John Mozeliak said Saturday that the Cardinals lineup is “set for 2011” after signing Lance Berkman to play left field. The 34 year old switch hitter signed a 1 year deal worth 8 million to presumably start in left field. A knee injury has halted Berkmans recent production, but 2008 saw him finish 5th in the MVP voting and he’s a .296 career hitter who’s 1 short of 1,100 RBI. Assuming he stays healthy Berkamn should provide a much needed boost to a Cardinal offense that was anemic at times and just seemed to lack cohesion. Berkman can hit just about anywhere, including second, comfortably while providing power and getting on base at a good clip. The Cardinals have lacked such a two hitter for some time now and Berkman would be a perfect fit. Defensively may be a bit more of an adventure. Matt Holliday is going to move to right field to allow Berkman to play left. Berkman is adequate in the outfield and it’s a bit scary considering he’s coming off a knee injury but having him play right really isn’t an option. If the Cardinals have one glaring defensive weakness it maybe very well be corner outfield.
Another major move this off-season was the resigning of Jake Westbrook. Westbrook helps to solidify the back end of the rotation and pitched well for the Cardinals down the stretch last season with a 3.48 ERA. When healthy he’s an innings eater with 5 years of 200+ under his belt, but is coming off surgery on his left shoulder which should not hinder his pitching in the spring. It’ll be nice to have a pitcher that gives quite a different look than a Wainwright or Carpenter as Westbrook is a sinkerballer with a great groundball rate and also saw his strikeout rate jump in his move to the NL. Also joining the club on the pitching side is Brian Tallet. Tallet is a lefty in the Trevor Miller mold though with a slightly higher strikeout rate.
I will not discuss the acquisition of Ryan Theriot as the thought of Theriot replacing Brendan Ryan makes me physically ill.