NOTICE TO POSTERS - READ THIS FIRST: THIS ARTICLE IS NOT SAYING THAT OF IS A PRIORITY NEED, OR THAT THE CARDINALS SHOULD SEEK OUT AN OF OR TAKE ONE AT THE EXPENSE OF A HIGHER PRIORITY NEED (SP, SS). BUT IF THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF TO ADD A POTENTIAL IMPACT OF, THERE IS ROOM ON THE TEAM FOR SUCH A PLAYER.
I know, I know, I know. Those who despise debate are saying. You will make a cursory statement that "We dont need another OF." Save your time, dont make the post. I am aware that the Cardinals seem to have a nice assortment of OF as it is. But, I think that the team needs to explore ways to improve, and some creativity is required.
If the right kind of guy can be had, I think a compelling case can be made that we could use another OF. Last season, in at bats spread between Ludwick, Duncan, Edmonds, Ankiel, Encarnacion, Taguchi, Schumacher, and Preston Wilson, the Cardinals OF took a total of 2046 at bats.
Gone from that total is Tagushi, Encarnacion, and Wislon. That opens up 654 at bats.
Projecting to next season, assuming the Cardinals OF get a similar number of plate appearances, there seems to be some room for another OF possibility. Duncan should get about 450 at bats, which was the pace he was on this past season before struggling with injuries late in the year. Keep in mind Duncan's limited ability versus lefties when considering this number. Edmonds got 365 last season, a number which his inefficiency demands be reduced. But, constrained by TLR loyalty, I think it is fair to pencil Edmonds in at about 300 at bats. Ankiel is one area where we need to see an increase in opportunities. For the sake of strengthening my argument, I will presume that we see a heavy dose of Rick and that no suspension will come down the pike over the HGH thing. That being said, pencil Rick in with 500 at bats, which would place him number 2 on the team in at bats, second only to Pujols.
So, to do the math, invested in our starters are 1250 at bats. Remaing at bats would be split currently among Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumacher. Last season, Ludwick was our top PH and spot starter in the OF, netting 303 at bats. I am of the opinion that he was very well used at that he should be used in a similar fashion. He provides nice PH pop and his adequate defense and ability to play both corner OF spots provide him with good value as a spot starter. Projection for next season: 350 at bats.
UPDATED TOTAL AB's - 1600
REMAINING AB - 450
The remaining guy is Skip Schumacher. 450 AB seems like a lofty goal for Skip. I would be happier seeing Skip with about 200 AB. Dont get me wrong. Skip performed very well last season in his time with the club. He logged 177 AB's and was a pleasant surprise offensively. His defenses is solid as well. Skip has value to this team because of his ability to play CF. In short, Skip is a cheaper and better So Taguchi.
This being said, I feel that if the opportunity comes before the Cardinals, I think it is worth a shot to acquire another OF. I know the team has said they feel set at the position. But, there are reasons to be concerned. Edmonds health, Duncan's rapid decline in power over the last 1/3 of the season, and Ankiel's alarming K total and poor average throughout his minor league career.
I am not suggesting the Cardinals seek out an OF or demand one via trade. But, if the opportunity comes along to acquire one, I feel there is the opportunity present for such an acquisition to improve the team.
I would not be opposed to a swap of unrealized potential, Anothony Reyes for Rocco Baldelli. THere is likely to be reaction on both sides of the coin for this, too little return or too optomistic a trade goal. But, the reality is that no one knows Reyes trade value right now.
Baldelli is blocked in CF in Tampa by BJ Upton, who appears to be going no where. The Rays hope to upgrade their pitching this offseason and have a dearth of top pitching prospects in their system.
Most of you feel Reyes should be spun for a SS. But, to acquire a SS with better potential than Ryan might take more than Reyes. And middle IF guys seem to be overvalued this offseason (as evidenced by the discussed swap of Jacques Jones for OMAR INFANTE).
Baldelli would improve the team by providing another pinch hitting option and by providing some flexibility during the season. Having Baldelli around would allow the Cards, if need be, to spin Duncan for pitching and still have a productive OF. Baldelli has the tools to be a strong pro OF, with a strong contact bat and good arm. Injury risk comes along, but I would rather see a guy like Baldelli with a big ceiling come in than a mundane middle IF prospect.
Back to the at bats, there would be about 250 AB available under my projections. With strong performance, that total could increase.
It does crowd the bench. Presumign an 11 man pitching staff, there are 6 slots on the bench. 1 to a backup catcher, 1 to Spiezio (1B and 3b backup), 1 to middle IF backup (Hoffpaurer for example). Three would remain for the backup OF (Ludwick, Schumacher, and ?Baldelli?). Better to have 2 IF and 2 OF backups, but I'd rather see Baldelli on our bench than Aaron Miles.
Think about it. Again, keeping in mind that we need to take steps to improve whereever the opportunity lies.