St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak compiled nothing short of a what could be considered a perfect offseason.
After coming up short in the World Series last year, Mozeliak signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta to shore up a position that resembled a revolving door since 2007. Veteran second baseman Mark Ellis joined the Cardinals to solidify the middle infield and bench. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Cardinals have a speed threat in outfielder Peter Bourjos. Bourjos has the potential to platoon center field with incumbent outfielder Jon Jay.
It's Feb. 1, and it seems the roster is all set. The Cardinals will rely on the rookie relievers to replicate their 2013 success with no major offseason moves to better the bullpen. Presuming no injuries or other signings, it appears the Cardinals are ready for opening day in Cincinnati, chomping at the bit to reach the ultimate goal for a twelfth time.
So what do the Cardinals still need to figure out?
I would like to address the bench. If we say that Wong and Ellis will platoon second base and Jay and Bourjos platoon center field, you're looking at six spots with starters locked in. With the platoon players, you already have the aforementioned four players. National League teams tend to carry five bench players. So far, it appears the bench will be (counting platoons):
Well, it seems the ENTIRE roster isn't set yet.
You can't leave Tony Cruz off the roster as you need a backup catcher (even as durable as Molina is). Descalso, Bourjos, Jay and Ellis will make the opening day club, and though Wong could be a wild card, he seems to be the starting second baseman against righties.
There are candidates on the full 40-man roster for this final lucrative spot. As MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reported, no one on St. Louis' 40-man is out of options, creating flexibility.
A few birds having one year remaining, others two or three. Outifelder Shane Robinson and shortstop Pete Kozma have more major league experience than many of the other candidates. Scott Moore, a corner infielder who hit 12 home runs in 79 games for Houston in 2012, is the only "veteran" on the non-roster invitees who could turn heads but faces some competition. Outfielder James Ramsey has drawn comparisons to Skip Schumaker, an integral member of the Cardinals bench for years. Then, there's that Oscar Taveras kid people keep talking about.
With more infield depth available at the moment, it seems the Cardinals may want to go with an extra outfielder whether as a defensive replacement for Holliday or a backup plan to Craig if his foot injury starts nagging again. I would take Shane Robinson knowing this is his last option year. Outfield depth is key, and Peralta expects to man shortstop for the next four years, leaving Kozma with less and less playing time.
But I'd like to ask the readers: if the roster plays out as I have described, whom would you have for that final spot? Robinson? Taveras? Kozma? Moore? A wild card? Cast your vote below, and we'll see who wins in real life on March 31.