There is, undoubtedly, a universe in which Pedro Feliz puts the Cardinals on his back and carries a .300 OBP into the World Series, but I'm relatively sure I don't live in it. That's one of the reasons this trade is so confusing: the upside, even in the bluest-sky version of the trade, just won't show itself to me.
So he's better than Felipe Lopez on defense. I won't dispute this—at times in the last five years he's been outstanding. But Felipe Lopez, even in the midst of his worst season since 2007, isn't as bad on defense as those errors made him seem, and John Mozeliak should know that and probably does. And his OPS is 130 points higher than Pedro Feliz's OPS.
Wait, wait, let me try again: Felipe Lopez's OPS this year is 130 points worse than it was last year. Pedro Feliz's OPS is 130 points worse than Felipe Lopez's is this year. Feliz is a bad hitter having a truly awful year. If he bounces back he's a bad hitter having a bad year.
What this reminds me of most isn't 2007 but 2003. The 2007 team wasn't very good, and was clearly on its last legs; the 2003 team had a lot to look forward to, some good teams in its division, and some crippling problems, which Walt Jocketty attempted to solve in an unusually poor way.
That August Jock looked at the bullpen, which, behind Jason Isringhausen, featured Cal Eldred as the only right-hander to pitch an entire season with an ERA under five, and decided the best way to fix it, or at least the most expedient, was to pick up Brewers closer Mike DeJean.
DeJean, unlike Feliz, wasn't a terrible player; he was utterly replaceable, the kind of guy who might get 15 saves four seasons in a row when better pitchers come and go, but he wasn't terrible. As a Cardinal, for all the futility his brief stint evokes, he was kind of a lucky charm—the Cardinals went 12-6 in his appearances and lost just one, a brutal game against the Cubs, by his direct intervention. He pitched well in high-leverage situations and badly in low-leverage situations.
But he clearly wasn't enough. And there's something about both moves that smacks of the empty gesture—they might not be harmful, but they're signaling without content, and it's discomfiting to see Mozeliak make moves that are either disingenuous or dumb.
The Cardinals' playoff chances, per Baseball Prospectus, stand now at 47%. Putting aside the poor connotations the word has, the Reds have been good and lucky, and the Cardinals have been about as good and considerably less lucky. This is what that scenario looks like.
But 47% isn't the Cardinals being done—it's the Cardinals having finally squandered their chance to run away with the division. They're still in it, and yesterday's ill-timed off-day could still be the low-water mark of a season that promised a lot and has underdelivered.