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Peralta deal still leaves the Cardinals room for improvement at shortstop

While I am still struggling to embrace the Johnny Peralta signing, one thing I've learned to like about it is the future flexibility.

Peralta, while he isn't a great shortstop, is completely capable of playing third base if need be. That means if the shortstop market improves at some point during his four-year stay in St. Louis, the Birds could still find a place in the starting lineup for his bat (or to justify his salary, depending how you look at things.)

Matt Carpenter, who many expect to play third base in 2014, could move back to second to create room. Or either Carpenter or Peralta could play the outfield corner in a pinch. In the short term that could help the Cardinals if they have an injury. But over the long haul it could keep them from suffering the effects of a slowing, mid 30s-aged, pudgy guy stuck in one of the most demanding positions in baseball.

I had hope that the Redbirds would find a true lead-off hitter with base stealing speed as they tried to improve at shortstop and centerfield. Then they could move Matt Carpenter down to the second spot and really get things moving at the top of the batting order. But neither Peralta or outfielder Peter Bourjos seem to fit that bill. In fact, I'd guess that they'll end up batting seventh and eighth next year if the Birds don't make another significant move.

I would be very surprised if the Cardinals pulled the trigger to get a guy like Elvis Andrus at this point of the game. But I could see them pick up a player in the second or third year of the Peralta deal who can play short and move Peralta over to third.

Some national reporters have suggested that perhaps the Cardinals would deal rookie second baseman Kolten Wong for a better defensive shortstop. But I think that's pretty unlikely based on GM John Mozeliak's high and low search for a trade before he opened the vault for Peralta.