Yesterday, our site manager and fearless leader Craig Edwards wrote about the Cardinals' upcoming decision, about whether to buy or sell this trade deadline, and came down solidly on the side of buying, of going for the gusto. And he has good reasons for that, good arguments in favour of his position. The Redbirds have underachieved in terms of record relative to nearly every metric we have to predict true talent, the Cubs suddenly look vulnerable, none of the clubs the Cards are directly competing with for a wild card spot look unassailable, and even without any improvements at all, this club should have a better record going forward than they have to date.
All good reasons. All accurate reasons.
And yet, I still believe this is the year for the Cardinals to sell, rather than buy. And I'm going to tell you why.
First off, there's the matter of that record, which the Redbirds have, by most of our objective metrics, outplayed. I have no doubt the Cardinals of 2016 are, in fact, a better team than their current record would indicate. And if they were to stand absolutely pat, I would expect the record going forward to more reflect their true talent level, rather than the oddly disastrous sequencing we've seen for much of the season.
However, the fact we think the Cardinals are better than a slightly-above-.500 team going forward doesn't change the past. We often hear analysts -- or perhaps ourselves -- talk about a club that's gotten off to an unsustainably hot start, and how they're bound to regress, to come back down to Earth, but that those wins they've already accumulated are Banked. They've Banked those wins, the saying goes, and you can't take those wins away. If you're a .500 club that gets off to a 30-15 start, you aren't going to play 15 games below .500 the rest of the way to even things out. You're probably going to play to about a .500 clip, and will thus end up somewhere around 15 games over for the season. It's the beautiful part of banking -- pardon me; Banking -- wins early on, when other clubs are perhaps getting off to unsettled, slow starts. You start off hot, it makes it much easier to weather storms that may come later. And we all know a win in April is just as important as a win in September, no matter what the narratives spun by certain members of the old-guard sports media might have you believe.
Here's the problem, though: losses Bank just as surely as wins do, and if you play over half your season at a barely-above-.500 clip, even if you're a true-talent .550 (or .570), club, you're going to have a very difficult time getting there. The fact the Cardinals have meandered along for so much of the season, has put them solidly behind the eight ball. Sure, you can't possibly expect to be 7-15 in one-run games the rest of the way; in one-run games, even the best teams tend to sit right around .500. It's just the nature of things. Unfortunately, you also can't expect to go eight games over .500 in one-run games in the second half in order to even things out. Like it or not, those losses are Banked.
My preference to sell, though, is actually not about the Cardinals' record, and how they've put themselves in a hole with shoddy play thus far in 2016. Rather, it's a larger matter I've had on my mind for a while now, and it relates to agriculture.
I don't know the backgrounds of most of the readers of this site. I can make some assumptions, based on the fact we're all fans of a Midwestern baseball team, that the majority are probably from a region similar to that from which I hail, but that's certainly not a hard and fast rule. We have people from all over the country, a couple of Brits (at least a couple; I can actually think of three offhand, and there may be more for all I know), a couple readers from Asia, people from cities, people from rural areas, men and women, and I hope some decent amount of racial diversity. So I cannot assume common knowledge of things that are not baseball, and I will therefore explain briefly about crop rotation.
I'm sure most of you have, at some point in your life, at least driven past a long stretch of farmland. And in driving past that long stretch of farmland, you may have noticed that the fields appeared to be planted with alternating crops of one sort or another. This is not by accident; rather, for much of human history, it has been understood that growing the exact same crop in one spot year after year after year depletes the soil, oftentimes in disastrous ways.
The culprit is the nutrient needs of an individual crop. When you see corn planted on a field, that corn is sucking up certain nutrients from the soil, while contributing other nutrients back into the system. Plant the same crop year after year, and the soil will become depleted. However, if you rotate crops, say, corn or wheat with soybeans, the two different crops complement each other, each giving something back that the other requires. This practice has been taking place for a very, very long time; Leviticus, in addition to having some rather cryptic and unfortunate language regarding homosexuality and beating one's wife (as well as eating fat and handling fish), has rules laid out about the best way to plant crops and use the various byproducts of agriculture, including the idea of a Sabbath of the Land. So I'm just saying, the idea has been around a while.
