I was just sitting here thinking about the Cardinals 3rd base problems and it made me think of Adrian Beltre. Then I thought of how awesome the lineup would look with him in it...and that kind of snowballed into me thinking about Brad Penny's contract....and so on...so I decided to to come up with a best-case scenario for the Cards going into the 2010 season.
So let's assume for a moment that all salary figures and stats would be exactly the same if the players were with the Cardinals.
1. Sign Adrian Beltre (1 year $10 million) - .336/.372/.570 20 HR's 75 RBI. Upset over his recent arrest for DWI the Cardinals trade David Freese for some minor leaguers. Salary increase of $9.6 million.
2. Sign Kelly Johnson (1 year $2.3 million) - .286/.374/.498 17 Hr's 52 RBI. Hesitant to give Schumaker a multi-year contract extension (2 years/$4.7 million - 2010 -$2M, 2011 - 2.7M), the Cardinals decide to trade Skip for some minor league talent. Salary increase of .3 million for this season.
3. Sign Brett Myers (1 year $5 million) - 3.21 ERA, 157 innings, 119 K's/47 BB's, 1.22 WHIP. A bit put off by Brad Penny's contract requests (1 year/$7.5 million + 1.5 million in performance bonuses), the Cards take a gamble on Myers. Salary decrease of $4 million with the assumption the Cards were prepared to pay $9 million for Penny.
4. Sign Will Ohman (1 year 1.35 million) instead of re-signing Trever Miller (2 years/$4 million). Really this is only marginal improvement, but its saves a few bucks and Ohman is 4 years younger than Miller. Salary decrease of $.65 million
5. Sign J.J. Putz (1 year $3.1 million) - 1.72 ERA, .82 WHIP, 46 K's/8 BB's. Decline Ryan Franklin's option and don't re-sign him (2 years $6.5 million) - 3.60 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 27 K's/6 BB's. Call me crazy, but I like a guy who can get some strikeouts in the 9th inning. Salary decrease of $.15 million.
6. Don't sign Felipe Lopez (1 year $1 million) or Jason LaRue (1 year $950,000). The Cards would not have needed Lopez if they had more certainty at 3rd base. Save some money and play T. Greene as the 3rd middle infielder. As for LaRue, this is just purely a cost-cutting move. They can get similar production from someone else (Anderson, Pagnozzi) at league minimum. Salary decrease of $1.15 million.
Also lets assume all other roster moves play out similarly: Mather struggles, Cards sign Winn. Lohse hits DL - cards use Hawksworth and later sign Suppan. Jay breaks out - Cards trade Ludwick for Westbrook. Cards sign Miles...etc.
New Lineup: Jay, Johnson, Pujols, Holliday, Beltre, Rasmus, Molina, Ryan
New Rotation: Wainwright, Carpenter, Myers, Westbrook, Garcia
Bench: Craig, Winn, Miles, Anderson/Pags, Greene
New Bullpen: Ohman, Reyes, Boggs, Motte, McClellan, Hawksworth/Salas, CL- Putz
Total salary difference comes out to be around $4 million higher for this season.
Of course, these moves would've made less sense in the offseason.