The big question surrounding the mediocre Cardinals has been “should they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?” On the Bernie Miklasz show last week, club chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said they don’t plan to be buyers or sellers, they like to be “dealers.”
Well, any deal they make now is going to be impractical in terms of trying to win in 2017. The needs are too great for one move to make a substantial, realistic enough difference in their outlook. And what the National League powers have already done or are rumored to be doing puts the Cardinals even further behind the pack.
The Cubs needed starting pitching, and acquired lefty Jose Quintana from the crosstown White Sox Friday. They’re also rumored to be in the running for former Oakland All-Star righthander Sonny Gray. The Nationals had the National League’s worst bullpen at the All Star break, but on Sunday, they made a move, sending two prospects to Oakland for another former All-Star, lefty Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson.
Madson is a great story. He saved 32 games for Philadelphia in 2011, and then missed the ’12, ’13 and ’14 seasons with various arm injuries. He returned with Kansas City in 2015 and had a 2.13 ERA in 68 games, then moved to the A’s for another 30 saves last season. Doolittle was an All Star in a 22-save 2013 and has dominated lefthanded hitters during his career…allowing a .184 batting average and a .512 OPS to left-handed hitters in six years. In 340 career plate appearances against lefties, Doolittle has allowed six home runs.
Los Angeles have won 23-of-26 and are rumored to be after Baltimore’s Zach Britton, who last year turned in one of history’s most dominant relief seasons. The overloaded Dodgers are also one of the teams…along with the Cardinals…rumored to be interested in Detroit outfielder J.D. Martinez.
The trades that have already gone down set the Cardinals further behind the pack and if the rumors come to pass, the Cards will only be able to keep pace, not overtake the Brewers. If Milwaukee…another club rumored to be trying to upgrade…goes 34-34 the rest of the way, the Cardinals would have to go 42-29 to tie them. With the defensive and bullpen woes facing this team, how are they going to go on a run in which they play .591 ball after failing to get to .500 since June 2?
From the opening day roster, perhaps only Carlos Martinez, Mike Leake, Yadier Molina and Jedd Gyorko have met expectations for the club. Clearly, Jhonny Peralta, Aledmys Diaz, Randal Grichuk, Jonathon Broxton and Miguel Socolovich didn’t live up to what the Cardinals thought they would be. They’re either gone or have spent time in the minors and Matt Adams has lived up to hopes after his trade to Atlanta.
Adam Wainwright struggled mightily in April and most of June. Michael Wacha hasn’t been able to deliver innings. Lance Lynn didn’t have a quality start in June until his last one, and had a 5.68 ERA for the month. Mike Leake got off to an incredible start. However, in each progressive month, Leake’s ERA, OPB, SLG and OPS against have gone up.
In the bullpen, every member has had his struggles. Trevor Rosenthal, Seung-Hwan Oh, Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist, Matt Bowman and everyone else down there aside from Tyler Lyons has struggled at various times, especially right now. What we thought was a strength before the season has become a liability.
Even Dexter Fowler, Stephen Piscotty, Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter (especially as a third-place hitter) and Greg Garcia haven’t lived up to expectations. When that many players are having that much trouble nearly 100 games into the season, it’s going to be hard to fix enough of them to rebound in that year.
So, DeWitt is right. The Cardinals should be looking to make deals that benefit them for 2018. With all their young pitching, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll keep Lynn. They should auction him off to the highest bidder. Lynn’s market value at the moment is probably as high as it’s been all season, and with Quintana having been traded, the supply is less.
If they can get a veteran shortstop that’s great defensively, they should. The interest in J.D. Martinez and Josh Donaldson should be authentic. Martinez would be a player they’d hope to introduce to St. Louis and keep next year. Donaldson is under team control for 2018, but they would try to extend a player like that, too.
The Cardinals need to build a unit. There are too many sixth-place hitting second basemen on the roster right now. They also need to prepare to play great defense next year. What has transpired over the last month defensively needs to continue.
Aside from Lynn there isn’t much to sell, but the Cardinals have enough pitching and young outfield depth to buy. Make the deals. Hope for the best the rest of this season. Hey, the Cardinals have made a miraculous turnaround before, but if this season DOESN’T turn around they should get 2018’s foundation in place ASAP.