Offseason Outlook: St. Louis Cardinals

Congratulations to the Cardinals for winning a thrilling World Series after an unexpected surge to the playoffs. Their offseason revolves around re-signing Albert Pujols, who is on the brink of free agency for the first time in his career.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (estimated salaries)

Free Agents

The 2011 Cardinals overcame odds, injuries and three worthy playoff foes to win the 11th World Series in franchise history. Their improbable championship is worth savoring, but it's now time for action, not reflection. Albert Pujols is hours away from free agency and the Cardinals also face uncertainty on the bench, since manager Tony La Russa has announced his retirement.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, their offseason preparations began in September when a playoff berth — let alone a World Series title — seemed improbable. Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter signed extensions last month and the club has had preliminary discussions about retaining Rafael Furcal. Highly-regarded pitching coach Dave Duncan will return as well. But that's all secondary for now.

Pujols isn't simply the best free agent of the offseason, he's a Cardinals icon who will be enshrined in Cooperstown as soon as he's eligible. Even in a so-called off-year, Pujols posted a .299/.366/.541 line with 37 home runs. He punctuated the season with a dominant playoff run: five home runs and a .353/.463/.691 line, including a three-home run game in the World Series.

The Cardinals appear to have offered Pujols a nine-year deal worth more than $200MM before the season, but he didn't sign. Having waited this long, the 31-year-old will surely test free agency, where he will pique the interest of many teams. While the Rangers, Mariners, Orioles and Nationals could all have interest, the best fit of all may be in St. Louis. The Cardinals aren't going to offer Pujols more than the $275MM Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees four offseasons ago, and no one else will, either. But if the Cardinals offer Pujols a $200MM contract again, he can sign for more than any player in baseball history except Rodriguez without having to leave St. Louis.

Zero National League teams outscored the Cardinals, despite a Major League-leading 169 double plays. If Pujols returns, their offense figures to be among the league's best once again. If he leaves, they could make Allen Craig an everyday outfielder and move Berkman to first base while collecting draft picks for Pujols.

The Cardinals already exercised their option Yadier Molina, but with Gerald Laird hitting the open market, they could look for a backup catcher. Yadier's brother, Jose Molina, will be available this offseason.

Furcal and Nick Punto will hit free agency, so the Cardinals will need middle infielders. If the Cardinals don't re-sign Furcal, they could pursue Clint Barmes, Alex Gonzalez or another free agent shortstop. The trade and non-tender market offers alternatives at short, so there's a real chance Ryan Theriot won't return — at least not for a projected salary approaching $4MM. Skip Schumaker would have a salary in the $3MM range, so the Cardinals could let him go in favor of more affordable second basemen. Internally, Tyler Greene is one option at shortstop and they may attempt to retain Punto at second base after his strong 2011 performance.

The Cardinals' rotation is set, now that they've officially exercised their options on Adam Wainwright. He'll join Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook in a rotation that could include top prospect Shelby Miller at some point in 2012. With a full rotation plus swingman Kyle McClellan, the Cardinals don't need Type B free agent Edwin Jackson. They could offer him arbitration regardless, since he'd decline in pursuit of a multiyear deal, and the Cards would likely recover a 2012 draft pick.

Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs, Eduardo Sanchez, Lance Lynn, McClellan and Marc Rzepczynski will return to the bullpen in 2012. They've been effective in 2011 and GM John Mozeliak and his front office deserve credit for assembling a capable and affordable group. 

Unless the Cardinals are comfortable paying Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes approximately $4MM each to join next year's staff, they shouldn't offer the relievers arbitration later in November. Dotel and Rhodes are ranked free agents and could theoretically net the Cardinals draft picks in 2012, but both have made their interest in returning to St. Louis clear. If the Cardinals decide against bringing Rhodes back, they will likely add another left-hander to pair with Rzepczynski, but the St. Louis front office doesn't need to focus on its 'pen this offseason.

The Cardinals spent $109MM in 2011 and if they re-sign Pujols, payroll will almost certainly rise again. They'll have committed $86MM in payroll if they retain Motte and McClellan through arbitration while non-tendering Theriot and Schumaker. Adrian Gonzalez and Mark Teixeira earn roughly $22MM per season, so Pujols will command an annual salary of at least as much. This would bring their projected payroll to $108MM before adding middle infielders, finalizing the bullpen and accounting for minimum salary players. However, the World Series title surely generated extra revenue for the Cardinals, who have had years to prepare for the possibility of paying Pujols an annual salary in excess of $22MM. 

If the Cardinals find a successor to La Russa, sign Pujols to a long-term deal and add middle infielders, they can consider the offseason a success. Mozeliak has a busy offseason ahead, but with Wainwright on his way back, an effective, young bullpen and the NL's best offense, the 2012 Cardinals could threaten to play deep into October once again, in 2012.


134 Responses to Offseason Outlook: St. Louis Cardinals Leave a Reply

  1. Eugene_in_Oregon 4 years ago

    Do you realize that baseball has one of the greatest hypothesis-testing opportunities anyone could imagine within its grasp?

    Normally, baseball fans (and writers) are forced to engage in lots of ‘what if’ thought experiments or other counter-factual arguments. But now the gods of baseball have a chance to actually turn one of those ‘what ifs’ into reality.

    I’m talking, of course, about the apparently reputable stories linking Jim Riggleman to the managerial opening in St. Louis. They’re not yet at the point of saying he’s a shoo-in (or even that he’ll get an interview), but he’s being prominently mentioned by serious writers as a possibility.

    On Nationals-focused website over the past few years, I have repeatedly read that Riggleman is the worst manager of all times. People in the anti-Riggleman camp cite his career record, his favoritism toward veterans, his lack of strategic decision-making skills, etc. On the other hand, many Riggleman defenders have argued that he’s never had a decent team to manage, even when he had decent players they ended up injured or traded, he was always brought into impossible-to-succeed situations, etc.

    Well here you have it!  If the baseball gods will arrange for him to manager the World Champion Cardinals — particularly if Pujols comes back — the world can decide once and for all whether Riggleman is a real major league manger or not. So, regardless of what you think of Riggleman’s skills (and you know who you are, you Riggleman haters), you’ve got to root for him to get the job so that you can test your hypothesis that ‘even with the best team in the world’ he’d be a terrible manager. And you Riggleman apologists, you’ve got to hope he gets the job so that you can prove yourselves right — that given decent players he’d be a top-flight manager.

    So, let’s go Cardinals — for sake of baseball science, hire Jim Riggleman!

    • stl_cards16 4 years ago

      I don’t think he’s horrible but I’ll pass.

    • Dave 4 years ago

      I’m personally holding out hope that Terry Francona gets an interview and the Cardinals jump on hiring the guy who was by all accounts a fantastic manager while in Boston.  

      • I’m not sold on Francona.  Boston prints their own money and they had their share of problems.  He’s no longer the manager because he lost the clubhouse.  In my opinion, he is a risky hire.  The Cardinals have had their clubhouse issues but they were resolved one way or another as quickly as possible.  There is a click in the Cardinals and I think Francona wouldn’t be the best fit.

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          I’m not so concerned about Francona losing the clubhouse in StL, but my perception is that he’s not quite the right fit. Tony was brought in with the intention of re-establishing a winning tradition in 1996. Francona is similar in that he’s a winning manager. I think the club as assembled now already has that winning presence and will look for other traits in their skipper. Perhaps someone who will feed off the veteran leadership, isn’t so authoritarian, and can be a bit more comfortable with the younger players. 

          I’m all for giving Pop Warner the nod. Maddon would be expensive (both in terms of salary and compensation to the Rays) and I don’t think he really wants to leave Tampa anyway. Oquendo wouldn’t be bad in my opinion, but for being a fielding coach the Cards have played relatively shoddy defense over the past few years. Also he is (was) very cautious as a 3B coach. I can count on two hands the number of times Albert (not to counting other players too) ran through his stop signs and scored easily trotting in. Perhaps that’s not quite fair to O, but it’s my perception of him as a manager.

          I’d like to see the Cards start to groom some new managers from their former players. See if Jimmy Ballgame wants to be an outfield coach. Matheny to be pitching coach at AAA, etc….

          • JOE MADDON

          • I like Maddon and I think the Cardinals would be willing to provide compensation to Tampa Bay in order to get the “best person for the job”. 

            I think Oquendo is fully capable.  He’s managed in the Winter League and World Baseball Classic.  I wouldn’t read much into the shoddy defense.  I mean, they started the season with Stone Hands Theriot as their starting shortstop and a converted center fielder at second.  Strong defensively up the middle obviously wasn’t not their strong suit at the start of the season.  Oquendo played under Whitey and coached under LaRussa.  That knowledge is hard to compete with.

            A name that is not being mentioned, but might be a good fit is Kevin Kennedy.  Yes, he has not managed in years, but he remains around the game and understands the way the game has changed since he last managed.  He was a decent manager.  Just a thought.

            I’m not sure on Sandberg.  He wants the Cubs job and they are not interested.  Why?  Is there something there that says he might not be managerial material at the Major League level?

            If you are going to promote someone from the Minor Leagues, I would prefer that he is hired as a coach and not a manager.  My preference is for a Major League coach or manager.

      • I’m not sold on Francona.  Boston prints their own money and they had their share of problems.  He’s no longer the manager because he lost the clubhouse.  In my opinion, he is a risky hire.  The Cardinals have had their clubhouse issues but they were resolved one way or another as quickly as possible.  There is a click in the Cardinals and I think Francona wouldn’t be the best fit.

    • highski 4 years ago

      Lord, no!

  2. stl_cards16 4 years ago

    8/210. I’m pretty confident Albert will be back right in that neighborhood.

    • Andy_B 4 years ago

      I’m thinking he signs for 9 210 or 8/ 190.   I know those numbers are low, but I’m just not seeing who’s out there to seriously bid against the cardinals.

      • Travis White 4 years ago

        I think he’ll at least give the Cardinals the chance to match whatever offer he gets from another club, too. It’ll really all depend on the other offers, and their shouldn’t be that many. I’m worried Texas or the Angels could come in late with a good offer

        • Andy_B 4 years ago

          I heard the assistant GM of Texas on MLB today who said that his club will be looking for pitching not offense this offseason.

          • Redbirds16 4 years ago

            Didn’t they say the same thing last year when they went all out for Cliff Lee? And when they lost out on him their backup plan was Adrian Beltre?

            Given that there’s no real ace on the free agent market this year, I think it’s safe to say the Rangers will at the very least talk with Pujols and his representation. 

        • cookmeister 4 years ago

          i wish. but angels have no $

    • Dave 4 years ago

      I’m thinking 6/160-175 with options for the future.  

      He gets to make the second best salary per year in Baseball, the Cardinals don’t get to waste too much money when he’s older and may not be able to perform worth a crap.    I don’t think this ends up happening, but honestly why couldn’t Pujols be satisfied being the second best player in baseball with a contract that lets him play in St. Louis for the rest of his career?   

      I mean unless he gets some HGH and other designer steroids, he sure isn’t going to match Barry Bonds production when he’s 37.  

      • Chris Greene 4 years ago

        Ok, I don’t know what you people do with baseball, but it must be way too much number crunching and not nearly enough watching.  Now, you’re right, Pujols won’t hit as many homeruns as Bonds as he gets older (although, dropping from a 40 a year average isn’t too bad).  I would guess that he dips to around 30 a year, maybe even 20-25 for his last few seasons, but his average won’t drop.  Why do I say this?  Look at Pujols swing a bat, and ask yourself “Is he swinging for the fences?”  Generally (although there are a few exceptions) the answer is “no.”  It’s a smooth even swing.  So as he loses power, he’ll continue to hit well for average, his homeruns won’t become pathetic pop-ups, they’ll become line drive base hits and doubles.

        Beyond that, there’s a possibility that his homerun production won’t drop drastically.  His swing isn’t a power swing.  Players link Prince Fielder are hitting homeruns because they just crush the ball.  Fielder’s bat speed is somewhere around 110 mph.  Pujols’ swing only moves at about 85 mph.  What does that mean?  As Prince gets older, his swing slows down, the ball stops leaving the ballpark.  As Pujols gets older, his swing shouldn’t slow down, because his swing isn’t a “swing as hard as you can and pray” swing.  It takes the momentum of the ball and uses it.  Pitchers aren’t going to get slower as Pujols gets older.  There will always be 95 mph fastballs to hit.  And he will.

        So will Pujols’ offense drop?  Yes.  Will it drop drastically?  No.  He will be a star for years to come.

        Ten years from now when Pujols is still a beast, remember this post, and wonder why you only wanted him for five or six more years.

      • deadletterdepot 4 years ago

        i don’t think annual salary will get you into the hall of fame. albert cares not for that distinguishing factor, i hope. although he should know he’s already in, so why not get as much money as possible? it’s a centrists nightmare.

  3. Andy_B 4 years ago

    I like Furcal, but I wouldn’t give him more than 2 years 10 million and I really don’t even want to do that.  

    As far as Albert goes, his market is looking smaller and smaller.  Heard the assistant GM on MLB today who said that his club will be looking for pitching not offense this offense.  Nationals are said to be focused on pitching.  Theo is said to not want long term players where the deals take them past 36.   I’m just not sure who the cardinals are going to have to compete with for Pujols.

  4. Travis White 4 years ago

    I think they should put Allen Craig at second. He can’t do any worse than Schumaker or Theriot, plus he’s twice the offensive player. Shortstop is a little tougher to figure out. Furcal or a trade, I guess

    • i think they should do that too if they sign pujols. He would do fine, im pretty sure he was a SS in college but im not sure. We will probably sign furcal for 1 year, if not i think clint barmes would be a good option.

      • Most major leaguers played Short stop in college because they were the best players on their team by a long margin most likely.  Thats not a big thing

    • Allen Craig @ second is the same thing you did with Skip.   Skip was a proven hitter when they moved him to 2nd.   Allen Craig has showed a lot of promise with power but has not proven he do it over a full season.   Skip was very solid at 2nd base this year. I say keep Craig in the out field  and should practice in center this offseason. He is your right handed center fielder.    

  5. Dermick 4 years ago

    Im really rooting for Punto to return. He really was one of the guys that made baseball fun for this ball club plus he was probably the best fielder (Excluding Yadi of course) on the team

    • would love to see the shredder back!!!!

    • I like Punto.  If he could stay healthy, he would be interesting as an every day second baseman.  Furcal and Punto up the middle would make a pitching staff that pitches to contact very happy.

  6. Vossome93 4 years ago

    -Sign Pujols
    -Keep Skip and Punto. Should be fairly cheap.
    -Jackson gone.
    -Rhodes gone.
    -Dotel gone.
    -Furcal will probably be cheap so he should be back.
    -Patterson gone.
    -Theriot will likely be NT
    -Let Laird go so Cruz can be the backup
    -Sign a LH relief pitcher

    So next year’s rotation:
    Wainwright
    Carpenter
    Garcia
    Lohse
    Westbrook

    Bullpen:
    Rzep
    Boggs
    McClellan
    Sanchez
    Lynn
    Other LHP
    Salas
    Motte

    Lineup with Pujols:
    SS Furcal
    CF Jay
    1B Pujols
    LF Holliday
    RF Berkman
    3B Freese
    C   Molina
    2B Schumaker
    PITCHER

    Bench:
    Craig
    Chambers
    Schumaker
    Greene
    Cruz

    Without Pujols:
    SS Furcal
    CF Jay
    LF Holliday
    1B Berkman
    3B Freese
    RF Craig
    C  Molina
    2B Schumaker
    PITCHER

    Bench:
    Chambers
    Brown/sign RH outfielder
    Schumaker
    Greene
    Cruz

    • stl_cards16 4 years ago

      Pretty much agree besides Descalso will have a spot. Either save the money on Punto or Schumaker. I like Punto but Skips ability to play Cf almost makes him a must unless we find another backup. I guess Descalso instead of Greene is possible.

      • Vossome93 4 years ago

        Wow. How could I forget D-Money? Yes. Him instead of Greene. Thank you.

        • skoz 4 years ago

          You listed Skip twice.

        • If I’m not mistaken, Greene is out of options.  He is either on the Major League roster in 2012 or is gone.  He would have to clear waivers to be sent back to Memphis and I’m pretty sure someone would nab him.

    • Dermick 4 years ago

      You have 26 people on your roster

      • Vossome93 4 years ago

        Yeah. Maybe leave Sanchez off or don’t sign another lefty if they have confidence in McClellan against lefties.

    • Dermick 4 years ago

      And Andrew Brown was claimed by the Rockies. Someone in the Bullpen has to go, probably Boggs.

    • skoz 4 years ago

      I think the club is going to do everything it can to get Craig in the starting lineup next year, even if that means trying to make him stick at CF or 2B, and then giving way to a late-inning defensive replacement.  That, or he leaves in trade.  His bat is too proven at this point to be on the bench.