Over the ages, people discovered that there was actually an even better way to rotate crops; namely, rather than simply alternating between two crops, they found that if they divided their land into thirds, they could plant one-third with one crop, another third with a complementary crop, and the final third they would let lie fallow. There are benefits to the fallow period that cannot be replicated by basically any individual crop, and so the overall health of the soil -- and thus the yield of the land -- were further increased by this three-part approach.
There are a variety of different combinations of crops used under these systems, from the two-crop-one-fallow-field approach, to three-crop approaches, to rotations that utilise four or even more plantings to try and maximise the yields of the land. You can look it up if you care; I suspect most of you will not. And honestly, I'm not particularly interested in crop rotation myself; it's simply one of the things that I learned about as a boy growing up in rural Missouri, coming from stock that was half-railroad, half-farmer in its economics.
So what would happen if one were to ignore this wisdom of the ages and not bother rotating one's crops? Well, nothing, for awhile. But as time went on, you would have to pour more and more resources into keeping the soil quality up, employing more fertiliser, more chemical enhancements, more everything. Rather than taking advantage of the natural ability of certain plants to restore nutrients to the soil, you would have to pour in everything you needed, to the point that eventually it would become so expensive, and so exhaustive in terms of effort, that the system would just collapse.
I'm sure you see where I'm going with this, right?
This year in baseball, we are staring down an extreme seller's market. The few clubs that are truly out of the playoff running this year are so bad that they have very little of worth to offer to contenders. The few assets these moribund masses possess are of the future variety, for the most part; sure, the Braves could part with some of their young players, but in most cases those players are so young as to be considered nearly integral to whatever the next contending Atlanta team is going to look like. Ditto for the Phillies, who completed their sell-off over the offseason and are now in the nascent stages of building a contender. Milwaukee has Jonathan Lucroy and perhaps Ryan Braun to trade, but it's an open question how likely they are to move those pieces. One would think they nearly have to, but considering Braun at least is a close personal friend of the club owner, it's tough to say exactly what will happen. The Reds have Jay Bruce to move, but their other two pieces, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, have essentially made themselves impossible to trade with some combination of demands, contractual stipulations, age, expense, and poor production.
The Rockies have one real piece left to move, in Carlos Gonzalez, but it's an open question how much anyone really wants CarGo at this point. The Diamondbacks have plenty of pieces they could move, but a) many of those pieces are the sorts of long-term assets teams just can't bear to part with most of the time, and b) Arizona seems almost suicidally set on their current course, no matter what sorts of adjustments reality might call for.
So what we're left with is a market in which there are an absurd number of clubs hanging right around the point of contention, nearly all of whom will be looking for some sort of upgrade, and an exceedingly small number of teams who realistically fit into the 'seller' side of the ledger. When there are few resources on the market, and lots of clubs who could really use some of those resources, you can bet the price will be inflated.
A club with some excess talent, that has played itself into a tough position, but which could likely move some of that excess talent without actually torpedoing the season due to the fact the roster is an oddly diffuse affair, could be just the sort of club to take advantage of this market.
The next point I want to make is going to be kind of a difficult one. It's going to be a difficult one because we need to talk about the Cardinals' young core, and what kind of talent base this club has. And that's going to require a little bit of talk about the 2013 prospect class.
And that is going to be tough. Because that's going to require a little bit of talk about Oscar Taveras.
Here's the thing: talking about Oscar Taveras as a baseball player is difficult. The reason talking about Oscar as a baseball player is difficult is because Oscar the person is not around anymore, and that's a much bigger deal than the fact Oscar the baseball player is also not around anymore. I think we all understand that. The fact a young man lost his life making a terrible mistake is much bigger, much more profound, than anything we could bring up regarding his potential career as a baseball player.
That being said, when Oscar Taveras died, a sizable portion of the Cardinals' future plans simply disappeared. And admitting that to be the case is not in any way dishonouring his memory, I don't think.
In 2013, the Cardinals had the game's best farm system, by pretty much everyone's reckoning. They had an historically exciting crop of pitchers, including Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal, Tyrell Jenkins, and others. Tyler Lyons was probably the sleeper of the bunch, as a lefty cut more from the crafty mold than the power-arm mass at the top of the lists. On the hitting side, things were slighly less astounding, but there was still tons of talent to go around. Kolten Wong was moving steadily toward becoming a 2.5-3.0 WAR second baseman. Matt Adams looked like one of the better pure hitters -- with significant power potential to boot -- in all the minors. Stephen Piscotty was a new draftee out of Stanford, with excellent bat control and plate discipline, but questions about the power and position. Carson Kelly was an extreme youth bet, an athletically gifted seventeen year old taken as a third baseman in the 2012 draft. Tons of risk, sure, but upside that made that risk seem easily worth it.
