We continue our look around the Major Leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis made arguably the biggest move this offseason. But they didn’t stop there. So for this piece, we examine the State of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Nola Arenado Trade
Trading for Nolan Arenado was a stroke of pure genius by the St. Louis Cardinals’ front office. We covered the Arenado trade in much greater detail in our video on the Laracuente Ledger Network on YouTube. (Nolan Arenado TRADED to St Louis Cardinals.) Adding Nolan Arenado to the Cardinals roster improves them on both sides of the baseball. Firstly, and most obviously, it improves their defense at third base. Over the past few seasons, the Cardinals haven’t had the best defenders at third base. But by implanting Arenado at the position, the defense improves.
But Nolan isn’t just an all-glove/no-bat man. Nolan Arenado is one of the best offensive threats at third base as well. I personally listed Nolan Arenado as my Top 10 Third Baseman Right Now. (Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now.) Bringing in Arenado at third and already having one of the best first basemen in Paul Goldschmidt gives the Cardinals (arguably) the best corner infield in the game.
Trading Away Dexter Fowler
Now, over the course of the few teams that we’ve covered on the “States of” series, we haven’t mentioned players lost. And mostly because it’s about what the team will look like in 2021 and not looking back at the past. However, the moving of Dexter Fowler is significant. Moving Fowler out serves two purposes. The first being it clears a spot. The St. Louis outfield will now likely consist of Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, and Dylan Carlson. The Fowler trade’s second aspect is also about clearing a spot, and that’s a spot on the 40-man roster. Something which is a hot commodity in today’s game. This move will give the Cardinals more flexibility and thus is a positive move for the Redbirds.
Resigning Adam Wainwright
Adam Wainwright has been a staple of St. Louis Cardinals baseball for the last 15 years. And while Wainwright isn’t the same pitcher he once was, he’s still a valuable Cardinals asset. Wainwright can serve as an on-field pitching coach but also mentor to the younger Redbird pitchers. And also, not to mention being able to give Adam Wainwright a proper send-off with the St. Louis Cardinal fans. Plus factoring in the fact that it’s only a one-year deal for $8m plus incentives, and it was an offer the Cardinals and Wainwright couldn’t refuse.
Resigning Yadier Molina
Much along the line of Wainwright, resigning Yadi serves multiple purposes. We can echo the sentiments about a proper send-off for fans. And we can, even more, echo the mentorship capabilities of Yadier Molina on the next Cardinal catcher. But we would be remiss if we failed to mention what Yadi does for the Cardinals pitching staff. Molina is a catcher that pitchers love throwing to because of how he receives. Molina is also a master at controlling the running game and calling a ballgame. Much of what Yadi does feels incalculable as defensive metrics aren’t the greatest. But there’s little denying just how valuable Yadier is defensively.
Offensively, Yadier hasn’t quite been the same player as he was a few seasons ago. However, Yadi is still more than capable of putting together grueling at-bats. And when you take the whole package of what Yadi does, you get a much clearer image of his value to a team, and more specifically, the Cardinals.
State of the Rotation
When it comes to the Cardinals rotation, Adam Wainwright has quietly become vitally important. The Cards young pitcher Dakota Hudson underwent Tommy John surgery last September and will be unavailable to the Cardinals in 2021. And so bring in Waino was crucial. Wainwright will join Jack Flaherty atop the Reedbird rotation and will be followed up by Kwang Hyun Kim. But rounding out the Cardinals rotation are serious questions.
Many projections about the back end of the rotation speculate that Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas will man those final two rotation spots. And while these names may seem reliable, there are health concerns. So if the Cardinals are to maintain the positioning as the proverbial favorites in the National League Central, acquiring more reliable starting pitching is critical.
State of the Bullpen
The St. Louis bullpen has some enticing names in it as well as some unknowns. However, this balance will aid the Cards in 2021. Names like Jordan Hicks and Giovanny Gallegos are intriguing pitchers. Not to mention seeing if a bounce-back season is in store for Andrew Miller. The Cardinals bullpen is poised to help this team win games in 2021. As with the adage and applies to all baseball teams, you can never have enough pitching. And if the Cards were to pursue another verified arm for the back end of the bullpen, they would truly be solidifying their position.
State of the Defense
As we mentioned a moment ago, the Cardinals’ team defense improves by having Nolan Arenado. But Nolan isn’t the only defensive plus on this team. Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, and Tommy Edman are just a few of the Cardinals plus defenders. St. Louis should have a solid core defensively, allowing them not to lose many games over silly defensive woes.
State of the Offense
When the Cardinals set out this offseason, they were arguably on par with three other NL Central teams. The Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, and Milwaukee Brewers were all about at the same level as the Cardinals. However, the acquisition of Nolan Arenado makes the Cardinals’ offense arguably the best in the division. Yes, there is competition in the National League Central. And the division will likely come down to the wire before being crowned. But when the dust settles, and the smoke clears, the St. Louis Cardinals should find themselves on top.
Final Thoughts on the State of the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis is now going into the 2021 season as the favorites. It may not be by a hugely wide margin, but they are the favorites. The acquisition of Nolan Arenado truly places the Cardinals in the “going for it” bucket of teams. But they aren’t without their own set of issues. Adding more pitching, mostly starting, will be necessary to separate themselves from the pack in the National League Central. If the Cards can find some more pitching help, they will find themselves once again the class of the NL Central division and back in the postseason.