Why the Cardinals Should Stay Put as Deadline Nears

Cardinals Walk-off Against Miami

Cardinals Walk-off Against Miami

Background

The Cardinals enter the last two series before the All-Star Break one-half of a game ahead of the Pirates with an MLB-best record of 53-34. The Cardinals start a two game series with the Astros at Busch tonight, and then the team travels to Chicago to take on the lowly Cubs for a four game set. With the Pirates facing off against the AL West-leading Athletics for two more games and then having to face Matt Harvey and the Mets, look for the Cardinals to extend their lead in the Central before the break.

Thus, if you are Cardinals General Manager, John Mozeliak, are you really that interested in making a trade at this time? The team is playing some of its best baseball in years, and the future is extremely bright with the stockpile of prospects (both pitchers and position players) down on the farm. Would you be willing to part with some young talent in order to fill a present need with what may end up being just a “rental” player?

Well, at the Matt Holliday Celebrity Golf Classic yesterday, Mozeliak was quoted in saying, “Hopefully, if we can find something that makes us better, we’ll pursue it.” Thus, he left the door open to possible moves which I will discuss next.

Possible Areas to be Explored by Mozeliak

#5 Starter:

Joe Kelly is filling in right now, and he is doing a decent job. However, is he really the answer for the stretch run? Will John Gast be able to return this season? Will the team call up Carlos Martinez to fill the void? These are all valid questions that have left fans beckoning for Mozeliak to pull off a deal for another starter. After all, the national media keeps bringing up big names that may be on the trade block–Cliff Lee, Matt Garza, Bud Norris, Jake Peavy (if healthy), etc.

Well, in my opinion, I do not think Mozeliak should make a deal for a starter. Why? Because of Chris Carpenter and his recent progress. Just the other day, he pitched an extended bullpen in which he threw 106 pitches. When asked about the session, Matheny said it was the best he has seen Carpenter look all season. If all goes as planned, a rehab session will follow, and then he will be set to return to the Cardinals sometime in August. Thus, why deal one of your coveted prospects for an expensive pitcher like Lee when there is a chance you can get one of the best pitchers in team history back in the rotation?

Shortstop:

Pete Kozma is in the midst of yet another hitting slump–0 for his last 19 at-bats. He is hitting just .234 on the season. Both his on-base percentage and slugging percentage are below .300 which is also less than desirable. However, he is hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position–allowing him to compile 27 RBI this season. He may not be getting it done at the plate, but he is flat-out getting the job done in the field. In 685 innings played this year, he has just four errors. Also, for the sabermetrics folks, he has a 5.9 UZR which basically quantifies how many runs a player saves with his fielding.

Thus, Kozma is not wowing anybody with his overall performance this year, but he is doing his job in the field, and any offensive production he can provide is a bonus. Shortstops that may be available would include Jimmy Rollins and Alexei Ramirez. To be honest, at this point in their careers, I do not know if they would provide much more than a Kozma/Daniel Descalso platoon at short. Also, one cannot forget that the bat of Ryan Jackson also awaits in Triple-A Memphis if necessary.

Center Field:

Jon Jay has had his struggles this year–both at the plate and in the field. However, he may be starting to turn it around at the plate, as shown by his current 5-game hitting streak. Also, the All-Star break may prove to be just what he needed considering he has played in 85 of the team’s 87 games this season. Thus, considering he is a career .289 hitter, I can only think that his bat will get hot during the second half. If not, then more innings can be shared with Shane Robinson or the Cardinals can explore other options like Tommy Pham from Memphis or even Oscar Taveras if he can ever get healthy. Either way, center field is not a big enough need for the Cardinals to get desperate and deal a young prospect just to get one. The organization has faith that Jay will turn it around, and if he does not, they have internal options they can explore instead.

Bullpen:

Despite its struggles earlier in the season, this has actually been a strong point for St. Louis. Rookie Seth Maness has been a double play machine in the seventh inning. Left-handed rookie, Kevin Siegrist, has proven to be a strikeout machine and just refuses to give up an earned run. Flame-throwing righty, Trevor Rosenthal, has been rock solid in the set-up man role all season. Lastly, Edward Mujica has been nearly perfect as the closer (23/24 on saves). If the team feels like a change needs to be made later in the year or in the playoffs, Rosenthal would be the guy to take over in that spot. Thus, sorry Ken Rosenthal, but the Cardinals do not need Jonathan Papelbon.

Conclusion

There are the four spots that Mozeliak may explore when looking at possible deals before the deadline. However, after reading this article, I hope that you now understand the point I was trying to get across–the Cardinals do not need to make a deadline deal. The team is playing incredible baseball right now, and the future is even brighter with the prospects it has developing in the minors. Thus, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Until next time…

Joe (@stlCupOfJoe)

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7 thoughts on “Why the Cardinals Should Stay Put as Deadline Nears

  1. I’m very confused how you can say a centerfielder with zero errors, 3 assists, 3 double plays and numerous highlight catches in first half of year can be called anything short of gold glove material? Also if you look at his obp and RBI and runs scored and hbp and sac fly and sac bunts he would be 3rd best player in almost any other team.

    • Jon, I am the biggest Jon Jay fan out there. I promise you that. But when you look at the sabermetrics, not just errors and assists and the highlight reel catches, you get a better grip of exactly how he is performing. His UZR is -6.5 which means that his fielding has given the other team 6.5 runs. You want a positive UZR if you are a fielder, not a negative one. I understand you may not be a sabermetrics guy, but I respect it so that is what I am going to go by. Any other questions regarding this topic, you can send me an email at jmschwar@butler.edu.

  2. Yes, on the basis of one 106-pitch bullpen session, we should pencil Carpenter into the rotation in August. Just ignore the fact that he hasn’t pitched effectively in nine months and has been inactive most of that time.

    I’m a huge Carpenter fan, but the team can’t bank on full-speed Carpenter heading into a playoff run. That didnt work last year, either.

    • Thank you very much for reading. I really appreciate how you took the time to come up with a thoughtful response…Yes, I probably did not word my article the best and should have stated that Carpenter, Martinez, or even Gast could fill in that final spot if need be. Banking on one guy may be risky, but 3 guys is a little more reliable. Plus, Martinez is all but ready to get his shot as a starter.

      I guess the questions I listed before the Carpenter paragraph did not make it clear enough. Will remember this in the future to be clearer for my readers.

      In response to your concerns, I hear you on them, but what “available” starting pitcher would you be willing to trade for that will be that much better than what the Cardinals already have? I am intrigued and open to suggestions.

      • If I read you right, you were just impling that we have numerous options for the 5th starter and Carp is now one of them. And at least one of the options should be as good as anything else out there, but we don’t lose any prospects in return.

  3. Pingback: Why the St. Louis Cardinals should stay put as trade deadline nears - StlSportsMinute.com : StlSportsMinute.com

  4. Pingback: St. Louis Cardinals Deadline DEALS: Joe Kelly, Daniel Descalso, Jon Jay | stlcupofjoe's Sports Page

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