Holliday discussed the bench coach job with the Cardinals but ultimately turned it down. He's wrestling with a call to coach/manage but also wanting to maximize time with his family. An assistant hitting coach gig would be as demanding in time as bench coach, with less glamour for someone who eventually hopes to manage. I do think he will be around the team as much as he wants to be, whether he has an official role or not. He is close with Marmol.
Have the Cardinals said they are changing their plan? I'm not aware of it if they have. Many are suggesting they should or will. They have not said it.
Semien and Story could both help the Cardinals. Baez is not someone who should just be tossed out as an idea, I don't think. He can play shortstop and second base. He is very close with Molina. Could be hunting a pillow deal to try to rebuild his value.
The Cardinals have trended away from brand name relievers on the free-agent market since the Gregerson and Cecil signings did not pan out. They have done a good job of picking the right young players for those roles or grabbing some low-cost arms that become good fits, from Norris to McFarland to Garcia. So, that would be a shift in directions. I've become more or less convinced proven relief is not a good thing to throw money at these days.
Not to sound like an NFL honk but the very obvious difference is the schedule. An NFL game is an event. Your team plays once a week. Baseball plays 162 games a year. 162 games per year at the current game time is . . . a whole heck of a lot of time. And like NFL, there's a lot of non-action in those games, too.
It just depends on which numbers you prefer. Harper had a slightly higher OPS+ (179) than Soto (175) and won the eye-catching power race, slugging .615 with 78 extra-base hits compared to Soto's .534 and 51. And Harper's team was a winning team, unlike Soto's. Wheeler had a great year and I would not be surprised if he cracks some ballots. I don't think Harper is overrated. What he did this season wasn't far off from that 2015 one you mentioned.
When it comes to evaluating a player's Hall of Fame case, I don't see how you give him credit for a World Series that was won in a season he did not play in.
Ludwick was around the team last season and could be an option for that role.
The fourth quarter wasn't so bad. It was those middle two that got away, right? Three more manageable games left now, though I would be lying if I said I'm optimistic about a bowl game. Just don't trust this defense at all. Had no clue it could be this bad. And no, I don't think it proved much against Georgia.
I think many will agree with you over time, once the sourness of the extension fades and his career is remembered in full. Fans' perceptions change over time, and the Cardinals Hall of Fame is a fan vote. Carpenter will ultimately be remembered as a good player who did some very impressive things and remained a dedicated teammate to the organization through thick and thin, and would have spent his whole career here if allowed. That will age well, unlike his last extension.
My bet is both Posey and Molina go in, to the dismay of small hall lovers everywhere.