Apparently it's official. The Cardinals are now the proud owners of the services of disgraced performance enhancing drug cheat Jhonny Peralta.
If there is any good news its that the contract is "only" for four years and $52 million. I think that's a ridiculous amount for a player of Perata's pedigree and current status. However, rumors circulated Saturday night indicated that the deal might be for five years and considerably more cash. So I guess it could have been worse.
A fifth year is a big deal for a guy who is 31 years old. It would also be very disturbing if we ever had to listen to the Cardinals Gm explain that the team would have liked to re-sign Shelby Miller or Trevor Rosenthal. But it couldn't afford to because it had to pay a 36-year-old shortstop $15 million.
I keep hearing how huge of an upgrade Peralta is over 2013 St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma. Yeah, Peralta hit .303 last season in which he only played 107 games. But he's only a .263 hitter over his 11-year career. In his most recent full season in 2012, he was a .237 hitter. Is 25 or 30 points of batting average worth $12.5 million a season? Not to me. Especially when Peralta isn't exactly known as a great defensive shortstop.
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The Cardinals haven't solved their shortstop problem as much as they've committed to a long term relationship with a different set of problems.
From what I have heard so far, Cardinals fans don't seem to be overwhelmed with the signing. So what happens if Peralta gets off to a slow start? Fans will start to assume that his past successes were because of steroids and they'll resent his big money contract. It's important to St. Louis fans to like the players that wear the home team's uniform. And Peralta isn't going to make anyone forget about the character of Stan Musial. The Tigers, by several accounts, didn't know if they even wanted Peralta back last year for the playoffs after his PED suspension was completed. That speaks volumes to me.
But, at least the Cardinals were able to upgrade their outfield and address the shortstop issue without dipping into their surplus of pitching or even giving up a draft pick. I don't like Peralta. But what I do like is that St. Louis GM John Mozeliak sent a message to his peers that he's got other options and he's not going to be held up by ridiculous trade demands.
I also like that Mozeliak's moves -- including the trade of third baseman David Freese for former Anaheim centerfielder Peter Bourjos -- give the team a lot more flexibility than it had over the past two seasons.