Monday, June 30, 2014

Cardinals could look to add a second or third baseman, but who?

The Cardinals made a move today to try to bolster their sagging offense, promoting Oscar Taveras from AAA Memphis.  His promotion likely means less playing time for Allen Craig and possibly Matt Holliday.  However, the team does not appear content with just that move.

According to Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch, the Cardinals are "open to seeking a trade for a hitter at second base or third base."  In either case, rookie Kolten Wong could be out of a job, as Carpenter would likely shift to second, if the team acquires a third baseman.

So, who might be available?

As of now, it appears that the following teams are likely to be sellers at this year's deadline:  Cubs, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rays, Astros and Rangers.  Here's a look at what each of those teams might have to offer at either second or third.  (It should be noted that the Cards could acquire a shortstop and move Jhonny Peralta to third and Carpenter to second, giving them a few more options).


The Cards are unlikely to find much talent here, as the Cubs currently employ Darwin Barney (.198/.243/.284) at second and Mike Olt (.142/.224/.346) at third.  Emilio Bonifacio has some speed and can play second, third or center field, but he is hitting only .207 since April and is currently on the DL.


Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are likely off the table, as they both have no-trade clauses and have said they want to stay in Philadelphia.  Cody Asche could be an option, as the Phillies have top prospect Maikel Franco waiting in the wings.  However, as a young, cost-controlled player, he would likely cost the Cardinals more in terms of prospects.


Both Aaron Hill and Martin Prado are signed through the 2016 season, so its unlikely that the D'backs would trade either of them.  They do have a glut of shortstops though, with Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and the recently promoted Nick Ahmed.  However, Owings is injured, Gregorius is not much of a hitter and Ahmed is unproven.


Chase Headley is certainly available.  He is hitting just .204/.293/.327, so the Cardinals could potentially get him cheap.  However, is he really an upgrade over Wong?  He had one monster year in 2012, when he hit .286 with 31 homers and 17 stolen bases, but didn't really do much before or since then.


Ben Zobrist is likely available.  He is signed through 2014 at $7.0 million and has a $7.5 million option for 2015.  He is a career .262/.353/.432 hitter, but is 33 as has started to show some signs of decline.  However, he has shown the ability to get on base in the past and could slot in nicely in the second hole of the lineup.


Jose Altuve's name immediately jumps out at you.  When you're hitting .347 with 36 stolen bases (and just 3 caught stealings), people take notice.  However, he is signed through 2017 with 2 reasonable team options, which could lock him up through 2019, so its unlikely that the Astros would trade him.


The Rangers have made it be known that all of their players are available, but some, like Adrian Beltre, would cost a lot more than others.  The Cardinals could pursue Elvis Andrus, who is a career .273/.337/.348 hitter and generally regarded as a good defensive player.  However, his speed and defense don't make up for his career OPS of .685 (84 OPS+) and his contract jumps up to $15 million per season, starting next year, making him much less appealing.

Overall, there are not a lot of quality options out there, but I think the best bet would be for the Cardinals to go after Ben Zobrist.  He can get on base and would definitely be an upgrade offensively over Wong.  Beyond him, you're looking at guys like Asche and Headley, who carry a bit more risk and don't necessarily provide you with an offensive boost.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Should the Cardinals trade Oscar Taveras to get David Price?

There's been much speculation surrounding the Cardinals and David Price lately.  The Cards starting rotation is hurting and Price would certainly provide the team with a one-two punch, along with Adam Wainwright, that could match any other team in baseball. 

The problem is that, to acquire a player like Price, the Cards may have to part ways with top prospect Oscar Taveras. 

The Rays have a history of trading off their top pitchers before they become free agents and getting some high quality prospects in return.  In 2011, they traded Matt Garza to the Cubs for Chris Archer (and others) and in December 2012 they traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals for Wil Meyers and Jake Odorizzi (and others). 

All Meyers and Archer did was to finish 1st and 3rd in the Rookie of the Year voting last season and Odorizzi is making a case for this year's award. 

However, none of those pitchers the Rays traded have the pedigree of David Price.  Price won the Cy Young in 2012, is a 3-time All Star (in his first 5 seasons) and has a career 3.35 ERA, with a good chunk of his games coming against the tough AL East opponents.

So, if the Cardinals were to come calling, one would certainly expect that the Rays would ask for Taveras in return.

And, if they do, both Ken Rosenthal and Bernie Miklasz say the Cardinals should just say NO.

Their thinking is that the lack of quality sluggers in the majors makes a slugger with the potential of Taveras all the more valuable.

