St. Louis Cardinals: Don’t bet on a series of hypotheticals


Read any St. Louis Cardinals offense prescription and it includes at least one deadly “if” on a player. That’s risky business.

It’s nearly impossible to read a column about the St. Louis Cardinals offense and not see “if” tossed into several fill in the blank spots. Such as:

If Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk stay healthy.

If Stephen Piscotty can expand his 300 at bat production over 600 at bats.

If the lineup isn’t a series of singles and doubles hitters…

If Kolten Wong‘s plate discipline improves…

More from St Louis Cardinals News

If the 2016 season hinged completely on a hypothetical, the Cards would be golden right now. It doesn’t work that way though. Things will go wrong and frequently. What will the Cardinals do when two of their outfielders hit the grass?

As of right now, the Cardinals starting outfield of Holliday, Grichuk and Piscotty took a combined 785 at bats in 2015. That’s it.

Holliday is coming off a series of quad injuries that hindered his 2015 season. Grichuk suffered back, arm and leg injuries and underwent sports hernia surgery this month. He also has a ticking timebomb elbow ligament.

Piscotty is an untapped full season entity. Backup Tommy Pham has a cool new shirt and bill of health but can’t be counted on medically for a full season.

This group needs help. More help than a battery type charger. They need an outside power source. Something to make the OBP stand tall and drive people in. Be a difference maker. Come up with the big hit. Match the Cubs power hook for power hook.

John Mozeliak can covet his prospects and young players and keep the pitching fortified but he doesn’t want to answer run scoring problem inquiries every single week in 2016. He knows where the problem is. How will he address it is the crystal ball question everybody is scratching at to find out.

If the Cards stand pat and do nothing substantial to improve the lineup, I don’t think the pitching can be historically efficient again to withstand the Cubs and Pirates.

I don’t think Mike Matheny can resist overusage in his bullpen again. Why would he change after four straight seasons of string cheese arm production and resort back to reasonable grounds?

Something needs to done, right. If it isn’t a power bat like Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton, is it someone like Geraldo Parra, someone who could hit near the top of the order? Someone who is defensively talented like Alex Gordon but not as old and will come at a third of the price of the former Royal.

The Cardinals have ranked near the bottom of the MLB in slugging percentage the past two seasons so a Cespedes could help enliven things in the middle of the lineup.

If not him, where is the proven 500 at bat player that can slug more than 20 home runs or step into the cleanup role? It sure was nice seeing Matt Carpenter hit 28 HR last year, but can he do that again? In 2013-14 combined, he sent just 19 balls over the fence. Don’t bet on one season.

Maybe Brandon Moss can surprise me and recover the full way from hip surgery and surge back to his 25-30 home run/460 slugging ways. Maybe Matt Adams can finally be that corner infielder with pop fans saw in 2013.

Whether it’s for power or more OBP, the Cards need insurance in 2016. You can think about the long term future now or wait until a more appealing Heyward type player becomes available down the road. The need right now is outfield depth in the short term. Someone to take the pressure off of 25 year old talents who still need room to grow.

For the first time in years, the Cards offensive depth is looking like a pantry after a three month vacation. Bare and with a few stale essentials. While it’s fair to not count Holliday out or doubt the long term abilities of Piscotty, it’s smart to think practically and ready for the doom that awaits the Cards every year.

Fans may not get their big impact player that they expected just a month ago, but a solid player to provide depth and something important to the lineup sure would help.

Then again, maybe we should trust Mozeliak to make the right move. He’s got a plan right? He’s observing and calculating it all. Same as it ever was, right?

For one reason or a few, this particular offseason hasn’t been easy to weather. Maybe it’s the expectations. So much expected and with three months and change until 2016 opens, the clock isn’t exactly running out on Mo but it’s ticking away.