Hey I'm new. I've been lurking for a while though.
Pitching is always good, and given the potential instability of the rotation next season, I'd say that one of the most important goals of the offseason should be to obtain a legitimate 2-3 starter. However, the middle infield is obviously the weakest area of the Cards' lineup, and I think most would agree that if we're going to be an elite team, we need to be better at 2nd and SS. While starting pitching is crucial, the middle infield is our most pressing need and needs to be addressed before pitching.
There's been a lot of chatter around here about getting a mashing shortstop or 2nd basemen via free agency (Furcal, O. Hurdson) or trade (Brian Roberts), and those are great ideas, if not really difficult of costly to pull off.
There's been a lot more talk about getting a SS than a 2Bmen (Roberts talk aside), so I got to thinking what would second basemen would be valuable and obtainable assets for the Cardinals, and Brandon Phillips is at the top of my list. Cincinatti is dunzo, and they'll be in sale mode pretty soon if they're not already. Phillips has been an elite defender this year, hits for reasonable average (.270's), high ops (.800+; currently 5th among NL 2bmen), great speed (14 steals and 5 triples), he's only 26, and he's signed pretty cheaply (I think something like $4 million/year) through 2011, with a club option for 2012.
It'd be cheaper (economically) to get Phillips than to chase Hudson or Furcal, and by saving the money there we would have more money to go out and get a starter in the free agent market. It would allow us to mildly satisfy two needs--weak middle infield and unstable starting rotation--instead of just super-satisfying one. In other words, Hudson, Furcal, or Uggla would be better than Phillips, and Sabathia or Sheets would be better than Phillips, but Phillips AND Harden/John Lackey/some other non-elite SP free agent would be better than getting just an elite middle infielder or elite SP. Agree/disagree? Can he even be had at the deadline?