Every offseason, teams around baseball overreact to the paths that the World Series teams took to the playoffs. After Cleveland made it on the back of Andrew Miller, the multi-inning reliever was the hot offseason acquisition. The success of the Rays has inspired a de-emphasis on starting pitching.
Usually, these trends don’t last, because it’s hard to emulate exactly what another organization has done to win in the postseason. This year, however, I think the Cardinals should take a page out of the Atlanta Braves’ playbook.
The last move I would make for the Cardinals is hard to define, but loosely, it is a goofy veteran. Much has been made about the Braves’ deadline acquisition of Joc Pederson, and I think history shows that the morale boost a player like Pederson brings to a playoff team is invaluable.
Going back to the 2011 Cardinals, I’m calling this the “Lance Berkman” guy. A power bat who can start for you if necessary, the 2022 Cardinals should find a lefty for this role. Again, there isn’t a certain stat I’m looking at here– just the ability to hit for power, a winning reputation, and a fun attitude.
Could this be Kyle Schwarber? Is Kyle Seager an option? Joc Pederson might be too expensive for this role. Is Yoshi Tsutsugo good enough? These are the kind of players I’d be inquiring about. Again, they wouldn’t be starting everyday in the field. But as a DH platoon or just as a key pinch hitter, I want a proven bat to bring some energy.
Here’s where I would rely on my scouts, on my new bench coach Skip Schumaker, and on the many Cardinal veterans who know personalities around the league. I don’t yet know the name of this x-factor, but finding him will be incredibly important.