As we enter the offseason, the Cardinals have multiple positions where they can attempt to fix their offensive woes. Either of the corner outfield positions (with Holliday willing and able to play right), shortstop, or second base. Unless St. Louis throws Shelby Miller or Colby Rasmus on the table of trade talks, which I don’t expect them to do, I think it is safe to assume they have one trade, and one impact signing to affect their everyday starting nine. What do they need from these two moves? In my opinion, it’s a leadoff hitter, and a plus bat.
The leadoff hitter would be hard to answer via the outfield trade. Kansas City was willing to part with David DeJesus at the deadline before his injury, but with that you would set your outfield without addressing the need for power, something that would be hard to find in the middle infield free agent market. So lets explore that market for a leadoff hitter…
That’s about it.
Hudson had a strong stint in the National League from 2006 to 2009 with Arizona and Los Angeles, posting a .364 on-base percentage. Defensively, I think he’s somewhere from average to slightly above-average. The metrics are all over the place, UZR doesn’t like him, Total Zone has him as a small minus, plus/minus has him as having one of his best years yet in ’10 with a +17 mark. He’s a switch hitter who suffers slightly against lefties, but nothing that’s considerable to who would be replacing — Skip Schumaker.
I looked at Schumaker before deciding that his position is one that must be substituted. Schumaker still can have a spot on the team if he doesn’t get sent out in a trade, he’s a valuable bat against RHPs off the bench, where he could serve at what he truly is: a fourth outfielder. Skip’s bat came back to earth in ’10. His luck was normalized with a .294 BABIP (.328 in ’08, .341 in ’09). His line drive percentage actually increased, so we know there wasn’t much variance between what was coming off his bat in ’10 compared to his more successful seasons. We all know about Skip’s defense, it’s really, really bad.
Improving the middle infield defense, while implementing a switch-hitting leadoff hitter who can get on and run the bases would be a huge plus for the 2011 Cardinals, and Hudson may be the only option from the free agent market to provide that.