The Cardinals have slipped to eight games back of the Reds in the NL Central race, and the division title is looking increasingly out of reach for St. Louis. So rather than focusing on this season, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews the coming winter, asking a few questions about what the team's future holds. Here are some highlights of Strauss' piece:
- Locking up Albert Pujols is the club's top priority; the Cards will likely have trouble adding another impact bat until they know what sort of money they'll be committing to their top hitter for the next several years.
- "Strong opinion exists" at the major league level that the Cards' Triple-A and Double-A affiliates won't produce an impact position player for at least the next couple seasons. Strauss points out that the team hasn't signed many minor league free agents in recent years, and that the organization might have to rethink that strategy to provide depth and insurance for the big league roster.
- The Cards may need to look into acquiring more offense at its middle infield spots, since Brendan Ryan (.573 OPS) and Skip Schumaker (.680 OPS) have contributed very little at the plate.
- It's still up in the air whether Tony La Russa will be back to manage in St. Louis next season. If he does, there are questions about his relationship with Colby Rasmus. According to Strauss' club sources, Rasmus requested a trade earlier this year due to his frustrations with the Cards' skipper.