It’s almost that time, Cardinals fans. Pitchers and catchers have reported, the first spring training game is in nine days, and the regular season is right around the corner. With the offseason coming to an end, how well did the Cardinals do?
Everyone has heard it. “The Cardinals are cheap. They’re too afraid to pull the trigger. They’re content with losing.” But are they really? It’s been a terrible offseason, you say? We missed on Giancarlo Stanton and signed Bud Norris following the Cubs signing Yu Darvish. DOES THIS TEAM EVEN CARE? Pipe it, casual fan.
Let’s start with early on in the offseason, the aforementioned Giancarlo Stanton. Wow, the Cardinals are so bad he didn’t even want to be on the team. But is that really their fault? One could argue their lack of making moves in the past contributed to that. But when you’ve spent your whole career in Miami, Florida, does St. Louis, Missouri sound appealing to you?
Stanton is in a win-now mindset. Spending your career with the Marlins will do that to a guy. At the end of the day, the Yankees have a much better shot to win now than the Cardinals. St. Louis offered him the moon as far as money goes and the fish wouldn’t bite.
So how did the Cardinals respond? Pretty well, most fans can agree. Shortly after missing on Stanton, the Cardinals traded for another Marlins outfielder, Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna brings a power bat and a legit 4th hole hitter. He had 37 home runs last year, the majority of them coming in a non-hitter friendly Marlins Park.
They managed this trade without giving away Jack Flaherty or Alex Reyes, which I thought was huge. Magneuris Sierra will be missed, he was really fun to watch. Aside from him, they also sent pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen and Daniel Castano. Those are pretty good young guys. But for Marcell Ozuna, it almost seems like a steal.
This is where many Cardinals fans lose interest. This was the only “big” move of the offseason. How boring! Why couldn’t we get Manny Machado? Why couldn’t we get Josh Donaldson? I think trading away every valuable, young asset for guys we can just pay with the money we have next year sounds like a great plan!
Seriously, pipe it. No, aside from Ozuna, the Cardinals didn’t add any big names this offseason. But have you seen the free agent pool for next year? Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Andrew McCutchen, just to name a few.
“Well, if they’re waiting until next year that must mean they don’t care about winning a World Series.” Should that really be the focus though? Of course the team wants to win the World Series but when they haven’t made the playoffs the last two years, is that priority number one?
Lance Lynn’s void was filled with Miles Mikolas. He really comes with a big question mark. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2014 for the Texas Rangers where he posted a 6.44 ERA in 57.1 innings. However, he’s seen great success in Japan since then. He posted a 2.18 ERA in three seasons there. He’s certainly not the best option, but they added a late rotation guy with some promise.
The Cardinals shipped away Stephen Piscotty to Oakland in a classy move. He was an expendable guy that is now closer to his mother. They also got a decent return for him. Infielders Yairo Munoz and Max Schrock fit into the top 11 Cardinals prospects this season.
Speaking of expendable, St. Louis cut ties with Randal Grichuk as well. You can see my take on that trade here. Judging by the way Grichuk handled it, he left with a little bit of a sour taste in his mouth. He essentially said he felt as if he needed to do too much to get into the lineup. Might work for some guys, but not Randal Grichuk. I’d say swinging at pitches that didn’t even reach home plate probably found him on the pine.
With getting rid of him, the Cardinals got Dominic Leone who will be a stud out of the bullpen. He’s likely going to be one of the more reliable pitchers out of the bullpen this season, being a closer would be nice, but I can dream. He provides much more to the team than Grichuk would have. Goodbye, Randal.
Along with Leone, newcomers to the bullpen will be veterans Luke Gregerson and Bud Norris. Mo announced at the Winter Warm Up that Gregerson is looked at currently as the closer, much to the chagrin of Cardinals fans. But a lot can change from now to April.
Not player related, Jose Oquendo is going to be back in the third base coach’s box this year. Willie McGee was added to the coaching staff. The lazy play we saw at points this past season will certainly die down.
Did the St. Louis Cardinals make a big splash this offseason? No. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have a good one. The coaching staff is better, the lineup has more power, the bullpen is better, is the starting rotation better? Debatable, but I think a guy named Alex Reyes would like to throw his name into the hat sometime this season.
So what are we all crying about? 2015 was a change for us all. The Cardinals are not the dominant team they once were. It’s time to step off the pedestal and realize the team still has a ways to go. Going from missing the playoffs two years in a row to winning a World Series is very unrealistic and not the most important goal. What’s important is improving and working to get back there one day. The St. Louis Cardinals have done just that.