And then there was Oscar. Heading into the 2013 season, Taveras was coming off two straight seasons of dominating the competition. In 2011, he laid waste to the Midwest League, posting a 191 wRC+ at Quad Cities, then heading off to the Arizona Fall League as a precocious nineteen year old for a dose of reality. He came back in 2012 with a vengeace, seemingly determined to get back any prospect lustre he might have lost while struggling in Arizona (though really, he shouldn't have lost any shine at all; he just wasn't quite there yet for prospect finishing school at nineteen, which isn't surprising, really), and made the biggest jump in level in the minors look like nothing at all, slapping around Double A pitching to the tune of a 159 wRC+. He didn't walk much, but was incredibly hard to strike out for a player with his level of power (.252 ISO with a K rate of just 10.5% playing in Double A at barely 20 years old), and essentially just looked, for the second year in a row, to be too good for his level. It was an open debate going into 2013 whether Taveras or Shelby was the top prospect in the system, and there really seemed to be no wrong answer. (There were also those of us who liked Carlos Martinez the best of all three, but that was a minority opinion.)
That 2013 prospect class looked to be just a little bit behind the Royals' Best Prospect Class Ever of a couple years before; partially because the Cards' crop was so pitching-heavy, and partially because it simply didn't have the weight of high draft picks behind it the Royals' bunch did, with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas notably leading the charge as top five overall draftees. That 2013 class, coming just two years after the Cards' last won a World Series, seemed to absolutely cement their standing as the best organisation in baseball, as they had managed to build up a remarkable pipeline of talent while also winning (thanks in large part to one incredible draft; that 2009 crop that has to be Jeff Luhnow's masterpiece), creating a bright future without sacrificing anything of the present.
Since that time, we can look at the 2013 prospect class and see what's actually happened. Shelby Miller came up in 2013, was excellent, was much more mediocre in 2014, and was then traded. (More on that in a second.) Michael Wacha came on like gangbusters in the second half of 2013 and on into the postseason, but since then has struggled to find that same form, fighting some injuries and some inconsistency, essentially settling in as something closer to the #3/4 starter I thought he was at the time of the 2012 draft than the ace he looked like when he arrived on the scene. There's still some potential upside with Wacha, it seems, but then again, how long have we been saying that?
Carlos Martinez got off to a slower start than Shelby or Pac-Man, cutting his teeth in the bullpen in 2013 and 2014 before moving into the rotation last year. Despite a late-season shoulder issue, Carlos was awesome in 2015, and has been mostly awesome (albeit in a slightly odd way), in 2016. Fangraphs WAR says he's a very good pitcher this year; Baseball-Reference WAR says he's a superstar. Either way, Carlos has been perhaps the best thing to come out of that 2013 crop overall so far.
Tyrell Jenkins fought some injuries along the way, but showed immense promise and was dealt with Shelby Miller in the Jason Heyward/Jordan Walden (remember him?), deal after the 2014 season. He hasn't quite developed.
Trevor Rosenthal got pigeonholed into closing, and has mostly been good at it. I do wonder if, down the road a ways, we won't look at the fact Rosenthal got to the majors so quickly, and was so good immediately in the 'pen, as a minor tragedy of sorts. Another year of starting in the minors and perhaps he irons out his mechanics and command to a greater degree, and perhaps he and Carlos are currently pacing the Cards' rotation with what looks like a Timbuk 3 future ahead. As it is, Rosie flew through the minors, got to the majors, and settled in as a power arm at the back of the bullpen, and his overall development took a seat off to the side in favour of his ability to simply out-stuff most major league hitters. Perhaps he never would have gotten any better; I do think it's worth noting, however, that Rosenthal didn't become a full-time pitcher until after being drafted out of junior college. He was a strong-armed shortstop before then, similar to Sam Tuivailala.
