May 27, 2015

Injury bug hits #Cardinals again; could lead to creative trade

Adam Wainwright's Achilles tendon blowout was the first serious injury for the Cardinals this year.

Now, they've got a second that, while not quite that bad, isn't good.

Matt Adams, out for
awhile after a Joe Kelly
baserunning oops
Matt Adams, taking the wrong page from the Joe Kelly baserunning playbook, has torn his quadriceps tendon badly enough that he could need surgery, and will be out significant time, with or without that. (Remember that Kelly didn't have surgery on his bad hammy, and missed a couple of months.) GM John Mozeliak is now using the words "long term."

Update, May 28: Looks like he's semi-officially out for the season.

That means more time for Mark Reynolds, immediately.

Below that? Unless Xavier Scruggs becomes more than he's shown so far, he's not a long-term answer. And, Reynolds wasn't supposed to be a starter himself, though so far this year, he's actually been batting better than Adams. But not enough to cover up a combined struggle at the spot.

So, what are some other semi-realistic options?

Allen Craig? Please; there's a reason the Sawks sent him down to Pawtucket.

Ryan Howard: Is a
St. Louis homecoming
"in the Cards"?
Ryan Howard? He's actually having an Indian summer year, being an above-average batter so far. Problem is, that means Ruben Amaro will increase his ask, especially if Mozeliak wants Amaro to eat a lot of salary.

But, here's a gamble worth considering. If Mo can convince Amaro that Jon Jay's early-season struggles are just due to his bum thumb, he could be trade bait for Howard, if Amaro will still eat at least 80 percent of that contract. It's essentially a gamble against that on Mo's part, and a gamble in favor of the idea that Peter Bourjos can keep up his current production.

And, at an 80 percent salary-eat, that makes it an official wash on money. (Not counting the $10M buyout on Howard in 2017, which I originally forgot about. Anyway, that's bridge that can be crossed later. Maybe you could get Howard to do a 2/$15 extension or something that eases the hit for the Cards.)

It also, with Jay gone, probably puts more somewhat more pressure on Mo to resign Jason Heyward.

But, hey, it's all moving puzzle pieces. And, with Randal Grichuk raking, and Stephen Piscotty probably getting a September call-up, if not sooner, the pressure isn't THAT big. Besides, with Jay 30 this year, and me not sure why Mo gave him a two-year deal this past offseason to buy up his final arbitration year as well as the current one, he might not have had a long-term Cardinal home anyway. If the Cards don't resign Holliday, but do resign Heyward, that would give you, from left to right, Piscotty, Grichuk and Heyward in two years, keeping Bourjos as your fourth OF. Or put Piscotty in right if Holliday stays, in part due to not resigning Heyward.

Anyway, back to that trade. Mo can even throw in Pete Kozma for infield depth.

This is a trade I make if Amaro eats 80 percent of the salary, not counting that buyout. I'll consider it at 75 percent. If Amaro eats 75 percent of his current salary plus any portion of that buyout, I definitely make that trade.

And, this offseason, if nothing else, you can trade Adams for a backup catcher better than Tony Cruz who's a righty bat and can also play backup 1B. Some follow-up thoughts here.

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