bernie miklasz hits it on the head vis-vis the cards' organizational dysfunction:
spivey, ponson, rincon, bigbie -- that's $5.2 million, plus a left-handed relief pitcher, that the cardinals wasted on "established" veterans who were brought in to do jobs that young players within the organization already could do -- and have done, as it turns out. too bad those resources weren't applied toward a solution for one of the holes that have gone unfilled on this team all season long, and likely will remain unfilled beyond the trading deadline. for example, if the cards had been willing to commit to both wainwright and reyes, they could have traded marquis over the winter when his value was still reasonably high -- might've packaged him with king and a prospect to acquire the "impact bat" they've been missing all season.
i'll acknowledge that la russa does work unproven players into the mix -- molina, flores, and j-rod last year; duncan, luna, hancock, wainwright, reyes, and ty johnson this year. but in the majority of these cases he has not gone out of his way to create an opportunity for a young player; rather, he's turned to youngsters as last resorts, when injuries left him without other options. aside from molina, the cardinals under la russa don't commit to young players; tony's always got to have other (read: veteran) options hovering around, soaking up resources and roster space. over time all those mediocrities gum up the pipeline, and jocketty finds himself with no attractive trade chips and no maneuvering room.
will belliard help? marginally, perhaps; he's got the ability to get hot for two months, and i hope he does. but he's not the type of player who is likely to alter the outcome of the postseason, carry the cardinals to a world series. at any rate, i'm not focusing on this individual trade; in isolation, it's harmless. the troublesome thing is the pattern -- the inefficient use of organizational resources. that's no longer sustainable. jocketty's shopping list for the 2006-07 off-season is already long enough -- 2 or 3 starting pitchers, a left fielder, bullpen help (as always), and bench strength. now he'll also have to buy a 2d baseman, leaving fewer resources available for all the other positions. so the cardinals will spend $2m on a 2bman next winter . . . . . but they'll come up a few million short in the bidding for jason schmidt.
here's joe sheehan's take on the trade at baseball prospectus (subscrip req'd); you could say he's not a fan:
transaction oracle says:
While I appreciate Belliard and his impressive Fat-Leticism at second, I don't see him as all that much a better player than Luna now (if at all) and I'd rather have 4 years of Luna than 2 months of Belliard. Yes, the trade gets Aaron Miles out of the lineup, but the team could've done that anyway. My only complaint is of utilization . . .
in case you missed it, both the pa.m beach post and the post-dispatch (2d-to-last graph) confirmed the cards' active pursuit of dontrelle willis. . . . .not that it alters the outcome, but at least it clears up any doubts about whether this so-called rumor had any truth behind it.