Next up in our "What Should Your Team Do?" series, the St. Louis Cardinals. For a primer on the intended purpose of this series, see the first edition on the Boston Red Sox. Quick confession: I mistakenly went out of order, as the Boston Red Sox will actually be picking before the Cardinals in next year's draft. Anyhow, let's get after it.
As much as any team in baseball, the 2013 National League Champion Cardinals have a foundation in place to make it back to the World Series in 2014 and years to come. They are in the enviable position of having a few clear problems to address and the resources (money, prospects) to address them. Here is what the Cardinals should do this offseason:
- Let Carlos Beltran walk. He was a great player the past two years, and has the ability to turn into "Super Beltran" in the postseason. But the fact that he is looking for a 3-4 year deal and everyday playing time is unappealing for the Cardinals, for whom right field is not a problem spot (more on this in a moment).
- Trade for Elvis Andrus. The Rangers have the motivation to move him with Jurickson Profar needing playing time, and several other high profile middle infield prospects waiting in the wings. Offer to pick up the whole contract, rather than give up more players. With money coming off the books, the Cards have money to spend. In terms of return, a package centered around Carlos Martinez seems to make sense for both sides. He has #1-2 starter upside, and the Cards are flush with starting pitching options. He would keep the Rangers from having to acquire guys like Matt Garza at the deadline at high prospect cost. For the Cardinals, Andrus becomes the shortstop for the foreseeable future, and batting leadoff, he lengthens the lineup.
- Shift Matt Carpenter to third base, and let top prospect Kolten Wong play second. This certainly improves the infield defense, and potentially improves the offense as well.
- Hope Oscar Taveras can play better defensive center field than Jon Jay (not a high bar to jump over). Sign Chris Young as a backup centerfielder/bench bat. He adds pop, and the ability to hit lefties, which was a problem for the Cards last year.
- Keep David Freese as "Hometown Hero" (c) and bench bat.
- Let Trevor Rosenthal start. He wants to start, and has multiple plus pitches in addition to his fastball. The Cards have other guys (Siegrest, Motte when healthy, Lynn) that can close. Rosenthal is wasted in the bullpen.
- Re-sign John Axford to be a veteran presence in the bullpen/mustache aficionado.
Here's what the lineup and rotation look like: