Now that this team has declared itself all in in 2011 the weirdly specific veteran rumor mill has only escalated--the Cardinals remain the prime pretend-destination for Heath Bell in spite of their recent game of Three-Reliever Monty, and I expect they'll be a part of the nonspecified veteran rumor mill articles for the rest of the season; having showed themselves to be big spenders MLBTradeRumors is going to be sending them free drinks until they're tapped out.
Bell I don't understand at all. The Cardinals' bullpen has vastly less slack in it than it did on Monday, and the difference between Bell and Fernando Salas on down to Mitchell Boggs and Lance Lynn just doesn't seem enough to justify trading actual prospects, as opposed to the Mets' Francisco Rodriguez Going Out of Business Sale. Heath Bell is a fine closer, but it's worth mentioning that the Cardinals' closer, judging by Fernando Salas's usage patterns, is likely to pitch 25-30 innings in the last two months. Edwin Jackson will pitch twice that unless something goes even more terribly wrong.
(I'm not sure, incidentally, whether Joe Strauss's tweet about Heath Bell for Jason Motte was an actual rumor, actual speculation, or just the fevered invention of a successful 4chan troll [I can see him very clearly in a Guy Fawkes mask, posting copypasta about some gory photos on /b/, yelling upstairs at mom for some more soda in the basement fridge, already] , but obviously that would be crazier still--a little like trading Colby Rasmus straight-up for Carlos Beltran.)
If the Cardinals are looking to trade for another veteran before the deadline it's foolish to try to make a move on another reliever with the replacement level of the bullpen so much higher than it was. At this point the Cardinals only have one position left where the real replacement level is still in earshot, which is why the Rafael Furcal rumors are the only ones that make any sense to me.
Furcal reminds me of Edgar Renteria without the awkward associations--he's a thirtysomething shortstop with a few brilliant seasons separated by a lot of average-to-lost seasons. Right now he's in the middle of one of the lost seasons, playing for one of baseball's lost teams, in the last season of his contract. The Cardinals won't have to trade Jon Jay for him, is what I'm getting at, and the Dodgers are likely to focus on whatever salary relief they can get.
Swapping Edwin Jackson for Kyle McClellan is an easier decision to make, without considering the players going in the other direction, but in exchange for the risk of trading for Furcal in the middle of his nightmare 2011, instead of the two 2-3 win seasons immediately preceding it, the Cardinals wouldn't have to trade Colby Rasmus for him. If he continues having a disastrous season--well, the Cardinals are out a C prospect or two, and Ryan Theriot is having his own disastrous season, anyway. As a primary upgrade the Cards Talk fans might have been a little disappointed, but as a lottery ticket with a chance of shoring up the offense the Cardinals just depleted I'd be in favor of it.
Post-Rasmus Report, Day One: Marc Rzepczynski looked just good enough to soothe the heartbreak that came with Corey Patterson's RBI single. He doesn't look like a LOOGY, inasmuch as his delivery doesn't resemble a formless slider cannon like or even Trever Miller. His stuff is clearly a step better and while his serious platoon problems (he's allowed a career OPS of .782 vs. righties, compared to .581 vs. lefties) make starting a bit of a fraught proposition it seems like something Dave Duncan might regard as a personal challenge.
As for Corey Patterson, fear potentially confirmed: When he gets the chance, Tony La Russa is going to enjoy using Patterson's "platoon advantage"--he's a .711 hitter vs. righties, .644 vs. lefties--to get him into the lineup as something more than a fifth outfielder and defensive replacement. Get well soon, Lance Berkman; get well soon, Allen Craig.
Octavio Dotel looks like Octavio Dotel has looked since the moment he stopped being the Dominant Set-Up Man of the Houston Astros nearly 100 years ago--like he's just barely hanging on, but just barely hanging on in a way that will lead to an average season some contender is going to overpay for. He's spent most of his career now just hanging on, being a completely passionless addition to midseason trades.