    • cardsdrummer 4 years ago

      Brown is gone. He was released from the 40 man to make room for Lynn, when Lynn came off the 60 day. I believe Colorado picked Brown up. 

  7. i would’ve picked up dotel’s option. He has been great. i would get rid of westbrook and sign Buehrle or Oswalt who have both shown interest in the Cards. Could get either one to deal similar to Carp’s(probably even cheaper). Give Dotel 4 mill, furcal around 5 mill, and try to get pujols for around the 22 million mark. I have no problem giving him 30 mill for 4 years but anything over that is just A-rod fail contract. If he wants that much for 10 years he can go f#ck himself because he is not clutch and will suck or be injured in 5 years anyways. If we cant get him for a shorter contract or cheaper i say let him go and try to get Prince. Thats probably a better deal in the first place. Pujols has meant so much to STL but if he wants to be a greedy b!tch he can go else where. I would also like to try for aaron hill or kelly johnson. To bad pujols wouldnt just take like 15 mill so we could improve the team even more. We could get aaron hill or kelly johnson along with him if he did that. But ill keep dreaming.

    • stl_cards16 4 years ago

      “he is not clutch”

      I tried staying with you, until I read that, I gave up.

      • You seriously think pujols is clutch? How many times late in games with runners on when we are down will he strike out, pop up, ground into DP? Uncountable. He had that one double in game 6 that was decently clutch but other than that he did nothing in the WS other than game 3 when he hit 3 hr’s when 2 were not needed. He does that all the time. Will hit hr’s when were are up by enough runs. Sign pujols to the contract he wants, fans will be happy at first but in a few years everyone will want to kill Mo because he did what the fans wanted, but they are just stupid and cant see he is already past his prime and starting to decline. His numbers were still good this season but he has lost his plate discipline.

        • stl_cards16 4 years ago

          Haha. Oh boy

        • David McCutcheon 4 years ago

          I guess you started watching Cardinal games during the World Series, then, because you clearly forgot about his regular seasons up until this year, the “Oh My God” Brad Lidge bomb, that bedazzling NLCS, the April home runs of ’06, etc, etc, etc…

          • I guess you stopped watching because he has not been very clutch for the past few years. That was 5 years ago. I love pujols but he is declining.

          • Taskmaster75 4 years ago

            There is a reason teams STILL intentionally walk Pujols in clutch situations…

          • If the rangers would have pitched to pujols in game 6 instead of berkman, the rangers win the world series.

          • highski 4 years ago

            HAHAHAHA.  You’re kidding, right?

          • andrew hamer 4 years ago

            you give a bad name to andrews everywhere

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            With as deep as their OF was playing, anybody in the Cardinals’ starting lineup outside of the pitcher could’ve easily gotten that game-tying hit.

          • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

            He declined by .001 Batting average and 1 RBI. He should probably hang it up

          • Ferrariman 4 years ago

            what are you talking about?  those aren’t his normal numbers, their much lower.  He declined this year, thats a fact.  Whether that means anything or not, is another story.

          • The_BiRDS 4 years ago

            Sarcasm.. Pujols’ decline is a year that most professional baseball players will never see. 

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            He simply expanded his zone too much during the first two months of the season (which he admits). From June 1 to the end of the season, he hit .318 with an OPS of about 1.000.

          • Redbirds16 4 years ago

            Didn’t he hit walk offs against the Cubbies (I know they’re the Cubs, but still) in back to back games this year?

          • Rose Nation 4 years ago

            I watched all year and Albert played well, even covered 3rd base a few games only sat out 3 weeks after he fractured his arm. Not like he sat out game 7 with a sore pinkie. Back to back walk off home runs in June, three home runs in the World Series game, 2000 hits… I could go on.

        • MetsMagic 4 years ago

          Pujols is the greatest player you’ve ever seen, so shut up and pray to god he resigns with your team. 

        • MetsMagic 4 years ago

          Pujols is the greatest player you’ve ever seen, so shut up and pray to god he resigns with your team. 

        • mondaymorninggm 4 years ago

          exactly!!! omg i want to slap st.louis people who think albert can do no wrong. he will swing at anything in the dirt these days. 1 great w.s. game and 6 games with nothing.i’m from stl and i’d rather have pena for 1 year and 8 mil. than albert. everyones gonna cry til we win just as many games without him. let him go to those bottomfeeder cubs and he can watch the playoffs on tv

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            You must have missed the NLCS when Pujols narrowly missed getting the MVP of that series (as well as the important double he hit in the Game 6 comeback and the many intentional walks he received after Game 3).  After the first two months of the season (where he has admitted that he had expanded his zone too much), his offense and plate discipline were just as good as they have always been.

          • Chris Greene 4 years ago

            Would you like to compare Pujols’ strikeout numbers with Ryan Howard’s?  Quit whining and be darn happy that he plays for you.

        • Chris Greene 4 years ago

          Are you unintelligent?  Do you watch baseball?  Have you seen Pujols stats?  I mean . . . not clutch?  Would you like to look at the time between August 25th and the end of September?  He hit .355 with 20 RBIs.  Not clutch?  That’s a full month of clutch, and we definitely needed it, every single game.  I mean . . . I feel like a Pujols fanatic, but how many modern players hit .328 in their first 11 years?  After his tenth season (admittedly he started late, but that can also be to Pujols’ advantage), even the batting average monster Ichiro hasn’t hit that well in his first ten seasons, falling two points short.  How about homeruns?  Pujols has 445, A-Rod? – 429; Manny Ramirez? – 390; even the horrifying Bonds? – 374.  What are you smoking?  Tell me this.  ’cause it sounds like some good stuff, and I want some.

