Don't panic...this isn't really a bad thing at all. While considering the 2009 roster recently, it occurred to me that this is a very real possibility. The Cardinals have a significant amount of cash coming off the payroll after this year, and I don't really see much chance of them re-signing any of their free agents.
Let's take a quick look:
- Jason Isringhausen - $8M
- Mark Mulder - $7M
- Juan Encarnacion - $6.5M
- Braden Looper - $5.5M - It's possible he could be re-signed, but I wouldn't do it.
- Kyle Lohse - $4.25M - There's a slim chance, but I don't think the Cards really need to spend $40M ++ on this guy
- Russ Springer - $3.5M - Russ is getting up there in age, I think they'd be pushing it to get another solid year out of him. Especially at 4M +
- Cesar Izturis - $2.85M - He's been great with the glove and mediocre with the bat (as expected). I don't think any of us will be demanding he gets re-signed, nor do I think he will be.
- Jason LaRue - $.85M - While, I have enjoyed having him and the porn stache on the team, I wouldn't pay him a million dollars for probably about a half-season until Anderson is ready to be called up. I think he can be replaced with another less expensive disposable back up catcher.
Also, Jim Edmonds is currently being paid $2M by the Cards this season, so between these 8 players, that's $40.45M coming off. Now, factor in salary increases for several players and the imminent re-signing of Aaron Miles, and this comes to roughly $30M...at least $25M, anyway.
So let's see how the roster shapes up without these guys around.
First of all, I demand that Skip Schumaker be converted to 2B. He's a former infielder, a good hitter, and he's getting pushed out of the everyday OF with Rasmus on the horizon. I think he'd be able to make the transistion and this would form a really solid platoon with Miles (Skip is batting .349 vs. Righties and Aaron is .316 vs. Lefties - though lefty seems to be his "power" side). I also think that David Freese should be given an opportunity to win the "Speizio" role coming out of spring training if given a little time at first and in the OF. As far as the OF is concerned, Mather, Ankiel, Ludwick and Rasmus get the bulk of the playing time while Jon Jay and Brian Barton battle it out for 5th OF in spring training.
So far the position players look like this:
- 1B - Albert Pujols
- 2B - Skip/Miles
- SS -
- 3B - Troy Glaus
- C - Molina
- OF - Ankiel, Rasmus, Ludwick
- Miles - 2B/SS
- Skip - 2B/OF
- Mather - OF
- Freese - 3B/1B/OF
- Jay/Barton - OF
- Scrub backup/Anderson - C
SO...basically all we need this offseason is a starting SS and a scrub back-up catcher.
Now the pitchers:
Carpenter, Wainwright, and Wellemeyer (per Mozeliak in recent radio interview) are locks for next years rotation. You'd have to figure that Piniero will be penciled in based on his salary. That leaves one open spot. My idea would be to have a good ol' fashion competition for the 5th starter's spot between Kyle McClellan, Jaime Garcia, and Jess Todd. If Todd wins, K-Mac and Jaime are bullpen bound, if Todd doesn't win he goes to Memphis and the other guy goes to the pen. My money would be on Jaime to win out. If Pineiro sucks, Todd or K-Mac could be moved back in.
Which leaves us with a starting staff of:
The bullpen is kind of a mess right now. We won't have a lefty reliever going into the offseason, unless you count Flores or Villone, which I do not. Thompson makes a better starter than a reliever, but I don't really know if has a spot on the team other than "spot starter" or "long relief for Pineiro". Jason Motte looks like he'd be able to make the jump. I would hope we see him in September. I refuse to include Tyler Johnson or Josh Kinney in this discussion; if they come back effectively, it will be a bonus. I would quit using Franklin in the late innings and go with a Motte-McClellan-Perez set up. Franklin can be switched to the Thompson role, since he has so much starting experience anyhow.
Here's what I've got so far:
So basically we need 2 lefties and a righty for the pen.
Which leaves at least $25 million to get a starting SS, a scrub catcher and 3 middle relievers. I'm sure a lot of fans will be up in arms if payroll decreases by $1, but I don't view this as a bad thing. It means our player development system is working, something that we aren't all too used to just yet.
By the way...in that same radio interview Mo stated that he wanted to pursue a veteran starter. I think we know how this story ends...5th starter competition in ST, which is why I included that part of it....but I also don't think its a bad idea and it would be really exciting to watch.