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Cardinals getting serious with Westbrook

Talks between the Cardinals and righthanded starter Jake Westbrook are heating up, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

According to Rosenthal, the St. Louis front office is "making a push" to sign Westbrook before their exclusive negotiating period ends and he is eligible to become a free agent.

Reports out of Cleveland say that the Indians had hoped to sign Westbrook back as a free agent this winter. But they have all but given up on that idea because they are convinced that, if he doesn't sign with the Cardianals, Westbrook's exposure to St. Louis has convinced him that his priority is to play for post-season contender.

I like the aggressive move. Too often it seems like the Cardinals roll the dice that a player won't get an offer like they expect and that they'll come crawling back. But that doesn't seem to have worked very well in most cases. Especially before the economy soured, players the Redbirds professed to have great interest in hit the market and quickly priced themselves out of St. Louis.

That being said, the Birds need to be careful not to overpay. They bid waaaaay to high for Kyle Lohse in 2008 because they had so many holes in the rotation and had to have someone they could count on. While they signed Lohse before he hit the open market, the $41 million he got over four years is considerably more than what a lot of pitchers with much more impressive resumes have signed for since then. Hopefully they can ink Westbrook for two years at $15 million or less -- and then cross their fingers that he can stay healthy.

Westbrook was 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 12 starts with the Cardinals. He struck out 55 and walked 24 in 75 innings pitched.

Lohse will make nearly $12 million in each of the next two seasons. So the Cardinals need him to start pitching like he did before he got the extension.

It's a luxury to have five starters who give your team a better than average chance to win every time it takes the field. But the Cardinals still need to find at least one bat to hit in the fifth slot in the order to get the lineup up to par. And it needs to sign Albert Pujols THIS offseason.