When the Angels stepped to the podium at the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas, everything changed in Cardinals Nation. The bedrock for the team over the course of the past decade had changed addresses. Albert Pujols signed a mega deal with the Angels for 10 years and $254,000,000.00.
At that moment the Cardinals moved into a new era.
Let’s take a look at the Cardinals best options of reconfiguring the lineup and filling the 1B position.
The easiest move is to have Lance Berkman slide in from RF to 1B and then have players like Allen Craig fully develop in the OF. Will it fill the offensive void that Pujols leaves behind. No. But it will work and it will still bring W’s.
There are still some Free Agent 1B out there with Prince Fielder being the big name looking for big money. Do the Cards now set sights with Pujols money for Fielder? I doubt it… but that doesn’t mean anything during the Winter Meetings.
The other two names are Derrek Lee and Carlos Pena. Lee seems like an excellent short-term fit for the Cardinals and Pena could be an excellent buy low candidate.
Cody Ross, Josh Willingham and former Cardinal Ryan Ludwick are all available as well as Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer.
A wildcard move, but one that Baseball Instinct think is a real possibility, Berkman stays in RF and prospect Matt Adams takes over 1B for the Cardinals. Adams was #7 on our 2012 Cardinals Top 10 Prospects List:
7. Matt Adams, 1B 8/31/1988 H: 6’3″ W: 230 – Adams is a big boy with good power. He’s going to need it as a right-handed defender. He hit from the left side though and was able to post a third straight .300 or better campaign. This season posting a .300 AVG with 32 HR and 23 doubles. He kept his K rate under 20% which is excellent for a power hitter. His walk rate is passable at 7.8% as well, though he could stand to take a few more walks. The Cards sent him to the AFL and it’s time to take this kid serious. Three great minor league seasons.
Our Instinct: He’s not going to be the greatest defender but will be effective enough to be an everyday 1B. What happens with Albert Pujols will be a deciding factor on his future with the Cardinals. He has enough power and contact ability to be a solid regular at 1B and could be a 30+ HR type. Whether the .300 type average translates is doubtful but .280 is possible and he controls his K numbers well for a power hitter.
Whatever way the Cardinals go, there are two things that are certain. The Albert Pujols Era is over and that baseball will go on.
The Cardinals will be fine.
Check back soon as we profile more Top 10 Lists for each MLB team and also get our baseball geek on and take a look at some of the later draft picks from the 2011 draft that we think could be big names on the prospect radars in the near future. While you’re here, take a look at a recent article in this series: Los Angeles Dodgers Top 10 List and be a step ahead of the game. Also, check out a friend of ours for all of your fantasy sports needs. Fantasy Rundown is updated religiously and is truly an awesome resource. Thanks for checking Baseball Instinct. We’re working hard to bring you the best of the minor leagues and make the site the best experience it can be. So don’t hesitate to tell us what you would like to read about. Email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.