After a weekend of almost-official, the Cards made it official late yesterday, announcing they have come to terms with Jhonny Peralta, formerly of the Tigers and Indians, to play shortstop for them for the next four years. Well, at least to play for them for the next four years, whether he’ll be a shortstop by the end of the deal still remains to be seen.
Four years and $52 (or so) million is a fairly steep price, but to quote Terence Mann, “it’s money they have and peace they lack.” Even though this isn’t the biggest of big markets, right now payroll is the least of this team’s concerns. With a home-grown roster of cheap talent and an influx of television money coming their way (as well as to every other team in MLB), the financial portion of this is negligible. There are reasons to not like the deal, but money is way down on the list.
Should we hate on this deal? I don’t think so. Besides the obvious caveat of “In Mo We Trust”, it’s obvious that the offensive upgrade will be immense. It’s like the difference in Will Leitch writing this post versus when I write this post. (Hey, you did see that Will was my latest podcast guest, right?) Peralta brings a potent bat to a spot that had little production at all last year. When Matt Carpenter regresses next year, there are going to be a number of places that the difference can be made up and a large part of that will now be at shortstop.
Bernie Miklasz laid out the case for Peralta pretty well in his column at the Post-Dispatch. The defensive metrics seem to like him more than people that have watched him, but there’s no doubt that he’s going to be less of a fielder than Kozma was. That said, the difference on the offensive side is most likely much more than the dropoff on the defensive side.
The key everyone seems to be taking away from this is the fact that Mozeliak fixed two major weak spots–in all reality, the only two weak spots–and did so without moving Matt Adams or any young pitcher.
Is it the right thing, though? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Mo shipping these guys off willy or nilly or both, nor do I have a particular desire to see any of them off the team. Quite the opposite, in fact, but I just wonder where everyone is going to play.
Insurance is well and good, but when Oscar Taveras is ready–and that could be as early as Opening Day–you have the three-for-two situation we thought we’d see last year with Adams, Carlos Beltran, and Allen Craig, with Taveras playing the Beltran role (kinda). Yet all three of those guys are in a situation where they should be playing every day. If you can do a regular rotation with them, all well and good, but it’s a tough balancing act.
The same thing goes with the rotation. You have Adam Wainwright locked in, but then you have Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, Shelby Miller, Jaime Garcia (by mid-May, you’d think, at the latest) and Carlos Martinez. Seven pitchers for five slots. Again, you have to hedge against injury, sure, and there’s no guarantee on Garcia’s health, but is it fair to try to have one of those be that long man reliever that doesn’t pitch but every two weeks?
It’s not like you can easily move those guys to the bullpen. You already have Randy Choate, Kevin Siegrist, Sam Freeman, Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Keith Butler and a returning Jason Motte, and all that assumes you cut John Axford loose. It also doesn’t count a guy like Tyler Lyons, who could make a case for either the rotation or the bullpen.
It’s an embarrassment of riches, to be sure, and it’s a great problem to have. You would hate to trade off a couple of these guys, have some injuries happen, and have to play with lesser talent. I get that and, again, I don’t fault Mozeliak for making the moves that he did. I just have this nagging feeling that some of these guys are going to wind up collecting dust or spending time at Memphis that they don’t need to be spending. Sometimes striking while the iron is hot is the best move.
All that said, it sounds like the trade market for shortstop was ridiculously cost-prohibitive and you’d rather not see Mozeliak make a deal just to make a deal. Peralta didn’t cost anything but cash, he’s not blocking anyone, and by the time he might be, he could move away from short to other positions without much issue.
Of course, we thought we’d see a fun and active offseason and Mo filled out his shopping list in two days. Kinda kills the buzz going into the winter meetings, doesn’t it? Then again, Mozeliak can always surprise us–he’s proven that plenty in the past few days.