To Trade or Not to Trade

Dilip Vishwanat

That is my question.

Hey, everybody. Forgive the late post today, if you please. It's going to be short and sweet, as well. (Probably good news to those of you who despise listening to me ramble anyhow...) We're just really beginning to get into the Hot Stove season now anyway, and the actual news has yet to really get up and running.

So here's my short discussion topic for all of you this fine afternoon: should the Cardinals make a trade this offseason? Or should they hold on to their assets?

Actually, let's take a quick look at the situation. The Cardinals, at the major league level, are really pretty stacked. At least in terms of quality-ish players, that is. Maybe not stacked stacked as in, "Team you have to favour to win a title," but stacked as in, "It's hard to see a whole lot of upgrades here." Allen Craig will be your full-time first baseman next season, and probably a pretty damned fine one again. You've got Carlos Beltran in right, Jon Jay in center, and Oscar Taveras lurking in the nearish future to play some outfield as well. Catcher isn't going anywhere, third base probably isn't either. Matt Holliday will be here. The starting pitching side is pretty full as well, without a ton of opportunity and at least a few solid candidates for spots.

So, basically, when you're talking about upgrades for the 2013 iteration of the Redbirds, you're talking either bullpen help or the middle infield. The bullpen, well, bullpens are funny. Mo and Co. have shown a proclivity for putting together a bullpen on the fly out of what parts they can find, and I'm okay with that. There have been times the last couple years when the 'pen has been a serious source of frustration, but given the fungible and unpredictable nature of relief pitching I'm not sure throwing money or trade bait at the situation is really a smart decision. Satisfying to we armchair GMs, perhaps, but maybe not particularly smart. So, we're basically talking about the middle infield.

The free agent market for middle infielders this year is, at is most seasons, pretty dreadful. There just isn't much of anything out there. You want upgrades, you're either going to wait for the farm system to provide them, or trade from the farm system to get them. Elvis Andrus is the name being floated out there most often, but I'm personally not expecting the Rangers to move him unless a team just knocks their socks off with an offer.

So my question to you is this: which would you prefer, a trade or patience? Kolten Wong isn't far off at second base, most likely, but I don't personally feel he'll be ready for a big league spot at the beginning of next season. At short, I think the Pete Kozma flirtation has probably run its course, and Rafael Furcal is just so much of an unknown at this point, in terms of his health. I just don't feel super confident in him going forward. Ryan Jackson has the glove, but the bat is a big question mark. After him, you're waiting a little longer to see what develops.

The Cards have a big surplus of young arms right now. Shelby Miller is the biggest name, of course, and he showed well for himself late in the season. His value is sky-high right now, and I'm a little leery of him long term. (Health, I mean.) Trevor Rosenthal is still a step or two behind in hype, but probably Shelby's equal in talent. Joe Kelly is best as a reliever, in my opinion, but could be moved right now as a starter. There are more arms in the minors on the way. Any trade you make would almost certainly involve the war chest of young pitching the Cards have assembled.

So, without specifically nailing down just one trade, I want to know what you guys think. Should the Cards go outside the organisation to improve the team, dealing from their strengths to do so? Or do they let things ripen a bit longer, stay the course if you will, and let the farm system try to fill any upgradeable spots on its own?

What I really mean to ask isn't whether the Cardinals should try to upgrade or not, or even if they should be willing to make a trade to do so. What I want to know is whether they should do it now. This could be a pivotal offseason, in terms of setting this team up to compete for the next five seasons or so. Do the Redbirds make a move now and tap their resources, or patiently let the farm continue to grow its crop of future talent and hold on to the harvest themselves?

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