While the St. Louis Cardinals stick their head in the sand and refuse to do anything to take advantage of the slow free agent market, the Milwaukee Brewers made a move Sunday to make themselves better for the 2019 season.
After already picking up former Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit 24 home runs last year and had a .349 on base percentage in 2018, they re-signed third baseman Mike Moustakas on a one-year deal for $10 million. He hit 28 homers and drove in 95 runs for the Brew Crew last year, helping them to win the National League Central Division. Meanwhile, Redbirds front office leader John Mozeliak doesn’t think there is anything the Birds can do to make their roster better.
I get that there are a lot of spots on the 40-man that are clogged up with young players who may not contribute in 2019, but they’re expected to be useful in the coming years. And then there are 25 spots taken up by current major leaguers. But you’re telling me that there aren’t four or five spots the team couldn’t clear in order to make the club better?
Moustakas might not have been a guy who was a fit for the Birds. But he’s a good addition for the Milwaukee offense, strengthening what is already the club’s strong suit. But it’s frustrating that St. Louis flat out refuses to even consider any of the nearly 100 free agents who are still looking for jobs as spring training camps are opening for business. It’s almost comical that the team claims it is being opportunistic, but when the deals start to become more reasonable, Mozeliak says it’s too late to take advantage of the buyers’ market, blaming the timing of Greg Holland’s signing with his failures in a Cardinals uniform in 2018. There is always an excuse.
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Let’s be honest with ourselves, the Cardinals aren’t exactly a slam dunk to win the division with no flaws that could use some attention.
I refuse to believe that the Birds won’t be a better team if they signed Craig Kimbrel to close games instead of counting on Jordan Hicks to do it. Mariano Rivera didn’t graduate from he minor leagues to become the Yankees closer. He served as the set-up guy for a couple of years, learning from an experienced guy before becoming one of the greatest closers in the history of the game. So it’s more than a little bit frustrating that St. Louis is sitting in the clubhouse while the competition is still doing things to make itself better.
While it seems that the Chicago Cubs are determined not to expand their payroll, which already outweighs its NL Central competitors by a long shot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Milwaukee make another move. Starting pitchers Gio Gonzales and Dallas Keuchel are both guys who could improve the Brew Crew’s pitching staff and they remain options. What was a three-team race in 2018 could be a four-team race during the upcoming season as even the Cincinnati Reds have made big moves to make themselves better. They traded for two slugging outfielders, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, swapped for starting pitcher Sonny Gray and then signed bullpen lefty Zach Duke. It didn’t pan out, but the team tried like crazy to make a deal for former Miami Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, too.
If the Cubs, Brewers and Reds are beating each other up all season long, it seems like one of those team will win the division, and will pave the way for teams from the National League’s western and eastern divisions to seize the two wild card slots available. It’s going to be a nightmare if these clubs all win 86-88 games and watch the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals battle for the wild cards while the Los Angeles Dodgers walk away with the West Division and the Philadelphia Phillies take over the East.