The Trade Bait Blues

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages...

I can't think of anything to write about this morning.

Seriously. I know it sounds a little odd, considering how I usually seem to just effortlessly spew out 10,000 word novellas at the drop of a hat, but I really can't think of much. I thought about doing a World Series preview, but then I thought, fuck that. I hate the Phillies and I hate the Yankees; previewing a series between them would essentially be like choosing which foot I would rather get kicked in the balls with, left or right. Either way, it's going to suck, so let's just leave it alone, kay?

It's still too early for any movement on the free agent market, so there's no news there. I don't have time to do a chat, and I can't imagine anyone really wants to talk about Twilight again for six hundred comments.

Also, I don't feel at all well today; I believe my brother gave me the stomach flu he's been complaining of the past several days. (It's really strange; I think I've been sick more in the past year than in the previous 8-10 years combined. It's beginning to really piss me off.)

There is one piece of real news, of course: Chris Carpenter was named yesterday as Major League Baseball's Comeback Player of the Year. Unfortunately, I already wrote a piece on that for my RFT gig, so not really a whole lot else to say there.

So what am I going to write about this morning? Well, I thought maybe we should do a quick rundown of what the Cardinals still have in the warchest if they need to try and make any trades this offseason. Looking around the free agent market, there are a few players the Cards may look to in order to try and bolster their chances, but not a whole lot, really. Sure, we would all like to see Mo go after John Lackey, but with the amount of payroll already tied up in the rotation, it probably isn't going to happen. The third base crop is uninspiring, to say the least, and in left field I have to think the Cardinals will either succeed in resigning Matt Holliday or take their chances with an internal option. In my ever so humble opinion, any substantial upgrades the Cards may make this offseason will likely have to come through making a trade. So just how bare is the cupboard?

Well, to be honest, pretty bare. Last year's deals did a fair job wiping out much of the depth the Cards had cultivated at the top of the system, particularly amongst the ranks of right-handed relief pitchers. Nonetheless, there are still a few names at both the major and minor league levels who just might be of interest to any potential trade partners.

Let's start with the major leaguers, shall we?

Skip Schumaker- Yes, that's right, I went right to that. Of all the players on the Cards' major league roster, Skip probably presents the best option for a player to be traded. Skip is perhaps the most average major league player you're ever going to see (his OPS+ in 2009 was 101; career it's 99), and as long as he's cheap, there's some definite value in that. On the other hand, given that he is so remarkably mediocre, Skip's spot on the roster is also one of those places you could gain some of that marginal advantage great teams so rely on. His offense is almost perfectly average, his defense is below-average at second; add in the positional adjustment and you have a player who is as average as average can be.

Now, how much value does Skip really have? Well, that's tough to say, honestly, but when you look at how affordable he is, it's certainly worth shopping him around, I would think. Schumaker is arbitration-eligible this season after making a little over 400K in 2009.

Ryan Ludwick- And even more controversial, I should think! Ha ha!

Actually, here's the thing about Ryan Ludwick: last season, he looked too valuable to trade. He was cheap, he was awesome, he seemed to have finally gotten past all the injuries which had kept him down for so long, what's not to like? Now, though, the picture is much cloudier. Luddy had a down season in which he looked a whole lot more like Skip Schumaker's big brother than a darkhorse MVP candidate. He's also on the verge of becoming much more expensive; Ludwick made $3.7 million in 2009 and will likely receive another decent boost this year.

The real problem with dealing Ludwick now is you would likely be selling a bit low; personally, I think he's a good candidate for a nice little bounceback year in 2010. On the other hand, Ryan is also not exactly a young ballplayer at this point, and expecting him to duplicate his 2008 performance is an extremely bad bet. If there's a good return to be had out there, I think you might very well have to consider moving him.

Mitchell Boggs- Yeah, I know. When Boggs is third on the list, that's probably not a good sign. Nonetheless, with the way Boggs pitched out of the bullpen late in the season, it isn't unfathomable some team might want him as a seventh or eighth inning arm. (Of course, the Cardinals would probably be well served to simply keep him and use him in that role, but that's not really the point of this exercise, now is it?)

Boggs is cheap, and will remain so for a couple more years. He has less than one year of major league service time, so he won't come up for arbitration for probably two more seasons. He's always had an exciting arm, and his stuff seemed to play up even further in relief. He isn't a principle trade piece, by any means, but could certainly bring some value as a secondary inclusion.

Okay, I'm going to level with you. That's pretty much it at the major league level. Trading Colby just doesn't make any sense at all, I can't imagine the Cards like Tyler Greene so much they would consider moving Brendan Ryan, and all the other positions are either filled with core players (Albert, Yadi), or guys who don't really have enough track record to be valuable yet. (see also David Freese and the like)

You know what? My laptop battery is almost dead, and I'm running out of time, folks. I'll just have to worry about the minor league trade bait some other time. Discuss amongst yourselves.

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