CardinalS Winter Warm Up #2: The Comings and Goings

Posted: December 7, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
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Of all the contenders entering this offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals were the most complete on what they would look like headed into the next campaign. While they are not concrete everywhere, there were very few questions about who would be representing the club where in 2013.

However, as is always the case, there is business handle and to move on from. The Cardinals came into the offseason with three succinct needs, and one of which they made a top priority to handle at the General Manager’s Winter Meetings: a left-handed reliever. However, two exiting Cardinals have provided much worth to the free agent market due to what they provided the Cardinals throughout their two consecutive pennant push seasons.

Here are the impacts of the departing, and currently incoming Cardinals’, and where the team stands both with, and without, them…


The Comings…

Randy Choate: Per the John Mozeliak, Choate was the club’s number one target on the free agent reliever market. The commitment he received in a form of a three year deal at age 37 shows how important he was to the team’s projection and needs. He’s one of the most successful left-handed specialists in the majors over the last two seasons, with lefties swinging to the tune of a .156 average versus him in 2012. He’s the essential matchup pitcher, totaling just less than 40 innings in 80 appearances last year.

Former Yankee, Ray, Dodger and Marlin Choate brings balance to the pen and new match up potential.

Former Yankee, D’iamondback, Ray, Dodger and Marlin Choate brings balance to the pen and new match up potential.

He’ll be called upon to be the matchup option that wasn’t available last season, and force Mike Matheny to put a pretty straight forward and predictable combination of Edward Mujica-Mitchell Boggs-Jason Motte (all right handers) against any batter that came up. Choate will be a strong matchup representative in a division with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Garrett Jones and the infamous Pedro Alvarez. Also, it lowers the boom on Marc Rzepcyzski, who is better used in early scenarios now and is better in situations where a right hander could be in the mix.

All in all, Choate gives the Cardinals a chance at a complete bullpen from day one for the first time in roughly two years.


The Goings…

Kyle Lohse: It’s been a surprisingly easy move on from the most dependable pitcher for the team over the last two years. He won 55 games in five years for the club, including an average year of 15-6, with a 3.11 ERA and 200 innings in 32 starts per season. That’s tough to replace, but also tough to pay as well.

The prime reason that Jake Westbrook’s option was activated and extended in September is the foregone conclusion that Lohse would not be able to fit into the team’s pay rate. He could be in line for a annual income in the neighborhood of $13-$15 million per year over five seasons. With the effort to resign Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter showing he could make a return to the rotation, as well a surplus of young starting arms on the verge of breaking through, taking the cheaper veteran option in Westbrook was the more positive spin in.

However, if the young arms don’t come through and either Carpenter or Jaime Garcia’s health re-emerge as issues, his departure could be the most impactful the team has felt in years.

Lance Berkman: After an unsteady year that featured several unsuccessful attempts to return from leg injuries, Berkman’s deal ended with no chance of a return. This is due to the emergence of Allen Craig and looming presences of Matt Adams as much as anything. Carlos Beltran showed that his centerfield days are over, so time share that was tough to fit Berkman/Craig/Beltran into last year still remains as a potential issue if he was retained.

Ultimately, that’s not a problem. The risk (and price) for Berkman are too high to be a bench-only/part time contributor in St. Louis. On the open market, he’s a prime DH candidate for any number of clubs, including a return to the now AL West inhabitants, the Houston Astros.

Kyle McClellan: After tearing his labrum and missing the majority of the season, the return of McClellan was already a foregone conclusion. The talent level of the bullpen rose significantly across the season, and combine in his raise due to via arbitration, and his non-tender was a foregone conclusion.


For more on the Cardinals winter of additions, subtractions and the unknown in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and the CHEAP SEATS column at The Sports Fan Journal.


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