Alright Cardinal fans, I promised you a hot stove article and here it is!
If I were Walt Jockety this offseason I would (of course I mean besides walking around saying "Hi, I’m a genius" all the time):
- Sign Barry Zito. I realize that just about every other team in the league wants to sign Zito as well, however, the Cardinals have a new stadium, just won the World Series, and have about a million free agents this winter so we have the money to spend. Unless a proven bat (someone like Manny or Miggy Cabrera becomes available via trade, I want to see nearly every free agent dollar sunk into pitching. We can lure Zito with our regular "We have the best fans in the game" routine (which is true by the way), we have enough money to make a respectable offer, and we’ll have the added bonus of move #2….
- Re-sign Mark Mulder. Sure other teams are interested. I read today on The Rumor Mill that the Diamondbacks, Orioles and even Mets are interested in Mulder. However, if you were a pitcher, what coach would you rather have working with you, than Dave Duncan? Only the Orioles in Leo Mazzone can compete in that aspect. Also, we could give Mulder an incentive laden deal so that if he performs well, he gets paid appropriately rather than trying to low-ball him. And lastly, if we could reunite Mulder with Zito in a rotation that features Carpenter, Zito, Mulder, Reyes and a pitcher to be named later, don’t you think that would be an opportunity Mulder would jump at? I do.
- Keep Jim Edmonds. Not long ago I was saying that Jimmy needed to retire. He looked old, hurt, and like he wasn’t have much fun. Then came October and Edmonds looked revitalized and energetic. He led the team in RBI’s in the post season and was an invaluable leader in the clubhouse. Buying out Edmonds contract would leave the Cardinals having to replace him using less than 7 million a year. I just don’t see anyone out there (unless you’re going to trade with Atlanta for Andrew Jones) that I would rather see roaming the outfield for us.
- Re-sign Jeff Weaver. Again, this is a lot of free agent money going into our rotation. But, with Wainwright in the bullpen, and the rest of the young pitchers we saw grow into their roles this post-season, I think we can afford to spend heavily on our rotation, and skimp on the ‘pen. So we need a 4th or 5th starter for a decent price. Why not go with a pitcher who saved his career under the tutelage of Dave Duncan and has already expressed an interest in returning to the club? I think Weaver is probably the only free-agent pitcher we have that will give us the so called "home town discount". We should take advantage of that.
- Re-sign role players. Aaron Miles and Scott Spezio played integral roles on the Cardinals this season. With all my money going into pitching there isn’t going to be enough left to re-sign Ronnie Belliard who already has several suitors. The double play combination of Eckstein and Miles will only get better by spending another year together. Spezio will serve as a cheap insurance policy on the recently injury plagued Scott Rollen and can also back up Albter Pujols. Plus, we all saw what Spezio can do with the bat in the post-season.
My 5 moves are not going to be inexpensive by any means, but if the Cardinals want to become the first repeat champions since the New York Yankees, it’s not going to come cheap. Cardinal Nation… what do you think?