The Cardinals might not spend a bunch of money this off season on flashy sluggers or dominant starters.
But the team needs to be sure to invest in an area it has neglected over the past couple of seasons and find at least one or two decent relievers.
The Birds have a prolific offense and a starting rotation that could be dominant if Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are healthy. Their depth in their pitching gives them a nice cushion if Carpenter and Wainwright aren't 100 percent. So this team ought to be competitive as is -- as long as it doesn't continue to field a stable of relievers who consistently blow games in the last three innings.
I presume the Cardinals will bring Edward Mujica, who is arbitration eligible, back for another season after he arrived from Miami to fill a gaping hole in the middle innings. So that takes care of the right side. but this team needs at least one -- and maybe two decent lefties.
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Last season Marc Rzepczyski was consistently terrible -- which is odd because he seems to have a lot of talent. He was dominant at times in 2011. But it 2012 he was hit like a drum and the Cardinals seemed reluctant to use him in just about any circumstance.
I'd like to think the Cardinals could turn Rzepczynski around. But if they don't feel confident they can, they need to cut him loose in favor of a more reliable player.
I believe at least two of the hard throwing kids -- Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller and a couple of other guys -- could end up in the bullpen. But the Redbirds need to mix at least a couple of steel-nerved veterans in the relief corps to make sure the team has reliable options to turn to at key points of games.
There's not a whole lot from which to choose on the free agent market. If the Cardinals can't fill their holes there, they need to look into making a swap to add a high quality lefty to the pen.