Finally, opening day is in our eyesight. Soon, baseball players are going to be doing baseball things, and it’ll count in the standings. First off, I want to thank our dedicated readers for spending their off-season here at VEB. It’s easy to have other interests when baseball’s not in-season, and even so, there’s a lot of different places you can go to get coverage of the Cardinals. We like to think of ourselves as the best destination for said coverage, but still, we appreciate everyone who feels similarly. We spent a lot of time covering the Cards’ moves this winter, and while we get paid either way, I personally love all the feedback I can get. Even when you guys completely disagree with me, that’s a way better response than crickets. So thank you for being there with us through the winter.
In the next couple weeks, we’ll be presenting previews of the 2017 season. Going forward, our focus is going to be on the season at hand. First though, I wanted to look back and grade how GM John Mozeliak and his front office did over the last five months. That seemed like the right way to close out the off-season. Below, I will assign a letter grade to the major things that the Cardinals did (or didn’t do), as well as assign a number indicating the level of importance of that decision. Then, using the GPA system that I’m sure everyone here knows and loves, we’ll come to single grade for the Cardinals’ off-season. A C will indicate average. I hope you enjoy it.
Signing Dexter Fowler ($82.5M/5 years): B-, importance: 5
Finding an outfielder was the number one goal of the off-season, at least in terms of putting talent on the field in 2017. Yoenis Cespedes and Fowler headlined an outfield free agent market a little short on impact players. Adam Eaton was traded for a large prospect cost that was fair, but also would have crushed the Cardinals’ farm system, and the Pirates held on to Andrew McCutchen, reportedly due to a very high asking price. I wrote about Fowler at the beginning of the off-season. I also wrote about how Cespedes wasn’t worth what he would get paid, and when I dove deep into Adam Eaton’s profile, I came away with the impression that Fowler was the better bet. After Eaton was traded, I went full-on in support of signing Fowler, and it seems the Cardinals had a similar reaction, signing him shortly after the Eaton trade.
Originally, I had the Fowler deal at a C+, because the specifics of the deal just aren’t that great. He went for a lot more than what analysts thought he would get going into the off-season. John Mozeliak would probably agree with that, as he himself described it as an “over the top” offer. Still, the outfield was priority number one, the Cards’ didn’t lose any prospects, and their long-term payroll picture is strong enough that this signing shouldn’t prevent any future moves. He didn’t have much to work with, but he pulled it off. You got to love it when a team decides to throw cash at the problem instead of prospects.
Extending Carlos Martinez ($51M/5 years): A, importance: 4
This, for me, was the highlight of the off-season. Carlos isn’t only a young and talented pitcher, he’s the team’s best projected player. For a team full of average to slightly above average players, Carlos has a sky-high ceiling. Entering arbitration for the first time, this was probably the Cardinals’ last chance to extend Carlos …
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