Five pivotal players in the St. Louis Cardinals' offseason

USA TODAY Sports

When I was growing up my dad bought a string of System 7 Macintosh computers, and I was entranced by all of them. Not just the obviously fun stuff—the art program, the games, all of that—but the control panels and system extensions and all the other things I could read about in the first edition of Macs for Dummies. Changing the number of colors, messing with mouse tracking speed, ticking off different boxes in the Flying Toasters screensaver, all that stuff.

One of the things that seemed most Adult, in the someday-I-will-be-using-this-computer-for-very-important-business sense, was Labels. As an adult I realized almost immediately that they were completely worthless. At the time, though, the thought of having Hot, Cool, In Progress, and Essential files, all so important they needed to be color-coded—well, I was into that.

I'm not sure how useful labels actually are, basically, but for this week's league-wide Rotation post we're using these five, and they work fine for our purposes.

Must Keep

It's fun to consider the player you'd get in trade for Oscar Taveras, but it's not fun to consider trading Oscar Taveras. Anyway, everything that makes the trade even a little palatable—the lost year in Memphis, basically—is going to make him less valuable to whoever would be trading the Cardinals a shortstop in return. There are questions to ask about Oscar Taveras, but they aren't existential.

Should Keep

Shelby Miller is going to keep confusing you. His stuff isn't as striking as Carlos Martinez's or Trevor Rosenthal's, and he was a little difficult to find during the postseason, and any time a pitcher's season ends that way it's easy to become consumed by visions of Anthony Reyes's fastball and changeup rapidly catching up to each other.

But Shelby Miller is also coming off a rookie season that exceeded any reasonable expectations the Cardinals might have had for it; after spending a season in Memphis fishing a lot of promise out of an awful start he delivered on nearly all of it. J.J. Hardy is basically the ideal shortstop for the 2014 Cardinals; it's a credit to the year Shelby Miller had that there wasn't a talk-radio insurrection when the Cardinals laughed in the Orioles' face after they reportedly asked for him in return.

Neutral

There are trades you can set up for Matt Adams that will probably make sense after you've explained them to me, and that is probably the highest endorsement I can give any hypothetical blockbuster trade in a year where the Cardinals' best bet seems to be enlightened boredom. Trading Adams puts added pressure on the health of Taveras and Allen Craig, but it's a move the Cardinals could theoretically weather in exchange for a genuine shortstop.

Should Trade

This is the Offseason of Enlightened Boredom, and the Cardinals don't really have to trade anybody; if ever there were a time to sit back and overpay a little for Jhonny Peralta et al, it's this winter. But having made a very brief case against trading David Freese a while back I'll admit that I understand the case for it, too.

The Cardinals should trade David Freese if they're confident in Kolten Wong and they're able to get value, and not just positional flexibility, in return. You don't trade David Freese because there's no need for him, you trade David Freese because there's so much need for the player heading back to St. Louis in the deal.

Must Get Rid Of

Walt Jocketty, who might be using his increasingly unwieldy collection of ex-Cardinals to engineer a dramatic Busch Stadium team store heist.

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