Stephen Piscotty developed slowly but steadily, and made the adjustments to his swing and approach before 2015 that we've now seen the results of for roughly a full season's worth of MLB at-bats. He looks like the best hitter of that 2013 crop, in fact, since Kolten Wong has traveled an up-and-down road since that time. His plate approach has never really solidified, and while the defense still mostly looks good at second, I think it has to be an open question at this point whether Wong will ever live up to what looked like an above-average regular ceiling.
Matt Adams is proof of how good you have to be as a hitter to be a productive major leaguer at first base. His aggressive approach at the plate has limited his on-base skills, and while he's hit for power at times, he isn't the kind of slugger who can simply mash his way past poor OBPs. Combine that with good first base defense that still contains the words 'first base', and you have a player whose overall value is average at best, and probably a little less than that.
And then there's the elephant in the room. Oscar came up to the big leagues midway through the 2014 season, and struggled. Pitchers took advantage of his aggressive approach, and he seemed in-between quite often. Even so, there were times when the talent shone through in an undeniable way that made one think even with that less-than-auspicious debut, there was star potential there. On the day the Cardinals played their last game of 2014, Oscar Taveras was the starting right fielder for 2015, and, it was hoped, an emerging star. Sure, he hadn't blown the doors off immediately, but he was still a preternaturally gifted hitter, and seemingly a solid bet to be a core player for a long time to come.
That didn't happen. It was tragic. And suddenly there was a huge, gaping hole in the club's future plans.
John Mozeliak immediately acted to fill that hole, trading away Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to Atlanta in exchange for Jason Heyward, who put together a season in 2015 that made us all think we had a new member of the long-term core on our hands, and Mo had pulled one of the most magnificent rabbits of his career out of his hat.
That also didn't happen. It wasn't tragic. It did, however, fucking suck.
And so the Cardinals collected their draft pick from Heyward leaving, and while that's potentially a very nice consolation prize for the future, the fact is, the Redbirds are left without a core talent they thought they had in the immediate future.
I'm reminded of what happened with Rick Ankiel, which is the only other situation that comes to mind for me as somewhat comparable to the immediate void left by Oscar Taveras's passing. Obviously, the two situations are not really that similar; regardless of how tough Ankiel's road through the pitching version of Steve Blass disease was, he didn't lose his life. But in terms of the effect on the organisation and its future plans, you have two precocious talents that nearly everyone believed would be huge parts of the club's core for years to come that simply disappeared overnight.
In mid-September of 2000, Rick Ankiel was a potential ace for the next decade; at worst, we thought, he would remain an occasionally wild, occasionally dominant #2 in the rotation. Three weeks later, Rick Ankiel's pitching career was over. Put it another way: on the 27th of September, Rick Ankiel threw six shutout innings against the Padres, allowing five hits and striking out eight, to lower his season ERA to 3.50 in an era when the league average was over a run and a half higher. On the fourth of October, Ankiel was finished as a pitcher. That's about as sudden a turn in fortunes as you can imagine.
And that hold in plans showed for the Cardinals. Things got even worse when Daryl Kile suddenly passed away in 2002. Matt Morris pitched admirably, but started to show signs of wear and tear. Walt Jocketty did that Walt Jocketty thing, where he traded spare parts for Woody Williams and counted on Dave Duncan to spin straw into gold. And through the next several years, the Cardinals had a significant hole in the rotation. A hole that only occasionally seemed to be Rick Ankiel-shaped.
After the amazing 2004 season, in which the Redbirds won 105 games by pounding their opponents into the grass while the pitching staff admirably chewed up innings, the Cards headed into the postseason on fumes. Chris Carpenter was hurt. Jason Marquis was in the 'pen. Woody Williams looked tired. Matt Morris looked done. Jeff Suppan was okay, but not great. The Cards' best pitcher that postseason was Dan Haren, back then more usually known as Danny Haren, still in the process of polishing his stuff and turning into what he was going to be. Following the loss to the Red Sox in the World Series, a sweep which seemingly exposed the Cardinals' pitching as a serious issue, Jocketty made the worst move of his Cardinal tenure, and traded Haren to the Oakland A's in exchange for Mark Mulder.
We all know how that worked out.
It's not hard to look at the Mulder trade as the final, bitter chapter of the Rick Ankiel saga. The ace lefty the Cardinals thought they had in Ankiel evaporated, and so they tried to acquire him after losing out on a title. The ace they actually wanted was already with the club, in the form of Chris Carpenter, of course, but they didn't know that. Thus, not only did Rick Ankiel's meltdown remove Rick Ankiel from the equation the Redbirds had to deal with going forward, but somewhat less-directly led to Dan Haren being subtracted, as well, with only Muldoo's 2005 Swamp Gas campaign as consolation.