The Cards certainly have an abundance of outfielders and trading from that surplus makes sense.  But, when you have a player with the offensive upside of Taveras, does it make sense to trade him for 1 1/2 years of Price?

On the flip side, the Cardinals could use some help on the mound.  The injuries are mounting and a guy like Price could be the missing piece to send the team back to the promised land.  Besides, a year after winning the ROY, Meyers has struggled this season for the Rays, proving once again that prospects are just that until they prove themselves in the majors.

The Cardinals have plenty of talent in the majors and minors, perhaps enough to land Price without offering up Taveras.   But, I would not be upset if the Cards decided to trade Taveras for Price.  Maybe I'm a bit of a gambler, but I also believe that pitching wins championships and that this team needs the kind of wake-up call that Price could provide.

What do you think?  Would you trade Taveras to get Price?  I will put a poll on the front page for your answer.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Should the Cardinals pursue Texas' Joakim Soria?

The trade market just got a whole lot more interesting.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Texas Rangers have made it be known that they are willing to listen on anyone

What does that mean to the Cardinals?

Well, for one thing, they could possibly pursue someone like Elvis Andrus, who would give the team a better defensive shortstop than Jhonny Peralta, and allow them to move Peralta to second. 

The Cards second basemen, led by Kolten Wong, have struggled on offense and the addition of Andrus could certainly give the team's offense a boost.

Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch suggested that the Cardinals could look for an upgrade at second.  However, the cost for Andrus could prove prohibitive.

While looking for ways to improve the offense is all well and good, I think the Cards should focus their attention on Joakim Soria.

The Cardinals bullpen has seen its share of ups and downs so far this year.  While Jason Motte has come back from Tommy John surgery and pitched well, his velocity is down from his pre-surgery days and he has lost some of his former dominance as a result.

In addition, losing Kevin Siegrist to injury and Carlos Martinez to the starting rotation has also depleted the bullpen.  Therefore, adding another quality arm to the pen makes sense.

In the past the Cards have gone after struggling relievers like Edward Mujica and John Axford, who they were able to get for cheap, and were able to turn them around.  However, their luck is bound to run out at some point.  Why not get a proven guy for once to strengthen the back end of the pen?

Soria has been downright nasty this season with a 1.75 ERA and a 35/3 K/BB ratio in 25.2 IP.  Adding him to the pen would help ease the burden on the Cardinals current closer, Trevor Rosenthal, so that he no longer has to pitch 1.1 innings and throw 41 pitches to nail down the save (and then be expected to throw again the next day).

Finally, while landing a quality reliever like Soria would cost the Cardinals more in terms of prospects, he would not be just a summer rental. Soria is signed through the 2014 season at $5.5 million, but has a $7 million option for 2015.  With Motte, who is earning $7 million this season, potentially becoming a free agent after this season, if the Cards cannot resign him, then they can just pick up Soria's option to replace him.

Overall, I think it would be a good move for the Cards, unless the Rangers start asking for a king's ransom in return.  The hope is that the offense will finally kick into gear and the starting pitching will get healthy, leaving the bullpen as the only area of need.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Who are the Cardinals trade chips?

Buster Olney is reporting that the Rays are prepared to deal David Price "right now".  The trade market is obviously heating up and thhe Cardinals appear to be looking to make a big splash this time around.  But what do the Cards have to offer the sellers as the trade season heats up?

Here's a look at some of the players that the Cards might be willing to part with to land the pieces they need to contend for a title.

The Outfield Logjam

One area in which the Cardinals have a surplus is in the outfield, here are some players that could be moved to ease that logjam.

1.  Matt Adams

It was reported a while back that Adams could be on the block as the Cardinals look to eliminate their outfield logjam, while at the same time getting a quality player in return.  Adams is appealing to other teams in that he is cheap (he still has one more season before arbitration) and he is a career .295 hitter with power.  He could be involved in a trade for a big fish, such as Price.

2.  Allen Craig

Craig is also appealing due to his reasonable contract--he is earning just $2.75 million in 2014, and will make just $5.5 million in 2015, $9.0 in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.  All affordable salaries for a career .297 hitter and rbi machine.  He probably wouldn't be the centerpiece of a David Price deal, but could be used to acquire an upgrade at another position, such as second base.

3.  Jon Jay/Peter Bourjos

Jay and Bourjos have been splitting time in center this season, with Mike Matheny riding the hot hand.  However, one of them could be traded to land some bullpen help or as a piece to a larger deal.  Both will be entering their second year of arbitration this offseason and trading one of them could help the Cardinals save money to use for other needs.

