The Cardinals headed to Nashville with a short check list. The 2013 squad needs middle infield help and left-handed relief. Adding bench depth wouldn’t hurt, either. Other, less likely moves could be made, but that would be out of character for John Mozeliak and company. They generally opt to only make blockbuster moves when it’s absolutely necessary.
After falling out of the hunt for significant upgrades at short or second base (including Marco Scutaro and Yunel Escobar), the focus shifted to solving the lefty relief problem. Sure, we all saw what Marc Rzepczynski can do. But we also saw what happens when the expectations are too high … or the left side of the ‘pen gets lonely. Or something like that. Sean Burnett seemed to be in play, until he got too expensive.
Still the Cardinals ended the day with a friend for Scrabble: Randy Choate.
He definitely fits the “LOOGY” role. Last season, he pitched in 80 games (44 for the Marlins, 36 for the Dodgers), and just 38.2 innings between the two. In 25.1 innings with Miami, he 7 earned runs on 16 hits, none of them, however, of the home run variety. After being traded to the Dodgers in the front-page Hanely Ramirez trade, he surrendered just one run in his last 13 appearances. For the 2012 season, he held a 3.03 ERA.
In his 12-year career that started with the Yankees, he has 4.02 ERA in 309.1 innings pitched.
As for the Cardinals, assuming Choate passes the physical scheduled for Friday, they’ll reportedly be signing the lefty to a three-year, $7.5 million deal. They have not, however, made that official, so I’ll just say this: three years for a 37-year-old reliever? Interesting. Veeeery interesting.
Choate, it seems, is quite pleased with the new deal.
So, welcome to The Lou, Randy! (Conditionally, of course … now, go get that physical.)
In other news … *cricket* *cricket*
Yeah. That’s about it.
There’s still this Schumaker situation that may or may not be resolved before spring training. Word from the organization is that everyone’s favorite super utility man is open to a trade — not because he has a grudge against the Cardinals, but simply because he’s seeing the same writing on the wall that we’re also seeing. There’s not a clear spot for him on the field every day. Can’t blame a competitor like Skip for being open to the idea of a new opportunity.
However, if no deal is made for backup in the middle infield (be it at short or second), Schumaker could be of more value than we first thought.
If Oscar Tavares isn’t MLB-ready, he may have some play in the outfield. If Daniel Descalso isn’t the everyday second baseman, and Matt Carpenter doesn’t translate well in a new position, or if Danny D has to cover for Rafael Furcal on occasion, the “Schu-man” might be more active than he thought.
Ultimately, it doesn’t look like Skip will play every day. But, it may not be safe enough to let him go without a valuable middle infielder in return. Mo’s not one to jump the gun, either.
What happens next? Only Mo knows for sure.
Outside of the Winter Meetings, though, there was this little piece of news: Bengie Molina will be invited to be the new assistant hitting coach. Apparently this ‘no prior experience required” thing is catching on. I dare say Yadier — the youngest Molina — would be quite supportive! The two have never shared a Major League team affiliation. But, as my lovely friend Laura said, “We want ALL the Molinas!”
And with that, we hurry up and wait a little more.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.