Oscar's far-too-soon departure took his ten-year career out of the equation, as well. Even after that tough debut, there was plenty of reason to believe he would be a star, a part of the club's core for years to come. Perhaps he would be closer to a 3-4 win player, rather than the 5+ win transcendent star we hoped, if the plate discipline didn't come around, but even so, it felt like he was very likely to be part of the Cards' core.
The immediate move by Mozeliak to fill in Oscar's absence with Jason Heyward was a fantastic baseball move. He turned the club's biggest weakness (right field), into its biggest strength. And yet, there was a steep cost to be paid. The club lost out on Oscar's production, then sacrificed Shelby Miller's value and Tyrell Jenkins to fill that hole. Since Jordan Walden now appears to be pretty much a lock to never pitch again, we can fairly safely assume that the one year of Jason Heyward the Cardinals got is the only value they'll get. Now, there is the draft pick, so the club is already ahead of the Mulder disaster, but the point remains. When the Cardinals lost Oscar Taveras, the ripple effect was to lose not only Taveras himself, but also the assets the club had to spend to try and fill that sudden void. Jason Heyward leaving only exacerbated the situation.
All of which is just a very long-winded way of saying this: the 2013 prospect class, best in all baseball, did not bust, exactly. It also, however, did not prove to be the transformative force most of us hoped it would be. Now, the book is not closed on that group yet, obviously, but of that whole group, how many core players would you say the Cardinals pulled?
Personally, I would say two: Carlos and Piscotty. Wacha is too inconsistent, Wong hasn't developed (....), Adams is a middling player, Shelby and Jenkins were traded. Carson Kelly is on the way, hopefully, and really starting to show promise. Alex Reyes, who was virtually unknown at the time, is now the top pitching prospect in the minors. But Taveras is the big gap there. How different would the Cardinals' core look going forward if you were talking about El Gallo, El Fenomeno, Stephen Piscotty, and potentially whatever other asset you managed to move Shelby Miller for? (I'm of the belief the Cards were ready to move on from Shelby even aside from needing to fill a hole.)
In recent days, particularly since Alex Reyes's dominant (ish; he still needed almost 40 pitches to get five outs), outing at the Futures Game, it seems everyone is clamouring for the young fireballer to be added to the Cardinals' bullpen. And the impetus is understandable; the smoke he was throwing in San Diego is incredibly intriguing, particularly considering the potential role of short relief, when he could simply air it out like that for an inning at a time.
Unfortunately, there's a long-term problem with that short-term solution, which is this: Alex Reyes, coming off a suspension, has thrown about 40 innings this season. Now, he threw some in extended spring training while serving his suspension, but the fact is he isn't working on a full season's innings load at the moment. If you were to bring him up to the majors tomorrow, and stick him in the 'pen, how many more innings would he get this season? Another 30? Maybe 40? If that's the case, then what kind of innings limit are you looking at for next season? And if he does have to be limited next year, does that mean he ends up back in the bullpen again? And if that happens, how much risk is there of him heading down that Trevor Rosenthal path, where he never finishes developing because he's put into a role where he can't work on stuff because he might have to throw anytime, and he just overpowers hitters one inning at a time, rather than honing his craft to sit atop a rotation some day?
Would you be willing to turn Alex Reyes into the Cards' closer for the next three years to get the half-win boost he gives you this season?
Before this season, when Jason Heyward signed with the Chicago Cubs, he more or less identified the Cardinals' 'aging core' as a big part of the reason he left town. To those of us who follow the team on a regular basis, the notion of the aging core is a tricky one. On the one hand, the core of the Cardinals team that has been so spectacularly competitive since 2009 is aging; Yadi is definitely on the downside, Holliday is 36, and Adam Wainwright, while pitching better this year than I, for one, thought possible, is still in the decline phase of his career as well. On the other hand, the real productive core of this Cardinal team is built around Matt Carpenter, Carlos Martinez, and Stephen Piscotty. Aledmys Diaz seems to want into that picture pretty badly, but I'm not ready to put him there just yet, as much as I like him. Shit happens in baseball, and half a season, no matter how brilliant, can play tricks on you.
