Looking back and moving forward

The 2012 Cardinals didn’t have it easy. They lost a Hall of Fame manager and first basemen, they were plagued with injuries all year-long, and relied on rookies to keep the ship afloat. Of course it’s disappointing, but the 2012 season wasn’t a failure. With another season in the books let’s look back at 2012 and look towards the future.

I think Mike Matheny did a good job, but he certainly has a lot of room for improvement. He took over a team in great shape. Coming off a World Series title and a bright future. Matheny handled the media and locker room very well. There wasn’t any type of off the field distractions. He had the same attitude towards the media after a win as he did with a loss. However, he wasn’t perfect. I thought his use of the bullpen was fine, but I had issues with his bunting strategy. I am not the biggest fan of the bunt. Even if I was, I’d still find his decisions questionable. He chose to bunt with players that, well, let’s just say they’re no David Eckstein. Of course you bunt with the pitcher, but second and third bunts with no outs, and a position player at the plate is just stupid.

The merry-go-round at second base was a bit comical. After Tyler Greene was traded, it was clear that the favorite was Daniel Descalso. Despite Skip Schumaker’s superior hitting, Matheny insisted on starting Descalso. I, like many others, were frustrated with this. That whole second base situation would be much better if they just picked a guy and stuck with him. Descalso had a good postseason while Schumaker rode the pine.

Much like second base, the bullpen had a lot of moving parts. Scott Linebrink and J.C. Romero were essentially total failures and the desperate move to sign Brian Fuentes never worked out. They would try two young left handers in Barrett Browning and Sam Freeman. Despite showing glimpses of hope for the future, they both weren’t ready for the big leagues, at least not yet.

The bullpen eventually found their stride after a couple of make overs. The acquisition of Edward Mujica proved to be yet another wise move by John Mozeilak. He did a great job mending the gap from the middle innings to the Boggs’ controlled eighth inning. Trevor Rosenthal went from the AA rotation to the MLB bullpen and boy did he impress. The flame throwing 22-year-old was a great asset out of the pen and could have earned a full-time gig with the big league club.

The Cardinals were overwhelmed with injuries. Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, and Jon Jay were among the many that missed signficant time. The Cardinals lack of depth at some places was exploited (shortstop) and their abundance of depth at others was showcased (starting pitching).

Going into the offseason, the team is still in good shape. They find themselves with great talent at both the major and minor league levels, but there is room for improvement. Here is a list of things (in order) I want to see the Cardinals do in the offseason:

  1. Get an elite shortstop, preferably right-handed.  Rafael Furcal is under contract, but unfortunately his health has deteriorated. It is clear he will not be able to play as many games as you need a starter to play. I think they should get an everyday shortstop and use Furcal off the bench or you could trade him if need be.
  2. Ink Adam Wainwright to an extension. With Carpenter at the end of his outstanding career, Waino is the ace going forward and he needs to be signed for the long-term.
  3. Sign a left-handed reliever to a short-term deal. Like I said, I don’t see Browning or Freeman as big league ready just yet, so sign someone to bridge the gap until they are.
  4. Acquire a right-handed hitting center fielder. Get someone who can come off the bench and someone who can give Jon Jay a rest so Beltran doesn’t have to play center…ever. Shane Robinson does an OK job, but I’d prefer a veteran.
  5. Trade Skip Schumaker IF there’s a good return. Skip has fallen out of the second base position battle and Matt Carpenter does a great job as a utility man. You can never have enough depth, so don’t force anything, but if the right deal comes along, pull the trigger.

One more thing, gimme the Giants in six. Tigers have a better team, but it’s all about the momentum and I don’t know if they can ever lose at home.

-Zack

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