Wednesday, July 31, 2013

All's quiet on the Cardinals trade front

The trade deadline has passed and the Cardinals didn't make any moves.  Not surprising, given the Cards current standing and the high asking price for the pieces the team was looking at.

There was a little bit of a flurry just before the deadline as the Cardinals tried to acquire Dioner Navarro from the Cubs to provide the team with a little more catching depth with Yadier Molina on the shelf.  However, the two sides could not agree on the price.

One of the more interesting rumors from yesterday was the Cardinals inquiring about the Angels' Erick Aybar, however that went nowhere fast when the Angels reportedly asked for one of Michael Wacha or Carlos Martinez in return.

So, other than trading off relievers Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski, the trade deadline was pretty uneventful for the Cardinals. 

In fact, other than the Cubs selling off everything that was not bolted down, it was a pretty quiet trade deadline for MLB.  Sure, there were a handful of other significant trade (Jake Peavy to Boston, Ian Kennedy to San Diego, Bud Norris to Baltimore), but nothing like we use to see.

Part of that is due to the rules that no longer allow draft pick compensation for teams that acquire a player at the trade deadline.  No longer are teams willing to sacrifice as much of their farm system knowing that they will get nothing in return for their two-month rental.

In addition, the additional Wild Card team instituted last year, means there are less sellers at this time of year, as more teams think they still have a chance at the playoffs.  Thus, with fewer sellers and a larger demand for players, the price for those players skyrockets.

Overall, the Cardinals were probably wise to stand pat at this point.  They have some exciting young talent coming up and should be a legitimate contender for years to come, if they play their cards right.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cardinals trade Marc Rzepcyznski for a minor leaguer

The Cardinals parted with another one of their struggling relievers today when they traded Marc Rzepczynski to the Cleveland Indians for minor league infielder Juan Herrera, according to Derrick Goold.  

Scrabble was the last holdover from the Cardinals trade that sent Cody Rasmus to Toronto back in 2011.  He was the key lefty out of the team's pen during their World Series title run in 2011, but had fallen out of favor with the team this season after posting a 7.84 ERA in 11 games.

That and the emergence of rookie lefthander Kevin Siegrist made Rzepczynski expendable. 

Herrera was unranked among the Indians top 30 prospects heading into the 2013 season and has a career line of .286/.382/.384 in 479 at bats.  He doesn't have much power (just 2 homers), but has a little speed (17 steals).  He can play second, third and short and likely profiles as a future utility player.

Overall, he's about what you would expect in return for Scrabble at this point.  There's not a lot of upside there, but I guess its better than nothing.

Elvis Andrus is available. Should the Cardinals be interested?

According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Rangers have apparently made everyone available, including short stop Elvis Andrus. The team is seeking another bat, given the uncertainty surrounding Nelson Cruz and a potential suspension from Biogenesis, with Jim Bowden indicating that they are targeting outfielders, not DH's. 

Given the Cardinals need for an upgrade at short, would trading for Andrus make sense?

Well, that depends on what the Cardinals might have to give up for him.

If the Rangers want Oscar Taveras, I would hang up the phone and walk away. 

The Cardinals could offer up Matt Adams, but he is not an outfielder and the Rangers might want more.

Of course, the Cardinals and Rangers could make the often rumored, but never really discussed trade of Jurickson Profar for Taveras, but we've been down that road before and its unlikely to happen.

Finally, do the Cardinals really even want Andrus at this point?  After signing a 8-year, $120 million extension with the Rangers, Andrus appears to be suffering from post-big contract syndrome, hitting only .250/.310/.289.  His .599 OPS is only slightly better than Pete Kozma's .584 mark. 

So, even though Tim Dierkes of MLBtraderumors thinks Andrus would be a logical fit for the Cardinals, I just don't see the Cards making that move at this time.

Cardinals still in hunt for starting pitcher?

If there is one thing for certain when it comes to the trade deadline, its that there is nothing certain until it is formally announced and rumors are just that.

Take for instance the Cardinals and their apparent interest in Jake Peavy of the White Sox.  Depending on who you listen to, the Cards are either a favorite to land him or not interested.

For example, ESPN's Jayson Stark indicated yesterday that the Cardinals are content with their current starters and "aren't interested in overpaying for a fellow like Peavy just to say they did." 

On the other hand, Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that the Cardinals are one of the most likely landing spots for Peavy, along with Boston and Oakland. 

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says that there are no current discussions between the Cardinals and White Sox regarding Peavy.

So, believe whoever you want, but it seems like a whole bunch of ado about nothing.

As for the possibility of Cliff Lee, it sounds like the asking price is sky high.

The Phillies reportedly asked for the Red Sox top prospect, Xander Bogaerts, along with Brandon Workman, PLUS a big league ready outfielder for Lee and were turned down, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark.

To put that in perspective for Cardinals fans, that would likely mean that the Cards would have to give up top prospect Oscar Taveras, plus a young pitcher and perhaps even Kolten Wong to land Lee.

Just not worth it, if you ask me.

Thus, we are probably back to where we have been all along, with GM John Mozeliak indicating that the Cardinals are unlikely to make any big moves before the deadline.

There just doesn't seem to be a significant upgrade available at a reasonable price.  Sure, the Cards could add a bullpen arm before the deadline, but that probably would be the most they would do.

In any case, with a little over a day to go before the deadline, things are awfully quiet on the Cardinals trade front.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cardinals continue pursuit of Jake Peavy and Alexei Ramirez. Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly and/or Kolten Wong may be involved.

According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, the Cardinals are continuing to pursue White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy and shortstop Alexei Ramirez.  Bowden hears that Carlos Martinez, Joe Kelly and Kolten Wong's names being mentioned as potential trade bait.

Meanwhile, Buster Oleny of ESPN says his read on the current leaders to acquire Jake Peavy are Oakland, St. Louis, Boston and Baltimore, in that order.

In addition, Jason Stark of ESPN indicates that the White Sox have not shown any interest in eating any of the nearly $24 million left on Peavy's contract.  That and Peavy's health are the biggest issues the above teams have about acquiring Peavy.

Frankly, if the Cardinals are going to trade Martinez, Kelly and/or Wong for a pitcher, I would think they could do better than Peavy. 

I made the case for acquiring lefty Cliff Lee yesterday and, short of him, I do not really see any of the pitchers currently on the market as being significant enough upgrades to warrant giving up top prospects, such as Martinez or Wong, for them.

With three days to go before the trade deadline, things are certainly heating up.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The case for the Cardinals acquiring Cliff Lee

Back in mid-June, I took a look at the possibility of the Cardinals acquiring Cliff Lee.  Rumors were swirling that acquiring Lee was a possibility for the Cards, mainly because Lee did not include the Cardinals on his no-trade list.

At that time, I concluded that acquiring Lee would not make sense, mainly because of the costs in terms of prospects and dollars.  Besides, all indications at that time were that the Phillies would not trade Lee anyway.

However, a lot can change over a month and a half.

The Cardinals starting pitching, especially Lance Lynn, has struggled.  The 5th starter spot is still unsettled and Shelby Miller may be on an innings limit.  Add to that the unlikelihood that Chris Carpenter will be able to return and that the Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is now willing to listen on Lee and maybe the Cards should at least consider it.

Since I've already covered why the Cardinals should not acquire Lee, let's take a look at the reasons why acquiring Lee would make sense.

The Cardinals have payroll flexibility

With the contracts of Chris Carpenter ($10.5 million), Jake Westbrook ($7.5 million) and Carlos Beltran ($13 million) coming off the books next year, the Cardinals have some payroll flexibility.

Adam Wainwright extension (basically giving him a $7.5 million raise next year) and arbitration raises for players such as David Freese, Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso will eat away some of those savings.  But considering that Bill DeWitt plans on giving the team's payroll a boost, there should be ample room for Lee's $25 million salary.