So let me ask you, VEB: is that core good enough? Is Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty, and Carlos Martinez a championship core? If we add in Aledmys Diaz? To me, that feels like the core of a core, if that makes sense, but I don't know that we're there yet.
The Cardinal farm system, right now, is incredibly intriguing. I'll go on the record right now and say in two years, we'll be looking at a system similar to that of 2013, only less heavily weighted toward pitching. But in the immediate future, things are a little thin. Alex Reyes could be an immediate shot in the arm, but I worry about the workload concerns long-term if you start bouncing him from relief to rotation. Luke Weaver is in the same boat after breaking his wrist this spring, but has been extremely impressive since being drafted, to a degree I wasn't expecting. (Though my biggest concerns about Weaver were always in regards to the arm action and long-term durability, rather than a lack of upside.)
Aside from those two, there's Harrison Bader, who has reached Triple A in his first full season, but has the same kinds of approach questions we've seen Randal Grichuk fall prey to. And after that....very little. I like Paul DeJong, but he's striking out ~30% of the time in Double A. It's going to be a bit before we see him.
So what we have is a major league club that's talented, but has played themselves into a bit of a hole. We have a few core pieces, but probably need a couple more. We have an absurd seller's market, in which a pitcher like, say, Jaime Garcia might immediately become the best pitcher on the block due to overall quality and a very favourable contract situation. We have players like Matt Adams and Jedd Gyorko, who may have value to clubs needing their specific skillset, but whose positions can be better filled on this club by other players.
And we have a hole in the core we believed the Cardinals would have, caused by the loss of a very talented young player and the moves the organisation was forced to make to try and fill in that gap. Perhaps the draft pick they received in exchange for Heyward will be a big part of the club's future, but that's a ways off still. The club lost Taveras, then spent Shelby Miller and Jenkins to try and fill that spot. That's a lot of talent for any club to simply absorb the loss of. The fact the Cardinals have done so as well as they have is a testament to the amazing job Mo and Co. have done running this machine.
What we have, most of all, is a club in transition, with what looks like part of a very good core, but also some aging pieces and complementary players that aren't necessarily complementing things. What we have is a field that might benefit from laying fallow just one year, selling off some pieces, and looking to reset the roster. This is a team that could be right back to a young, dynamic, dominant force in the near-term, but could use a boost to get there.
Admittedly, my argument is made somewhat weaker by the spate of injuries the Cardinals have had recently, in that it makes it harder to deal some of the players you might have wanted to deal. You can't trade Matt Adams while Brandon Moss is on the DL. It's hard to consider dealing Jedd Gyorko or Jhonny Peralta or Kolten Wong while Matt Carpenter is on the shelf. Sadly, the time to deal Trevor Rosenthal was in the offseason, when it became clear closers were fetching absurd returns, or in April when the Rangers jumped out to a brilliant start with a terrible bullpen. Now Rosie may have pitched his value to near-zero, and it's tough to consider dealing the other bullpen arms when Siegrist is on the shelf. I'd still be intrigued by the notion of dealing Jaime and simply sliding Lyons into the rotation, but that move would probably take a little time while he built his arm up, and Tyler having no options complicates things further.
In short, I'm still in favour of the Cardinals selling this year. Not because I think they're bad, or because I think they're hopeless. Nor because I think the competition they face is so daunting as to make continued attempts at competing futile. Rather, I think this season is an opportunity for this franchise to alter its course, to reset and reload in a market where so few sellers exist. This is an opportunity for the Cardinals to reshape their roster and bring clarity to it, and build something they can move forward with in the near term.
But most of all, I'm in favour of the Cardinals selling because I think there's a health to be gained in rotating your crops, in utilising the assets you have in some way other than the neverending push to win right now, to take a step back and take advantage of other teams' desperation, when you yourself know that the fallow period doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be dark. You don't have to tear it down, because you already have most of a foundation built. Rather than continue to pour resources into winning right this second, though, be proactive in making moves for 2017 and beyond.
I believe wholeheartedly the Cardinals are in a position they could build a dominant team again almost immediately, with an outstanding major league roster and a system that is poised to ascend to elite levels. But I think it's healthy to admit we didn't pull a full core from that 2013 prospect class, and to take one step back this season to take multiple steps forward very, very soon.