Oct. 05, 2016
One Game Shy For Possible Postseason, The Cardinals Begin To Check Their "Honey-Do" List
If St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak went by crowd ovations and cheers for LF Matt Holliday, one line on his "Honey-Do" list would be checked off the next season. The 36 year old Holliday was informed last Friday his $17 MM option would not be exercised by the Cardinals organization. He was signed with the Cardinals at mid-season trade deadline in 2009, seven years at $120 MM. At that time, fans thought that was a crazy move. However, Holliday has been one of Cardinals MVP's, in my opinion.
The 2016 season was the first since 2010 the Cardinals have not made postseason. 2016 season which Holliday missed approximately a month and a half with a fractured thumb (HBP). Was his absence the sole reason the Cardinals did not advance past the final 162 game this regular season? No. Holliday, also, missed about the same amount of time in 2015 with a quad strain injury. IF in fact, a renegotiated contract can not be hammered out between the Cardinals and Holliday for the next two seasons, he may just remain in St. Louis. Otherwise, he will look to another team. He wants to continue to play and feels he has at least a couple of more good seasons left in him to do so. I presume Holliday's future will see him as a designated hitter for an American League team. When healthy, he does bring the threat of his power bat to the plate. And, I ignore the "Gratification Now" so called fans that are happy to see the exit of the solid and very good left fielder, Matt Holliday.
Therefore, from all indications, Mozeliak will still be looking for a replacement in left field that carries a strong bat. Holliday closed his eighth season with the Cardinals, .293 BA/.380 OBP/.494 SLG/.874 OPS with 156 HR/616 RBI. And, even being out for a portion of this season, in 100 games he had 20 HR/62 RBI, having his first to pinch hitting RBI in his career after being activated from the DL for the weekend series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he was not void of his own struggles this past season, he held a .246 BA/.461 SLG. On the flipside, what an audition for future considerations, coming off the DL, still having swelling issues in his thumb, slugging out a solo home run and a single for two PH RBI in his two games played this past weekend. He'll be back to true form once 100% healed, but where will he be next season?
Actually, according to such fans mentioned above, about 92% of our players should be scratched and build with the "new and shiny". Open the checkbook to "buy" paper numbers from elsewhere. Trade three - five of a teams best to obtain one player. I, on the other hand, contend this is a team sport, all players contributing the best they can; and, not "one" player is totally responsible for a win or loss. As we heard of different high dollar contracted players of the 2015 off-season, money does not buy absolute guaranteed great play. At the plate, on the mound; or, the open field.
However, now that the Cardinals do have two unexpected weeks of free time on their hands, Mozeliak will begin his overview task of this season. Per Mozeliak: "We didn't meet our goals. There's no other way to say other than it's disappointing," general manager John Mozeliak said after Sunday's season-ending win over Pittsburgh. "There's a lot of things we could talk about -- defense, base running or record at home. These things will have to be addressed at some level this offseason." (Foxsports.com) "Hopefully, can we can address the right pieces, whether it's in either trade or free agency, to improve on where we are today," he said. "We finished strong, but not strong enough."
PITCHING ~ TOP OF THE "HONEY-DO" LIST?
I would hope that, also, on the "Honey-Do" list is the Cardinals pitching issues. Had our rotation and bullpen been as strong as they were in 2015, along with a much improved offense this season, the Cardinals definitely would not have finished 17.5 games behind the first place Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals will see starter Lance Lynn return next season (12-11/3.03 ERA in 2015) from Tommy John's surgery. Adam Wainwright, 35 years old, will be back to see a much better season in 2017. Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes will be among the five starters, also. I don't expect the Cardinals to exercise a second option year ($11 MM/2016 - $12 MM/2017) to LHP Jaime Garcia. He will be a free agent in 2017; and I look for the Cardinals to allow him to walk. Mike Leake, 5 Yr/$80 MM, will be in the mix. However, with J Garcia gone, that leaves the Cardinals without a left handed pitcher in the rotation. Would a six man rotation be feasible?
Also, the bullpen. I look for Matt Bowman (R), Kevin Siegrist (L), closer Seung Hwan Oh (R, with renewed contract), Trevor Rosenthal (R), Miguel Socolovich (R), Zach Duke (L), Dean Kiekhefer (L); and, the return of Seth Maness (R) from his UCL surgery. I believe Luke Weaver, Mike Mayers and Sam Tuivailala will be part of the 2017 Spring training camp to vie for position. It will be a wait and see for Jonathan Broxton and Jerome Williams; both, in my opinion, are a "Wing and A Prayer".
CARDINALS BASEBALL FUTURE ~ ONLY TIME WILL TELL
As soon as the postseason closes, World Series October 25 - November 2, the business of MLB baseball will heat up. Until then, articles of presumption will appear as to possible moves the Cardinals may consider. Until then, I suppose watching NFL will be on my schedule. And, for some Cardinals fans, they will migrate to watch their St. Louis Blues hockey team as they have begun their season. So, for Cardinals Nation, the season of baseball has come to a close - a tad sooner than we had all hoped.