November 13, 2013

Can't the #Cardinals be the pursued, not the pursuer, in trade talks?

Everybody and his or her grandmother has ideas on what the Cardinals need to do in the Hot Stove League. Most of it involves upgrading at shortstop above the unsuitable Pete Kozma. I've shot down two ideas there, both Ken Rosenthal's would-be pickup of Troy Tulowitzki, deconstructed here, and Ray DeRousse's pursuit of Jurickson Profar, discussed here,  while offering my own alternative of going after Erick Aybar, touted here.

ESPN recently noted that this year was the lowest-scoring year in MLB in 20 years. Busch Stadium is slightly pitcher-friendly. So, why shouldn't the Cards have some degree of focus on pitching and defense? And not overspend on upgrading at a defense-first position? Also, given a world in which Ricky Nolasco wants a 5-year, $80-million contract and Ervin Santana thinks he's worth $100M, and some team will be dumb enough to pay both of them, and that the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza are also likely to be overpaid, why shouldn't the Cards play a bit hard to get instead?

Let others come to them begging for some pitching help. After all, Matheny's managerial shakiness aside, this is a team that's at least made it to the NLCS three straight years. And, while a Texas Rangers has a middle infield logjam similar to the Cards' pitching logjam, and can hold firmer, other teams aren't so lucky.

And, Bernie Miklask of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch agrees.
If Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wants to make a so-called blockbuster deal for a shortstop this winter, he's in the best position of any general manager in baseball. The Cardinals' pitching surplus makes it easily doable. 

Easy, that is, in terms of having the pieces to pull off such a trade.

What isn't so easy: deciding who to give up. That's the hard part. 
Bingo on all three grafs.

Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal are definite trade objects, obviously. I wouldn't trade both unless deemed very necessary, and that would have to be in two separate trades. Lance Lynn is, while ugh, no more ugh, really, than Nolasco and a lot cheaper, so can be a "topper" in a trade as necessary.

Sidebar: Did the Matheny-Mozeliak "conspiracy" to hold Miller out of the WS ding his trade value? Do you believe Ray DeRousse's interpretation of Joe Strauss that this was because the Cards had a deal pretty much lined up? If you do believe that, then where's that deal? Bernie also addresses that, saying something else may be up, but who knows what? 

That still leaves Michael Wacha, even if both Miller and Rosenthal are traded, plus the likelihood of Carlos Martinez, to follow Adam Wainwright, and likely be joined by Jaime Garcia.

Let's say either Miller or Rosenthal, more likely Miller, were traded, plus Lynn. That leaves a rotation of Waino, Wacha, Rosenthal, Martinez, Garcia. Now, I'm assuming Martinez can crack the rotation, and Garcia is recovered from his surgery to start, even at the No. 5 slot.

But, depending on what came back in trade, and for what position, that's a good rotation. And I didn't even mention Tyler Lyons, Joe Kelly or John Gast. They're all a bit further down the talent list, of course, but will all get further MLB service time as starters, somewhere, if not St. Louis, though Gast will still probably be on the shelf at the start of 2014. Maybe not great careers, but ...

Again, in a world where somebody will have some dumb overpay for Nolasco and Santana, the Cards should maybe not look too anxious to go "chasing" a deal. We're flush with pitching, let some other teams chase us instead.

Like the Rangers. Ken Rosenthal notes that they've got a logjam in the middle infield, with minor-league prospects pushing hard behind Profar, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler. Yet another reason the Cards can just chillax a bit.

And, the Cards have said they won't swap Miller for J.J. Hardy. Totally agreed, on a player with just one year on contract, on the far side of 30, etc. That said, Jon Heyman is right; the mishandling of Miller in the postseason may have other GMs a bit gun-shy.

I've complained more than once about how Matheny and Mozeliak mishandled, or mis-nonhandled,  Miller in the postseason. Per Will Leitch, maybe the 2011-13 gloss is off. As the Cardinals look to improve, it's not just in the roster where they need to look.

Meanwhile, if you do still feel the need to weigh in on shortstop issues, hit the poll at right.


Anonymous said...

I wasted nearly two hours the other night composing and unsuccessfullu attempting to post lengthy comment.

So I'll keep this short. According to Derrick Goold of St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miller and Freese will NOT be enough to land Profar. Texas will want more.


Gadfly said...

I saw that, too. And Profar definitely isn't worth the "more than," since in my book, he's not even worth the "than." Plus, the Rangers have as much of a middle infielder talent backup as the Cards do at pitcher. They can either lower their price, or keep more of the logjam down on the farm. There's more starting pitching slots than middle infield spots, after all.