We’re new to the United Cardinal Bloggers group, but we’re told that twice a year everyone involved participates in a roundtable discussion in which Cardinal-related issues get scrutinized and analyzed. Basically, a different blog asks a new question each day and everyone else offers their response; It’s a fun way to gather a wide array of opinions on the most tantalizing news items and hypotheticals in the Cardinal kingdom. Spencer and I were tasked with last Friday’s query, and we’re going to share the results with you because we’re awesome people (who would totally let you buy us a beer). You’ll see our question below, and below that you’ll see the responses of our wonderful UCB compatriots.
Today’s question is a pretty simple one, but one that could yield some interesting and creative answers. With Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman presumably coming completely off the books, J-Mo has some money to mess around with. If you had this extra money at your disposal and Mozeliak got super drunk and told you that you were running the team for now, what would you do? Would you get all up in the free agent pool, or would you sit tight? The Cardinals already have a pretty complete roster for next season, but there’s certainly always room for improvement. Go!
I don’t see much in the free agent pool to get excited about, but I would seriously look at some big names who have 2 years left on their current deals. Maybe I’d have to be drunk in order to make the calls, but I’d take a shot at prying away Felix Hernandez from Seattle. Expensive rental, but not many starting pitchers can provide a team with as many solid-to-great starts as he can. I’d also go after Elvis Andrus. Then I’d finish the bottle and sleep it off after stealing one of Mo’s scarfs
-Dennis Lawson, Pitchers Hit Eighth
Presumably the money has to be less than what Lohse and Berkman commanded. Maybe go out and get Dickey for a year to hedge your bets against Garcia. Frankly, the problem at the moment seems not so much to be money, but the fear of acquiring someone with all of this young talent on the way. I don’t know that we do lack the cash to made a FA deal, but we might be unwilling to anyway.
-Wes Keene, Keene on MLB
Basically, I think I’d use a good bit of that money toward the Adam Wainwright extension. Perhaps try to front-load that puppy a bit while there’s still a lot of young talent playing for cheap around him.
Other than that, I still think I’d talk to Stephen Drew‘s agent and use the rest to sponsor an off-season UCB get-together, complete with airfare, hotel accommodations, and lawyers for whenever we have “Dennis being Dennis.”
-Daniel Shoptaw, C70 At The Bat
I’d spend the money in these three areas:
- Pitching and defense: Those remain the keys to winning championships. The Cardinals must invest in acquiring another reliable workhorse starting pitcher and a starting shortstop.
- International scouting: Besides the U.S., Central America and the Caribbean, significant talent likely will flow from South America (even more so than today), Asia and Africa. The Cardinals need to develop and implement a plan that will ensure they are ahead of the curve in this approach.
- Ballpark Village. To continue to get people to come to the games will take more than winning. It needs to be an “experience.” Ballpark Village will give St. Louis a chance to be a more special baseball destination than most and likely should be a huge revenue-driver for the franchise.
-Mark Tomasik, RetroSimba
A great question.
I would use that money to lock up some existing players. Specifically, extend Adam Wainwright, buy out the last couple of Jason Motte‘s arbitration years, and put a big bad of money aside for the next year or two when David Freese, Allen Craig and Mitchell Boggs start hitting arbitration time.
If I were to get all crazy, I might make a run after Michael Bourn. I would love to have his speed on the bases and chasing down fly balls in the outfield. His arm, well, I’d love to have his speed on the bases I’m not convinced that he is actually an upgrade over Adron Chambers (being a non-objective fan of the kid), but he does have a proven track record where Chambers does not. The thought of 30 to 40 stolen bases ahead of Matt Holliday in the batting order – yeah, I’d give it a shot.
-Bob Netherton, On the Outside Corner
If Mo got super drunk and handed over the checkbook, I would first ask him what really went down in the Pujols’ negotiations, and what he was really like in the clubhouse. Then, I would fork over some cash for a top LH reliever through FA or trade, and a solid backup OF (Jonny Gomes type). I wouldn’t get all up in the free agent pool, but I’d definitely poke around for infielders. If the right deal came along, upgrades/insurance could be used at 3 of the 4 infield spots.
-Chris Mallonee, Birds on the Bat 82
I would find an answer for the middle infield.
-Daniel Solzman, Redbird Rants
We’re just throwing money around? Then Torii Hunter and Kevin Youkilis are Cardinals for 2013. Seriously, though, the Cardinals need better bench players. Not that those two are bench guys, but something in between them and what the Cards have now would be nice. Nothing depressed me more than seeing Adron Chambers or Shane Robinson come up to pinch hit late in the year when the Cards needed to get something going. My interest has also been piqued by the Asdrubal Cabrera rumors; I think that’s something they need to seriously consider…if they can keep him out of Dunkin Donuts.
-Chris Reed, Bird Brained
Extensions and buying out arbitration years. Wainwright, Freese, Motte, et al. That money is more or less already earmarked.
-”Handsome” Nick, Pitchers Hit Eighth
This would be an outstanding question to have answered by a selected blogger representing each of the other 29 teams just to see the variation in how other fans perceive their situations (replacing Mo with their respective GM of course). As a Cardinals fan there just isn’t a particular free agent that I would love to see here. Even if Mo and I were completely hammered I’d guess we’d send an offer to Sean Burnett or possibly Jeremy Affeldt to go along with Rzepczynski and Sam Freeman. Other than that I’d love to know what young Cardinals pitchers the Indians have in mind for Asdrubal Cabrera and also go ahead and call Adam Wainwright and get his extension finalized.
-Dustin McClure, Welcome to Baseball Heaven
I think that we can solve a lot of our problems without using much money this offseason. I think the Wainwright deal is mutually exclusive to itself, and the team wouldn’t spend into what they would need for him (which is going to definitely get influenced by the Zack Greinke and Matt Cain deals, like it or not).
The first responsibility should be to workout another left-handed reliever, and Sean Burnett would be perfect, and probably not get too much past $2M per. After that, I would really like to add an impact, veteran corner infielder to the team for the bench, as a right handed power bat, but that guy doesn’t seem to exist. Aubrey Huff is left-handed, and there’s nobody else that really fits that profile.
The Astrubal Cabrera move would be interesting, but unless they know a lot more than they are putting on right now, I cannot under any circumstances see them having more than $10 million tied up at shortstop at one time. Like Mo said at the Bloggers session earlier this year, I wouldn’t expect a lot of noise this offseason.
-Matt Whitener, Cheap. Seats. Please.
Using the money for other purposes is intriguing, but I’ll limit my response to on-field talent and to the realm of the known possible (i.e., free agents) and immediate. The Cardinals’ elephant in the room for 2013 is their rotation health, so I would use some of that cash to increase the starting-pitching depth.
My fondness for Dan Haren is well-known, but even so I am willing to see him with eyes open. Michael Barr at Fangraphs (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/the-market-for-dan-haren/) tells a fairly convincing story about how Haren is a risk, and it’s clear that his best pitching is behind him. That said, a compromised Haren may still be a better idea than a compromised Westbrook, Carpenter or Garcia, so he’d be a useful accompaniment to the 2013 rotation. Even in his worst year — 2012 — he was “roughly league average.” Given the uncertainty around the current rotation, the Cardinals are going to need some quality innings, and a one-year $8-9 million deal for Haren would be a risky but potentially rewarding move. I’d put it in the category of Berkman’s time with the Cardinals: 50-50 chance that he plays a full season, but if he does, he’ll help them to the next level.*
*Pip goes further down the rabbit hole of this question over at Fungoes. Want to read it? Click here.