St. Louis Cardinals strike solid ‘Gold’
By: Jackson Wilson
The Major League Baseball offseason is officially in full swing and there is already a buzz in the air throughout St. Louis. Last Wednesday, the Cardinals sent a platoon of four players to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for 31-year old Paul Goldschmidt.
In my opinion, as a die-hard Cardinals fan, this is the missing piece that has prevented the organization from getting into the playoffs over the last three seasons. They have some talented weapons such as Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and Harrison Bader, but a boat will not be able to stay right-side up in a storm without a strong anchor to hold it firm. Goldschmidt will not only provide the offensive production, but also consistent defense and a sense of leadership in the clubhouse. He has won three Gold Glove awards, appeared in six all-star games and batted .290 with 33 home runs while driving in 83 runs last year. This will definitely help in giving the Cards the boost that they need to break through the barrier and become a driving force in the National League once again.
The Cardinals haven’t seen a player of this caliber at the first base position since Albert Pujols, who agreed to a 10-year 240-million dollar contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2012. Pujols will be returning to St. Louis for the first time in a Halos’ uniform on June 21 of next year. The former face of the franchise hit .328 with 445 home runs and drove in 1329 runs while winning two Gold Gloves throughout his 11-year career in the shadow of the Arch.
General manager John Mozeliak has made some excellent decisions in terms of which players to put in the trade package. The team has parted ways with Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, minor league infielder Andy Young and a draft pick for 2019.
This was a major steal for the Redbirds and could also be very beneficial for the Diamondbacks – even though most Arizona baseball fans may not agree!
Luke Weaver is a great young pitcher, but he can be really inconsistent at times. He has major potential, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the numbers. Based on that, Weaver is not there yet. He has a career record of 15-17 with an earned run average of 4.79. Plus, this move will allow blossoming talents like Alex Reyes to move up a slot in the Cardinals’ pitching rotation as he makes his comeback from multiple season ending surgeries. Reyes was 4-1 with a 1.57 earned run average in 12 appearances when he was first brought up to the big leagues in 2016.
Carson Kelly has never gotten the appropriate opportunity to fully demonstrate his abilities as an everyday starting catcher. He is still very young, and I personally think Arizona will eventually take that chance with him. Alex Avila will soon be out of his prime and John Ryan Murphy has been unable to maintain a consistent rhythm with the bat in his hands – only hitting .224 for his career. In addition, Kelly has played alongside Yadier Molina since he came to the league, and even had a chance to start certain stretches of games when Yadi was hit with unfortunate injuries. Even if he doesn’t get the most playing time, Kelly could provide some wise advice and a deep sense of knowledge that he learned from one of the all-time greats. Molina is retiring in 2020, and that catcher position will be more than wide open for minor league prospects like Andrew Knizner to potentially come up and take over. Knizner is one of the best players in the Cardinals’ farm system. The 2016 seventh-round draft pick hit .313 with seven home runs and drove in 45 runs during his time with AAA Memphis and AA Springfield in 2018. Futhermore, he posted an impressive .993 fielding percentage and respectable 27% caught-stealing rate.
The Diamondbacks are now searching for a new centerpiece and this will give a utility infielder like Andy Young an extra boost of motivation to potentially be the next big thing in Phoenix. Young hit .283 with 44 home runs and 156 runs batted in throughout his first three seasons in the minor leagues.
With a little more grooming and continued emphasis on his solid defensive IQ, there’s no question he could be one of the key pieces of the puzzle throughout the new chapter of Diamondbacks’ baseball.
Goldschmidt will be a free agent after next season, but the Cardinals have had history in terms of signing these kinds of players to new contracts. Examples include Matt Holliday and Mark McGwire.
Now, the next question is…….can the Redbirds work out a deal with another all-star in Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?
Bring on the winter meetings!