I'm happy to argue with the particulars, but the outlines of MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agents list are a good guide to the potential boredom that awaits us during the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason. It's simple: the Cardinals aren't as desperate as they were the last time they lost the World Series, and there's not a lot for them to lie in wait for, anyway.
I shouldn't give the impression that this is a bad thing. It's a good thing; when the Cardinals get desperate after losing to the Red Sox in the World Series, bad things happen. These Cardinals aren't desperate because they're good, and their window looks to remain open longer than it does for most World Series near-misses; they aren't desperate because they don't really have a lot that needs immediate attention.
And because they don't have a lot that needs immediate attention, we will be left to sleep through much of the free agency and trade-rumor seasons. For the second year in a row the Cardinals' offseason has been launched by a free agent good enough to get a quality offer who is probably also a little too impractical to resign.
Anyway, by the time you get to a player on that list that the Cardinals would definitely be interested in signing it's Stephen Drew, who just got a qualifying offer of his own. He's basically Rafael Furcal, only the skill he flashes when he's healthy is triples power and not base-stealing. Shortly after that you'll find Jhonny Peralta, who's coming off a fine run with the Tigers (and who didn't get a qualifying offer.) After that I have it on good authority that the next shortstop is just Rafael Furcal.
Jhonny Peralta is a big improvement on what the Cardinals stuck themselves with last year, and if the last thing you remember about him is that he was moved to third base a few years ago and nobody seemed surprised by it you'll be pleasantly surprised. But he's also pretty far into his thirties for a slow middle infielder. (And he's probably looking for a multiyear deal now that he didn't get offered a one-year deal, which is the kind of thought process free agent compensation incubates.)
Our sister blog DRaysBay is doing a series about noted trade chit David Price that's touching on every team in baseball, and when it got to the Cardinals I--well, I kind of felt bad for boring his readers so thoroughly. Because there's just no chance; not only does it not make sense for the Cardinals, it resists hypothetical trade scenarios. It does not heat the stove.
David Price the shortstop? We're in business. But in free agency, especially, he doesn't exist. Much of the uncertainty that will decide the Cardinals' plans for 2014 is already built into the plans; it'll have much more to do with Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez than it does anybody they acquire from the outside.
Which, of course, is the goal. These Cardinals are a pleasure to watch during the season and a delight to follow up through the minor league system. But the better all that goes, the more we need to be prepared to talk for six months about one guy who thinks Asdrubal Cabrera is out in Cleveland and whichever Japanese shortstop I rapidly become obsessed with. (You can even reactivate your Aledmys Diaz Google Alert.)