I've been through the list of 2009 Free-Agents a couple of times, and narrowing it down......there are really only a handful of players on that list that I am interested in the Cards signing. I'll start with the pitchers, since as usual, it is our biggest need area.
Brian Fuentes - Rockies: I've said it several times in posts on this site, and I'll repeat it again here: Fuentes should be the Cards primary Free-agent target this winter. The team has no bigger need than left-handed relief, and Fuentes has established himself as one of the best over the last four years. His opponent BA the last four years has been .218, .209, .206, .205. Very consistent, and has the experience of closing with Colorado. After saving 30 of 34 in 2008, he'll be expensive, but he could help fill the biggest need, and form a very effective righty-lefty late inning combo with Chris Perez
Jeremy Affeldt - Reds: If Fuentes proves to be elusive or too expensive, there is still a major LH bullpen need to fill. Affeldt could be a decent fit. After failing as a starter in Kansas City, he's put together a couple of pretty decent seasons of relief in the NL, as a late inning, left-handed relief specialist. Was at his best against the Cubs and Brewers last year, allowing only 1 run in 10 innings. On the down-side, lefties hit .269 against him. Might be the best FA choice after Fuentes, though for lefty relievers.
Will Ohman- Braves: I'm not real high on him, but I'm including him simply because I think he'd be a big upgrade over Randy Flores and Ron Villone, should the Cards fail to sign Fuentes or Affeldt. Left-handed hitters hit only .200 against him in 2008, but he was not very effective out of the pen for the Cubs in 2007, so consistency may be an issue. Again, an upgrade over what we had in 2008, but the lack of quality lefty relievers on the market makes it imperative to make a serious run at Fuentes. Of course, that lack of quality will also drive up his price.
Derek Lowe - Dodgers: Another pitcher who may prove to be too expensive, particularly if the Yankees go after him. I like his makeup, though, and his big game experience. He routinely pitches 200 innings, and would be a nice fit as a 3 or 4 starter behind Wainwright, Lohse and possibly Carpenter. Given his age though, I would caveat this one as dependent on term of contract. I wouldn't want to see them sign Lowe to a long term deal.
That is really about it, folks. I've not included pitchers like Sabathia, Burnett and Sheets....pitchers who I don't think the Cards will be a player for. Other than these, I just see a lot of aging, past their prime, just plain mediocre, or injury plagued names...guys like Moyer, Prior, Trachsel, Oladis Perez, etc. The Cards would be better served going with their own prospects than adding middling parts like those guys.
I'll write on the position players in a separate post.