The 2016 season is ending with something that Cardinal fans haven’t experienced in a while: no baseball in October. With that, our off-season is starting now.
There are quite a few things that the Cardinals need to address.
- There needs to be a leadership change. I’m not saying fire Matheny, although I wouldn’t be against it. As I’ve said over the last few years, he makes a lot of mistakes that most managers make in the minors, before they are on the big stage.
If Matheny stays on, bring in a bench coach with managing experience – a Davey Johnson/Larry Bowa type. They can coach Matheny on in game management, which is where he’s lacking his knowledge. It also appears, at least to me, that he’s surrounded by yes men; his pitching coach needs to help him with bullpen management.
And replace Mabry already. Every offense under him has been one dementional. Clutch hitting with runners in score position, check. On base teams, check. Power hitting team this past season, check. But they’ve never been able to have a well-rounded team of hitters.
- Find a position for Matt Carpenter. Once you set Carpenter, you can set the rest of the team. If he’s your first baseman, you can decide the future of Matt Adams. If you throw him as your regular third baseman, you can see if there is a market for Jhonny Peralta. Second base? See if Kolten Wong has any value.
Carpenter is the key right now. I’d say first base is the spot where he’ll provide the most value to the team, while also starting a package to bring something back. A team needing a cost-controlled DH might be willing to take Adams in a deal.
- Mozeliak needs to address the bullpen in the winter. Every year, Mozeliak has to make a deadline deal for a relief pitchers. Zack Duke. Jonathan Broxton. Steve Cishek. John Axford. Edward Mujica. Octavio Dotel. All those players have costed us a talented outfielder (Charlie Tilson for Duke), 2 hard throwing relievers (Kyle Barraclough for Cishek; Michael Blazek for Axford), a world series (a package led by Colby Rasmus for Dotel and others), and 2 we could write off (Malik Collymore for Broxton; Zach Cox for Mujica).
Really, outside of the Rasmus/Dotel deal, what did we get for small pieces of the future? Mujica was a good deal. Cishek and Axford cost us pitchers we could be using now. Tilson probably would have been a September call up (and got injured in his first game with the White Sox).
- Upgrade the outfield. With Matt Holliday leaving and Brandon Moss probably not being retained, there will be at least one opening in the outfield; and that’s with the idea that the Cardinals believe Randal Grichuk is an everyday player (And I don’t). Charlie Blackmon and Ian Desmond are the first 2 guys Cardinal fans mention to help.
I don’t know if they are the answers, but they’ll both come at a cost. The Cardinals have the pieces to make a deal for someone. Adams is expendable if you move Carpenter to first. You have some young pitching depth that can be moved. If the team doesn’t have Grichuk penciled in, then he’s probably going to be available.
- Eat the contract of Brayan Pena. I won’t lie, I liked the Pena deal when it was struck. But injuries and the emergence of Carson Kelly have changed my view on the deal. Pena didn’t make it possible for Matheny to give Yadier Molina a few extra days off this season; in fact, it was the opposite.
Kelly took a step forward at Springfield and Memphis. His receiving skills are just about MLB caliber and his bat actually looked decent. I don’t think the power will ever develop like the organization hoped when he was drafted, but he won’t be a void on offense.
Bringing him up as the backup next year will give him at least a season to work with Yadi to become his heir and would allow the team to rest Yadi a little more.
- Bye bye Broxton. I commend him for his time here, but it’s time to use someone else in his place. Michael Wacha probably can’t make it through a season in the rotation with his shoulder, so he’s an obvious candidate to take his spot. Then there’s the Memphis guys – Michael Mayers, Sam Tuivailala, Dean Kiekhefer, and a few others. Miguel Socolovich is a guy that deserves more time in the bullpen.
As long as Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver start the season at Memphis, then I’d allow a free agent pickup. Both these kids have work to do before they should be called upon. Reyes needs to work on his control and Weaver has some work to do on his secondary pitches.
Really, this isn’t too much to ask for; this is just the beginning of what they need. They could find a way to get Jedd Gyorko into the everyday lineup. They could decide that Aledmys Diaz could be a better option at second base than shortstop (or at least Mike Leake is hoping so). They might believe Tommy Pham is expendable with Jose Martinez and Jeremy Hazelbaker on the 40-man. It’s hard to tell what the Cardinals will do. I do know that they are poised to get back to the post-season after missing out.