The St. Louis Cardinals came into this offseason in a rare situation, as in not favorites to win the National League Central anymore. The 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs are clearly the team to beat in this division, and that should frustrate general manager John Mozeliak. However, he deserves credit this offseason. For the first time since 2010, the 2016 Cardinals, with a record of 86-76, missed the postseason, only by one game of a Wild Card spot.
With the key additions of Brett Cecil and Dexter Fowler so far this off-season, John Mozeliak has already improved this team. Two of the Cardinals’ obvious needs was a center fielder and left-handed reliever, and Mozeliak successfully addressed those needs. He also made the right decision in the Dexter Fowler deal by sticking with the free-agent route for a center fielder and not trading a haul of prospects for Adam Eaton.
While there may be some frustration for not signing Edwin Encarnacion in an attempt to seriously challenge the Cubs, I can’t fault John Mozeliak here because Encarnacion is more suited in the American League as a designated hitter. Whether the Brian Dozier rumors are true or not, this has still been a successful off-season for the Cardinals. While the fans may not believe it, John Mozeliak is listening and reading what people are saying.
In one of the weakest free agent classes I can remember, John Mozeliak was still able to make this team better, and that’s all you can ask for. Yes, this organization has a lot of money now and it could be frustrating not to see them strike the big deals, but maybe, just maybe, Mozeliak is waiting until the 2018 free-agent class, one of the best ever, to cash in.
The starting rotation should have a better season than 2016, because it couldn’t get any worse. We’ll never see the starting rotation as good as the 2015 season, but expect the 2017 pitching and defense to come back to normal. The home record should also come back to normal. Last season was the first time they had a losing home record since 1999. I think that’s fair for it to be considered a fluke year.
The necessary moves John Mozeliak has made this offseason has improved this team to contend for a Wild Card spot. That may sound underwhelming, but it’s reality. No move this offseason was going to put the Cardinals over the Cubs, but I still see St. Louis as a playoff caliber team. There’s nothing wrong with settling for a Wild Card spot, because anything can happen once you win that one-game playoff, as we’ve seen before.
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