Even when there is no baseball being played, there is still baseball to talk about. And the Hot Stove has been fired up already with coaching changes, player moves, and rumors galore. It really is the best thing about the game, when there just happens to be no games to watch.

So far, the St. Louis Cardinals’ only surprises have come in the form of changes to Mike Matheny’s coaching staff. Dyer Miller has been replaced as bullpen coach by Blaise Illsley, and Mark McGwire has informed the team he will not return as the Cards’ hitting
coach. McGwire has apparently taken the same gig with the Los Angeles Dodgers, though no formal announcement has been made. Speculation on his replacement points toward John Mabry or Mike Aldrete, but again—nothing has been announced.

On the player side, the Cards submitted a qualifying offer to Kyle Lohse, as expected. He and Lance Berkman are not likely to return to the team in 2013; nothing has changed there. Aside from those two, the Cardinals have a relatively intact roster. It’s possible a couple of guys get moved—Kyle McClellan and Skip Schumaker seem to be candidates, as neither appears to have much of a role with this team presently—but the Cardinals really don’t need a whole lot to shape the 2013 team. They need another lefthander in the bullpen, and they need some righty pop off the bench. But almost every other spot on the roster is either spoken for or could be decided in Spring Training among guys already on the team. It’s a good spot to be in.

Still, it will be fun to follow the Hot Stove news throughout the offseason. John Mozeliak is certainly not one to run away from the unexpected deal. Maybe he does grab a middle infielder from the free agent pool or make a trade no one saw coming. Although, most of the value in offseason deals gets placed into pitching, and the Cards have a ton of it they may not want to part with. Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez—just remember, in any impact trade the Cardinals try to make, those are likely the names other General Managers will be asking for in return. It may be hard to believe, but other clubs are not itching to help the Cards get better. Teams rarely get fleeced on deals. So that trade you’re dreaming up where the Cardinals get Alexei Ramirez from the Chicago White Sox for Pete Kozma, Shane Robinson, and Fernando Salas ain’t happening.

This is also the season of wild speculation and rumor mills, of course. Never take anything seriously until you see it confirmed by three legitimate sources. That does not include anyone in a forum or message board. That’s where stuff like the example above comes from. And be extremely wary of Twitter. In that realm, brand recognition is everything. National and local journalists—those affiliated with TV, radio, major internet, and print news outlets—are right most of the time. The dude that writes Billy Bob’s Baseball Blog is not. He can be entertaining and insightful and a whole lot of things…but unless he is known to be credentialed and have a direct line with a team’s front office, he’s either getting his info from another outlet or just speculating.

Let your imagination run a little. It’s fun to think about the what ifs. But keep a foot in reality. Before getting too wrapped up in the idea of a certain player coming to the Cardinals, think about not only where he would play, but who he would replace. Because the Cards just don’t have too many glaring needs this offseason.

And if they don’t do much before Spring Training, always keep these two things in mind before getting all depressed about the lack of movement: 1) almost all of the team next year will be the same team that came within a win of the World Series; 2) there’s always the summer trade deadline.

Chris Reed is a freelance writer who also appears on
I-70 Baseball Saturdays and Bird Brained whenever he feels like it. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.

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# brockohol
Monday, November 05, 2012 11:31 AM
This team has one thing they have to do this offseason and thats getting Wainrights contract taken care of. They literally can do nothing and be a great team next year. There is surplus at almost every position and its not the "surplus" of the past which included Aaron Miles, Jeff Suppan, and Anthony Reyes. The "future" of the Cardinals is waiting in the wings at 2B, SP, RP. and in the OF. And there is good quality utility players on the bench (Carpenter, Skip, etc...)

I love offseasons (Hot Stove, trades, etc...) but I think this could be a boring one for the Cards, which it should be.
Chris Reed
# Chris Reed
Monday, November 05, 2012 1:11 PM
And the Wainwright extension could be huge news in itself, depending on the numbers. I think the situation at 2B could be described as "Waiting for Wong" but SS seems to be more unsettled, especially beyond 2013. I wonder if anything will be done there with an eye on 2-3 years down the line, or if they'll wait to deal with that next offseason in case Kozma or Jackson blossoms.

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