Blogging the Offseason: St. Louis Cardinals

Friday, December 04, 2009

Blogging the Offseason is a 30 team series in which I ask a blogging representative from each MLB team a series of ten questions about their desires and thoughts surrounding the offseason. Check out all of them here.

Today's NL team is the St. Louis Cardinals and our guest is Nick from the Cardinals Blog, Pitchers Hit Eigth.

1. What are the three things that need to happen this offseason to give the Cards the best chance to go from Division Title to World Series Title?
1) No surprise surgeries, no non-baseball injuries, no setbacks from those who have past injury history.
2) It doesn't have to be Matt Holliday, but they must acquire another bat. Could be Jason Bay, could be Adrian Beltre...there could be a trade for someone not currently on the radar. I don't necessarily buy into the "protect Pujols" bit as much as just believing that they must have additional run producers in order to win enough to take the division.
3) Acquire at least one starting pitcher that is a proven innings eater. The Cards really only have 3 rotation slots filled currently. They must have another Suppan/Lohse/Looper type that can eat up about 170 or so innings in the 4th or 5th slot.

2. The Cards have a handful of important players as free agents (Holliday, DeRosa, Piniero, Ankiel, Smoltz, etc.) whom do they bring back?
Ankiel is good as gone. We now know that the Cards offered arbitration to Holliday, DeRosa, and Pineiro - so it is clear there is interest in those players. I could honestly see Pineiro potentially coming back on a one-year arbi deal. Holliday will obviously be a prime target, and I think it's still about 50-50 that he returns. DeRosa is likely to find greener pastures elsewhere. Would love to see Smoltz return in a swing role, if his arm could handle it - or even full time in the pen.

3. I've seen a few circling rumors out there that Ludwick might be on the block, what are your thoughts on the possibility?
While Luddy stands to get another raise via arbitration, I don't expect him to go anywhere. Even if he never returns to 2008 form, he's still valuable to the Cardinals lineup. If he were traded, it would have to be as part of a larger scheme to bring in multiple bats capable of high slugging percentage.

4. Will the Cardinals extend Pujols any time soon? His deal is done in 2011 and I'd imagine Cardinal fans never want him to wear another uniform.
Depends on your definition of soon. Recent comments from both Albert and the club lead me to believe that they are on the same page in terms of the wishes of both sides and perhaps even a very rough framework of years and dollars. In the meantime, Albert wants to see how they plan to surround him, and the club wants to see how cheaply they can put a Matt Holliday behind him in the lineup long-term. At some point prior to having to exercise the 2011 option, an extension will get done.

5. On that note say you, your owner and gm were locked in a room and told that you have no choice but to trade Pujols. What would you need to get in return to leave the room a content man?
This will sound like a cop-out, but Pujols is the type of player that I'd argue you could never get equivalent value for. Strive to get as much as you possibly can for him, and then have to live with it. If you forced me to come up with something, the deal that comes to mind immediately is Bartolo Colon to the Expos. If I had a crystal ball and could see that Sizemore, Lee, and Philips would all become the players they did - that would be a good start in return for Albert.

6. You can't possibly trust Ryan Franklin two years in a row, can you? Will he once again be your closer?
Well, fortunately, I don't have to be the one to make that decision. I expect Frank will start the season as the de facto closer, and we'll see what happens. I don't think he'll repeat early 2009, but I think he could capably fill the role. Since Chris Perez was traded, Jason Motte becomes the next "closer in waiting" by default. I also wouldn't be surprised if the Cards took a peek at Eduardo Sanchez if their hand were forced.

7. You've gassed your owner and have convinced him to spend like the Yankees, which three free agents do you sign?
Matt Holliday, John Lackey, and Randy Wolf.

8. Which Cardinals prospect are you most looking forward to in 2010? Do they have any left after the Holliday deal?
I've got two answers - one that will be in the bigs and one that will be in the minors. Very excited to see Jaime Garcia in what I expect will be a full-time role in the starting rotation in 2010. He was excellent during his rehab stint in 2009 following a TJ on his pitching elbow and could be a big key to the Cards' success in 2010. I'm also looking forward to seeing a full minor league season from top 2009 draft pick Shelby Miller. Miller represents the first real top of the rotation type pitching prospect in the Cardinals' farm system in a long time, one that many folks are putting a lot of faith in to continue the string of recent success for Cardinal starting pitchers.

9. I'm giving you the option to cut players without any salary repercussions, which Cards do you part way with?
The Cards shed a lot of contracts following the 2009 season, so right now they really don't have any truly outrageous contracts. Given the opportunity, however, I would probably cut Kyle Lohse loose. His extension signed before the bottom really fell out of both the economy and the free agent market, Lohse played his cards well (no pun intended!) parlaying his solid 2008 into a long-term, now arguably above-market contract. It's a difficult decision even at that, because I think that Lohse, working with Duncan, can still be very successful for the Cardinals - but the fact remains he's owed a lot of dough, with a no-trade clause to boot.

10. In 2010 the Cardinals will win their final game on what day?
Whichever day MLB schedules Game 4 of the World Series. What kind of fan would I be if I answered otherwise?

Posted by Simon at 11:11 AM   Digg! submit to reddit BallHype: hype it up!

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