The Prospects

Although the Cardinals no longer have the top farm system, the team still has quality prospects and depth to make some moves.

1.  Oscar Taveras

If the Cardinals are going to land a pitcher like Price, they are going to have to part with some of the best prospects and there is no one better than Taveras.  He could be the centerpiece of a mega-deal while at the same time helping to eliminate the outfield logjam.

2.  Carlos Martinez/Marco Gonzales

If there is one thing that selling teams crave, its young, controllable, major league ready pitching.  Martinez is a young power arm that could be the key to a deal for a veteran arm, such as Price.  Gonzales doesn't have the power arm, like Martinez, but his promotion to start on Wednesday could just be a means of showcasing him to other teams.  In any case, don't be surprise if one of these guys names pops up in trade rumors.

3.  Stephen Piscotty/Randal Grichuk/James Ramsey

The Cardinals have an abundance of good young outfield prospects and one of these guys could end up on the block.  Any one of these guys could be traded to land a quality reliever or could be included in a larger deal. 

These are just some of the guys who the Cards might consider expendable to get what they need.  The team currently has the depth to do whatever it takes to make this team better, but will John Mozeliak be willing to pull the trigger?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Could the latest injuries to the Cardinals starting rotation make them more likely to pursue David Price?

The recent losses of Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia have created a big hole in the Cardinals starting rotation.  Carlos Martinez will fill one of those spots, however, he has made just two big league starts and it remains to be seen how he will fare.  The other replacement is likely to be Tyler Lyons, who has a career 5.89 ERA as a starter.

Obviously, the Cardinals could use some help.

Which brings us back to David Price.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, "the Cardinals have been watching the Rays closely recently" and were among the teams watching Price pitch on June 20thTopkin also suggested that the Cards recent injuries could increase their interest in Price.

Of course, interest in the left handed ace will be high.  Topkin suggested that the Dodgers are likely the frontrunner to land Price, with the Giants, Braves, Angels, A's, Indians and the surprising Marlins also possibilities. 

However, despite recently losing Gavin Floyd to injury, Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that the Braves are unlikely to pursue Price. The Braves are already over budget and have a solid rotation with Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Ervin Santana, Aaron Harang and Alex Wood.

Also, while you can never rule out the Rays trading Price within their own division, it would likely cost those teams, such as the Yankees, considerably more to acquire him.

Topkin also suggested that the Rays trade Price now, an idea echoed by Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times.  Price is obviously unhappy in Tampa, what with the team in last place and the constant trade rumors.  Its best to move him now, especially before the market for the other top tier pitchers, such as Jeff Samardzija and Cliff Lee heats up.

Needless to say, the trade market just got a whole lot more interesting for the Cardinals and things could happen quickly. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cardinals lose 40% of their starting rotation. What next?

While not as bad as losing a lead in the last couple minutes of your soccer match, the Cardinals starting rotation sustained a big blow today when both Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia were placed on the DL due to shoulder issues.

For Garcia, shoulder issues are nothing new.  What is surprising is that he was able to come back and pitch effectively, even if it was just 7 starts.  Garcia reaggravated his left shoulder, which was surgically repaired last year.

On the other hand, Wacha suffered what is being called a stress reaction in his pitching shoulder and will miss at least a few weeks, probably more.

Carlos Martinez, who made his second start today while filling in for Wacha, will stay in the rotation for the foreseeable future, while the Cardinals have yet to name a replacement for Garcia, who was scheduled to pitch Wednesday.

The most likely option is Tyler Lyons, who last pitched on June 19th and is on the 40-man roster.  However, he might not be the best option if these injuries stretch out over a month.

Joe Kelly, who started the season in the rotation before suffering a hamstring injury, is almost ready to start a rehab assignment and could be ready to rejoin the rotation in early July.

In any case, this is just another test of the Cardinals depth and it will be interesting to see if this changes the Cards targets as the trade deadline approached.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Should the Cardinals pursue David Price and, if so, what might he cost them?

Last week I opined as to what the Cardinals needs might be heading into trading season.  Bullpen help is their main priority, but there is also the possibility that the Cardinals could make a big splash and try to pull off a blockbuster deal.

A little while ago, Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Cards should pursue a big-name starting pitcher, such as David Price and, with the recent elbow issues of Adam Wainwright, that is a distinct possibility.  However, Rosenthal recently indicated that the team is hesitant to go shopping for a starter, as they still have internal options, such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez.

