Cardinals Improve, Quickly


Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Jhonny Peralta signing has really brought up some wild discussions amongst Cardinal fans, fans of other teams and now other MLB players.  Let’s get into each of these issues.

The very first one is that some Cardinal fans have become the morality police on steroid usage.  I am not sure if some people think this game is clean, but it is far from it.  These guys who just got the 50 game suspensions last year are associated with Biogenesis never tested positive on tests, but were caught because of the documentation from Biogenesis.  Does anyone really think there is still not a large percentage of player using some form of PED and not being caught?  I am all for not supporting the on going usage of PEDs, but let’s also use some common sense and realize that they are being used by more than just a few.

Then we get into the tweets of a few MLB players, David Aardsma and Brad Ziegler complaining about Peralta’s contract.  It clearly is only their own union and fellow players that are holding up stiffer penalties to usage of PEDs.  None of us are going to complain if you change the penalties to mandatory one full year suspension and automatically void the current contract of that player and then they can only sign a one year contract after the suspension maxed out at $2 million.  Then on the second testing positive that player is thrown out of MLB for life, no benefits, no Hall of Fame, no nothing.  Of course the players and their agents would never agree to this harsh of penalties.  In the mean time let’s go ahead and blame everyone, but the players, agents and MLBPA.   Do we really think the owners are going to protest changing the CBA right now to adopt these new policies?

Now let’s talk about the baseball side of this signing in combination to the recent David Freese trade.  The Cardinals had to make a move at shortstop for next year as they don’t have any decent SS prospects all the way down to A ball.  Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso are just to big of liability offensively.  The idea of giving up multiple young pitchers and Matt Adams for Troy Tulowitzki or Elvis Andrus just was not sitting well for me and clearly not well for the Cardinal front office either.  Shelby Miller for one year of J.J. Hardy made no sense at all.  Giving up the 31st pick in the draft and signing a similar contract for Stephen Drew did not make any sense.

I started preaching back in September that this was the move I wanted in the off season.  Yes Peralta is an average defensive shortstop with his biggest issue being range.  By trading away Freese and putting Matt Carpenter at third that gives us a much better defensive player at third with more range.  Also by installing Kolten Wong at second that upgrades our range and defense at second.  So while we are taking a mild step backwards defensively at short, over all our infield defense is equal or better than last year.  While at the same time our offense is also better.  On the offensive side Peralta hits left handed pitching very well.  This is a key area that the Redbirds really struggled with this past year.

Freese is a local kid that became a real life hero in the fall of 2011 as he became the MVP of the World Series.  It was a great story, but this is a business and you have to always be looking forward and not backwards.  Freese has always had injury issues and this past year both his glove and offense were missing in action most of the year.

Also the Cardinals added two more young high ceiling outfielders, Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk.  Neither is a lock to be an All-Star caliber OF, but they both have a lot of potential and youth.  We all know by now that Bourjos is a very fast and gifted defender.  Now we get to find out if he can hit at the MLB level.  Grichuk was drafted one spot ahead of Mike Trout in back to back pics the Angels had in the first round.  Last year in AA ball he was playing in a pitchers friendly park at home and still hit 22 HRs, 16 were on the road. Just of the record Trout and Mike Trumbo both struggled for power in that same park and we all know now they both have plenty of power at the MLB level.  He also won a gold glove this past year playing RF at the AA level.  The Cardinals now have enough highly rated outfielders in the minor leagues that they should be able to provide depth and starters in the near future.

One would have to think that Jon Jay and Pete Kozma days are numbered in this organization.  Between Kozma and Daniel Descalso there is only room for one of them as a utility guy and I think the Cardinals see that role is better filled by DD.  I think we trade both of Jay and Kozma for lower level prospects to continue to build even more depth in our organization.

We know the Cardinals are going to start the year with Matt Holliday, Bourjos and Allen Craig as the starters in the outfield.  They also just picked up near the end of the regular season Joey Butler off waivers from the Rangers.  He is also a very young OF that has to stay on the 25 man roster or else they have to give him back.  Butler is a career 291 minor league hitter with some very positive upside both offensively and defensively.  Obviously top prospect Oscar Taveras will not be far from the 25 man roster either.  He most likely will start at AAA to get going after missing the  last portion of the season to ankle surgery.  We also have Shane Robinson as a utility OF as well and clearly a much better defender than Jay.  So for late inning substation it would be much better for to have Shane on the bench instead of Jay.  There does not appear to be any room for Jay on this team.

Just in case you cannot tell I think the Cardinals have done exceptionally well and did not hesitate to lock down players to improve the team.  Any thing else they do the rest of this off season is icing on the cake.  It is just a shame we have so long to go till spring training starts.