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Cardinals criticized for Peralta signing, but it could have been much worse

The St. Louis Cardinals were criticized in a recent CBS sports report that claimed the signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta was one of the five worst free agent pick-ups of the 2013-14 offseason.

Peralta is only hitting .239, which the CBS piece points out is well below his batting average with the Detroit Tigers last season. But he leads the Cardinals in home runs with 11 and has been an awful lot more productive than the guy he replaced, Pete Kozma.

Might I suggest the Cardinals didn't expect Peralta to hit .303 again because that number is 37 points over his career average. Peralta hit the exact same .239 in 2012 and has only hit .275 or better in four of his 12 MLB seasons. So comparing him to last season's numbers isn't exactly a fair expectation.

I wonder if the pundits would have been more pleased if the Cardinals made the more obvious move and, instead of signing Peralta to a four-year, $53-million deal, they inked Stephen Drew to a longer contract that paid more money and cost them a compensatory draft pick.

Drew, who was considered to be a better player both offensively and defensively than Kozma, has been terrible since signing a mid-season deal with the Boston Red Sox. He's batting .136 in 66 at-bats with a .174 on-base percentage. He's struck out 19 times and walked three.

Peralta's clocking in at 3.4 wins over the imaginary average replacement player while Drew is averaging half a win UNDER the average replacement player.

In a vacuum the Peralta deal might seem ridiculous. But he's been better than advertised for the Cardinals, in my book. And his presence is what puts the Cardinals in position to make a big deal that could put them over the top in the National League Central race. Otherwise, the team would have had to deal top prospects to get a guy like Elvis Andrus or Asdrubal Cabrera who are also having disappointing seasons.