Early indications are that Wainwright's injury is not serious, but it does raise concerns.  Waino is definitely the Cardinals ace and while Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia have all pitched well, a long-term injury to Wainwright would definitely hurt the Cards playoff chances.

Plus, could you imagine a big 3 of Wainwright, Wacha and Price in the playoffs?  The Cardinals would definitely be tough to beat.

Price would be under team control through the 2015 season, which means he is not the typical "rental" player available this time of year and it would give the Cards time to negotiate a potential extension with him.

Obviously, there are a lot of benefits to acquiring Price, but at what cost?

The best comparison to determine the asking price for Price is to look at the Rays trade of James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals in December 2012.  At that time, the Rays acquired Wil Meyers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard from the Royals for those two pitchers.

To put that package in perspective, Meyers was the Royals #1 prospect and the 4th best in all of baseball according to Baseball America.  Odorizzi was the Royals #5 prospect and ranked 92nd overall by Baseball America.  Montgomery had fallen off the charts a bit, but was once a top 50 prospect and Leonard was a low-level, unranked power hitting prospect.

What might the equivalent package be that the Cards would have to pony up for Price?

Well, you have to consider that the Royals were getting two quality arms in their deal, however Price is considered a much better pitcher than either Shields or Davis, so that probably balances out.

Thus, I would think that any discussion would probably start with Oscar Taveras.  The Cards would probably have to include a pitcher who is close to major-league ready as well, such as Tim Cooney and then a couple lesser prospects. 

The question then is:  Is it worth the cost?

Would you be willing to part with your top hitting prospect for arguably the best pitcher on the market? 

Considering the logjam of outfielders that the Cards have in their system both in the majors (Matt Holliday, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Allen Craig), as well as at AAA (Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk) and even AA (James Ramsey), parting with a top talent like Taveras for a lefthanded "ace" like Price is a little less painfull.

Overall, I think that, if the Cards could land Price for some package involving Taveras, they should go for it.  Pitching wins championships.

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What are the Cardinals' needs as we get ready for trading season?

With the MLB first year player draft out of the way, the focus now shifts to the next big event, the July 31st (waiver-free) trade deadline.  The Cardinals have been scuffling all year and could certainly use some help, but what exactly are their needs as the deadline approaches?


The top priority for John Mozeliak should be to find bullpen help. 

The Cardinals bullpen has a 5-11 record with a 3.67 ERA.  While the ERA is not too bad, as a team they are tied with the Cubs for 5th worst in the NL with 10 blown saves. 

Their closer, Trevor Rosenthal, has struggled all year with his control (4.9 BB/9, over double his 2.4 mark from 2013).  Top setup man, Carlos Martinez, has a 4.32 ERA and their best lefty, Kevin Siegrist, is on the DL, and, while 2012 closer Jason Motte has returned from Tommy John surgery, can Mike Matheny lean on him as heavily as he has the others?

The Cardinals have done an excellent job the last two years of acquiring struggling relievers from other teams and helping them turn things around for the stretch run.

In 2012, it was Edward Mujica, who the Cards acquired from Miami for prospect Zack Cox.  Mujica had a 4.38 ERA with the Marlins prior to the trade and a 1.03 ERA with the Redbirds.  He went on to serve as the Cardinals closer for much of the 2013 season, before tiring down the stretch.

In 2013, the Cardinals acquired John Axford from the Brewers for reliever Michael Blazek.  Axford had a 4.45 ERA with the Brew Crew, but posted a 1.74 ERA with the Cards.

Its a little early to tell exactly who might be available, but someone like J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks fits the profile.  He has struggled this year with injuries (forearm) and ineffectiveness (4.91 ERA), so he could be had for cheap (if you don't count the prorated portion of his $7.0 million contract) and could provide the Cards pen with a boost.

A Big Splash

Perhaps what this team needs to wake from their doldrums is for Mozeliak to make a big splash at the trade deadline and land the big fish.  Other than shoring up the bullpen, this is the only other move I think that the Cardinals could make to light a fire under this team.

Ken Rosenthal is just the latest writer to suggest that the Cardinals go after a big name pitcher, such as the Rays' David Price or the Royals' James Shields, because, well, pitching.

The Cardinals certainly have the minor league talent to land a big target.  They could offer up one of their AAA outfielders (such as Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty), a young pitcher or two (Carlos Martinez, John Gast, Tyler Lyons, Marco Gonzales, etc) and perhaps even someone like Matt Adams.

