I am a sucker for trades. I easily pledge my allegiance to the St. Louis Cardinals, but this time of year I am constantly scouring the trade rumors anxious to see which players change uniforms. This giddiness could stem from my obsession with baseball video games where I try to make the most outlandish trades I can.
And with all this being said, I find it very hard to believe the Cardinals will be making any trades before the July 31st trade deadline. First of all, I take into consideration the bullheadedness of the Cardinals front office to sacrifice young cost controlled talent for A. a rental player or B. an expensive aging player. Some would argue that it's unknown how good a prospect is going to be, so trading them for an immediate impact player is a must. The Cardinals have always, except for Colby Rasmus and a couple others, erred on the side that that "unknown" is in their favor.
A lot of fans have become frustrated with the play of Allen Craig and Shelby Miller this year. As a side note, and I am obviously not a doctor, I think both are injured, Craig more so than Miller. Craig played 134 games and dealt with the Lisfranc injury last year. Feet are like hands to a baseball player, if they don't feel right it can mess the whole process up. The possibility of the injury still effecting him at the plate, and him getting used to back to back "full" seasons in the majors can be taking its toll on Craig. Mind you in 2010-2012 Craig only played in 238 games. I'm going to take a path untaken with Miller, and argue that he was rushed to the majors. There was never any secret on Shelby, he's a fastball pitcher with a below average change-up and curveball. Now, I'll be the first to say that at times the change and curve have been good pitches for Miller. But mix in the apparent back issues, he is unable to get on top of his off speed pitches and they are virtually ineffective. The back issues I believe Miller is dealing with also are effective his fastball command and velocity. We've seen it many times this year with Shelby. A couple walks in an inning followed by a meat fastball that major league hitter simply do not miss. What does this have to do with Miller being rushed to the majors? Well, I feel like more time in the minors to work on secondary pitches would take stress on Miller's back from all the fastballs he throws. Also, it's very hard for a starting pitcher to live on his fastball alone. We saw Jason Motte and Trevor Rosenthal live off the fastball in the clubs past two World Series appearances, but look at how that's working for them lately. Baseball is all about timing, and as soon as a hitter is able to time that fastball, it's game over for the pitcher. Except for Aroldis Chapman, who has deception on his side with that funky delivery.
So...the general consensus we see on message boards are things like "Lets trade Miller, Craig, Randal Grichuk/Stephen Piscotty, and Marco Gonzales for Troy Tulowitzki." Now..I would love to have Tulo just like the next guy, but that frankly isn't going to get it done. With the years Craig and Miller are having combined with the unknowns of the said prospects, the Rockies would laugh at GM John Mozeliak and hang up the phone. I don't think any of us are ready to throw Carlos Martinez or Oscar Taveras into any trades, although there may be the odd minority who looks at Taveras' numbers and call him a bust.
The question then becomes, "Ok, if the Cards aren't trading for Tulo, Giancarlo Stanton, David Price, or Adrian Beltre what are they going to do?". My guess is probably nothing outside of maybe picking up recently DFA'd John Buck or something similar. There is always the potential of grabbing a bench player, but you can expect a Keith Butler and Jermaine Curtis flipped for a .260 bench player such as Matt Dominguez from the Astros or possibly Chase Headley from the Padres (though I feel like a little more would be required to acquire Headley).
As much as it pains me to say this...I feel like the recent injury to Yadier Molina may be a blow to the head for the Cards. I know it's only the half way point, and it's absurd to think they will just throw in the towel, but I don't get the feeling the Cardinals are going to sell the farm to acquire somebody for an immediate fix. There are many glaring holes in St. Louis, and the Molina injury only adds another issue to an already out of hand problem. There are too many politics for the Cards to send Craig and Miller to Memphis and bench Matt Holliday, and not enough trade chips to acquire two positions players and a starter to launch this team to the World Series and still have a competitive team come 2019.
All in all everything I've just said can be for not. The Cardinals have surprised me before (see 2011 postseason), and I have the upmost respect for John Mozeliak and the way he handles the makeup of the team. As for how the dugout handles it? Well, that's for another post. All I can say is as of July 11, the Cardinals are 2 games out of first place with a hugely underperforming offense and a pitching staff limping into the All-Star break. Hold on to your seats Cards fans, the roller coaster ride has only begun.