The Cardinals have minor league depth

As the team with the best minor league system, the Cardinals are one team with the minor league depth to pull off a trade for Lee without seriously depleting their farm system.

The Cardinals could spare a prospect like Kolten Wong, who is blocked at the major league level, and perhaps one of their top pitching prospects, like Carlos Martinez, who appears to be behind Michael Wacha on the Cards depth chart.

Those two, along with a couple lower level prospects should be enough to acquire Lee and would not significantly impact the Cardinals minor league depth.

Prospects are, after all, just prospects  

The thing about prospects is that they don't always pan out, no matter how highly regarded they are.  Teams always tend to overvalue their own prospects and overhype them to the extent that fans think they are the second coming of Babe Ruth or Cy Young, but they rarely live up to their hype.

Take for instance all of the prospects and players who were traded for Cliff Lee between 2009 and 2010, when he was traded 3 times.  The list consists of the following players:  Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, Philippe Aumont, J.C. Romero, Tyson Gillies, Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matthew Lawson.

All of those players have combined to produce a wins above replacement (WAR) of 6.1 or an average of just 0.6 per player.  Take away veteran reliever Romero and his 3.5 WAR from that group and you're left with a combined WAR of just 3.6 or an average of 0.4 per prospect.

So, despite a lot of highly touted prospects changing hands, none of them have gone on to stardom and I'm sure that the teams that traded them have not regretted their decisions.

That's not to say that if the Cardinals traded Wong and Martinez, they wouldn't go on to productive careers with the Phillies.  Cardinals fans are still upset about the Dan Haren for Mark Mulder trade.  But the odds are still in the Cards favor.

Overall, I'm still probably on the side of passing on Cliff Lee and going with what we've got.  But a one-two punch of Wainwright and Lee heading into the playoffs certainly is tempting.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My picks for the inaugural Cardinals Hall of Fame class

As a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers, we are regularly given assignments to write about, with the results posted on  This month we were asked to put together our ballot of the 5 players we would like to see voted in as part of the inaugural class for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

There were a few rules for this assignment:  (1)  Assume that everyone that has a retired number/logo on the wall is already in the HOF.  I took this a step further and assumed that any former Cardinal who was in the MLB Hall of Fame would automatically be in the Cardinals Hall of Fame, (2) The player must be retired or you have the reasonable expectation he's retired.  So, Albert Pujols is not currently eligible, and (3) There's no limitation on service time.  Despite this, I wanted my selections to have spent the majority of their playing days with the Cardinals.

In making my selections, I wanted to pick the best players that have ever played for the Cardinals, but may have been forgotten or overlooked by the MLB HOF, as well as some personal favorites of mine.

So, without further ado, here are my selections for the Cardinals Hall of Fame:

Ted Simmons

Simba has the highest WAR of any Cardinals player not in the MLB HOF.  His career WAR of 44.9 is 7th on the Cards all-time list, behind Enos Slaughter.

During his Cardinals career, the switch-hitting catcher hit .298/.366/.459 with an OPS of .824 and an OPS+ of 127.  His 172 home runs rank 9th on the Cards all-time list and he is also among the team leaders with 929 RBI's (7th) and 2,626 total bases (9th).

He was a 6-time All Star with the team and won the Silver Slugger award in 1980, when he hit .303/.375/.505 with 21 home runs and 98 RBI's.

Harry Brecheen

Breechen is the best Cardinals pitcher not in the MLB HOF.  His 38.6 WAR is behind only Bob Gibson (a whopping 81.9) on the Cards all-time list.

Brecheen was a stalwart of the Cardinals pitching staff during the 1940's and helped lead the team to 2 World Series titles and 3 appearances in a 4-year span from 1943-1946.  He is ranked 7th on the Cardinals all-time list with 128 wins, 8th in innings with 1,790.1, 6th in games started (224) and 4th in shutouts (25).

He was a two-time All Star and finished his Cardinals career with a 2.91 ERA (133 ERA+).

Bob Forsch

One of my personal favorites, Bob Forsch was not a flashy pitcher.  He didn't strike many hitters out, was rarely among the league leaders in ERA or wins, but he knew how to make the most of what God gave him and that he lasted 16 years in the big leagues is a testament to that.

Forsch ranks 3rd on the Cardinals all-time leaders list with 163 wins, behind only Hall of Famers Bob Gibson (251) and Jesse Haines (210).  He is also 3rd in innings (2,658.2), 4th in strikeouts (1,079), 2nd in games started (401) and 9th in shutouts (19).  He is also the only Cardinal to have pitched two no-hitters.

He was never an all-star, but, known as a good hitting pitcher, he won two Silver Slugger awards (he hit .215 with 12 home runs as a Cardinal).  He was also a big part of the Cards teams of the 1980's that went to 3 World Series, winning it all in 1982.

Curt Flood

Curt Flood was one of the more underrated players in history.  In his Cardinals career, he posted a 42.2 WAR, good for 8th on the Cardinals all-time list and was considered one of the best defensive center fielders of his time.

However, his play on the field is often overshadowed by what he did off the field.  He is probably best remember as the guy who challenged baseball's reserve clause.  Although he lost his case, it eventually led to the 10/5 rule (sometimes called the "Curt Flood rule"), which allows players with 10 years of experience and 5 years with the same team to veto any trade.  Also, his challenge of the reserve clause helped lay the ground work for free agency.

Willie McGee

Willie McGee is another personal favorite of mine and I'm sure of many Cardinals fans from the '80's.  One of the Cards speedsters, McGee still ranks 6th on the all-time list for steals as a Cardinal with 301.  He also ranks 10th in at bats (5,734), 9th in games (1,661) and 7th in triples (83).

During his Cardinals career, McGee hit .294/.329/.400.  He was a 4-time All Star and won 3 Gold Gloves.  His greatest year came in 1985 when he hit .353/.384/.503 with 216 hits, 56 stolen bases and 114 runs scored, which earned him the MVP award. 

So, there you have it, my selections for the inaugural class for the Cardinals Hall of Fame.

Do you agree with my picks?  Did I miss anyone?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

The Cardinals can learn a lesson from Alfonso Soriano when it comes to their handling of Carlos Beltran

The Cubs finally pulled off the seemingly impossible today, trading Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees, along with a ton of money, for a minor league prospect to be named later.

Thus ends one of the longest sagas involving a bad contract in recent history.

To get the Yankees to take Soriano off their hands and get a halfway decent prospect in return, the Cubs will eat nearly $18 million of Soriano's remaining contract.

Yes, you heard that right, the Cubs will be paying the Yankees $17.7 million so that Soriano can play for them.

As a Cardinals fan living in Cubs territory, I've been able to witness the Soriano saga first hand.  The Cubs grossly overspent on Soriano, signing him to a 8-year, $136 million contract, back when the Tribune Company was trying to win to increase the sales price of the team.

However, after a couple of division titles and zero playoff victories, the Cubs were left with a player who's skills (and knees) were deteriorating and who's play was of far less value than his contract.

Thus, when Albert Pujols became a free agent and was looking for a big contract, although my heart wanted him to stay in St. Louis and retire with the team, in the back of my mind I knew that a long-term contract, like the one he signed with the Angels, could come back to haunt us.

Now the Cardinals are facing a similar dilemma with Carlos Beltran.

Back around the All Star break, Beltran told Derrick Goold that he wanted to play three more years and recently Bernie Miklasz made the case for keeping Beltran.

For the most part I agree with Miklasz, the Cardinals could use Beltran for another year or two.  Oscar Taveras has been limited this year due to an ankle injury and may not be ready to take over for Beltran next year.  In addition, Jon Jay has not been producing at his usual level, so even if Taveras were ready to start in 2014, maybe it would make more sense to put him in center.

But, the crux of the issue with Beltran is this:  How long do the Cardinals want to commit to Beltran and would Beltran be willing to accept a below-market deal to stay with the Cards?

