Over the last few years, the Cardinals have been know for developing and promoting power arms, including such standouts as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez.
With those pitchers having already graduated to the majors, it appears that the Cardinals system strength is now their outfielders.
In addition to major league regulars Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos, 3 of the Cardinals top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America are outfielders, headed by top prospect Oscar Taveras, as well as spring standout Stephen Piscotty (#4) and up-and-coming James Ramsey (#8).
In addition, BA lists Mike O'Neill as having the "best strike-zone discipline", Charlie Tilson as the "fastest baserunner", C.J. McElroy as the "best athlete" and Tommy Pham as the "best defensive outfielder".
Now, let's consider the Cardinals bullpen.
The Cards pen ranks 13th in the NL with a 4.47 ERA. Manager Mike Matheny has leaned heavily on Pat Neshek and Kevin Siegrist, who have both appeared in half of the Cardinals 20 games, as well as rookie Carlos Martinez who has appeared in 9 games.
Some help may be on the way in the form of Jason Motte, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and could return sometime in May. However, its obvious that Matheny could use another reliable arm (or two) if only to lessen the burden on Neshek, Siegrist and Martinez.
So, with an obvious need and an obvious surplus, it would only make sense for the Cards to trade one of their outfield prospects for a reliever. The only problem is that there probably aren't any pitchers on the market right now.
The Cardinals have had success the last two years trading for struggling relievers in July and helping them get back on track. It worked with Edward Mujica, who the Cards acquired from the Marlins in 2012 for Zack Cox and it worked with John Axford, who the Cards got from the Brewers for Michael Blazek last July.
Expect a similar move this July, with an outfielder at the center of the deal. It likely won't be one of the top 3 guys, but I certainly could see someone like Mike O'Neil being moved for a reliever.