Bernie Miklasz is back with a look at the future of the St. Louis Cardinals outfield. It’s old. It’s prone to injury and Bernie guides us through the journey of finding replacements.

Bernie starts off talking about how the St. Louis Cardinals are on top of the worst division in baseball and how general manager, Walt Jocketty, won’t stand still. He then moves into the outfield:

Jim Edmonds turns 35 next month, and his production level is down a bit from recent seasons. Larry Walker, 38, is beset with minor injuries. Reggie Sanders, 37, is streaky but viable. Walker might retire after the season, but if not, the Cardinals are highly unlikely to pick up his hefty option for 2006, believed to be around $15 million. Sanders can become a free agent after the season. And while Edmonds is a terrific all-around player, some slippage is inevitable.

Bernie raises an interesting point about this year. Can these guys hold up? He also states:

The Cardinals don’t have outfield prospects ready for a quick, major-league installation.

I think that’s the most interesting point here. How can it be that the St. Louis Cardinals have no outfield prospects? Wouldn’t it seem that with the three starters at each level of the minors the St. Louis Cardinals would have someone ready to play the outfield?

Bernie doesn’t see it that way and moves on to talk about Mabry and Cedeno; completely moving the focus from prospects to who is on the bench right now. He even adds a comment from Tony La Russa:

“When Rolen comes back, things will improve,” La Russa said. “When he’s not playing, we’re not the same club. But these games count and you have to go out and play. You can’t think about Rolen being out. And our guys have done a good job of filling in.”

Um, ok.

Bernie then bounces back to Walt Jocketty:

“What I would like to do, ideally, is find an outfielder for the future,” Jocketty said. “We don’t have anyone at Triple-A who could step in and play up here every day. So what we’d like to do is add an outfielder who can not only help us right now, but for future seasons as well.”

There is the perfect chance to ask why the St. Louis Cardinals have no outfield prospects. But Bernie moves from that to talking about this year:

But just for fun, let’s throw this nugget into the discussion: According to reports in Cincinnati, the Reds might be willing to part with one of their young outfielders, Austin Kearns, Wily Mo Pena or Adam Dunn.

The article talks about addressing outfield needs for this season, but misses the chance, especially when Jocketty hands it to Bernie, to press on the prospects issue.

Space in any column is a premium and I hope Bernie comes back and find out why this need has been ignored.

Score: 7 out of 10