The St. Louis Cardinals sign Mark Ellis; Are they done?

The St. Louis Cardinals continued their busy offseason by signing veteran second baseman Mark Ellis.  Ellis most recently played with the Dodgers, and he will turn 37 next season, but the Cardinals just want him as insurance at second for young Kolten Wong, who they plan to play regularly in 2014.  Ellis has played 11 seasons in the majors and is seen as a steady player and a good presence in the clubhouse.

Mark Ellis has been a big surprise at the plate batting .342.

Mark Ellis

The Ellis signing follows the signing of shortstop Jhonny Peralta and the David Freese trade which acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos.  The moves have made for a busy first half of the offseason, and general manager John Mozeliak has filled the roster holes which he saw, with Ellis filling the role of right-handed bat with experience that can come off the bench or spell Wong.

It appears the Cardinals have no more glaring needs, and that the remainder of their offseason might be rather quiet.  But there are still many questions.  The additions of Bourjos and Peralta blur the upcoming roles for Jon Jay and Pete Kozma respectively.  Both were regular starters last year and figure to be relegated unless there is a major injury.  Both Kozma and Jay are in their 20s so other teams might find more value in their services than the Cards currently do.

The Cardinals also have what appears to be expendable pitching. The emergence of Michael Wacha and the expected return of Jaime Garcia create a crowded starting rotation of six, and that is not including phenom Carlos Martinez.  The return of Jason Motte from injury makes for a solid and deep bullpen.

So the Cardinals now sit in a strong position where they have coveted assets, yet are not desperate with any particular need.  Although another major move would be difficult to predict at this point, Mozeliak is assuredly gauging the interest of other teams in some of his young starters like Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, and possibly Joe Kelly.  Moving one of those pitchers now when their value is high might allow the Cards to receive quite a haul of young players in return, an investment that might not be such a blow to the current big league club.

But it is also clear that Mozeliak values depth, especially with pitching.  The Cards’ 2013 season proved to be a prime example of how easily pitchers can go down for significant time with an injury.  The Cardinals’ payroll is not too high at this point, so they may choose to keep the abundance of major league talent and wait it out.

The only logical move remaining for the Cardinals would be to grab another experienced bullpen arm. But it would likely not be one with a large salary attached.  However the club should have their ears and eyes open for takers on Lynn, Kozma, and possibly Jay or Miller.  Those players stock could drop if they get buried on the depth chart this year, but as it stands they could certainly merit a quality major leaguer or at least some prospects in return.

  • Redbirds

    okay…here is what they should do!! I know its not the popular and routine lineup!! Holliday should be traded to American League(so he can DH) for a great, young shortstop with speed !!! Oscar Taveras has speed!! Speed never takes a day off and makes less double plays and can bunt at anytime!! Thats a double threat for first three guys in lineup!! So Taveras Starts!! So my speed lineup is as follows!!

    1. Wong 2B
    2. Boujous CF
    3. Taveras RF
    4. Carpenter3B
    5. Craig LF
    6. Adams 1B
    7. Molina C
    8. Peralta SS
    9. Pitcher/DH(Ellis)

    My late innings with the lead Outfield would be Jay, Bourjous and Taveras with Kozma at SS!!! Is that awesome defense or what?? That Outfield would get to every ball and more!! So are you seeing the light?? LightSpeed????? thank you!!

    • davetheredbird fan

      While I agree about speed, unfortunately the days of “whitey ball” are over for the foreseeable future. A team needs at least 2 “boppers” in the lineup. Last year we hit a lot of singles, doubles- especially with runners’ in scoring position. This year you can expect some regression or a statistical return to normal. Also you cant replace a hitter such as Beltran in the clutch. Only weakness that glares at me is will Adams learn to hit to left enough to keep defenses honest. The other issue is health and can we go a full season without having a starter break down. Personally I would like to see a 6 man rotation with Wanio starting every 5 days

  • Carl

    I was thinking that they should sign Choo to play outfield. They have the money and Holiday’s salary comes off the books in two years, I believe. They would be so awesome with Choo out there. I know Holiday has a no trade clause but if we needed to move him to get Choo, I would. Maybe package him with a prospect or one of our arms. Just my thoughts

  • j

    They should no doubt keep lynn. His wins and strike out numbers for his first two years our simply outstanding. With a salary of 500k the cards have him amazingly cheap when he’s worth 3-4 million easy.