In his weekly live chat with Cardinals fans on Tuesday, Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold fielded multiple questions about the team's shortstop situation. Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss is facing a similar line of questioning in his weekly Wednesday chat.
First, here's a sampling of the Q-&-A with Goold on the topic. Below it is a quick sampling of Strauss' responses:
QUESTION: Derrick, if you were suddenly hired as GM, what move would you make to shore up shortstop? Who makes the most sense, not just ability wise, but dollars and cents wise?
GOOLD: It's that last part of the question that pulls everyone away from the Troy Tulowitzki talk. The question with Tulowitzki isn't just the hefty salary -- more than $100 million -- that he has left, but whether he'll play shortstop for the remainder of that contract. It's less of an issue for the Cardinals if they view him as SS now and 3B later. But that money is still huge and the injuries are still a concern.
Stephen Drew seems to make the most sense. He's a reliable glove, who did play some outstanding defense late for the Red Sox. He's not a HR hitter, but he has the pop for extra bases, and is probably good for another if not several strong offensive seasons. He fits the ethos of the Cardinals and has that familiarity with the organization that the Cardinals seem to value so much. And here's the best part: He won't cost a prospect. Just money and a draft pick, a draft pick that the Cardinals will get back when Beltran signs elsewhere.
Q.: Is there any merit to the Shelby Miller and Freese for Jurickson Profar trade rumor?
GOOLD: Nope. Texas will want more. Freese's value is higher to the Cardinals than to the market. Miller is an attractive trade chip, but Cardinals are likely to be more willing to move Lynn.
Q.: Drew, a lefty, batted only .196/.246/.340 against southpaws this season. I would imagine, with the problems the Cards had against lefties, a priority at SS would be someone who could mash against lefties. Thoughts?
GOOLD: This is a larger question, really, because it comes down to looking at the lineup as it could progressively get more and more lefthanded ... Adams(LHB), Taveras (LHB), Carpenter (LHB), Wong (LHB) and so on. Add a lefty at shortstop and you do have the potential of five spots in the order batting from the left side against a team that struggled against lefties.
But here's the secret: The Cardinals righties also struggled against lefties this season. Holliday hit .279 against lefty starters. Craig hit .278 against lefties -- and .327 against righties. It wasn't just lefties, it was a type of lefty that gave the Cardinals problems. Look at what Lester, Wood, Liriano and others share -- it's not just the side of the mound they throw from but the cut fastball that they can toss from that side. It confounds the Cardinals lefts and rights and it's something that speaks to the quality of the pitcher and the need to change approach.
Q.: How many years do you believe the Cards need to sign a shortstop for them to reach the "next wave" in their minors?
GOOLD: The two shortstops that the Cardinals have in the minors are not on the doorstep, not as shortstops. One was a prep shortstop who was just drafted. You're talking as much as five years.
Q.: What about the Arizona shortstops Owings and Gregorious? Too green?
GOOLD: Gregorius has all the trappings of being a target, especially since Arizona could turn to Owings. At 23, Gregorius has the project/prospect look that could fill a position for awhile.
Q.: Here are some different names: What about Danny Espinosa (Wash.), Josh Rutledge (Colo.), Everth Cabrera (SD)?
GOOLD: Those are different for the chat, not new to the conversation. Desmond over Espinosa, if the Cardinals can get Washington into a conversation. Rutledge is staying in Denver, but Story is coming. Cabrera's market will be interesting. Seems like a player the Padres will keep one more year before his salary climbs and his market rises.
Q.: Is Jhonny Peralta an option at all for the Cardinals? I could see them not being interested in him, but I think he could be a good choice. I'd like to sign him for 3rd and either trade for one of the many discussed shortstops or sign Drew. We could have the money for two semi-major FA signings.
GOOLD: I think you said it well: I could see them not being interested in him. He's not the defensive player that they insist on getting at shortstop and they're already a diminished defensive team.
Q.: I fear that Steven Drew is a attitudinal copy of his big brother. Do we really need that?
GOOLD: Stephen is not J.D. Stephen's nickname is "Dirt" and while it derives from his initials -- S.O.D., get it? -- it also describes his baseball rat reputation. He enjoys being at the ballpark, taking infield, talking about the game, being around the game and so on and so on. He's not his brother.
Q.: Will the Cards make moves quickly this off season since Mo has known he needed a SS for more than a year? He surely knows the landscape for trades by now.
GOOLD: If anything, we know that baseball moves deliberately at this time of year. He knows the market. He knows the landscape. But there are still decisions ahead that could influence their direction. They expect Beltran to reject the QO, but he doesn't have to until Nov. 11. That certainly will let the Cardinals know something about their payroll. Plus, Drew is in the same situation with Boston. Say he accepts -- which he likely won't -- then the Cardinals know that a trade must happen for them to address the SS spot, right?
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Post-Dispatch columnist Joe Strauss also is addressing the shortstop situation in his Wednesday chat. Here's a quick sampling of the Q-&-A:
QUESTION: What sort of package will the Rangers be looking for if they trade Andrus or Profar? Would it make more sense for the Cardinals to spend on Drew in FA knowing all they have to give up is a late first round pick for him rather than what it might take to get a top level SS through trade?
STRAUSS: I've long maintained the Rangers are the most logical organization to provide the Cardinals shortstop relief. Elvis Andrus, 25, would seem to offer a logical fit. Indeed, the Cardinals checked on the Rangers before and after the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. There was some traction but ultimately the Rangers were not prepared to deal Andrus as they entertained playoff aspirations as well. That may now change as Texas needs 1B-DH help as well as pitching assistance.
The Cardinals would seem to represent a match. The Cardinals are more likely to dangle Lance Lynn and/or Joe Kelly in addition to a position player for the right match. I would keep my eye on this one. I'm not getting into predicting timing or specific packages. There's no reason for that. But I strongly believe the Rangers are a more logical option than re-signing Rafael Furcal or spending long-term on Stephen Drew, both popular options among some in the chattering class. 'Mo' heads to Orlando this weekend. Groundwork will be laid on several fronts.
Q.: I agree with you completely -- no Stephen Drew! There are too many shortstops out there that can make us better -- not a $14M guy with little or no pop and injury-prone. Would rather have either Cabrera, Alexie or even Peralta. Or even one of the Diamondback guys--Owings or gregorius.
STRAUSS: The Cardinals are leery of players with complicated medicals. Furcal proved that all over again. Drew is a talented player but appears a high risk on any sort of multi-year arrangement. He will also require draft compensation since the Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to him. I'm on record as a J.J. Hardy honk but I believe the September injury to Manny Machado complicates the Orioles' desire to shift Machado to SS next season. We can have an interesting debate over Peralta, a PED user who is an average defender at best. The Cardinals targeted Cabrera for trade last winter and could return there.
Q.: Would you rather have the more proven Andrus or the more potential in Profar?
STRAUSS: I believe Andrus fits well with this team. This is a bunch built to win NOW. Profar, by all estimates, will be an outstanding player. But as you suggest, Andrus is more the known quantity now.