With the reigning world champion Dodgers in the same league, the Cardinals needed additions to the roster to keep up. This week, they re-signed franchise legend, Adam Wainwright, although that wasn’t the biggest news story emanating from The Gateway City. The St Louis Cardinals will acquire superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado in a trade with the Rockies.
An incredible fielder
In every season of his career, Arenado has won a Gold Glove award. He is the premier player at third base. Of all the active players, Arenado is ranked first in fielding percentage with an absurd .972. That stat combines putouts plus assists, basically everything a third baseman needs to do. Contrast that to Matt Carpenter who’s never won a Gold Glove award in his nine-year career; Arenado is a considerable upgrade on Carpenter.
With Arenado handling the hot corner, Tommy Edman can go back to second. That allows St Louis to play their number one lineup on the infield. Edman possesses quick hands which is why he’s so good at turning double plays. With Arenado at third, it adds a critical element to the infield. Even with runners on base, Arenado can unlock more double plays making this unit even more threatening.
The other skill Arenado provides to the Cardinals is a penchant for the spectacular. He can make some incredible catches. The third base foul line at Busch Stadium plays softly; meaning there is plenty of space between the third-base bag and the seats. Arenado will have to marshall a big area, maybe even more with the new trend of shifts. His skill-set is more than ready for that challenge.
Arenado is a solid set the table hitter. He is a career .293 batter with an on-base percentage of .349.
He is a fantastic complementary addition to the Cardinals lineup. St Louis has Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Dexter Fowler as power batters, however, to double the damage they do, a team needs a guy who gets on base. Arenado does that. He is patient in the box, looks to increase the count and then fly one over the infield for a base hit. This kind of gritty batter is what every team needs to be successful in the postseason.
The Clear Contender
With the Arenado acquisition, the Cardinals now look the team to beat in the NL Central. Jack Flaherty is a certified ace; meanwhile, the batting lineup has depth.
The Cardinals still need to add pitching depth to the rotation as Adam Wainwright is 39 years old, can he be trusted to last a full regular season plus the playoffs?
Regardless, that is a problem for another day. Right now, Arenado makes them so much better. His career WAR is an excellent 39.1, adding him to a division with the sinking Pirates, rudderless Reds, confusing Cubs and the moribund Milwaukee Brewers; the St Louis Cardinals are by far the best team in the division. The fact that Colorado paid $50 million to send Arenado to St Louis made the decision a no brainer.
In a city defined by Baseball greatness, championships are the only currency that matter in St Louis. While the Cardinals still have issues to solve, this is a positive step in the right direction to get on the championship chase. The NL is quickly becoming an arms-race, St Louis just landed their big weapon from the Rocky Mountains.