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Trevor Rosenthal could be the key to St. Louis Cardinals off-season

While we all wait to see what moves the St. Louis Cardinals will make to add talent from outside of the organization, one of the biggest potential improvements could come internally.

Much of the success of the 2015 edition of the team could hinge on which version of Trevor Rosenthal shows up at spring training in February.

The 2013 edition was a 100-mph-throwing intimidator who unfairly could toss an 83 mph disappearing change-up whenever he felt like it. He was the guy who half of the Cardinals fan base said was being wasted as a reliever because his four-pitch arsenal made him a better fit as a starter.

When the 2013 model Rosenthal showed up, the game was over. Not so much in 2014.

Last season Rosenthal was a guy who threw in the 96 mph range -- plenty hard enough to get people out if he located his offerings. But he didn't. The 2014 version of Rosenthal didn't trust his stuff or his command, seemed to lose focus too easy and too often.

I don't know if his problem was mechanical or between the ears. But the Cardinals need to get it straightened out.

Rosenthal was successful for more often than he wasn't. But he ran up his pitch count unnecessarily and faded down the stretch because of it. The Birds need to add a couple of pieces in the bullpen who can handle batters in the seventh and eighth innings. But they need Rosey to stabilize and become a dominant force once again in the ninth.

That's important not only from an individual standpoint. But it's a big deal from the big picture view, too. If Rosenthal can shrug off his sophomore slump, that's one less thing the Cardinals need to worry about when they construct the team. If they have to trade for or sign a closer, that's less resources to help the offense or other parts of the team.

Rosenthal seems healthy. Maybe he just had a bad year. But the Cardinals player I am worried about most this off season is the closer. 

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