I do not want to see the Cardinals offering Beltran a 3-year deal.  My preference, and probably the team's as well, would be a one-year deal with an option for the second year.

If he continues to produce, then there's no problem.  But, if his production drops, like it did during the second half of 2012, then the Cardinals will have limited their losses.

The worst thing to do from a team standpoint is to pull another Ty Wigginton move and sign an aging veteran to a 2 or 3 year deal at or (in the case of Wigginton) above market and be stuck with a bad contract.

Injuries happen more often to players as they get older.  Look at Lance Berkman, after he signed an extension with the Cardinals.  Chris Carpenter is another example.

So, as a team, you have to do everything in your power to limit your exposure to losses, which includes foregoing long-term contracts for shorter contracts for a bit more money per year.

It is a formula that has worked well for the Cardinals in the past and one that they should stick to moving forward.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Cardinals unlikely to trade top prospects and other rumors

According to Bernie Miklasz, the Cardinals are unlikely to trade any of their top prospects, including Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez, Oscar Taveras and Kolten Wong.  For GM John Mozeliak to even consider trading any of his big 4 prospects, the deal would have to deliver an ace pitcher or a significant upgrade at short, neither of which is currently available on the trade market.

Recent rumors have the Cardinals continuing to look at Jake Peavy, as a Cards scout will be in attendance for Peavy's start tonight against the Tigers, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark

In addition, even though the thought of a trade involving Martinez for the Sox's Alexei Ramirez was shot down, the Cardinals and White Sox continue to scout each other's personnel, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

Finally, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports weighs in on the Cardinals saying that they are not actively pursuing the Astros' Bud Norris or the Jays' Mark Buehrle.  The recent addition of Ervin Santana may garner a look, but overall Rosenthal doesn't see the Cards making a big move either.

A week ago I said pretty much the same thing as Miklasz and Rosenthal, the starting pitching market is pretty meh and the Cardinals would be wise to hold on to their prospects instead of chasing guys like Matt Garza.  None of the starting pitchers currently on the market is a significant enough upgrade worth gutting you farm system over. 

Unlike the 2012 trade deadline when the Brewers traded Zack Greinke or the 2009 and 2010 trade deadline deals involving Cliff Lee, there are no top of the rotation starters available for the Cardinals to pursue.

Thus, for now at least, its best for the Cardinals to hold on to their big 4 and maybe try to get some bullpen help at a much lower cost.

How will Shelby Miller's innings limit impact the Cardinals?

According to Fox Sports Midwest, Shelby Miller the Cardinals may be eying an innings limit of around 180 for their young pitcher.  This sounds about right as Miller's pitched only about 150 innings last year and a 30 innings jump is reasonable.

However, how might this limit impact the Cardinals and their young gun down the stretch?

Currently, Miller is on pace for about 185 innings, which is right in line with the 180 target.  But does that limit include the postseason?

Miller doesn't think so, as he was quoted (by Fox) as saying "I'm trying to get to 180 or so this year not including whatever we do in the postseason".  However, the Cardinals may have other ideas.

The Cards are already doing what they can to limit his innings.  They shifted the rotation prior to the All Star break, to effectively skip one of Miller's turns and then, with the off days after the break, they skipped him again so that he ended up with 13 days off in between starts.

The Cardinals will try to give Miller extra rest where they can, but they are currently in a stretch of 37 games in 37 days (including one double-header), with only one off day, so rest will be limited.

The main issue is this:  if Miller reaches 180 innings before the end of the season, will the Cardinals shut him down before the playoffs or will they allow him to keep pitching?

If they shut him down, we get into another Stephen Strasburg situation, where the team heads into the playoffs without one of their best pitchers and we all know how that turned out for the Nationals last year.

On the other hand, if the Cardinals truly want to protect Miller, are they going to let him pitch upwards of 20+ innings in the post season?  If not, what are their alternatives?  Throw Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha into the fire?  Probably not and this is likely the main reason the Cards are looking for a veteran arm, like Jake Peavy, for their rotation.

The Cardinals have some young arms and they are doing their best to protect them, but as the Nats are learning this year, a chance at the World Series title doesn't come along every year. 

What would you do?  You can provide your answer in the poll on the homepage.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Are the Cardinals using Carlos Martinez as a trade chip?

A report from Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune indicates that the White Sox turned down a deal that involved Cardinals prospect Carlos Martinez and the White Sox's shortstop Alexei Ramirez.  However, that report was later contradicted by a tweet from Jon Heyman, who said the Sox did not turn down such an offer, but that he would not be surprised if the Cards were interested in Ramirez.

While the Cardinals interest in Ramirez is not surprising, the fact that the Cards are potentially dangling Martinez is.

Martinez is a consensus Top 25 prospect (Baseball America lists him 24th, Baseball Prospectus lists him 22nd and Minor League Ball lists him 9th).  It would be a bit much to give up just for Ramirez, however, Gonzalez did indicate in his article that Martinez and Ramirez were only parts of a larger deal.

I have had some questions regarding the Cardinals treatment of Martinez of late, using him out of the major league bullpen when he would be better served starting at AAA and continuing his development. 

However, the recent trade rumors surrounding Martinez may indicate that the Cards main reason for promoting him is to showcase him for other teams.  Doesn't make their treatment of him any better, but at least it might explain it.

If the Cards are truly dangling Martinez to other teams, you have to hope that they would be able to get something better in return than just Ramirez, such as perhaps Ramirez and Peavy. 

Nonetheless, it appears that the Cardinals are willing to part with at least one top prospect to get what they need.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Cardinals in pursuit of Jake Peavy?

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Cardinals and Red Sox "appear to be emerging as two potential players" for right hander Jake Peavy of the White Sox.  With the recent trade of Matt Garza by the Cubs to the Rangers, Peavy is now the top pitcher on the market.

As I relayed yesterday, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cardinals were one of several teams that had a scout in attendance for Peavy's start on Saturday.  Although Rosenthal suggested that the Cardinals could have been scouting other players, it appears now that perhaps Peavy was their main focus.

Peavy, who was making his fist start since missing over a month with a rib fracture, pitched fairly well, giving up only 2 earned runs (4 total) over 6 innings.  He seems to be back to his old form after dealing with injuries from 2009-2011.

One reason the Cardinals could be attractive to the Cardinals, after they passed on Garza, is that Peavy is under team control through the 2014 season.  Granted he will earn $14.5 million next year, but the Cards would have the payroll flexibility to afford such a contract.

Another reason the Cardinals could be looking to add Peavy, is that the Cardinals may have innings limits on some of their young starters, such as Shelby Miller.  As was reported by Fox Sports Midwest, Miller appears to be limited to 180 innings this season, which might put him in a Stephen Strasburg type situation come September and October.

Finally, it appears that Chris Carpenter is unlikely to provide any help this season.  Just one day after Joe Strauss reported that Carpenter still had "a long way to go", now comes the news that Carpenter's rehab has been delayed due to hand numbness.

With Lance Lynn struggling and Joe Kelly currently manning the 5th starter spot, the Cardinals may want to bolster their rotation with a veteran arm, like Peavy.  Although I'm not entirely sold on the idea, especially when you consider the cost in terms of prospects and money, I can see why they are at least considering it.

One thing is for sure, the trade rumors are heating up. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rangers get Matt Garza. Cardinals eyeing Jake Peavy?

After much speculation and seemingly endless rumors, the Cubs finally traded Matt Garza with Texas being the lucky recipient.  In return, the Cubs will receive third baseman Mike Olt, right handed pitchers Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards, plus a PTBNL.

Overall, its a pretty good haul for the Cubs, as Baseball America ranked Olt, Grimm and Edwards as the #2, #5 and #14 prospects in the Rangers system prior to the season.  It is also an offer I'm glad that the Cardinals did not try to beat.

