Getting The Formalities Out Of The Way

John Mozeliak and Mike Matheny met the media yesterday for their traditional year-end session.  Let’s go through some of the points that they mentioned.

First, as expected, the Cardinals made a qualifying offer to Carlos Beltran, one they don’t expect he’ll accept.  It sounds more and more unlikely that the Cardinals will give him the longer-term deal that he’s probably looking for this offseason with all the options they have for right field, both current and future.  While they’d be glad to work around those if he came back for one year, they’d rather get the pick and have someone else pay that kind of money.

It’s a shame that it works out that way, because Beltran has been such a part of the team over the last couple of years.  He helped ease the offensive blow from losing Albert Pujols and I’m glad that Cards at least were able to get him into his first Series.  However, that’s the way of the older player nowadays.  Once you get started moving from team-to-team, you are lucky if you spend two years in the same place.  Beltran’s probably got one more decent contract in him, so hopefully he can find it somewhere and have success.

Secondly, Trevor Rosenthal is coming to camp as the closer next spring.  That’s also not a stunning revelation, given Rosenthal’s success in that late-inning relief role all year and the overabundance of young starting pitching the club has.  I am a little surprised that they were so open with that, though.  Rosenthal has made no secret of his desire to start and often the club will tell him (and players like him) to spend the winter preparing like they are going to be in the rotation.  That doesn’t seem to be the case this year, which is interesting.

As much as Rosenthal wants to start, barring a trade it would seem that ship has sailed.  If he spends all year next year in the closer role and is successful at it, it would be very strange to ever see him converted into a starter, no matter what team he is on.  Obviously it could happen, but it would seem unlikely he could ever be a top starter after that much time in the bullpen.  You can’t blame the Cards for doing what they are doing, but it is a little sad to see a guy not get the chance he wants.  Then again, if he ever gets to experience getting the last out of a World Series, it might be all worth it.

In the same vein, Carlos Martinez was told to be ready to be a starter next year instead of continuing in the bullpen.  With Jason Motte returning and the other arms that are there, it doesn’t hurt Martinez to do the “be a starter unless we need a reliever” bit.  Mo also said that we won’t see both John Axford and Edward Mujica next year, though there would seem to be a strong possibility neither will return.  Mujica was pretty much a given, since he was a free agent and, even with his late-season stumbles, probably priced himself out of the Cardinals’ plans.  Axford, if he returns, will likely be non-tendered and sign a new deal, since his current contract rates are too expensive for this bunch.

It was interesting to hear that Jaime Garcia was actually close to game-ready by the end of the season.  We heard about him throwing batting practice to Allen Craig to try to get him ready for the World Series, but I didn’t realize quite how far Garcia was coming along.  A number of articles have linked the Cards to David Price because this rotation “doesn’t have a lefty.”  Amazing how quickly a player can be forgotten, huh?  If Garcia is healthy you’d expect he’ll be the #3 starter next season, with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha ahead of him and some mixture of folks behind him.

Who will be in that mixture still is up in the air.  Matheny addressed the elephant in the room by talking about his usage of Shelby Miller during the postseason.  While it was similar to what we’ve heard before and both Mozeliak and Matheny reiterated they wouldn’t have changed their postseason roster knowing what they know now, Matheny seemed to indicate that Miller was on board with this and knew what the club was trying to do and understood it.  That was a marked difference from what we heard out of Miller right after the Series, when he was saying he was going to try to go home and understand it.

Communication sometimes is iffy with this front office.  I think they think that their message is getting across and the player knows what they are thinking and what his value is, but I’m not sure the player always does.  I felt like communication issues came into play in the Pujols negotiations and, from the outside looking in, that they have popped up from time to time.  Again, that’s a view that’s not fully informed, so it’s not necessarily the case, but if it were so, a couple of extra phone calls couldn’t hurt.

No surgeries planned, no position changes expected.  Just a nice, short offseason full of trade rumors and possibilities.  Mozeliak made some mention of not wanting to affect his depth during the winter, but it seems unlikely you can make the significant trade that is needed for this team without doing so.  Besides the fact that all of Matt Carpenter, David Freese, Kolten Wong, Matt Adams, Craig, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Martinez and Miller deserve a chance to be a regular starter.  That can’t happen if they are all still on the squad.

Moves are going to be made.  We look forward to seeing what they are!

  • Ben Chambers

    I had figured before yesterday that Rosenthal would be coming back as the closer next year. Motte is uncertain, and you don’t know if he’s going to struggle like Wainwright semi-struggled for a year coming back from Tommy John. You don’t know if he’ll still be able to hit 100 again lie he did before surgery, etc. I also feel for Rosenthal, but I hope that maybe after they see Motte is healthy, then the Cardinals can give him a shot to start in 2015. That’s my hope, at least. There’s too much depth in the rotation moving forward, though. Drafted two starters in the 1st round this year. Nobody’s even talking about Gast when he’s able to come back. Even without Gast, the Cardinals already have 7 starters for 5 spots.

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