Well, now that the dust has settle a bit from Albert leaving, we can ask, what's next? Certainly, next year's team will feel very different with franchise icon's like Pujols and TRL gone, but it likely will still be the favorite to win the NL central and a real contender to win World Series #12. Here's the moves since Pujols left town so far:
Re-signed Furcal (2-years, 14 million total), re-signed Shumaker (2 years, 3 million total). Non-tendered Theriot. Punto, Dotel both signed to other teams.
I like, don't love resigning Furcal. Would rather it have been only one year with his injury history. Even last year, he was playing at way less than 100%. IF he can get healthy, he's a major plus compared to what we have had at shortstop the past few seasons, but that's a big if. On the other hand, Jimmy Rollins is the only other comparable guy out there, and he would've taken 4 years at 52-60 mil, so Furcal is a comparative bargain. Shumaker I am also OK with staying, assuming he is not a starter anymore. He hits righties well, but his lack of power and/or speed makes him below average on offense overall. He's become about average at 2B defensively, and is better than that in the outfield, but he works best as a back-up. They have the money to upgrade at 2B, so hopefully they will. Letting Theriot go is no surprise; he stunk last year. Punto had his moments, but Shumaker is basically the same guy as him. Dotel pitched great down the stretch, but with the glut of RH relief pitchers, he was expendable as well.
The only serious rumor I've heard is signing J.C. Romero. He had a rough year last year, but should be a nice LOOGY and veteran presence in the pen. Right now, "scrabble" is the only LH reliever, and you'd like to see him used more than just situationally with his great stuff. As I said before, things look fine from the right side. Motte should close, with Salas as probably the main set-up guy. Lynn/Boggs/Sanchez should be the other guys. All those guys have great stuff. The pen could continue to be a great strength as it was down the stretch this year. One interesting guy to watch is McClellen. Assuming Wainwright is full go to start the season, there may not be room for Kyle on the roster. That would be a shame, as he has done a lot for us the past few seasons.
Where else should we spend, if anywhere?
2B would be my preference, but there is not a lot of options out there in FA. A trade may be in order instead, but I have no great ideas who to deal for. Another option is to go with maybe a Shumaker/Green platoon at 2B and try to get another OF since Craig may miss the beginning of the year. I'm not in favor of this because I'd like to see Craig play full-time. I suppose if they get a guy and can play CF and hits RH, then maybe you could platoon him with Jay when Craig gets healthy. It would also be nice to find some speed as far as that goes. We don't have a lot of that right now. All in all, I don't expect any huge move the rest of the offseason. If Romero does sign, the pitching staff is basically set and they likely need to add just one more bat. The upside of losing those FA's is that the Cards get the Angel's first round pick and three "sandwhich" picks meaning they will have 5 picks in the top 60 or so selections. That may allow them to upgrade the roster midseason if need be as they can re-stock the farm system quickly. Not the most exciting plan, but after the past couple of weeks, boring doesn't sound so bad to me.