanks and Astros. That $8 million, one year investment we put into him was an incredible decision. Whether he comes back around next year will be another thing to watch for sure….he’s obviously not ready to retire quite yet.
Chris Carpenter is becoming a big question going forward. He had a rough start but finally has been able to keep his career around the 3.57 mark. He of course has an option for 2012 and whether the club picks that up is going to be a mystery. With Wainwright coming back (assuming his option is picked up), possibly mid-2012, this might not be the worst idea. Jaime is obviously going to be around after his big new deal through 2015, Lohse will be back, Westbrook is back, but Edwin Jackson and Kyle McClellan are soon to be free agents at the moment. McClellan got the opportunity to be the hometown boy in the starting rotation this season, but no one would blame him if he decides to take his talents elsewhere now that he sees he can be a successful starter, sure a few teams in the league noticed too.
Rafael Furcal is the one of our deadline deal players that will not exactly be an outright free agent when all is said and done. His contract stipulates a 2012 option and the Cardinals probably will not pick this up. With the mix of talent the Cardinals have in the infield, you have to believe another $10 million a year piece like Furcal is not exactly what they need, at this point neither is Theriot and his $3.3 a season for that matter.
Tony La Russa has been quoted lately stating The Cards are more than a power team. They dropped a Brendan Ryan who everyone thought was an excellent defensive piece for Theriot who only speaks with his bat. Brendan Ryan went off this season with the Mariners on both sides of the ball and the Cardinals fans have started coming at Ryan with torches and pitchforks screaming “off with his head!” We even went out to get Rafael Furcal to pick up the slack which is again clearly not working.
I for one am looking for a brand new look for our club, it looks long overdue. It is time to move on into the future and build the club accordingly.