When Tony LaRussa agreed to come back in 2011, I wonder what his demands and recommendations to John Mozeliak were? Although I think the Cardinals need some speed at the top of the lineup, I’m not so sure they are going to get it or where it would come from. Mo said at the end of the year that he would like to add some more power to the lineup, and that’s fine, but where will that power be placed? The Cardinals have spent 2 years trying to make Skip Schumaker a 2nd baseman. Brendan Ryan won’t win a gold glove for the 2010 season, but mainly because of his offense. Jon Jay came back to earth after a hot start, but still hit .300 for the year.
RF, 2B and SS are the only positions I see the Cardinals trying to make an upgrade. I can’t see them leaving Ryan’s glove on the bench and not giving him another year to get it together offensively. I think the Cardinals want to see what they have over a full year with Jon Jay, along with Allen Craig, so I don’t see RF changing. The only place I see an upgrade probable to occur is at 2B. That is assuming that Colby Rasmus isn’t traded, which I hope won’t happen and I don’t think will, but you have to raise the possibility because of his problems with LaRussa.
Looking at free agent second baseman, Orlando Hudson would have led the way in my mind before I looked at the stats. He may still be an option because of his defense, but offensively he isn’t that much of an upgrade over Skip, especially if Skip can come closer to his 08-09 stats. For a 162 game average in their careers:
Player HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS
O. Hudson 12 67 9 .280 .346 .424 .770
S. Schumaker 6 40 5 .291 .349 .383 .732
I honestly would have thought you would have gotten more speed out of Hudson, and I’m not sure why I thought that way now. Juan Uribe and Jose Lopez might bring in the extra power, but Uribe has a career .300 OBP and Lopez is at .297. Based on the fact that Mo said they wanted more thump in the lineup, my guess is that Mo will try and make a trade for someone. I don’t know if Dan Uggla is a real possibility or how much it would cost to get him, but it’s hard to see a lot of options if 2B is a position where the upgrade is intended.
My best guess is that Mo is going to make a push to bring back Jake Westbrook to have some rotation stability, move Skip to the 4th OF position and sign or make a trade for a 2nd baseman. I think it’s possible the Cardinals try to start the year with the same team. We all hope for David Freese to be healthy all year and for a return of better offensive years from Skip and Brendan Ryan.
I don’t know if the Cardinals can win in 2011 with the same team they had at the end of 2010. It’s also hard to gauge the impact of Ryan Ludwick’s departure and the arrival of Jake Westbrook. I think Cardinal fans are going to find out though. Maybe the Cardinals start the year with what they have and play and wait and see game, possibly making a big move at the trade deadline. I do think having Westbrook over a full year will solve a lot of problems.