For comparison purposes, the Cardinals would have probably had to offer something like Kolten Wong, Tyrell Jenkins and Kevin Siegrist to match or beat the Rangers' offer.  Its just too much to give up for a two-month rental that isn't significantly better than the pitcher (Joe Kelly) he would likely replace.

However, that doesn't mean that the Cards are not looking for help.  Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals had a scout on hand when Jake Peavy took the mound on Saturday.  Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the scout was there to watch Peavy or only Peavy, as there are other players on the White Sox team that could interest the Cards, such as shortstop Alexi Ramirez or reliever Matt Lindstrom.

Peavy may be of more interest to the Cardinals than Garza, as he would be under team control through the 2014 season.  However, as with Garza, it is debatable as to whether Peavy would be an upgrade to any of the Cards current starters.

Its more likely that the scout was there to watch Matt Lindstrom, a veteran reliever who could help bolster the Cardinals bullpen.  Lindstrom would probably not cost much in terms of prospects for the Cards and could become this year's version of last year's Edward Mujica trade.

In any case, with Matt Garza finally dealt, other dominoes will start to fall and it will be interesting to see what the Cardinals end up with when the dust settles.

Will Matt Garza be traded before today's start?

After nearly completing a deal to trade Matt Garza to the Rangers, the Cubs apparently backed off due to concerns regarding one of the players involved. Now the Rangers are only of several teams involved in the Garza sweepstakes, according to John Heyman.

With the Rangers seemingly back to square one, that leaves the door open for another team to swoop in and make a deal.  With the questions surrounding the Cardinals starting rotation, adding Garza could make sense, at the right price.  As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier, rival executives see the Cardinals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Dodgers as the most likely destinations for Garza, if the Rangers don't get something done.

For their part, the Cubs have worked hard to get competitive offers from other teams, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that, with Clay Buchholz hurt, the Red Sox's interest in Garza is "deepening". 

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times indicates that the Pirates may be the "team du jour" and adds that the Orioles are sleepers to acquire Garza.

So, with so many teams still involved, its likely that Garza will still get dealt, the question remains as to when.

The Cubs would prefer to trade Garza before today's start, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.  However, Cubs Manager Dale Sveum is 100% certain that Garza will make today's start, according to Gordon Wittenmyer

Wittenmyer believes that Garza will make his start tonight and that the next "deadline" will be Saturday. 

However, a lot can happen before that 8:40 game time tonight.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Changes looming for Cardinals starting rotation?

The Cardinals are facing big decisions regarding their starting rotation. 

First off, Chris Carpenter is expected to meet with the Cardinals' brass to discuss his take on his recent outing in which he allowed 9 hits and 4 earned runs in 3.1 innings. 

Manager Mike Matheny said he had a brief conversation with AAA manager Ron "Pop" Warner, but is waiting for Carpenter's assessment before forming any conclusions.

As Matheny puts it, " I trust his evaluation as much as anything. He's a pretty honest evaluator of himself. I'm excited to talk to him and see exactly how he felt."

It has been assumed that if Carpenter is deemed ready to go, he will replace Joe Kelly in the starting rotation.  However, that depends on whether Carpenter feels he is ready and if the Cardinals feel he is ready as well.

Its possible that the Cardinals will have Carpenter make at least one more start in the minors before inserting him in the rotation, if at all.

Another decision the Cardinals need to address is what to do about Lance Lynn.  After another start in which he struggled with both his stuff and his emotions, Matheny met with Lynn to discuss his approach and how to best harness those emotions.

Of course, keeping his emotions in check is just one of his problems, Lynn continues to struggle with his performance as well.  Lynn has now lost 4 of his last 5 starts, allowing 4 or more runs in each of those losses.

After struggling in the middle of last season, Lynn appears to be going through the same issues this year.  Last year, the Cardinals blamed Lynn's midseason struggles on his weight.  However, this year they no longer have that excuse, after Lynn lost weight over the offseason.

If Lynn doesn't get straightened out soon, The Cardinals could demote him to the bullpen, like last year, until he gets things sorted out.

Finally, the Cardinals need to figure out what to do with Carlos Martinez.  According to Jennifer Langosch, John Mozeliak has said that the Cards have 7-10 days before they have to get Martinez back into a starting rotation to keep him stretched out. 

Whether that is at the major league or minor league level is the decision that faces the Cardinals.  Its possible that if the Cards do not feel Carpenter is ready to move into the rotation, the team will turn to Martinez to replace Joe Kelly or if Lynn doesn't improve, Martinez could replace him in the rotation.

While the possibility of Martinez pitching in the big league rotation may excite Cardinals fans, the fact is the team would probably prefer to have a more experienced guy in the rotation.

In any case, the next week or so could see significant changes to the Cardinals rotation.

Friday, July 19, 2013

More rumors: Cardinals unlikely to make major move before deadline

According to Jennifer Langosch, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak seemed to imply yesterday that the Cardinals were unlikely to make any blockbuster moves before the trade deadline. 

In terms of the trade market and what the Cardinals might add, Mozeliak had this to say:

"For me to sit here today and tell you specifically what we might try to add just doesn't make a lot of sense.  It's not a great market to be shopping in for our particular needs. And there is no glaring weakness now. It's just seeing if there is an incremental benefit that might make us stronger for a last push."
Mozeliak seems satisfied with the Cardinals offense, so if there were to be an addition, it would likely be on the pitching side, just don't expect that addition to be a starter, per Mo:

"I think when you look at our rotation right now, it's hard to imagine any major change in what we're having. I think we have to do our best to protect the younger arms, and I think we're going to space that out pretty well between now and September. But as far as feeling comfortable giving those guys the ball every fifth or sixth day, I think we're strong."

However, that doesn't mean that the Cards won't pursue a veteran reliever.  Asked about adding a veteran arm to the pen, Mozeliak replied, "I think if we found the right piece, we'd pursue it."

This is pretty much in line with what I thought yesterday, in that, if anything, the Cardinals would only add a veteran reliever to the mix.  The Cards do not have any big needs at this time and it doesn't make sense to mortgage the farm for an incremental benefit (e.g. Matt Garza).

So, let the Rangers overspend for Garza, we'll try to find a veteran reliever to help us down the stretch, like Edward Mujica did last year, and that should hopefully be enough to solidify the team for the playoffs.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Do Cardinals really need to acquire another pitcher?

With less than two weeks to go before the trade deadline, rumors are flying around the Cardinals regarding their possible pursuit of Matt Garza or reliever Jesse Crain.  However, with the best record in the NL and a seemingly endless supply of young, power arms waiting in the minors, do the Cards really need to acquire another pitcher?

Let's take a look at both side of the argument:

Why the Cardinals need more pitching.

After starting the season on fire, the Cardinals starters have struggled a bit since as of late.  Since June 1st, Lance Lynn is 3-3 with a 5.51 ERA, Shelby Miller is 4-3 with a 4.25 ERA and Jake Westbrook is 3-3 with a 4.25 ERA.

That is not even considering the seemingly endless string of 5th starters that have been plugged in to replace the injured Jaime Garcia, starting with John Gast (now on the DL), Tyler Lyons (sent to the minors, due to ineffectiveness), Michael Wacha (sent to minors to limit innings) and the current incumbent Joe Kelly.

Let's face it, the Cardinals rotation could use a boost.

In addition, adding a quality starter, like Mike Garza, could allow the Cards to move Joe Kelly back to the bullpen and let Carlos Martinez return to the minors to continue his development.

As for the bullpen, the Cardinals have had to rely on several rookies since banishing Mitchell Boggs (who was later traded) and Marc Rzepczynski to AAA.  While the rookies have fared pretty well, the Cardinals could definitely benefit from having another veteran arm in the pen, especially come playoff time. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, it would allow the Cards to send Martinez back to AAA.

Why the Cardinals do not need more pitching

Despite the Cardinals starting pitching struggles, is Matt Garza really that much of an improvement?

