The St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a precarious spot for the first time in many years. It has been over half a decade where you would consider the Cardinals and general manager John Mozeliak anything other than a “buyer” at the MLB trade deadline. But the 2016 season has presented some unique circumstances and despite struggles at home, an onslaught of injuries and inconsistencies, the club sits just 6.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and in one of the two Wild Card spots.
In most towns, given the circumstances, this would be considered a job well done by Mozeliak, manager Mike Matheny and the Cardinals. But when it comes to baseball, St. Louis fans do not view themselves as “most towns.”
More is expected of this organization despite an unprecedented run of success, including 12 of 16 playoff appearances and four World Series appearances, including two titles.
Cardinals fans are expecting Mozeliak to make a move, and the popular notion would be to upgrade the Cardinals beleaguered bullpen, which is short resources for Matheny to navigate, which is not one of his strong suits to begin with.
While I agree that it would be nice to see a Wade Davis or Andrew Miller sitting behind the outfield fence, waiting to finish off the back end of games down the stretch at Busch Stadium, I think the Cardinals would be better off holding on to their prospect capital, unless they can find a competent option to take over control of the miserable situation in CF.
Trading an overachieving and likely overlooked prospect like Luke Weaver just feels like a massive mistake. While the Cardinals have plenty of high-end, near-ready pitching talent (i.e. Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, etc, etc, etc…), we have to remember that a reliever only gets three outs a night and a potential No. 2-3 starter like Weaver is not as easily replaced.
The cost of pitching has been enormous based on deals that have been struck at this point and Mozeliak is historically brilliant when the pricing gets overextended.
But if Mozeliak can find a CF option, preferably someone who can swing it left-handed and hit at the top of the lineup (cough.. Charlie Blackmon.. cough) then Mozeliak should pounce.
Tommy Pham has played sufficiently over the last couple of weeks, but he is overdue for a patented Tommy Pham injury. Randal Grichuk has struggled to the plate that it is difficult to justify his below-average defense in the all important CF. Jeremy Hazelbaker does not belong in MLB and for the love of God, I love Stephen Piscotty, but he has zero defense playing CF any more often than in an emergency cameo appearance.
The Cubs are in front of the Cardinals in the Central, despite their best efforts to let the Cardinals back in the race. As for the arms race moving forward, the Cubs also have the edge in talent, although as the Reyes’s, Harrison Bader‘s, Weaver’s and Paul DeJong‘s arrive, the Cardinals are certain to close the gap sooner rather than later. I would be more inclined bet on the future of this system than mortgage it for a chance at a one-game, winner-take-all format that could end in disaster.
Not improving the bullpen will not be a popular opinion, but sometimes the right decision is not always the popular one.
Thanks for reading, @CoreyRudd
Full disclosure, if you follow myself or colleague @ArtLippo on the Twitter tweets, we have been championing an acquisition of Blackmon or somebody of his ilk since the offseason.