Only one thing is certain as we draw closer to the end of the Major League Baseball winter meetings:
The St. Louis Cardinals team that has dominated the National League Central the last few years and played in two World Series is going to be very different in 2016.
Last week valuable starting pitcher John Lackey was allowed to walk away to the rival Chicago Cubs. Now centerfielder Jon Jay is gone in a trade with the San Diego Padres for utility infielder Jedd Gyorko.
It’s hard to look at the roster and not feel like this team is considerably worse now than it was a year ago.
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It’s equally difficult to watch old friends walk away to other clubs without obvious replacements.
Jay took to the internet to thank Cardinals Nation for what he called an incredible run. Meanwhile team leader Yadier Molina bemoaned the fact that Jay and backup catcher Tony Cruz were traded away saying maybe he’d be next.
It’s been a tough winter so far for St. Louis fans. Speculation that the Cardinals would get a major boost to their pitching staff, using the proceeds of a new, billion-dollar local television package to land David Price fell agonizingly short. Another starter, Lance Lynn, was lost for next year with elbow surgery and now we must all agonize while we wait to see if the Cardinals will re-sign right fielder Jason Hayward or if they’ll be able to make other moves to shore up their offense and their pitching.
The Cardinals are going to do something, aren’t they?
I mean, with Jay gone, the Cardinals are currently forced to rely on talented -- yet oft injured -- outfielder Randall Grichuk and relatively unproven fly chaser Tommy Pham to carry the load in centerfield.
It would be easier to deal with this team being less familiar if it seemed like it was getting better. But, so far, this off-season has been more about addressing the window dressing and less about building a new foundation.