My fellow St. Louis Cardinals fans, I believe, feel threatened when I write about the American League champion Kansas City Royals. So Monday, when I wrote about three players who could potentially make Kansas City a better team in 2015, I heard back from a few people wondering why I didn’t write the same thing about the Cardinals.
So today, I am.
And just to re-iterate what I’ve been saying for a few weeks now – I enjoyed covering the Royals in the postseason. It was one of the highlights of my career as a journalist and that’s not because I have now changed from being a Cardinals fan to a Royals fan. I haven’t and I never will.
But I love baseball. I love writing about baseball. The Royals were irrelevant for a long time and now they’re not and I view that as a good thing for baseball around these parts. I feel energized because I get to write more about the Royals. I enjoy offering opinions about them and trying to think along with general manager Dayton Moore.
Today, I’m going to think along with Cardinals GM John Mozielak, whose team has made it to the National League Championship Series four years in a row. That’s an impressive accomplishment and the Cardinals certainly are capable of making it five. But Mozielak needs to tweak the roster by adding, in my opinion, by bolstering the bullpen, adding an every-day right fielder and finding a bench player who might also be able to fill in as a part-time first baseman.
So here are my suggestions, with the understanding that it’s really easy to spend money I don’t have to worry about spending.
I’m tempted to opine that the Cardinals should go all in to bring right-handed starting pitcher and Missouri native Max Scherzer, and there’s going to be a temptation to do so. Imagine Scherzer joining a rotation that already includes Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller and John Lackey.
Signing Scherzer, a free agent who will command many, many dollars and quite a few years, would allow the Cardinals to potentially trade Miller or even Lynn, who pitched like an ace for much of last season. But Lynn is due to start making some pretty significant money soon while Miller is under team control for a while longer.
I’m thinking way too much now. The Cardinals are highly unlikely to make a move for Scherzer. But wouldn’t that be cool?
Now, back to reality. Here are three players who could really help St. Louis:
Utility player Mark Reynolds
Reynolds strikes out a lot. He batted just .196 for the Milwaukee Brewers last season. But he hit 22 homers and has averaged a homer every 16.9 at-bats during his career. Then again, he’s struck out more than once every three at-bats. He’s an all-or-nothing guy, but could be a dangerous hitter off the bench and playing first base against some left-handed pitchers. Matt Adams is the incumbent at first for the Cardinals and he’s an improving young hitter. But he did not fare well against lefties in 2014. The Cardinals really lack bench players, especially ones who can hit the ball over the fence. Reynolds could be had on a relatively cheap deal, something like two years, $6 million. I wouldn’t go much more than that.
Relief pitcher David Robertson
The Cardinals need some insurance in their bullpen because it’s unlikely they’ll re-sign Pat Neshek and because closer Trevor Rosenthal was a tight-wire act for most of 2014, struggling mightily with command of his fastball. Rosenthal still saved a ton of games, but few were easy on the hearts of Cardinals fans. Robertson saved 39 in his first season as the Yankees closer, stepping in for Mariano Rivera. He’s going to get a lot of money. But as the Royals have taught us, there’s nothing quite as nice as having a lock-down bullpen. Robertson could even return to being an eighth-inning guy in St. Louis; he was dominant in that role for the Yankees before Rivera’s retirement. How about a four-year, $28 million offer to get the talks started?
Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez
Gonzalez, 29, had an incredible season in 2010 with the Colorado Rockies, batting a National League-high .336 with 34 homers and 117 RBIs. But he’s been slowed by injuries since because of his all-out playing style. Gonzalez is reportedly a trade candidate as the Rockies are looking to rebuild. And there is some risk involved. But the Cardinals have an opening in right field after the tragic death of young Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic during the World Series. Gonzalez will make $53 million over the next three years, which isn’t outlandish for what he’s capable of doing. But I wouldn’t sell the farm to get him if I was Mozielak. Maybe Shelby Miller (creates an opening for Scherzer?), highly-regarded young outfield prospect Stephen Piscotty and a mid-level prospect get it done. If so, you have to seriously consider making the trade.