Trust your young bats
The 2024 Cardinals will be led by Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Willson Contreras, and hopefully some free agent and trade acquisition arms as well. But the team will truly take off if the young bats are unleashed to do their thing.
Lars Nootbaar is an ascending player in today's game and has the potential to be an All-Star-level outfielder next year if he can remain healthy. He's an on-base machine who brings some pop and has a good glove as well and should be the club's leadoff hitter come Opening Day.
Nolan Gorman has 40 home run power already, and while health is a concern for him as well, he too has the ability to be an All-Star next year while mashing the baseball and playing league-average defense. He really improved as a hitter this year, and outside of a terrible stretch during the summer, was one of the Cardinals' best hitters all year long.
Brendan Donovan broke out in a big way this year, as he looked like the Cardinals' best hitter for much of the summer before having season-ending elbow surgery. What most people think of when they see Donovan is a guy who can play all over the diamond, and that brings him so much value, but he proved while being sidelined as a DH-only player that his bat is truly a difference-maker for a contending lineup.
And then there's Jordan Walker, who took a little while to get going, but now looks ready to be a star in 2024 after working through some swing changes and making massive strides defensively. He's the most exciting young player of the bunch, with true top-end player talent, and could be in the middle of the Cardinals' lineup here soon.
I didn't even mention guys like Tommy Edman, Masyn Winn, Thomas Saggese, Ivan Herrera, Alec Burleson, Victor Scot II, or Dylan Carlson who could make major impacts next year as well. I imagine a few names from this group, or even a guy like Gorman, Donovan, or Nootbaar, could be used to acquire some of the pitching help. Even if that's the case, this young position player group is deep and ready to compete, and the Cardinals need to determine who they want to roll with as regulars, empower them, and use others as trade assets to improve the rest of the club.