St. Louis Cardinals: Off-season moves lead to excitement and more questions

jmcdonald
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Harrison Bader
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Harrison Bader /
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The St. Louis Cardinals did some reshuffling of their roster which is very exciting but a log jams still exist.

The 2018 off-season saw the St. Louis Cardinals make a handful of trades to change the structure of their organization. Going into the off-season the Cardinals knew they needed to do something about their surplus of young pitchers and outfielders. After the moves were finished it seemed the front office had taken care of this issue for the most part, that is until Spring Training. The talent reminds us just how close some players are to the big leagues because of Spring Training performances.

Looking at the off-season in review the front office did their best to try clear up any potential log jams to playing time at the Major League level. Trading for Marcell Ozuna gave the team their everyday left fielder. In trading him they were able to move Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen from the large crop of young pitchers they had and were also able to move Magneuris Sierra from the impressive stockpile of outfielders they had collected.

Since Mo and Girsch added Marcell Ozuna into the fold it was obvious at least one of Stpehen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk had to go. In this case deals were made involving both outfielders. In dealing both players the team in turn would allow for more at bats for a guy like Jose Martinez, who has continued to rake when given an opportunity. Not to be forgotten in these deals was the pieces the Cardinals got in return. Each deal provided the team with players they expect to be part of this team’s future.

In the deal with the Oakland Athletics the Cardinals were able to send Stephen Piscotty to the West Coast. This puts him very close to his ill mother, one of the best moments of the off-season. In return the Cardinals got two minor league infielders, second basemen Max Schrock and shortstop Yairo Munoz. Each of them plays a position the Cardinals have everyday starters, but very little depth.

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As for the Randal Grichuk trade, this of course added a few more pitchers to a loaded farm system. Connor Greene will start his season in the minors with the hopes the right hander can hone his accuracy a bit to pair it with his 100 mph speed.

The biggest piece of the deal is Dominic Leone, an assumed member of the Cardinals bullpen for Opening Day with potential to be the teams closer, thanks to an oblique injury to Luke Gregerson.

Over the spring Leone has saved three games, the most of any reliever on the staff. If you pair that with his 1.80 ERA and ability to strike out hitters, don’t be surprised to see Leone manning the mound in the 9th for the Cardinals.

This leads us to Spring Training. The majority of the roster is set with only a few pieces remaining in question. Probably the most interesting is the battle for the final bench spot. Harrison Bader is the presumed favorite and understandably so. He is the only one with real major league experience and offers extra speed you can use late in a game.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Spring Training without a little battle for a spot. Just because Bader is the presumed favorite hasn’t stopped other guys from showing out. This is where the log jam becomes a problem. Outside of Bader, this team has the likes of Jose Adolis Garcia, Yairo Munoz, Tyler O’Neil, Oscar Mercado and Randy Arozarena all either ready for their chance on the big league roster or extremely close. Every one of those guys is an outfielder, with the exception of Munoz who is listed as an infielder, but has seen reps in the outfield this Spring.

The Cardinals only have so many spots available and barring injury there is no clear path for any of them. This team has their outfield set and the infield has guys on long-term deals. This isn’t saying the team should just move these guys. That would be foolish. There of course needs to be some sort of plan for them. I’m sure the front office has some ideas in place but to the everyday fan, that may not be super obvious.

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The front office is in less of a complicated place when it comes to the potential log jam of pitching. Moving Alcantara helped with that, so did moving on from Lance Lynn and committing to Luke Weaver going forward. At this time there are only two guys who are arguably “ready” for their spot in the rotation but won’t have one for now. Alex Reyes‘ course is based on the return from Tommy John surgery. When the team believes he is ready for a starter’s workload he will find himself in the rotation.

Jack Flaherty has the stuff for the rotation right now. The kid is filthy and he will make a killing in the majors at some point. It’s in the team’s best interest to keep him in AAA. Not only does he get to hone his control but there are contract implications down the road that benefit the team for him to start in Memphis.

Outside of Reyes and Flaherty there isn’t exactly a starter who jumps right out at you as ready for the majors. Dakota Hudson is close, but not quite there. This is where the Cardinals improved their log jam just a bit. The team has a lot of pitching talent in A and AA, as compared to their outfield surplus who should all be in AAA or at the big league level.

Next: Munoz should make the team

Regardless of any log jam issues you can’t beat having a ton of talent and that is what it looks like this team has. How it will all be used we have no idea. Will it be used properly, even less of a certainty. One thing all fans should agree on, there is a lot of exciting possibilities for this team now and in the future.

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