        • Ask the Cubs if Pujols is clutch….pretty sure Albert led the league in walkoffs.  He had 2 back to back earlier this season. 

  8. Dan Saint 4 years ago

    Only team I see that will compete with Cards for Albert and meet the other criteria I believe he has (be able to be competitive right away) is Anaheim. Artie will dish out the money to make more of a dent in that LA market. Texas could be a darkhorse.

    • Lanidrac 4 years ago

      The Angels are known for not overspending on free agents, and it would take a significantly higher bid to lure Pujols away from St. Louis, something I don’t see anywhere in the current market (assuming the Cubs aren’t stupid enough to repeat their Soriano mistake).

  9. Edgar4evar 4 years ago

    After Wainwright’s injury and LaRussa’s face swelling up it just felt like this team was doomed. It was good to see them go all the way, but I was surprised at how many people just hate the Cards…calling them the “Yankees of the NL.” Just because they’d won 10 rings (prior to this year)?  It’s not like they’ve ever had the biggest payroll…have they?

  10. mateodh 4 years ago

    With few quality starters on the market, I have to wonder if Lohse’s strong 2011 opens up a trade market for him. That would free up to $11 million that could be allocated to Pujols’ raise. 

    • Travis White 4 years ago

      This would be an interesting proposal for a team like the yankees, because it would be more of a cash dump (which they have) and it wouldn’t require them to give up a big prospect (which they don’t have many of)

      • mateodh 4 years ago

        Exactly. I’m not sure the Yankees would trust Lohse to pitch that well in the AL East, though. I think the Dodgers, Rockies and Nationals would be fits.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Lohse and Westbrook have full no trade clauses. They’re not going anywhere. I’d love to get Buerhle, but that’s not going to happen.

    • mondaymorninggm 4 years ago

      i was thinking they would trade wastbrook and sign buehrle. he loves stl. but lohse could bring more back, like a middle infielder.

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        Nobody would take Lohse or Westbrook at their salaries, and if we ate a bunch of one of their contracts, we wouldn’t be able to afford both Buehrle and Pujols.

        • Why does everyone dissing Lohse so much?   He was the most consisant pitcher this season.  I know he’s not going to pitch a shut out or go deep in a game but hea had good numbers this year.  Him and McClellen led the piching staff at the begining of the year.    Keep him one more year and get ready for 2013.  Wainwright, Carp, Garcia, Lynn and Miller.

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            On the contrary.  I appreciate what Lohse does for us and have always defended him during his injury-plagued years.  He’s just not worth, and never has been worth,  a $12M salary.

  11. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    Rzep should start!

    • $1639238 4 years ago

      Carpenter, Wainwright, Lohse, Garcia, Westbrook…..should the Cardinals have six starters?

  12. Travis White 4 years ago

    Should they look at getting a backup centerfielder? I think a right handed compliment for Jon Jay would be a good idea. I haven’t looked at what is available yet, but I think it is more important than people realize and the playoffs kind of showed it was a need

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      When compared to Pujols, a RH hitting 5th OFer (assuming they keep Skip as Platoon 2B/Backup OFer) is a luxury. Craig should be taking rollers at second and flies in center all winter long.

      • I’m of the mindset that a CF has to meet one of two requirements: Good speed or great reactions.  Both would be ideal.  Craig has neither.

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          Agreed. Although Craig could aspire to be Dan Uggla in an effort to get playing time. and he’d likely only backup CF, meaning he’d play against only the toughest LHP, and likely be removed for a defensive replacement at the earliest opportunity.

          If the Cards won with Skip at 2B and Lance in RF, then they can get Craig’s bat in the game with a hundred innings in CF. 

          • I agree.  They should tell him that if he wants to start next year, he should do nothing this winter but go through double play drills.

  13. The_BiRDS 4 years ago

    Ill tell you what Pujols is doing. He will test the market and a team (Im thinking the Cubs) will make an very high bid for him, just to drive the price tag up, then Albert will go back to the Cards and show him the other offer and the Cards will bring their price up just a bit. Cardinals sign Albert-> Albert gets more money to stay in STL -> Albert looks like a hero for taking the cheaper contract and staying in STL

    8 years/ 210 Million with incentives

  14. I would like to bring up our recently open coaching position. There are only three choices, and two of those are within the organization. Jose Oquendo has been a great third base coach, and he deserves the opportunity before anyone else does. He as had the opportunity to learn from Tony for years now, and he is the only choice that guarantees Albert comes back. The Cards also have a heck of a manager in AA Springfield Pop Warner. If you are familiar with the team then you know who he is. He brings a great attitude and a winning history to the club. The only issue…… That is probably what the Cubs thought about Mike Quade, and that hasn’t panned out for them yet, but it still could. The only current mlb coach that would fit the bill is Joe Maddon in Tampa. He is the coach that finaly did something with all that talent. Imagine what he could do in St. Louis. For all the people who dislike Tony La Russa (I being one of them at times) Give him props and respect for all he has done in his career. Good luck in your retirement and congratulations on your Hall of Fame career.

    • Vossome93 4 years ago

      Nothing guarantees Albert comes back.

    • Isn’t it a bit telling that bench coach Joe Pettini was put in charge of the team when LaRussa was out with shingles, or whenever Tony was ejected?  I watch about 80-85% of the games every year and I’ve seen no signs of Oquendo being a “great third base coach.”  I’ve seen a lot of players run through his stop signs, or worse, get thrown out by a wide margin when he does send them.

      I liked Oquendo back in the day as much as any other Cardinal fan, but I don’t think he’s ready for a big manageriel job.  Maybe he can start off with a minor league team or a lesser major league team first, then be considered in a few years.  And don’t listen to David Eckstein.  Money is what will make Albert re-sign, not who the next manager is.  Sometimes people don’t realize that when talking to the press, they shouldn’t talk out of their butts.

