By Matt Snyder
DALLAS -- A Cardinals legend is leaving St. Louis and headed to Los Angeles, as Albert Pujols has signed with the Angels. For many, the main question here is, where do the Cardinals go from here?
There are several moving parts. Let's sort through them.
• As far as first base, the Cardinals already had a backup plan. Lance Berkman can shift right back to first, where he's best suited defensively anyway. This eliminates an awful defensive hole in the outfield, though it is obviously a defensive downgrade at first base, as Pujols is one of the best in the game. It was very unlikely the Cardinals would pursue Prince Fielder or even a lesser free agent first baseman like Carlos Pena before we knew about the Allen Craig injury. With the injury, do the Cardinals get hasty and go large after Fielder? It doesn't seem like a good bet, but we do know the Cardinals had a truckload of money they were about to spend and now haven't been able to do so. So feel free to speculate away.
|MLB Winter Meetings|
• In the outfield, the Cardinals now have a predicament. They were set to go with Berkman, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday. If Pujols left, Berkman would slide to first base and Craig would become the everyday right fielder. The problem is, Craig is likely out until May. And you never know how players will bounce back from knee surgeries. What if there are setbacks? So this poses a big problem. It looks like it's Skip Schumaker in right, for now, and there isn't really much better the Cardinals can do -- assuming their free agent focus turns to Rollins, which I fully expect.
• One last thing, we have to remember the Cardinals are getting back a healthy Adam Wainwright. They won the World Series last season without their ace. And now he's back. So the starting pitching will be improved.
And it better be, because the Cardinals just lost the best player of the last decade.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.