The Cardinals have publicly said that they are interested in bringing John Smoltz back with a chance to be the team's fourth starter and that they would likely rely on the kids to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.
This is a position that is reasonable... IF the team spends the cash it has to bring back Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa or suitable replacements. But, with General Manager John Mozeliak on the interview circuit talking about plans B, C and D if the offensive big guns don't come back, I am starting to get a little nervous.
The free agent pool is dangerously shallow on the offensive side. So, if Plan A fails and Holliday and DeRosa take an expensive walk to another team, wouldn't it make some sense for the Cardinals to keep their options open and possibly spend some of the giant pile of cash they saved when Holliday, DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Kahlil Green, Joel Pineiro, Todd Wellemeyer and Rick Ankiel took their millions elsewhere on bolstering the pitching staff?
If the Cardinals have a mediocre offense with no true clean-up hitter and young players filling slots in the line-up on an everyday basis, it's going to be tough counting on a 42 or 43-year-old Smoltz and a rookie du jour every fourth and fifth game. It's going to be even tougher hearing the Cardinals talk about building from within as Albert Pujols looks on impatiently...
We have already heard that rookie David Freese is going to be the third baseman next season... so, of the $35 million or so the Cardinals have to spend, they have theoretically ponied up about $5 million for Smoltz and will spend the MLB minimum on Freese, and the fifth starter. So where is the other $29 million to 30 million going to go?
It is simply not acceptable for the team to claim what it did in 2007: That there is money to spend, but just no one worth while to spend it on.
Maybe all the talk about a completely unproven rookie in the rotation and not getting a veteran to compete for the third base job is disinformation designed to conceal the Cardinals' real plans. I sure hope so, because it seems like the team is putting itself into an all or nothing situation in left field.
It would be unlikely for the Cardinals to get into a bidding war for Holliday. But do they have a choice but to spend big bucks on a second offensive superstar? What else is going to satisfy Pujols that the team is really serious about winning? The only other option I see is to pour even more money into the rotation and try to win 2-1 every day.