Though Opening Day is still three months away, the Cardinals' roster picture has crystallized with moves already made this offseason. Unless notable additions are made between now and April, here is how I would project the position player portion of the roster:
Catchers: Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz
Infielders: Matt Adams, Mark Reynolds, Kolten Wong, Jhonny Peralta, Matt Carpenter
Outfielders: Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Jason Heyward, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk
You'll notice that leaves room for one more player -- a middle infielder. This is where the projection gets hazy, as the Cardinals have at least four players -- Dean Anna, Ty Kelly, Pete Kozma and Greg Garcia -- ready to contend for that job.
Why not sign/trade for a quality first baseman and use Matt Adams as a backup?
-- Bob H., Adel, Iowa
The list of available free-agent first basemen is quite underwhelming, leaving no viable upgrade available there. Trading for one would cost the Cardinals additional talent, something they'd rather not do. Furthermore, Adams, even with a late-season production decline, had a successful first year as an everyday player.
Adams ranked eighth among NL first basemen with a 116 wRC+ and had an OPS+ of 115. Both metrics mark Adams as better than league average at the position, and the Cardinals believe that his biggest deficiency (hitting left-handed pitching) will become less of one with a year of experience under his belt.
What are your thoughts about how the Cardinals will approach re-signing Heyward?
-- Josh K., Urbandale, Iowa
If the Cardinals get the sort of production they anticipate out of Heyward in 2015, they will look to re-sign him. Their hope is that will be made easier by having him experience a season in St. Louis, too. At 25 years old, Heyward should not have already peaked. And with Holliday having just two more guaranteed seasons on his contract, Heyward could stay without blocking the young outfield talent (Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk) on the way. The unknown is whether Heyward would entertain negotiating with the Cardinals before testing the free-agent waters.
Why do the Cardinals not see that they need a good left-handed starter and left-handed reliever?
-- John B., Cheyenne, Wyo.
The Cardinals weren't hindered by the imbalance of getting only 17 starts from lefties last season and aren't concerned about a right-handed heavy rotation in 2015. Jaime Garcia and Marco Gonzales could factor into the starting plans at some point, so there are internal answers.
As for the bullpen, the Cardinals are encouraged by Kevin Siegrist's returning health and are counting on him to be a key piece in the bullpen again. Randy Choate, Sam Freeman and Gonzales give the Cardinals what they believe is sufficient lefty coverage in the bullpen. As a result, they pulled back in their search for another southpaw pitcher.