The Cubs deployed a classic drug dealer move Friday by offering the first Ryan Dempster win free, but even if the Cardinals manage to avoid that particular vice they're going to be included in every set of pitcher trade rumors until July 31; it's their reward for playing poorly in June and July, when people start to notice that sort of thing.
I'm fine with that--I don't think they need to make a move, but they certainly could, given both their weaknesses and the strength of their farm system. Which leads me, after only three or four segues, to today's topic: The Touchables.
I'm working on the name.
At Future Redbirds yesterday our own azru bending avatar went over The Untouchables, which in his mind are Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, and Kolten Wong. To that group I'll add Carlos Martinez, who probably won't be touched. That leaves us with a number of touchable prospects who could, at least theoretically, be involved in trades; I am ordering them, here, by their subjective... okay, it's Touchability, now, but give me a few days and I'll come up with something.
Zack Cox: Yeah, I'm really going to have to come up with something different.
Zack Cox: At this point the Cardinals would be selling low on their 2010 first-rounder, but that worked with Brett Wallace, right? Unlike Wallace, he appears entrenched at third base, but even after hitting .377 in June Cox finds himself with a .257/.297/.426 line as a 23-year-old in the Pacific Coast League. Which would be okay, if the fundamentals weren't equally bad.
Cox has 12 walks and 62 strikeouts. He has two more home runs than Ryan Jackson, a defense-first shortstop who was first projected to get the bat knocked out of his hands in Batavia, and a lower OPS. His BAbip is over .300, which is a little low for the PCL but not a lot low.
In selling now the Cardinals would be giving up on a player who was supposed to be the top college bat in the draft two years ago, but to be honest I never quite saw what the upside was in the first place; the scouts loved him, but if you imagined the player they were raving about he was basically peak Joe Randa, or the wacky BAbip/no power version of David Freese.
Those guy have value, and it's too early to slam the door on--to doubt this guy's future entirely, but he is eminently touchable. He's blocked by Freese and Matt Carpenter, and the Cardinals drafted three first basemen in the first two rounds of this year's draft. He wouldn't anchor a very exciting trade, but I've been on the other side of this trade enough times to know how easy it is to get excited about an erstwhile Top 100 prospect down on his luck.
Eduardo Sanchez is the relief-pitching version of Zack Cox--dinged-up but, in the wake of the 10-player puzzler foisted on MLB Trade Rumors by the Astros and Blue Jays yesterday, definitely plausible as a trading chit.
So far we haven't impressed any GMs with our willingness to talk deal; you could center a trade for a pitcher around Zack Cox, it's just that that pitcher would probably be Bartolo Colon, or somebody. If we want to move up to the next tier, we're going to have to take this touchables thing a bit further--all the way to first base.
First, though, there's the matter of the Cardinals' newest relief pitcher, Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal's a weird prospect; he has great stuff, and great results, and now major league experience, but he seems destined to be undervalued until the Cardinals announce he's a closer and make him less valuable.
That's the curse of being closer-shaped; Rosenthal's too short to be a starter until somebody finally makes him a starter. In that sense, he doesn't seem like a great piece to trade, especially because the Cardinals would probably trade him for a small, hard-throwing relief pitcher.
Beyond Rosenthal there's Future Redbirds favorite Anthony Garcia, the team's other young-for-his-league, multi-tool outfield slugger, and Tyrell Jenkins, the George Harrison of the pitching-prospect trinity, and a cast of a thousand near-prospects who could serve as the Doug Nickle of a larger trade. (Maybe someone could finally free Bryan Anderson and Mark Hamilton!)
But at this point the Cardinals' most valuable for-sale asset, I think, is Matt Adams. I was an Adams skeptic going into the season, because a .300/.357/.566 season is the kind of big year a future average first baseman has in the Texas League. But in spite of a rushed move to the majors Adams is now hitting .358/.388/.679 in 50 games with AAA Memphis.
All his weaknesses as a prospect--how far upstream he is defensively, how infrequently he walks--still exist, but he's put a chance at near-stardom on the table, and he's done it one step closer to the major leagues. That combination of MLB-readiness and upside makes him a perfect bet for any number of teams who would like to sell both their best player and more t-shirt jerseys.
It's also one the Cardinals could do without, if they had to. In 2012 the Cardinals' outfield/first base carousel is extremely brittle but also full, and while it's true that the Cardinals might have occasion to use Adams again--no Allen Craig updates as we went to print--they could certainly make do with Matt Carpenter. As for 2013, Lance Berkman will likely be gone, but Oscar Taveras will be where Adams is now.
I remain skeptical of the Cardinals' need to reload in July, but if they need to, nobody's stock has gone up as fast as Matt Adams's. That's why the Cardinals could trade him... that's why they call him the [DAN FILL THIS IN WHEN YOU COME UP WITH SOMETHING THAT ISN'T SO CREEPY]