In his career, Garza has had only one really good year, in 2011, when he posted a 3.32 ERA (2.95 FIP).  Other than that though, he has been pretty mediocre, with a career 3.80 ERA (3.98 FIP).  He has always had excellent stuff, but never seems to be able to put it all together.

Compare that to Joe Kelly's stats (3.64 ERA, 4.15 FIP) and are you really getting much of an improvement?  Granted, Kelly's stats are over a much smaller sample size than Garza, but even if Kelly were to falter, the Cards have other internal options (the aforementioned Martinez and Wacha).

Plus, add in the likely cost of a top prospect or two and you can see why it might make sense to stand pat.

As for the bullpen, what was once a weakness for the team, thanks in large part to the struggles of Boggs and Rzepczynski, has now become a strength.  While the starters have struggled, the bullpen has picked up the slack, dropping the team's bullpen ERA from a major league worst 5.37 on April 24 to a more respectable 3.56 ERA, good for 16th best in the majors.

Thus, while another bullpen arm might be nice, it is definitely not necessary, as the Cardinals can always use Carlos Martinez in the pen (as they are doing now) or add Wacha to the pen for the stretch run.

Overall, I do not think the Cardinals need another starter, but I would like to see them add an experienced bullpen arm, as long as the cost isn't too high.  The main reason is that I would prefer to see Martinez sent back down to AAA to continue his development and adding another bullpen arm is probably the best and most cost-effective way of accomplishing that.

Latest Matt Garza rumors: Cubs asking for "last and best offers"

As his next scheduled start is creeping ever nearer, the Cubs are asking for the "last and best offers" from the teams involved, according to Buster Olney

Ken Rosenthal feels that the Rangers have the most motivation to acquire Garza and while they don't want to move Martin Perez, per Olney, they have other pitching prospects, such as C.J. Edward and Luke Jackson, that could entice the Cubs.

If the Rangers do not acquire Garza, rival executives feel that either the Cardinals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks or Dodgers would be the likeliest destination, according to Jeff Passan.

So its put up or shut up time for the teams involved.  However, as far as the Cardinals are concerned, I do not think they'll make an aggressive bid for Garza.  As Jim Bowden puts it:

"The Cardinals are reviewing their options but at this point are not pursing anything specifically or aggressively. Can't blame them, as they are arguably the most well-rounded club in the league."
Perhaps if other teams back off, the Cardinals can win Garza with a low-ball offer of say Tyrell Jenkins, Jordan Swagerty and Mike O'Neill, but its doubtful.

In any case, we should know for sure by Monday, at the latest, as that is the day the Garza is next scheduled to pitch.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

More Trade Rumors: Cardinals check in on a couple relievers

According to former GM and current ESPN analyst Jim Bowden (subscription required), the Cardinals were one of 4 teams (at least) to check in on Twins closer Glen Perkins, only to be told no.  The other teams were the Reds, Dodgers and Braves.

In addition, those 4 teams are monitoring the health of White Sox reliever Jesse Crain and he could end up being a more viable trade candidate.

Obviously, the Cardinals are seeking pitching, either in the form of a starter (such as Matt Garza) or a reliever.  Adding another arm in the pen would allow the Cardinals to return Carlos Martinez to AAA to work as a starter, while adding a starter would allow the Cards to move Joe Kelly back to the pen and shift Martinez to AAA as well.

In addition, Bowden put together a list of players from last weekend's futures game who could be traded, which included Kolten Wong.  The thinking here, of course, is that, with Matt Carpenter locked in at second and David Freese seemingly locked in at third, Wong could be used as trade bait.  Its unlikely that he would be used to acquire Crain or Perkins, if he were available, but he could be used for a bigger fish, such as Matt Garza.

Bowden also provided his list of expendable players, which includes Jon Jay, who he sees as expendable due to Oscar Taveras waiting in the wings.

I don't think the Cardinals are going to move Jay before the trade deadline, as Taveras just recently returned from his ankle injury and is not ready to take over center field just yet.  If the Cards were to trade Jay, I think it would be an offseason move.

Speaking of Taveras, from the "tell me something I don't know" department, Jason Churchill of ESPN list Taveras as one of the "untouchable prospects".  This pretty much goes without saying.  I cannot think of any scenario in which the Cardinals would part with Taveras.  Even the old Jurickson Profar for Taveras rumors were a bit farfetched.

In any case, with the All Star game out of the way, things will start heating up on the rumor mill.

Stay tuned... 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

More Matt Garza Rumors: Cardinals and Pirates in the mix for Garza. Asking price remains high.

Rumors continue to fly regarding Matt Garza and the Cardinals.

The latest from David Kaplan of is that Texas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toronto, and the Dodgers are the "strongest pursuers" of Garza, but that the asking price remains "exceptionally high".

Most of the teams listed above have extra motivation to make a big move before the deadline.  The Rangers, whose window for winning the World Series may be closing, may want to make a big move to try to seal the deal this year.

Toronto, after spending big in the offseason, is clearly in "win-now" mode.

Per a former personnel boss, the Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak is motivated to win now because "if <he> can win another title after letting Albert walk that would be the ultimate way to prove everybody wrong who doubted him after Pujols left for Los Angeles."

The Pirates are motivated to make a big move to prove to their fan base that they are serious about winning.

Kaplan also compares the asking price for Garza to that of Zach Greinke last year, indicating it would probably take a similar deal to land Garza this year.  By comparison, the Greinke trade landed the Brewers Jean Segura, who was ranked as the #43 prospect according to Baseball America last year, along with pitcher Johnny Hellweg and Ariel Pena.

Most of the prospects in a similar range as Segura, for the teams seeking Garza, are position players, such as Kolten Wong of the Cardinals.  But, its likely that the Cubs would prefer young pitchers instead.

If that is the case, the Cardinals could offer up someone like Tyrell Jenkins, who is one of the Cards top 10 prospects, but is not considered a top 100 prospect.  Or they could go with a quantity over quality approach.

However, Wong could still be of some interest to the Cubs, as they may not see Darwin Barney as their long-term second baseman (many within the organization consider Barney better suited as a utility infielder).

I'm sure that, if the Cardinals offered up both Wong and Jenkins, the Cubs would take it in an instant, but is that too much?

In any case, I do not see the Cards getting into a bidding war with any of the above teams for Garza's services and if the Cubs come asking for either Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha, the Cardinals should politely say "no thanks" and walk away.

The clock continues to tic as the Cubs internal deadline to trade Garza (Saturday) draws ever nearer.

Matt Garza likely to be traded this week. Cardinals remain a darkhorse.

According to David Kaplan of, the Cubs are likely to trade Matt Garza this week and, while Texas, Toronto and Cleveland are all involved, the Cardinals are considered a darkhorse.

Per Kaplan's "significant industry source":

"The Cardinals saved a ton of money walking away from the Pujols negotiations and now they are having the last laugh as that contract looks awful for the Angels. They have a loaded farm system and if they are able to win another World Series after letting Albert walk away, it would be a huge statement about not overpaying players no matter how important they are to your organization. Giving up a few top prospects for a shot at another championship is a small price to pay. And don't think for one second that Theo or Jed is afraid of dealing Garza to a division rival. If they get the right deal they won't care where they deal him to."

Previously, I hadn't put a lot of stock into the Garza rumors, as I just did not see the Cardinals mortgaging their future for a short-term rental.  However, where there's smoke, there's usually fire and there certainly is a lot of smoke around the Cards and Garza.

I still don't see the Cardinals giving up a big piece for Garza, but if they can swoop in and give the Cubs a top 10 prospect, Kolten Wong perhaps, and one of their lower level power arms, such as Jordan Swagerty, I think the Cubs would jump at the deal.

From the Cardinals standpoint, Wong is expendable, as he is blocked at the major league level, and Swagerty, currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, has been passed up on the depth charts.  That kind of package would be hard to resist.

