Well, the season is over, and it did not go the way as many fans wanted. They wanted to see Albert and Yadi with big smiles holding aloft the World Series trophy. Then ride off into the sunset as the Cardinal legends they are. They wanted to see Uncle Charlie on the mound mesmerizing hitters. They wanted to see and feel the ultimate success they haven’t felt since 2011.
But, as we all know by now the Cardinals wh seemed to have all the indicators in their favor. Three games at home, a rested rotation, and a seemingly rested lineup as Oliver Marmol rested the bats of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt, and others. But when it counted the bats were silent and two games later Philadelphia was moving on and St Louis was packing their bags. So where does that leave us going into 2023? What are the weaknesses? What are the holes in the roster? Although the more important questions are What will the front office brain trust of John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch do about it? Will the DeWitts throw caution to the wind, and blow the rent money? This is part one of the Cardinal Hot Stove report
What are the needs
What do the Redbirds need? I have posed that question to my colleagues at Gateway City Sports and looked at a lot of social media sites. I have listened to podcasts and radio shows. And the answer is that there is no real answer. There are lots of different opinions out there about what is the real NEED of this team. One answer, in particular, seemed to describe how I think many fans feel. That answer was by Gene Bonds from Gateway City Sports who said "#1 should be aiming higher. If the mindset won't change then neither will the results. 90ish win, 1st-round bounce." Over the last few seasons that has pretty much been the case. It has been said by many people that the Cardinals are built for the division, not the post-season. Just enough to get in but not enough to climb the ladder.
Now while the Cardinal team is not blessed with superstars up and down the lineup the cupboard is not bare either. St. Louis has a lot of very good players(Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman, Rookie Brendan Donovan, Ryan Helsley, and newcomer Jordan Montgomery) and they are not far away from being more than just a division winner.
Ok, so Don, what do they need?
Here are my thoughts in order of importance.
1. A hitting CATCHER
Since 2000 St Louis has not had to worry about who was behind the plate from 2000-2004 it was Mike Matheny. he was just keeping the spot warm for when Yadier Molina arrived.
Next year will be the first year in a long time that catching is a question mark in St Louis.
Andrew Knizner has proven to be an adequate backup and part-time fill-in. The big question is can he go 135-145 games per season? John Mozeliak Cardinals President of Baseball Operations apparently doesn't think so. As he stated in his end-of-the-year press conference that the Cardinals would be in the market for a Catcher.
So with having been said, one would think a Catcher would be the number one need.
Overall in 2022 Cardinal Catchers hit .206/.261/.291, 9 HRs, 48 RBIs, 163 TB in 560 ABs
Now if you want some strange numbers Yadier Molina and Andrew Knizner and almost identical offensive seasons.
Molina .215/.234/.303 5 HRs 24 RBIs, TB 79 in 261 ABs
Knizner .215/.2995/.301 4 HRs. 23 RBIs TB 77 in 256 ABs
While Catching defense is a premium, The offensive numbers HAVE to be getting more out of that position.
Next, to me is the Outfield. After last year this did not seem like an issue with Tyler O'Niell, Harrison Bader, and Dylan Carlson on the team. The trio combined last year for 78 Homers and 195 RBIs. and two Gold Gloves. O'Neill coming off of his BEST year .286/.352/.560 34-round trippers and 80 RBIs and winning his second Gold Glove. Bader also came off a good season statistically .267/.324/.460 16 HRs and 50 RBIs, and getting a Gold Glove himself. Carlson also put up promising numbers .266/.343/..437 18 HRs and 65 RBIs. With them all still, in their twenties, the future looked good. But with a string of injuries to O'Neill, Bader, and Carlson having what I think and hope is a "sophomore slump" The outfield put up woeful numbers.
Cardinal Outfielders this past season combined for .243/.317/.398 54 HRs and 217 RBIs.
Cardinal Outfielders in 2021 combined .259/.328/.450 78 HRs 231 RBIs
Corey Dickerson after coming back from Injury had a nice second half .315/.337/.457, 3 HRs, 21 RBIs
Lars Nootbaar had a very nice July and August but like Nasdo, Goldy fell off a cliff in September. So as of right now, we have an OF of Tyler O'Niell, Lars Nootbaar, and Dylan Carlson. You could throw Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan in as part-time starters but it doesn't move the needle that much.
3. the ROTATION
left to right top to bottom Adam Wainwright by Ron Vesley via Getty Images, Jack Flaherty byb Norn Hall via Getty Images, Dakota Hudson by Bill Greenblat UPI, Miles Mikolas by Kieth Srakocic via AP, Jordan Montgomery via USA Today Sports, Steven Matz by Mory Gash via AP
The Cardinals started the 2022 season without the services of Alex Reyes and Jack Flaherty. (eerily similar to 2021). Dakota Hudson was coming off of injury himself and was inconsistent. Then you had newly acquired Steven Matz go down to a knee injury. Had it not been for Adam Wainwright and Miles Mikolas the rotation would have been doomed like the Titanic. This year though the Cardinal's front office learned its lesson. Enter Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery Two very big acquisitions that paid dividends.
But with Quintana being a Free Agent Now you have to wonder do we have enough?
There are some Like John Denton from MLB.com who thinks that the rotation is still solid. In a recent interview on my podcast (Talking Sports on the Bleachers), he said he figured Wainwright to be back(since that podcast it has been announced he has re-signed with St Louis.). He also figures Jack Flaherty to be "motivated" as he put it. He also likes Montgomery and thinks we have a starter surplus with Matz, Mikolas, and Hudson, Then you figure in Andre Pallente and Jake Woodford and there is depth. But I think I have seen this movie before. To quote Yogi Berra "It's like Deja Vu all over again."Whether they re-sign Quintana or make a trade I would like to see a true #1 starter be brought in.
Paul DeJong by Bill Greenblat via UPI Tommy Edman via MLB
Now we come to the SS position. However, here there is a definite upside. so why am I listing an upside as a need? Let's look at the numbers first
Over the Cardinal SS's hit .222/..284/.342, 12 HRs 58 RBIs 207 TB in 605 ABs
This was largely due to the poor season by Paul DeJong. .163/.246/.296 6 HRs 25 RBIs 60 TB in 203 ABs. He also struck out 76 times. His eventual replacement Tommy Edman did fair much better (hence the upside) he hit .262/.303/.376 5 HRs 25 RBIs.112 TB, in 298 ABs, and only struck out 68 times almost 1/3 more ABs, and still struck out less.
Plus Tommy is every bit as good (if not better) defender than DeJong. But there are upgrades out there. But which ones make the best fit? Or do we trust Nolan Gorman or a Gorman /Donovan platoon at 2B, which would essentially Keep Edman at SS for 2023? The Cardinals are going to have to make that decision
look for my next article as I explore the options and possibilities of what we could see from the St Louis Cardinals as the hot stove heats up on the Cardinals Hot Stove Report
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my podcast Talking Sports on the Bleachers it can be found on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and Google podcasts. Check out the website Talkingsports-otb-gcs.onpodium.com or follow me on Twitter @tsotbgcs. See you later!