What's next for the Cardinals?

11/5/13 in MLB   |   kphoeing   |   17 respect

Carlos Beltran is a hot topic free agent looking for a team.The St. Louis Cardinals' front office is back to work this off-season after their team lost the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in six games. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak and his crew are ready to go to the drawing board and take their shot at the off-season activities. A few of the Cardinals filed for free agency this past week. Players like Rafael Furcal, Chris Carpenter, Carlos Beltran, and Edward Mujica all filed for the Free Agent market. Carlos Beltran might be the most interesting one on that list, however, the Cardinals did make a qualifying offer to Beltran for a 1-year $14.1 million contract. He has 7 days to decide if he chooses to accept. If he does, Beltran will stay a Cardinal. If he doesn't accept, then Beltran is free to talk with other teams. 

At a press conference today, John Mozeliak said that he doesn't want to "close doors" on a Beltran return, but he does not expect the veteran right fielder to accept the offer. If he does not accept and Beltran does sign with another team, the Cardinals would receive a compensatory draft pick in return. 

Chris Carpenter doesn't look like he will sign with any team at all this postseason. In fact, the 38 year-old right-hander has drawn some speculation that instead of a retirement announcement, it may be likely that Carpenter will just fade into retirement through free agency. But that doesn't mean he will leave baseball. 

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mozeliak has expressed that he is saddened by the loss of Carpenter to free agency, but he also said that the door is open to discuss a role in the organization for the 38 year old. Does this mean that Chris Carpenter will play a role in the management staff in 2014? Well, we don't know, but if I had to guess that if Chris Carpenter does return to the organization wearing a different hat so to say, my bet is that he would come back as a pitching coach.

Now, I realize that Derek Lilliquist, who filled in for Dave Duncan who took a leave of absence for family reasons, is the current pitching coach, but I would not be surprised if Chris signs on as an assistant pitching coach. 

Chris Carpenter, who did not play this year due to injury, was always a presence in the clubhouse helping out and talking to the pitchers, especially the younger ones. He has outstanding leadership qualities, and I would imagine that we see Chris back in the MLB as a coach in the near future. 

One position that the Cardinals have expressed a need to rebuild at is shortstop. Current shortstop Pete Kozma hasn't quite fit the bill, batting only .217 this season with 35 RBI and ranked fifth on the team in strikeouts this year with 91. There are no immediate actions to replace him, but Mozeliak and Matheny have expressed a need to sure up that position. The Cardinals will be sure to take a good look at some free agent shortstops this year and if needed, possibly make a trade if needed.

There have been talks around baseball concerning possible players for the cardinals to acquire to fill that position. Some names include Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki, Red Sox SS Stephen Drew, and Rangers 2B Jurickson Profar.

In my opinion, Tulowitzki would not be a good fit. The 29 year-old can certainly hit for power, but also, he has been battling injury over the past few seasons, and I would not take a chance on him. Also, the Cardinals reportedly expressed interest this summer for Tulowitzki, but the price tag was too high.

Drew to me, is an impulse option. Yes, he is a good shortstop, and has filed for free agency, but I think that this is just an impulse speculation because the Red Sox beat the Cardinals in the World Series this year. Drew is 30 years old and hasn't shown much offensive prowess in recent seasons. The Red Sox have also made a qualifying offer on Drew. Honestly, I would pick Tulo over Drew.

Jurickson Profar to me is the best option. The 20 year old second baseman from the Dominican Republic has shown a lot of promise in the Dominican league and even played in 85 games this season for Texas. In those 85 games, Profar batted less than .250, but keep in mind, he didn't play everyday, and he has been playing in the DR winter league. I think it would be the wisest choice of these three players to invest in Profar. He has shown ability in the DR to be a big league player, and while he is still young, is able to be transitioned into a shortstop. Granted, I am not an MLB analyist and write articles on the side, but from what I have read and seen, Profar seems to be an MLB ready player and still has his best years ahead of him. We will have to see how this plays out. 

At today's press conference, it was made clear that Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Allen Craig, and Matt Carpenter are in ink in terms of having a roster spot next year. These are four guys who are crucial to the Cardinal lineup and guys whom the Cardinals will build their team around.

On the night of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series, the Cardinals had rookie pitcher Shelby Miller warm up in the bullpen. Miller was a starter this year and won 15 games in his rookie season. Miller had not pitched in a month and there was a lot of debate on twitter as to whether to put him in or not. Cardinals fans had been in debate for a while as to why Miller hadn't pitched in so long, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Bernie Miklasz tweeted:

"For everyone wanting Shelby Miller to pitch. No. Game is lost cause. So why risk injury to your No. 1 trade chip?"

At this time, the Cardinals were down 6-1 and Miller did not come in to pitch. But that certainly raised a lot of speculation as to if Miller would be dealt this off-season. At the press conference today, Mozeliak did not allude to whether Miller would be traded or not. Still, the thought of trading Miller makes sense in terms of that he did not pitch hardly at all in the postseason and players are speculated to be traded if a situation like this occurs. 

I am strongly against trading Miller, even if it means getting a top-notch shortstop. To me, Miller showed a lot of promise this year winning 15 games and he has already went through that whole "watching his innings" ordeal. With a little bit more experience, I believe that Miller has a strong chance to be a 20-game winner, and even possibly the Cardinals ace once current ace Adam Wainwright leaves (retires). Miller is a highly skilled pitcher, whom the St. Louis Cardinals have put a lot of time into developing him at both the Major League and Minor League level. 

Lastly, I want to briefly talk about my opinions on players that I believ leave the Cardinals this off-season. I think that 3B David Freese will leave in favor of Matt Carpenter. Kolten Wong will take over at 2nd base. Jon Jay will be replaced by Shane Robinson in center field. And finally, Carlos Beltran will not return if he demands more than a one year deal, and Allen Craig will take over at right if that occurs. 

Please feel free to leave me a comment or find me on twitter. 

Until Next Time,
-Kevin Hoeing

** I do not take credit for some information. I pulled info off of ESPN, the Cardinals website, stltoday.com, and a few twitter feeds. However, the opinions and some of the facts are mine. 
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