In any case, we should know how it turns out by Saturday.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cardinals conundrum: What will be Carlos Martinez' role in the second half?

According to Derrick Goold, the Cardinals will spend some time over the All Star break assessing what to do with Carlos Martinez. 

After optioning Martinez down to AAA on May 27th to stretch him out as a starter, the Cardinals recalled him on July 11th to give the team a fresh arm in the pen before the break.  However, what was originally considered a temporary assignment may now become a more permanent one.

There are various factors that come into play here, the foremost being what makes the most sense, both for the team and for Martinez' development. 

As GM John Mozeliak states:

"We have to assess what makes the most sense. He’s electric. I definitely don’t want him to go backward in terms of how much he has built up (as a starter). As we look at the next two or three weeks is there enough usage to justify keeping him here?”
In addition, Mike Matheny sums up the difficult decision like this:

 “We do really like what he brings as a starter. For his development, it’s better for him to be prepared to start. It’s tough to weigh. We know he wants to be here. We like having him here. We think he can help us. But there is more that goes into the decision.”
As Matheny says, there are other factors at play here as well.

For instance, a lot might depend on how Chris Carpenter fares in his rehab.  He makes his first start tonight for AA Springfield and if he progresses, the need for Martinez as a starter decreases.

Also, will the Cardinals be able to find Martinez enough work?  Prior to being moved into the starting rotation, Joe Kelly worked as the long reliever in the pen, the role that Martinez would likely take over.  In the first two month of the season, Kelly only threw 18.2 innings, which would have put him on pace for about 55 innings.  Hardly enough innings to allow a youngster like Martinez develop properly.

I think that the best option for the Cardinals and Martinez would be to send him back down to AAA to start. Although the Cardinals might not need another starter this year, they will certainly be looking for starters next year, with Jake Westbrook likely heading to free agency and the 5th starter spot still up in the air.  Martinez could be one of the favorites to claim a starting role next year, but only if he's given time to properly develop this year. 

However, the Cardinals may have already made their decision, as they optioned Keith Butler to AAA today.  Butler, a righthander like Martinez, was unscored upon in his last 8 appearances, yet the Cards sent him down anyway, a possible indication that they have decided to keep Martinez.

In any case, I hope that if the Cardinals have decided to keep Martinez in the pen, it won't hamper his long-term development.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Are Cardinals a stealth player for Matt Garza?

The Cubs are likely to trade Matt Garza before his next start and the Cardinals might have some interest.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Garza has been informed that he will be traded and the Cardinals appear to be a stealth player for him.  Heyman's colleague, Danny Knobler, confirmed that the Cards have talked to the Cubs, but are they truly interested or are they just testing the waters?

For one thing, Ken Rosenthal has said that it is unlikely that the Cardinals would part with any "elite talent" to make such a deal.  The asking price for Garza remains high, per Buster Olney.  Considering that there are only about 3 quality starting pitchers on the market in Garza, Bud Norris and Yovani Gallardo, it is definitely a sellers' market.

On the other hand, the Cardinals starting pitching has struggle. Lance Lynn had another rough outing on Saturday.  Shelby Miller has only last 6 innings once in his last 5 starts.  Jake Westbrook has been hot and cold since coming off the DL and Joe Kelly is the latest in a long line of 5th starters.

So, acquiring a guy like Garza makes some sense for the Cardinals, but are they willing to pony up the prospects to land him?

Its likely that the Cubs would want at least one or two of the Cardinals top prospects to deal Garza, especially within their own division.  The Cubs are in need of pitching and my guess is that the Cardinals would have to part with one of the top pitching prospects, such as Carlos Martinez for Garza.

I don't think the Cardinals will go that far to acquire Garza (or any other pitcher, for that matter).  More likely, they will monitor the trade market for Garza, in hopes that the asking price will come down and they can swoop in at the last minute to make a deal.

With the best farm system in the majors, the Cardinals have a lot of pieces to  offer up in a potential trade, but they also want to make sure that they don't mortgage their future in doing so.

Friday, July 12, 2013

MLB needs to hold umpires, like Dan Bellino, accountable for their actions

MLB umpires are getting out of hand and the league is doing little about it.

Last night's game between the Cubs and Cardinals was yet another example of an umpire trying to make himself bigger than the game.

After getting called out on strikes last night, Matt Adams questioned the call on his way back to the dugout.  It was a mild and low-key protest, but apparently, this did not sit well with umpire Dan Bellino, who took off his mask and shoo'd Adams away.

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny took exception to Bellino's treatment of Adams and, after the final out was recorded, confronted Bellino as he approached the dugout.  Needless to say, things got a little heated (video).

Matheny was ejected, after the game was already over, and could possibly face a fine or suspension.  Meanwhile, Bellino is free to ump another game.

Here's what Matheny had to say about Bellino at his press conference:

“It had more to do with the umpire and how he mistreated one of our players. It had nothing to do with the call. It had everything to do with him going too far. You can’t take your mask off and motion somebody away. We haven’t had any trouble. We haven’t been complaining all game long.  He wanted to be seen, so now he’s going to be seen.”

Its just another example in a long line of examples where umpires try to make themselves the stars of the game.

Earlier in the year, Tampa Bay's pitcher David Price was furious with umpire Tom Hallion after Hallion allegedly swore at Price as the pitcher walked off the field.  Price was fined $1,000, as was Hallion, but it obviously is not enough to deter umpires from grandstanding.

Last year, MLB suspended umpire Bob Davidson for "repeated violations" of baseball's "standards for situation handling" and writer Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post called it a step in the right direction. 

However, this year the only umpire suspension occurred after the umpires screwed up the pitcher substitution rules in an Angels/Astros game. 

Escalating arguments and (unintentionally) blowing calls are one thing, but there are also instances where it appears that umpires intentionally miss a call to get back at a player for supposedly "showing them up". 

One example is the Brett Lawrie incident last year with umpire Bill Miller (video).  On a 3-1 count, Lawrie took what he thought was a ball and starting trotting down to first, thinking he earned a walk.  Miller called the pitch a strike though, earning a bewildered look from Lawrie.  However, you just knew what was going to happen next.  Sure enough, the next pitch was even more clearly a ball and Miller still rung Lawrie up.  Its just one of many examples of an ump exacting his revenge on a player.

Jose Bautista has been claiming for a while that umpires are out to get him, because of how he reacts to bad calls. His anger probably doesn't help him, but at least one study shows that he gets more than his fair share of bad calls.

Another example of a player who may get unfair treatment because of his reputation as a bit of a hot head is Bryce Harper.  Harper was ejected from a game earlier this year when a check swing call by John Hirschbeck went against him.  Harper raised his arms in a "what gives" manner, which Hirschbeck took exception to, walked straight at Harper, yelling at him and challenging him to do something to warrant the ejection Hirschbeck was just itching to give.  Harper obliged by flipping his bat and helmet and was immediately ejected (video).

Umpires are suppose to defuse situations, not escalate them.  There are too many umpires that want to make themselves the center of attention.  They intentionally miss calls so that they can eject players for revenge or try to instigate things because of a players' reputation.  Yet, they never suffer any consequences.  Bottom line, MLB has to start holding umpires accountable for their actions with longer suspensions and stiffer fines, otherwise these incidents will continue unabated.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Desperate for a fresh arm in the pen, Cardinals recall Carlos Martinez

After another short outing by starter Shelby Miller, which required Seth Maness to pitch 2 innings and Edward Mujica to pitch his 6th consecutive game, the Cardinals needed a fresh arm in the pen. Thus, Carlos Martinez was recalled today, with Michael Blazek being sent to the minors.

This is likely just a short-term stint for Martinez, who will likely head back to Memphis during the All-Star break to continue his work as a starter.

GM John Mozeliak described Martinez' role as "bullpen innings eater", when asked by Bernie Miklasz. So, Martinez will likely fill the long reliever role that Maness has occupied, while Seth gets a chance to rest.

