Bob Nightengale Expects Daniel Descalso (above) To Play Second Base For The Cardinals In 2013

I recently spoke with Bob Nightengale of USA Today about the Cardinals and their off-season thus far. Here’s what he had to say:

Do you think John Mozeliak plans to make any more moves through free agency or trade to improve this team between now and Spring Training?

I really don’t, I think they’ll just go status-quo. They may add a bench player, but they don’t really need to do much. They need their starters to keep developing, but I think they’re pretty set as of now.

Is it possible that Kolten Wong is in the Opening Day starting lineup? And if not, who do you see at second base for the Cardinals this season.

It’s possible that Kolten Wong is there, but I think Daniel Descalso is more likely. I just think he’s a veteran and a nice guy to have, and you have to give him the opportunity to keep his job in Spring Training.

The Reds have done a nice job this offseason by resigning Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick as well as trading for Shin-Soo Choo. Do you think the Cardinals, as they stand right now, have the ability to compete for an NL Central title?

I think on paper, you have to go with the Reds again to win the division, but the Cardinals always seem to exceed expectations and they know how to win. They have to have some good and healthy seasons from their veterans, Carlos Beltran and Rafael Furcal, but they can definitely make a run.

Has the new CBA draft-compensation issue affected Kyle Lohse as much as people are saying? Or are teams perhaps just fearful of signing a 34-year old pitcher to a long-term deal?

I think it has had an effect. It’s a situation where people are weary because he’s 34 years old and teams don’t want to give him more than a three-year deal. Plus, agent Scott Boras isn’t going to take a bargain price for anybody.

What do you expect from Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in 2013?

I think there’s no reason why these guys can’t become the same 1-2 punch they were a few years ago before the injuries. Even though he might not be the Carpenter of old, I fully expect him to bounce back. As for Wainwright, It’s a big year for him, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t have a big bounce back year in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery.

Do you think the Cardinals will extend Wainwright’s contract in the near future or will he ultimately hit the free agent market next season?

I think they’ll try to extend his contract in Spring Training and during the season, but it’s going to be very tough because his price tag has gone up so high. Anibal Sanchez is making $16 million a year and Edwin Jackson is making $14 million a year, and Wainwright is certainly better than those two guys, so you’re talking at least $18-20 million a year, it’s just a matter of how many years do you want to give him.

If anywhere, where do you think Lance Berkman will end up playing in 2013?

I still think he ends up with the Houston Astros. He has the big track record there and he could have the opportunity to start and end his career there. He needs to DH so he would really be the perfect fit. I wouldn’t rule out Texas either, but I think Houston makes more sense.