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The Suppan Question: Trade or No Trade

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Programming note: I received an e-mail the other day from a producer at HBO Sports that I thought might be interesting to various VEBers who are not holding out hope for that Ray Lankford documentary I've always wanted. Blockquote:

Hey Dan,

My name is Rahul Rohatgi, and I'm a producer at HBO Sports. I'm currently researching a documentary on the late Cardinals center fielder Curt Flood, and I'd like to post a message on Viva El Birdos, suggesting any Cardinals fans contact me if they have any Flood stories or memorabilia.

I told him I could do him one better! So if you have any Curt Flood stories or memorabilia, contact Rahul via e-mail here


The Cardinals are now 1-3 with Jeff Suppan as their starter, but while he hasn't exceeded expectations by very much he's still put in about the kind of performance that can be expected from a half-competent fifth starter. He's performed, if I had to guess, better than Adam Ottavino would have; at worst he's been about what we could have expected from some in-house option. He's been awful to watch in a lot of ways—six runs in four hours is not how baseball is supposed to work—but there's something fun about watching a completely generic pitcher institute the Dave Duncan plan as closely as he can manage. 

So if I'd still just as soon be watching an unproven starter make shaky starts every fifth day, the question at this point isn't whether the Cardinals were right to sign Jeff Suppan so much as whether they're right to continue to field a rotation that has Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth in it; whether it's better to watch Suppan and Hawksworth fulfill their wildest replacement level ambitions two games out of five until Lohse and Penny recover, or start following MLB Trade Rumors again until July 31 looking for teams who've tired of their Jarrod Washburn types. 

And it's Washburn types I think the Cardinals would end up scouting. Trading Shelby Miller so soon after Brett Wallace, and for a player the Cardinals almost certainly wouldn't be able to afford, seems further outside the realm of possibility than acquiring Holliday did. The kind of pitcher the Cardinals would be after would cost the equivalent of the rest of the Holliday package—Lance Lynn and Daryl Jones?—and be about as dinged up as Daryl Jones's reputation. 

On Twitter, which, as a member of The New Media, I am required to follow, VEB alum and Future Redbirds godfather Erik Manning has suggested Jake Westbrook and Kevin Millwood, who seem about right both as individuals and as types. That's who the Cardinals should be after, if they're after anybody: guys who will replace Brad Penny or Kyle Lohse in execution and in cost. Daryl Jones and Lance Lynn, like the $7.5 million it cost to sign Penny (and, yes, entirely unlike the $41 million the Cardinals are paying Lohse), have value, but they're not irreplaceable.

Still arguably the best team in the division, and looking at the class of player whose trade will not cause ESPN2 to break into its WNBA coverage, the Cardinals can afford to wait, and they probably should. There's a lot for them to wait about: how Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny's comebacks progress, how Jeff Suppan and Starter #5 keep it together, how Jaime Garcia holds up as the season passes the halfway mark, and, of course, how the Reds look in July. (Their GM is well known, in baseball circles, for the occasional trading deadline move.)