While it’s obvious that having excellent young players is an asset — especially when they’re controlled at an affordable price for many years — there is a second way they help the team: they give the Redbirds a strategic compass.
Last year at this time I complained that the Cardinals weren’t especially good at anything. While their failure to make the playoffs a third consecutive year proves the team doesn’t isn’t good at enough things. But, knowing the club can fall back on a wealth of young hurlers allows the team to focus on fixing one part of the team — the offense — instead of trying to do a little something in every department.
You can’t fix it all at once. But if your pitching is ok, you can leave that alone and spend all your resources on position players. It’s like if one thing is broken on your house — you can fix one thing in a weekend. When it’s got five things wrong with it, you sort of get overwhelmed.
I think the fact that they had so many needs the last three years has hurt the team because that’s decided the attention of the front office and caused then general manager John Mozeliak to spring for some less than ideal solutions to problems. Dexter Fowler, for example.
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The Cardinals have all the support players in place. Pitchers. A deep bench. The team even has a couple of good backup catchers. What it needs is a core player to anchor the middle of the offense. It’s a big need. But it’s easier to acquire when the team can go all in on one thing.
Will it be Manny Machado or Bryce Harper? I don’t know. But the Redbirds have the pieces to get what they need by trade if they can’t get it on the free agent market.