While the Cincinnati Reds haven’t been too active this off-season, with the exception of re-signing a player or extending others, what have the St. Louis Cardinals, second-place finishers in 2010, been doing? About the same thing as the Reds, actually.
The Cardinals re-signed their mid-season acquisition Jake Westbrook, giving them a projected 2011 rotation of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. That’s a solid rotation, although not without its questions, especially in terms of staying healthy for both Carpenter and Lohse.
As for the team’s offense, which seemed a bigger issue in their season-ending collapse, the team has added Lance Berkman, apparently to play left field. Berkman last played left field in 2006. He last spent significant time in the outfield in 2007.
The team also traded for former Chicago Cub Ryan Theriot to take over shortstop duties for Brendan Ryan, who pissed off Chris Carpenter several times last year because he was more relaxed than the uptight pitcher. Theriot is slightly better at the plate and slightly worse in the field, so this particular move is unlikely to bring any overall change to the team, other than to make everyone even more careful around the holy Carpenter.
Of course, the biggest news concerning the Cardinals has been something they have yet to do: sign Albert Pujols to an extension. His current contract runs out at the end of the 2011 season, and with the crazy money free agents who are far less capable than Pujols, he stands to make a metric crap-ton of money.
Jayson Stark had a nice article examining the Cardinals Pujols situation last week. The Cardinals are facing some payroll issues.
They already figure to be on the hook for about $68.4 million, just for six players, in 2012, assuming they pick up options on the nearly equally indispensable Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Now if you add another $30 million for Pujols, they’d be closing in on $100 million for just 28 percent of their roster — this for a team that had a $113 million payroll last season.
That’s a tough place to be. I’ve seen a team who devoted an unseemly high percentage of its payroll to one player. That didn’t end well (2000-2008 Reds, I’m looking at you). The Cardinals are going to have to increase their payroll, get very creative with contracts, or look at a future without Albert Pujols.
I have a hard time envisioning the latter, as do most Cardinals fans, I’m sure, but it’s one that would make me happy.