  15. BrosaParks 4 years ago

    Non tender Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot. I think that Allen Craig can make a successful transition to second and we can always platoon him with Tyler Greene. (Schumaker was able to do it, mind you.) Sign Rafael Furcal if the price is right. Resign Nick Punto. I’d like to see an offer at Grady Sizemore as well. If he’s cheap, let’s say 4 million not including some incentives, he might be worth a reclamation project. I just can’t see Jon Jay producing a full year when it seems he has tailed off the past two. 

    • Vossome93 4 years ago

      Why is everyone so down on Skip?

      • BrosaParks 4 years ago

        It’s not that I’m down on Skip, I just feel as though his production can be replaced cheaper. He was paid 2.7 mil in arbitration last year and an increase is sure to come. Why not see what we have on the youthful front in Chambers or take a risk on a high reward player instead of an empty batting average player? Don’t get me wrong, he’s a scrappy player. 

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          Offer Skip a contract before the arbitration deadline (the club should know where they stand with Pujols more or less by then). If Skip declines and wants to test the market, then non-tender him. If he wants to stay with StL for 2MM, then sign him back.

          At the very worst Skip is a .280 hitter with a decent OBP who plays a below average but passable defense at 2B, a good defensive 4th OFer with a cannon of an arm, and a great presence in the clubhouse. That’s certainly worth a contract offer, even if it isn’t up to arbitration standards.

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          Offer Skip a contract before the arbitration deadline (the club should know where they stand with Pujols more or less by then). If Skip declines and wants to test the market, then non-tender him. If he wants to stay with StL for 2MM, then sign him back.

          At the very worst Skip is a .280 hitter with a decent OBP who plays a below average but passable defense at 2B, a good defensive 4th OFer with a cannon of an arm, and a great presence in the clubhouse. That’s certainly worth a contract offer, even if it isn’t up to arbitration standards.

        • Lanidrac 4 years ago

          It’s extremely difficult to transition from OF to 2B.  It was a risky experiment when Schumaker was able to pull it off.  Only very althletic outfielders even have a chance at it on an everyday basis, and I don’t see Craig in that category.

          Meanwhile, Schumaker cannot just be cheaply replaced. He’s a career .290/.346/.378 hitter with decent defense at 2B and above-average defense at all 3 OF positions.  We don’t have anywhere near that kind of middle infield bat anywhere else on our current 40 man roster, not to mention the defensive versatility.

      • skoz 4 years ago

        People are always down on Skip.  He’s never been “sexy” by baseball standards, despite being real-life sexy.

      • gtl11 4 years ago

        Because he can’t play defense and can’t hit for power and has no speed. His ONE ability is hitting for a high average (which he hasn’t done in the last 2 years). And he costs $3M that would be better spent elsewhere.

        Tyler Greene can at least replicate Skip’s value, and he plays for the league minimum and has upside (he slashed .323/.422/.579 and hit 14 home runs in 66 games in AAA this year). Even if his bat fails you know he can play solid defense. Plus he’s more versatile. He can play 2B, SS, 3B and OF where Schu can only play 2B and OF.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Sizemore won’t take anything but a guaranteed starting spot. He’s not going to compete with Jon Jay or Allen Craig (much less Lance Berkman/Matt Holliday if Pujols is resigned as well) for ABs.

      Jay, like most baseball players, is streaky. 

      I’d let Punto walk and replace him with Descalso and Greene. I think Tyler deserves a legit shot after the numbers he put up in AAA and the talent he’s flashed (occasionally) at the ML level. Give him spring training to get comfortable and have Skip and DD in there in case he doesn’t pan out. A 2012 MI of Furcal and Skip/DD/Greene can’t be worse than 2011 of Theriot/Skip right?

      • skoz 4 years ago

        Keep in mind that TLR had strong opinions about a lot of these UTIL/INF types.  Who knows what the next manager will have to say, or how the FO will view the lineup in TLR’s absence?  While Punto and Theriot are grinders and great glue guys, a lot of their stock may have walked out the door with Tony (and I should note, I actually *like* both those guys, and TLR for that matter).

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          Excellent points. While Tony wasn’t the only manager that mixes and matches his lineup seemingly every at bat, he was one of the most ‘active’ managers in the game, always trying to put his guys in the best position to succeed. Theriot and Punto don’t necessarily lose value when a manager like that leaves, but part of their utility may not be realized under a different manager (but then again, players like Colby Rasmus, who want a very defined role on the team, might have a better shot at realizing theirs).

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        Greene has been given plenty of oppurtunities and has never flashed any talent outside of an occansional stolen base at the MLB level.  Unless something drastically changes, he’s just a AAAA guy whose only use is to fill in whenever an infielder gets injured.

        • gtl11 4 years ago

          Plenty of opportunities? He’s had 359 PAs thinly spread out over 3 years. He’s spent more time on the Memphis-St. Louis shuttle than he has in the batters box. He hasn’t had a fair shot.

          In the last 2 seasons, Greene has gotten 243 PAs and he’s been worth 0.3 WAR. Over the same period Schumaker has gotten 929 PAs and he’s managed 0.4 WAR. If Greene had gotten that many PAs he’d be up around 1.1 WAR. When you factor in how much cheaper Greene is (roughly 10 times cheaper) and his upside (he’s destroyed AAA) there’s really no comparison.

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            That’s the equivalent of several oppurtunities, since he’s always sucked and fairly quickly been sent back down.  Maybe we could take a chance and stick with him for an extended time, but a constantly contending team like the Cardinals can’t afford to give that kind of playing time to a guy who doesn’t produce.