I don't normally like it when teams shuttle pitchers up and down from their AAA club, especially one as talented as Martinez.  I think it can affect their development and Martinez needs work to develop a third pitch to go with his blazing fastball and excellent curve.

However, as this appears to be just a short-term move, mostly out of necessity, it should not have much affect.  Martinez should return to AAA to continue his work as a starter and provide depth for a struggling starting rotation. 

Joe Kelly is currently the 5th starter and Chris Carpenter is set to begin a rehab assignment on Monday, but neither one is a sure thing.  In addition, the recent struggles of Miller and Lance Lynn have raised concerns about the Cardinals pitching staff, and rightly so.

Bottom line, the Cardinals need Martinez stretched out at AAA as another option should one of the current starters falter.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Who will replace Rob Johnson on Cardinals roster once Yadier Molina is healthy?

In a somewhat surprising move, but one that was long overdue, the Cardinals release Ty Wigginton and called up catcher Rob Johnson from AAA Memphis.  Johnson is needed as Yadier Molina is banged up and the Cards need an extra catcher for insurance.

However, this is only a temporary assignment for Johnson, as once Molina is healthy, its likely that Johnson will be sent back to AAA.  This begs the question as to who will replace him on the active roster?

Here are the two leading candidates:

Ryan Jackson

Jackson is currently hitting .301/.378/.399 at AAA Memphis and is probably a better defensive short stop than Pete Kozma.  With Kozma's recent struggles at the plate the Cardinals could call upon Jackson to give Kozma some extra rest.

In addition, Jackson has some versatility, having played second, third and some outfield in the minors this year, as it appears the Cards are grooming him to be a utility player.  Adding him to the roster would give the Cardinals a better defensive backup to Kozma at short than current backup Daniel Descalso, plus another right handed bat off the bench.

Brock Peterson

At age 29, Peterson is not a prospect anymore, but he is hitting .308/.381/.563 with 20 homers at AAA. He could give the Cardinals some extra pop off the bench and another right handed bat to help combat the team's struggles against lefties.

He is not quite as versatile as Jackson, but can play first, second, third and the corner outfield spots.  He has spent 11 years in the minors, but has never reached the majors. He was also recently named to the PCL All Star team.

I think one of these two will be called up after the all star break to replace Johnson on the active roster.  Of course, the Cardinals could always cross us up by calling up another reliever or someone like Adron Chambers, but my guess is that Jackson will get the call.  He gives the Cardinals what Ty Wigginton should have, at a fraction of the cost.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cardinals sell low on Mitchell Boggs?

One year after leading the NL in holds with 34, the Cardinals appear to have sold low on Mitchell Boggs, trading him for cash, international signing bonus cash to be exact.

According to Scott Miller of, the Cardinals traded Mitchell Boggs to the Colorado Rockies for their International Signing Bonus slot #4, which is worth only $206,400.

Doesn't seem like a lot for a pitcher who just last year was one of the best setup men in the NL, but there is more to this move than just the international money.

First, thanks to the success of their rookie relievers, Boggs had become expendable.  As Rick Hummel points out, the rookie quintet of Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness, Keith Butler, Michael Blazek and Kevin Siegrist have been stellar.  In 96 innings, they have a combined 1.88 ERA with 102 K's. 

These guys have been a big part of the Cardinals bullpen resurgence.  After having the worst team bullpen ERA in April, thanks in large part to Boggs, the Cards pen has shown steady improvement over the last couple months, moving all the way up to 7th in the NL with a 3.52 bullpen ERA. 

Also, in addition to the international cash, the Cardinals rid themselves of Boggs' $1,475,000 salary for the rest of the year (about $737,500).  This was a sunk cost for the Cards, as it was unlikely that Boggs would make it back to the majors with the team, so to be able to dump his salary on the Rockies as well as getting a little extra international cash on top of it was a win-win scenario.

So, after a day of cleaning house for the Cardinals, including releasing Ty Wigginton, it will be interesting to see what the team's next move is.

Cardinals release Ty Wigginton, promote catcher Rob Johnson

As an update to my article posted less than two hours ago, the Cardinals have given Ty Wigginton his unconditional release and called up catcher Rob Johnson according to Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Wigginton was rarely used and unproductive when he was used.  By giving him his unconditional release, he is free to sign with another team for the league minimum.  The Cardinals will be on the hook for the remainder of his 2-year, $5 million contract through next season.

With Yadier Molina banged up, the Cardinals needed to make a move to get a backup for Tony Cruz.  Thus Wigginton became expendable.  However, this raises a concern that Yadi's injury may be more serious than the team is letting on.

In any case, it was a rare bad signing for the Cardinals, who have done pretty well on the free agent market, with additions such as Carlos Beltran and Jake Westbrook over the last few years.

But, it is nice to see the team admit their mistake and cut their losses.

Cardinals looking to clear dead weight, aka Ty Wigginton, off their roster?

According to Derrick Goold, the Cardinals are exploring their options regarding the little used and highly unproductive Ty Wigginton.

Signed to a two-year, $5 million contract this offseason, Wigginton has posted a .158/.238/.193 line in just 57 at bats this season.  He has the fewest starts (7) of any position player and the second fewest at bats (only backup catcher Tony Cruz has fewer).

Goold indicates that the Cardinals could make a move before tonight's game against the Astros.  The Cardinals are on the hook for Wigginton's salary, but they have a few options, including a minor-league assignment, a trade (not that many teams would be interested) or just designating him for assignment and releasing him.

When he was first signed, I didn't think it was such a bad deal, as he could provide some right handed pop off the bench and a veteran presence for a relatively young team.  However, with Matt Adams earning a bench spot and Daniel Descalso having a strong season at the plate, there has been little need for Wigginton.

So, the Cardinals may decide to demote Wigginton or just cut their losses in favor of bringing up someone who can help them at an area of need.  My guess is that they will probably call up Ryan Jackson to help fill in for a slumping Pete Kozma.

Whatever the case, it appears that Wigginton will no longer be on the Cardinals major league roster after today.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cardinals quietly looking for a starter?

Despite the Cardinals general belief that they have the internal pitching depth to handle any issues with their starting pitching, Joe Strauss indicates in a recent article that the Cardinals might be conducting a "low-decibel" search for another starter.

With Carlos Martinez waiting in the wings and Michael Wacha likely a candidate to return in September, the Cardinals have two strong options in AAA should one of their current starter falter.  In addition, the Cards will closely monitor Chris Carpenter progress in his rehab from his shoulder injury to determine if he is an option for the rotation.

The next 3 weeks will be an evaluation period for the Cardinals, not only to see if they need an upgrade to their current rotation of Adam Wainwright, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Joe Kelly, but also to see where that potential upgrade might be (either internal or external).

For his part, GM John Mozeliak indicated that he believes that the team has "sound internal options", but that he reserves the right to "re-examine things the next four weeks."

The Cardinals are already scouting players in anticipation of the trade deadline, with Adam McCalvy reporting that the team had a scout at the Mets/Brewers game this afternoon.  Who the scout was looking at is unclear, but its unlikely that is was any of the Brewers players (the Cards are adverse to trading within the division).

What is also unclear is whether the Cardinals could really find a pitcher that is clearly better than their internal option on the trade market.  Matt Garza would probably qualify, but, as I said before, the Cards are unlikely to trade within their own division.  

Bud Norris has pitched well this year, but is probably no better than a 4th or 5th starter on a contending team.  Is he really a step up from Joe Kelly (or Wacha or Martinez)?

In addition, after recent struggles, Shelby Miller, Jake Westbrook and Lance Lynn each turned in strong performances their last times out, helping to alleviate concerns. 

So, while the Cardinals may be quietly checking out the starting pitching market, its probably more of a passive than an active search.  They will check and scout all of the external options and see what the asking prices are.  If there is a starter out there that could be had for cheap and is a clear upgrade to what they have (both in the majors and minors), they could make a move. 

