Cheap Seats

Cards more likely to improve through trade than free agents

The Cardinals have $15 million or more to spend this off-season, according to Matthew Leach of, but will likely look to the trade market to improve the team instead of trolling the free agent market.

Leach points out that nearly everyone of consequence on the roster is under contract -- or at least under team control - for 2011. For better or worse.

The Cardinals need to improve at the top of the batting order and in the fifth slot behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. But where would they put those hitters? Right field could be one destinations for a slugger with Jon Jay and Allen Craig holding down that spot in late 2010. But the market for outfielders has a high top and and large low end with little of value in the middle range.

I can't see the Cardinals bucking up for Carl Crawford when they already are shelling out big bucks to Holliday and they're probably (hopefully) going to make a big committment to Pujols soon. Jason Werth would be fantastic in right field. But he also will be too pricey for what the Cardinals have to offer.

The most valuable position player the Cardinals have to trade -- besides Pujols -- is Colby Rasmus. But, right now, I have Rasmus pencilled in for the second spot in the order. So, if he's dealt, you open as big of a hole as you potentially fill.

The moves the club makes may be more mild than some hope. At the very least, I would like to see it re-sign Pujols, re-sign pitcher Jake Westbrook and find an improvement at second base.