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Mozeliak’s seemingly minor moves pay big dividends

I was pretty disappointed that the St. Louis Cardinals didn’t add a quality starting pitcher over the off-season.

I was concerned about the durability of ace Adam Wainwright and youngster Michael Wacha. Now, Wainwright is out for the season. Wacha, is pitching great. But he is still likely to be shut down or otherwise rested to protect his shoulder at some point this season.

If the Redbirds would have signed a starter, they wouldn’t have to potentially give away talent in trade for one later.

But, while the area of the rotation remains a concern, I have to give general manager John Mozeliak a lot of credit for moves he made that I was unimpressed with at the time.

First, I had no love at all for the Carlos Villanueva signing. But the former Cubs hurler has been invaluable a long reliever with a 0.50 earned run average in 18 innings of much-needed relief work. He’s also managed to pick up three wins along the way.

The Mark Reynolds signing was questionable because he didn’t seem like much of an option as a utility player whose primary spot in the field was an already occupied third base.

Reynolds, known more for his strikeouts than anything else, batted .196 last season. But this year he has not only been very productive at the plate, he’s proved to be surprisingly capable at first base and in the outfield corners. He’s not going to win a gold glove. But Reynolds makes the plays an average fielder should make and he’s batting a very respectable .267 with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Meanwhile, last year’s surprise move, the signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta, continues to pay dividends.

Peralta is hitting .302 with six homers and 21 RBI while playing solid defense.

He’s had to carry a lot of the load in the middle of the order with Matt Adams and Jason Heyward both off to slow starts.

If the Cardinals can only find that solid starter to fill the innings gap lost when Wainwright went down, they ought to be alright.

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