Joe Strauss of 101 ESPN and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the Cardinals have interest in several middle infielders…among them Juan Uribe of the Giants and Miguel Tejada of San Diego.
In my opinion, Uribe and Tejada are both on the downside and wouldn’t signify an upgrade for the Cardinals. Uribe had a terrific year for San Francisco, but maxed out in a utility role in 2010. The Giants want him back as their nominal regular shortstop, and overpaying for him would be nonsensical.
Miguel Tejada is four years and one federal steroid investigation past his prime. He is no longer a winning, everyday player. He might be a utility guy, but he can’t run, can’t field, and can’t hit for power any more.
Dan Uggla would have been intriguing, but he turned down a four year, $48 million dollar deal from the Marlins, and was quickly shipped to Atlanta.
So that leaves the Cardinals with free agency and cheap trades. The best second baseman available in free agency is Orlando Hudson. Hudson has played eight years in MLB, and has had one year deals in each of those eight years. There’s no reason to expect he would command more than a one year contract. Done deal.
At shortstop, if Jason Bartlett can be had from Tampa Bay for a reasonable cost (they are shopping him, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick), that should be target number one. He has a career .345 OBP and a career OPS of .731. He’s a solid fielder and a great “glue” guy. A player like Tyler Greene fits the Rays’ profile, and might be enough to pry Bartlett away.
If the Cardinals can get a shortstop AND a second baseman, they can best utilize Skip Schumaker as a utility player at 2nd base and all three outfield positions. They would be much better positioned offensively and defensively, and would still have a chip in Brendan Ryan, too.
It’s easy. All John Mozeliak has to do is read 101ESPN.com to find out how to build his team to win in 2011.