2 - I want the Cardinals to extend Jordan Walker and Lars Nootbaar
Outfield stability has been something Cardinals fans have longed for but have not gotten in recent years. And now, with Jordan Walker in right field, Lars Nootbaar in left field, and Victor Scott II presumably taking over in center field, that dream might become a reality. However, the Cardinals need to act quickly on locking up Walker and Nootbaar long-term before they become too expensive to keep.
If the Cardinals want to compete in the National League, they'll have to choose to emulate either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Atlanta Braves. Copying the Dodgers is almost impossible unless the Cardinals suddenly decide they want to increase payroll to the luxury tax. The Dodgers' system of developing pitching is something the Cardinals can't come up with overnight, and their ability to sign players will be limited by ownership for the foreseeable future. The Braves model of developing position player talent and signing them to team-friendly extensions, however, is much more doable and the Cardinals should start with Walker and Nootbaar.
Despite his poor defense, which improved greatly at the end of the year, Walker showed flashes of superstar potential in his 21-year-old rookie campaign. Expecting him to correct his launch angle and break out as a superstar slugger is not unreasonable at all. He could become a cornerstone in the Cardinals lineup as soon as next year and take charge of the team as Goldschmidt and Arenado continue to age.
Nootbaar's skills as a disciplined leadoff hitter are also something the Cardinals have been missing for a long time. Before Nootbaar, the Cardinals haven't had a consistent table setter for the sluggers in the heart of the order since early Matt Carpenter. He does almost everything right and had an extremely impressive 2023 season, especially considering the several unfortunate injuries he suffered. He could be an All-Star caliber player next year, and the Cardinals will regret not offering him an extension.