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Should the Cardinals pursue Eddie Rosario?

Step outside for a minute and feel that cold weather. It's so chilly, the air sneaks down your throat and freezes out your stomach before the coffee can get inside. It's that wind chill that can make it all bad. Almost as bad as the St. Louis Cardinals offense the last two years.

Before I get into the hard-pressed, freshly-squeezed orange juice portion of this post-where I dazzle you with stats and semi-aged knowledge, let me inform you of the team OPS over the past few years.

2020: .694

2019: . 737

2018: .730

2017: .760

2016: .767

It doesn't take a doctor to see that this team is in serious need of an offensive boost. Something to break up the chain of soft bat attacks that has plagued this team half a decade. The Cardinals are a far cry from that home run-slugging club from four years ago, currently unable to move runners over and score them from third base. If the end of world rested on the Cardinals collecting a few timely hits, we might be in trouble.

Million Dollar Question (or $9 million): Will Eddie Rosario make that better?

Of course he can. A college slugger named Brock Petersen would give the lineup hope at the moment. Rosario's hard contact rate isn't where you'd like for a guy with three seasons of 24 or more home runs collected. Rosario has spent the last six years in Minnesota, where hitting home runs isn't a popular notion. Last year, Busch Stadium ranked 16th in home runs hit-per-game at 0.965. Minnesota's Target Field came in 24th at 0.821. Rosario found a way to hit 32 home runs there in 2019. 13 in the shortened 2020 season.

He's durable, hits for power, and plays multiple positions. The last part is a good thing, because he's not very good defensively. Left field is the only place where he won't cost the team runs in the field, as he saved the Twins three runs out there in 2020. Overall, he's not a stellar fielder, but that's not what you are acquiring Rosario for.

St. Louis would acquire Rosario for his bat, not the fact that he won't be sprawling out making catches in the outfield. Rosario hits lefties pretty well, collecting a batting average of .290 and .281 respectively over the past two years off southpaws. That's something the Cardinals are in desperate need of someone who can produce. Rosario batted .364 in high leverage spots in 2019, so he can get a clutch base knock when needed.

When I look at him, I see an outfielder version of Jedd Gyorko. Rosario is a decent signing, not a savior. This is what the fanbase can mistake a player for, just because they aren't Albert Pujols. Rosario isn't going to rescue the team. He will provide a few more wins, some punch in the lineup, and has a very affordable year left on his current deal. The Twins are cutting him for the same reason the Cardinals didn't pick up Kolten Wong's option: pandemic budgeting. Simple as that.

Things get dicey when fans expect a guy to hit cleanup, collect constant walk-offs, give Paul DeJong rest, make Yadier Molina hit lower in the lineup, solve world hunger, and teach people how to merge onto the highway. It's not happening here, but Rosario can hit. He can be what Tyler O'Neill is desperately trying to be, minus the Gold Glove from 2020. Rosario, at least for a season, can move Harrison Bader into a fourth outfielder role, and keep pressure on Dexter Fowler all the while Dylan Carlson is playing every day.

Devil's Advocate Time...

But don't worry, the Cardinals won't do this. The waiver tag expires in a couple hours, and it will pass. As much as I like Rosario, he is that player the team picks up expecting that to be their main movement towards improvement, hanging their head on passing an OPS sobriety test when prompted. He may come here and contribute a 2.2 WAR, hit 22 home runs, and walk about 21 times. If Mike Shildt is hellbent on starting Bader and Fowler, Rosario may take at-bats away from Carlson, which would be bad for business.

Rosario turns 30 in September, which translate to the land of the ability dropping off like a hot air balloon struggling to seal up a hole. At least that's what natural law would tell you about an athlete meeting the 30 year old mark. What if he's like Brandon Moss, delivering a stiff breeze to cardboard cutouts in the lower level? What if he's a dud, and the Cardinals still finish a few games over .500.

Bottom Line: Rosario can hit. Home runs, doubles, and power. The defense isn't there, but the ability to hit in high leverage spots and off lefties is sweetener. But the Twins couldn't find a taker, and the clock is ticking. Would it be better to have O'Neill battle Lane Thomas for that fourth outfielder spot than spending $9 million on Rosario? There's a good argument there.

Should the Cardinals acquire Eddie Rosario? Yes and no. Yes, because he can hit as well as any current outfielder on the roster, and he's cheap. No, because he doesn't move the needle more than a few wins, and costs more than the team was willing to offer Wong in a three year deal. There's a chance he could cost the team's top prospect at-bats as well.

At the end of the day, he's worth a look but not worth getting into a chat room mosh pit over.

Take it or leave it, that's all I have to say.

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