            As for Schumaker, you happened to include his career worst year in those two years, by far the worst year of his career.  He’s been worth an average of about .9 WAR per year, and that’s before you consider that his WAR in 2009 and 2010 were extremely downgraded by his defensive WAR, which for one is an extremely unreliable part of the WAR statistic as all defensive metrics are (I find it extremely hard to believe his defense even cost us 4.6 wins this year), and for another is now much improved with more experience at 2B.

        • Redbirds16 4 years ago

          Of his home runs (a measly 5, admittedly), I remember at least 3 being absolute bombs. I mean, a 3rd deck shot next to Big Mack land, another onto the concourse in Left-center, etc… His speed is an asset. He was 9 for 9 in SB attempts this year. 16 for 16 in MLB career. And plays good defense with strong range and a great arm, although inconsistency has plagued him at every level I’ve heard, which we’ve seen at MLB level. Think a bigger Rafael Furcal at SS who doesn’t quite have the same arm strength but has more athleticism to pull off the jump-throw from deep in the hole.

          His plate discipline and inconsistency in the field have resulted in a poor MLB showing, there’s no doubt about that. But I don’t see what’s wrong with handing him the spring training starting job, with Skip and Descalso as backups. Let him play most of the ST games and if he succeeds play him into April or mid may as the starter at 2B. The guy really hasn’t had a chance to be a full time player at the MLB level and has shown glimpses of the great talent that has brought him such success at the AAA level. I think it would be in the organization’s best interest to see what they have in him. 

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            A rebuilding team can afford to do that, but the Cardinals are constantly contending and can’t afford to give major playing time to a guy who has yet to accomplsh hardly anything in the Majors (his defense also sucked in the Majors this year), especially with Schumaker already here to start at 2B.

    • We don’t need anymore outfielders! We already have Craig as our 4th OF.

  16. mgsports 4 years ago

    Terry Pendelton?
    Ozzie Smith?
    Todd Zeile?
    Other former Mangers out their who still want to Manger.

    Marlins or Rays for Albert?
    Stopgabid intill Wong is ready. Also Cox needs a postion other then 3B. Bryan Anderson Steven Hill as Catcher.
    Mark Haimlton off Bench

  17. The_BiRDS 4 years ago

    TRADE FOR MADDON!

  18. Ferrariman 4 years ago

    Am i the only one who thinks McClellan should be nontendered?  he isn’t worth near 3mil IMO.  Maybe 2mil…maybe.  We just have sooo many choices on the right side of the bullpen that he isn’t necessary.  

    • David McCutcheon 4 years ago

      I’ve heard similar, but look at his number prior to this recent season, where he was used in the rotation to mixed results and burnt his arm out thereafter. He’s a top notch guy in the bullpen; the big question, of course, being whether or not he’s worth the pay increase. Not $3m in my book, but keep in mind he was one of our very best overall relievers prior to last year.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Oh c’mon, you don’t believe that right? He was stretched in 2011 into a position he’s not ideal for and he performed admirably. He was spent by the end of the year. It wasn’t really fair to him but he’s a huge part of why the Cards were still in contention at the trade deadline.

      McClellan will have a fine year out of the ‘pen in 2012. Maybe not 2.11 ERA again (or whatever his obscenely good 2010 was), but certainly cost-effective at 3MM. I’m hoping the Cards bring him and Dotel back in 2012 (at salaries of about 2.5MM of course, but still…).

      I know pennies have to be pinched to afford Albert, but at some point you’ve got to stop subtracting from the rest of the team to keep the franchise player.

      • gtl11 4 years ago

        He walks tons of people, strikes out nearly nobody and gives up a lot of home runs. Everything he does is completely replaceable internally. He’s not terrible as a long reliever/swingman type but if he’s on the roster instead of, say, Sanchez, it would be a huge huge mistake.

  19. stlwildcats 4 years ago

    $$ should not be an issue. Holliday is really making 15mil instead of 17 as he has 2mil deferred each season to pay the 10 years of his 40s. I also see a similar type thing for Albert where a portion of money will be deferred over a decade or two during his non-playing days. Also, I could see the Cardinals looking to trade Lohse or Westbrook, eating a few million, for not too much in return as a cash dump. Lynn is more than ready to fill the #5 spot imo.

    • Redbirds16 4 years ago

      Again, Lohse and Westbrook have full no trade clauses. Why would they leave a defending champion? And money is an issue. Deferring 2 million of a 100+ million dollar budget isn’t going to change too much (now that I’ve thought about it, it’s like keeping Skip Schumaker on your salary for the 10 years after a contract ‘ends’, without him ever setting foot on the field, not counting for inflation and other investment opportunity costs I suppose). 

      Plus, even though the Cards are deferring Holliday’s current contract, I think they’ve still got Edmonds, Rolen, and Pujols’ last contract on the books in deferred payments… Not something the average fan considers, but I’m sure Mo and DeWitt are looking at those numbers too (as well as the payments on the stadium and other not-commonly-considered costs).

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        I’m pretty sure Edmonds and Rolen are off the books, and the deferment on Pujols’s contract doesn’t start kicking in until 2021.

  20. Redbirds16 4 years ago

    Also, not heretofore mentioned, is that Cruz will be the backup catcher next year with Anderson/Hill as the 3rd string. The Cards won’t be in the market for another backstop with the other needs they have/limited resources.

    If I were Mo, I’d still try to sign Buerhle, or at least gauge his interest. I don’t care if that gives the Cards 6 starting pitchers. With the Cards track record, one is a lock to go down with injury while another is bound to be ineffective by at least mid June (if not before… looking at you Kip Wells, Matt Clement, Rich Hill, Mike Maroth, etc…).

