MLB spring training 2018: Three things on the Cardinals’ to-do list

Third place won’t cut it in St. Louis.There were some calling for manager Mike Matheny’s headafter a disappointing 2017 season that saw the Cardinals finish 83-79, behind the Brewers and Cubs in the National League Central.After making the playoffs in his first four seasons, including a trip to the World Series in 2013, Matheny’s team has mi sed the postseason the past two years.Pennants and championships are the expectation in St. Louis and another disappointing season could result in Matheny getting his walking papers.Here are three things on the Cardinals’ to-do list this spring:1. Find a closerLuke Gregerson is penciled in as the Cardinals closer, but the former Astros reliever might not be the man to finish off games. He had four saves last season but has 66in 112 career opportunities. Gregerson signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals in December, but the team might want to consider adding another free agent like former Rockies closer Greg Holland.The Cardinals had a revolving door at closer last season and Seung Hwan Oh led the team with 20 saves in 24 opportunities. He also went 1-6 with a 4.10 ERA not ideal for someone who typically ispitching an inning at most in mostgames. Holland is one of the best free agents remaining and had 41 saves for the Jurickson Profar Jersey Rockies last season. He reportedly turned down a three-year deal from the Rockies, who then signed Wade Davis. Colorado’s lo s could be St. Louis’ gain if the Cardinals are willing to spend what it takes to land Holland.2. Keep up with the Cubs and BrewersOutside of a trade for former Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, the Cardinals had a fairly quiet offseason. Meanwhile, the Cubs bolstered their rotation with Yu Darvish and the Brewers landed outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich.St. Louis enters spring knowing itwas 5-14 against the Cubs last year and 8-11 against the Brewers (a3-4 mark against the Dodgers was the team’s only sub-.500 mark against another NL opponent). If the Cardinals are going to leapfrog the Cubs and Brewers in the division, it starts with beating those teams head-to-head.The Cardinals need to make a splash between now and March 29.3. Set the table for a meaningful in-season tradeThe Cubs and Brewers have shown they will be aggre sive, and the Cardinals must match or exceed it. The Cardinals made three in-season trades involving players on their active roster. In each trade, the Cardinals received a minor-league prospect. While that’s nice for the future, it didn’t prevent the Cardinals from finishing third in the NL Central.If the Cardinals can upgrade at any position, it begins with a se sing the immediate future during camp both within the organization and scouting Joey Gallo Jersey others. That sets the table for a spring signing or maybe a meaningful in-season tradewhile still in contention. Given that opportunity,they must do it or it will be another year of disappointment in the Gateway City.

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