Okay, I have now sufficiently recovered from the last three games of the NLCS. Time to get started on 2013
For starters, Mozeliak has nearly all of his 2012 roster returning, with a few notable exceptions.
- Lance Berkman and his $12M salary from last year will not be returning. His knee problems have him thinking retirement. With Allen Craig's advancement in 2012 and with Carlos Beltran signed for next year, there wouldn't have been an obvious spot for Lance to play anyway. Always hate to see guys like Berkman go. He's a great clubhouse guy and was an integral part of the 2011 Championship. I wish him luck whatever he ends up doing.
- Kyle Lohse's contract is finally up after what seemed like about ten years. Kyle pitched pretty well as a Cardinal when he was healthy, but someone is going to overpay him this winter, and I'm glad it won't be the Cardinals. The stable of young power arms the Cardinals have waiting in the wings makes it pretty easy to let Kyle walk.
The departure of these two frees up about $24 Million from the 2012 payroll.
Though most of the roster is returning, Moz still has some holes to fill and some unanswered questions:
1. What to do about the left side of the bullpen? Mark Rzepcynski had a sub-par year in 2012, but even if he returns to form, there is definitely a need for a second lefthanded reliever. I've read that the Cardinals are interested in Sean Burnett, late of the Nationals. He'd be a great add, but I've also read that Burnett wants a four year deal somewehere. I can't see Mozeliak doing that for a LH relief pitcher, but we'll see. Burnett is one of the few attractive free agent LH relievers on the market, so Mozeliak might be tempted to go above and beyond to sign him.
2. What will the middle infield look like in 2013? Do the Cardinals really want to bank 100% on Rafael Furcal returning from injury and staying healthy in 2013? I like Furcal, but I wouldn't make that bet. The asking price will be high, but I would love to see the Cards make a play for Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians. He's got two pretty affordable years left on his contract, and would be a tremendous upgrade to the Cardinal middle infield.
It's been stated that the Indians would deal Cabrera, but the question, of course, would really come down to what the asking price is. I wouldn't want to see Mozeliak part with the young power arms Rosenthal and Miller. The Indians are said to want starting pitching. Maybe some combination of Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly or Carlos Martinez and Pete Kozma thrown in would be a good starting point.
The hard part about parting with Lynn or Kelly is the unknown health of some of our starting pitchers. Jaime Garcia is returning from injury and Chris Carpenter's health is always an unknown. That said, given the depth of our young arms, a deal for Cabrera could make a lot of sense if the price isn't too high in terms of young power arms. I'd also hate to give up Matt Carpenter, as I can see him filling in time for Beltran in RF and possibly also playing into the second base mix.
3. The third priority needs to be upgrading the bench, and the depth of that middle infield. If Furcal is injured, which he likely will be at some point in 2013, I don't think we really want to see the combo of Kozma and Descalso every day as we did in the post-season. Both are serviceable, but there is absolutely a need for more depth there.
Should be an interesting week at the Winter Meetings. Hopefully, Mozeliak has brought his A-game and has the right amount of roster tweaking up his sleeve to get the upgrades that the Cardinals need.