    Also, with Dunc likely gone as well (c’mon, his wife is in quite the battle, the guy should be with his family, I don’t care if he’s under contract), the Cards might not have the good fortune they’ve had with reclamation projects/rebound pitchers that they’ve had in the past.

    • Lanidrac 4 years ago

      We can’t afford Buerhle with what we need to resign Pujols, and that list of ineffective Cardinal starters were all ineffective from the beginning in St. Louis.  All of the Cards’ current starters have already had success here.

      I don’t know what Duncan will do, but he’s already said he’s willing to come back depending on the new manager and how well he can work with him.

      • Redbirds16 4 years ago

        As far as being able to afford Buerhle, I think he’d take a significant paycut to play in StL. Might as well see what it is. If it’s a 3 year $15 million contract, then I think that can be arranged. Especially with Lohse and Westbrook likely coming off the books after next year and Miller likely ready for the show in 2013 with Martinez right behind him in 2014 (the year Carp potentially retires?).
        As far as Duncan, all we can do is wait and see.

        It’s foolish to assume every starting pitcher on the Cards roster will be healthy 6 months from now let alone all of next year.

        • Lanidrac 4 years ago

          Yeah, right. Even at a discount, it would take a minimum of $8M a year to sign him.  Yes, we could afford him after 2012, but we can’t just blow away our 2012 payroll in anticipation of that.

          No, you can’t count on all the starters remaining healthy all season, but we have McClellan to fill in if necessary, and when they are all healthy, none of them would be happy in the bullpen.

  21. lefty177 4 years ago

    just wondering, who is Pujols’ agent?

  22. Kendall Adkins 4 years ago

    My 2012 Roster:

    Rotation:
    Wainwright
    Carpenter
    Lohse 
    Garcia
    Westbrook

    Bullpen:
    Motte
    Salas
    Lynn
    McClellan
    Rzepcynski
    Boggs
    Sanchez

    Main Lineup:
    1B – Albert Pujols
    2B – Allen Craig
    SS – Rafael Furcal
    3B – David Freese
    Catcher – Yadier Molina
    LF – Matt Holliday
    CF – Jon Jay
    RF – Lance Berkman

    Bench:
    Daniel Descalso
    Tyler Greene
    Tony Cruz
    Adron Chambers
    Mark Hamilton (not a huge fan, but cheap, and has shown glimpses)

    Without Pujols:
    Berkman to first
    Craig to right
    Keep Skip or Theriot for 2nd
    Jose Reyes at short

  23. Who ever wrote this must have been a cubs fan.  At the very least you did not watch a lot of Cardinals baseball before October

    • Kendall Adkins 4 years ago

      Are you referring to my lineup or the main article? If you’re talking to me, I watch 162 games a year and I know this team as good as any fan in St. Louis. If you’re not talking to me, sorry for the confusion. 

  24. skoz 4 years ago

    Your bench looks a little offensively inept.  None of those guys have proven they can hit dependably.  I think they have to keep either Skip or Punto, from a veteran standpoint, and also as a versatile bat.

    • gtl11 4 years ago

      Allen Craig has definitely proven himself. If we can’t find a way to work him into the everyday lineup he’ll be one of the best bench pieces in baseball. Probably the best 4th OF in baseball.

    • Kendall Adkins 4 years ago

      I’d have to agree with you on that point. But that’s why they are bench players, right? Everyone wants Allen Craig in the lineup, but then they complain when our bench is weak. It’s one or the other with the players we have. 

  25. Lanidrac 4 years ago

    Schumaker is NOT a non-tender candidate!  $3M or so is easily worth it for a guy who hits .290+ nearly every year with decent defense at 2B and can also play all 3 OF positions.  It’s tempting to start Craig at 2B every day, but his defense won’t stick there on an everyday basis, especially with our ground ball pitching staff.

    I don’t get why we turned down Dotel’s option. $3.5M is worth what he can still do, and he would’ve provided veteran experience in an otherwise extremely inexperienced bullpen.

  26. I stopped reading this guy’s article when he said Punto had a great 2011 campaign. You can’t be seriouss can you? Did you watch the Cardinals at all this year? Punto was hurt for the first half of the year and even after that, when he did play, he struggled horribly at the plate. In the 2011 playoffs he looked clueless at the dish. Sure, he’s a nice guy and I like Nick, but he does not deserve a new contract. Move along Nick, move along.

    • gtl11 4 years ago

      Skip Schumaker had an OPS this season of .685 and played horrible defense. Nick Punto had an OPS of .809 (6th best on the team) and played excellent defense. Where on earth did you get this idea that he had a horrible year at the plate? He had by far his best offensive season and was the Cardinals’ best hitting middle infielder. I’m not sure you and I were watching the same team…

      • DId you watch the playoffs? Cause I did and he was easily the worst at the plate next to Jon Jay.

    • $1639238 4 years ago

      “when he did play, he struggled horribly at the plate”
      Punto’s 128 OPS+ was higher than that of Ryan Howard’s.  He had a .388 OBP and a .421 slugging. I doubt he’ll come close to repeating it and it is limited to under 200 PAs, but still, I don’t think anyone in their right mind would say he struggled at the plate!

  27. Chris Greene 4 years ago

    Just as a note, in 8 seasons, Ryan Howard struck out 1207 times.  Pujols, in three more seasons, struck out a mere 704 times.  Even Prince Fielder struck out 779 times in just seven seasons.  Ichiro (an average hitter) has struck out 757 times in 10 years.  What games do you watch?

  28. Skip played horrible defense? 7 errors is not the best but its not to bad for an average 2nd baseman. Gold glove winner Brandon Phillips had 6 errors.  

Leave a Reply