However, its more likely they'll stick with what they've got.

Friday, July 5, 2013

What do the Cardinals do with Jon Jay and center field?

Cardinals' Nation is abuzz about John Jay and his production (or lack thereof).  Many are calling for the Cardinals to make a change and soon.

Bernie Miklasz wrote an article yesterday highlighting Jay's deficiencies on offense and defense and suggests that the Cards could look for an alternative on the trade market.

John Nagel of CardinalsFarm suggests that the Cardinals should use an internal option such as Tommy Pham, to replace Jay in center.

Tom S. of Viva el Birdos does an analysis of the situation and concludes that, with no better options available either inside or outside the organization, the Cardinals should just stay the course with Jay.  However, that doesn't appease Cardinals' Nation that wants action now.

So, what is the answer?

The way I see it, there are no viable trade options to plug into center field and the current, healthy internal options for the Cardinals, such as Tommy Pham, probably are not ready for the bigs.  Why make a change when its not going to provide you with much better results than your current option?

Thus, the best option is to stick with Jay for now and hope he improves.  Many have said over the last few years that his unusually high BABIP, which ranged from .340 to .355, was unsustainable.  But he did it for 3 years, while bucking the odds.  Perhaps he just has an uncanny ability to "hit 'em where they ain't".

However, if after a month, things do not improve, then the Cardinals have to turn to Oscar Taveras.  Hopefully Taveras will be healthy by then and ready to take over.  While he may not be a long-term solution in center, as he may eventually grow out of the position, he should be able to at least hold down the job for the remainder of the season.

After that, the Cardinals can explore a more permanent solution in the offseason.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Are the Cardinals starters regressing to the mean or are there bigger issues lurking?

Let's face it, the Cardinals starting pitchers are struggling, to say the least.  Over the last week, they have gone 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA and they are 3-7 with a 4.08 ERA over the last two weeks.

Take away Adam Wainwright's starts and the numbers are even worse:  0-3 with a 6.75 ERA over the last week and 2-6 with a 4.73 ERA over the last two weeks (TGFW).

The Cardinals have already replaced Tyler Lyons in the rotation after he gave up 4 runs in 1.2 innings in his last start, but the struggles of regulars Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Jake Westbrook have everyone concerned.

Are they just regressing to the mean or are their struggles a sign of bigger issues?  Let's take a look at each of them.

Lance Lynn

Including last night's start, in which he gave up 5 runs in 6 innings, Lynn has an ERA of 3.75, which is in line with last year's 3.78 ERA.  His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .290 compared to .321 last year.  With league average usually around .300, one can say that Lynn is not the benefactor of good luck and that he's probably about where he should be.

However, like last year, Lynn is going through a "June swoon".  Since the beginning of June, he has posted an ERA of 5.26.  He has been fortunate to go 3-2 in those 6 starts, thanks in large part to the Cardinals offense.

Last year, Lynn went 2-3 with a 6.66 ERA in June and lost his starting gig as a result.  The Cardinals thought it was a result of fatigue, due to his weight at that time.  However, even after losing weight during the offseason, he appears to be going through the same thing this year.

Looking at Pitch F/X, via Fangraphs, Lynn's average fastball velocity is down slightly from last year, but not enough to cause one to believe he is hiding an injury.

Maybe he is just going through a "dead arm" period and the All-Star break will give him a chance to refresh and reload, but there is no indication of injury or bad luck.

Shelby Miller

Unlike Lynn, Miller doesn't have much major league history to go off of as he only pitched 13.2 innings last year, mostly in relief.  His .290 BABIP is not far off from league average and his 2.82 FIP is not far off from his current 2.79 ERA.

However, like Lynn, Miller has struggled recently.  Over his last 5 starts, he is 2-3 with a 5.55 ERA.

The issue for Miller appears to be mechanical in nature, as he indicated after his last start that he may have discovered a flaw in his delivery. 

He'll test out his theory tonight against the Angels.

Jake Westbrook

Westbrook's BABIP is .299 for the season, which is consistent with league average and his own career mark of .301.  However, his 4.03 FIP compared to his 2.95 actual ERA indicate that he has been the beneficiary of some luck.

Let's face it, pitchers with a career ERA over 4.00 don't suddenly find their ace stuff at age 35 and lead the league in ERA.

So, part of his recent struggles could be seen as a regression to the mean.

However, there are reports that Westbrook's velocity is down and, considering he just came off the DL following a tender elbow, it raises concerns that he is still not 100%.

The have been no reports of any lingering arm issues and maybe he just needs to rebuild his strength after the long layoff, but he is the pitcher I'm most concerned about.

Overall, I'm not too concerned about Lynn or Miller as they are young, do not show any signs of injury and should be able to bounce back.  On the other hand, Westbrook's struggles are concerning and may be an indication that he is not fully healed.  If he doesn't improve soon, he may be headed back to the DL.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Cardinals sign Venezuela outfielder Carlos Talavera. Cubs snag two of top 3 prospects.

Today was the first day that MLB teams could sign international players and many teams scrambled to sign the best players available.

The Cardinals signed Venezuela outfielder Carlos Talavera, ranked the 28th best international prospect by Baseball America.  Their scouting report describes Talavera as one of the best hitters in Venezuela with gap power and liken him to Angel Pagan.

This is also the first year that teams had different bonus pools to use to sign prospects and are allowed to trade up to 50% of their pool. 

The Cubs took advantage of that by trading for an addition $963K of pool money and used it to sign the consensus #1 prospect in outfielder Eloy Jimenez of the Dominican Republic and another top 3 prospect in Venezuela short stop Gleybar Torres, making them the big winners in today's signing frenzy.

Check in tomorrow after the dust settles for more updates.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cardinals could use a spark, but from where?

The Cardinals ended the month of June with an uninspiring 14-14 record. 

The main culprit has been the once reliable starting pitching.  After dominating for two months, all of the starters, save for Adam Wainwright, posted ERA's above 4.00 during June.  

But the pitching isn't the only thing that should shoulder the blame.  The offense has also been inconsistent, often showing a feast or famine tendency. 

Its obvious that the Cards could use a spark to get them rolling again, but from where?

Here are the possibilities:


With the calendar turning to July, the trade market is sure to pick up.  If the Cardinals want to help their beleaguered starting rotation, there are plenty of starters on the market. 

However, two of the top sellers of starting pitching at this year's deadline reside in the NL Central (the Cubs and Brewers) and the Cards have said that trading within the division is "not desirable".

The Marlins have made Ricky Nolasco available and the Astros have Bud Norris on the block, but is either one enough to provide the boost the Cardinals need?

The Cards could always go "all-in" and trade for the Phillies' Cliff Lee, but it would likely gut their farm system in the process.  Would the Cardinals mortgage their future for Lee?


The most obvious way to spark the Cardinals offense would be to replace the struggling John Jay with Oscar Taveras.  However, Taveras has been dealing with an ankle injury for the last month and currently resides on the 7-day D.L.  Once healthy, he could be a viable option later this month.

Another possibility is to call up Carlos Martinez for the starting rotation and put Lance Lynn in the bullpen.  Lynn appears to be going through the same mid-season funk that he did last year, posting a 4.83 ERA in June.  However, despite his struggles, he has still managed to go 3-1 for the month.

Martinez could also be used to replace Jake Westbrook in the rotation.  Westbrook had the worst month of any starter still in the rotation, posting a 5.32 ERA while going 2-2 in his 4 starts.  Westbrook could possibly then be used as a trade chip with another contending team.

My guess is that the Cardinals will just make minor trades here or there, either adding an arm for the bullpen or finding a right handed bat for the bench and hope that the regulars get back on track.  But, if the team's struggles continue through July, don't be surprised to see Taveras or Martinez called up by the end of the month.