It would take a lot to land one of the big fish, but it just may be the spark that this team needs.

Of course, one might say that its the offense that needs a boost, so why not go after a big hitter.  Well, for one thing, where would you put him?  The team is pretty much set at all their positions and its really the struggles of veterans like Allen Craig and Matt Holliday that have caused the offense to sputter, so should the team really use its resources to land another hitter and try to squeeze him into the lineup?

In any case, it will be interesting to see what Mo does to shake up this team.  Will he make a big splash or will he just make a small tweak?  Perhaps the team's performance over the next month will decide.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cardinals select two pitchers in first round of 2014 draft

One year after selecting lefties Marco Gonzales and Rob Kaminsky in the first round of the 2013 draft, the Cardinals flipped sides and selected two righthanders in the first round of the 2014 draft.  With the 27th and 34th picks in the draft, the Cards selected Florda State RHP Luke Weaver and Harvard Westlake RHP Jack Flaherty.

Weaver is a polished pitcher who could move through the farm system fast.  Per Baseball America, his best pitches are his fastball, which sits in the 88-92 mph and peaks at 96 mph, and his changeup, which has good deception and sinking action.  He needs to work on his slider, which is currently a fringe pitch, but he shows good control and poise on the mound.  He was ranked #38 by Baseball America in their top 500 draft prospects list.

Flaherty ranked right behind Weaver at #39 in Baseball America's list.  BA's scouting report on Flaherty says that his fastball currently sits in the 88-92 mph, but that he will likely add velocity as he matures.  His changeup projects to be a plus pitch and slider has the potential to be a plus pitch, potentially giving him 3 plus pitches, and he has advanced command and control for his age. 

With many of their top pitching prospects graduating to the majors the last few years, the Cardinals have restocked their farm system by selecting a pair of college (Gonzales and Weaver) and HS (Kaminsky and Flaherty) pitchers the last two years.

While pitching prospects are always unpredictable, the Cardinals have fared well with their picks lately and, as they say, you can never have enough pitching.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why the Cardinals should sign Jason Motte to an extension.

Last year I made the case for letting Carlos Beltran walk when he became a free agent after the season.  His age, asking price and the fact that the Cardinals could insert Matt Adams into the lineup made the decision relatively easy.

This year, Jason Motte is in the last year of his two-year, $12 million contract extension that he signed back in January 2013.  Unfortunately for the team, Motte missed all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery and just recently made it back to the majors.

However, despite his injury and likely salary demands, I think the Cardinals should try to sign Motte to an extension.

For one thing, the team's seemingly endless supply of young power arms appears to be drying up. With Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Sam Freeman already in the big leagues, there are few power arms remaining in the high minors. 

The result is that the Cardinals have lacked depth in their bullpen and thus have had to rely on guys like Keith Butler and Eric Fornataro with little success.  In addition, one of the team's better relievers, Pat Neshek, will also become a free agent after the season, potentially leaving the Cards with another hole in their pen.

Another factor is the struggles of Trevor Rosenthal.  After a stellar postseason in 2013 as the Cardinals closer, Rosenthal has not been able to carry that success to this season.  He currently owns a 4.26 ERA and his walk rate has more than doubled from 2.4 BB/9 in 2013 to 4.9 BB/9 in 2014.  His struggles raises concerns about his ability to hold the closer job long-term and Motte has proven he is more than capable of holding down the job.

Finally, while Motte has pitched fairly well so for this year, I expect him to be even better next season.  As we saw with Adam Wainwright, it usually takes around 12 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, but around 18 months to 2 years to get back to where you were before. 

Wainwright struggled in his first season back form TJ surgery, but proved last year that he was back to full strength and has been even better this year. 

As Motte is no longer closing for the Cardinals (at least not yet anyway), they may be able to sign him to a team-friendly contract that could include incentives should he regain the closer role.  In any case, the Cards could certainly use his arm in the pen for 2015 and beyond.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Cardinals 2014 Draft Preview

The MLB Draft is coming up on Thursday and its always interesting to try to figure out who the Cardinals might pick.  This year the Cards have the 27th overall pick in the draft and there are various mock drafts out there with their predictions as to who the Redbirds might take.

Here's some of their predictions and a little bit about each:

Baseball America:  Michael Chavis, 3B/2B, Sprayberry HS, Marietta, GA 

Ranked as the #26 Draft Prospect by Baseball America.  Here is their take on Chavis:
Chavis is one of the better bats of the class. Chavis has tremendous strength through his hands and wrists and produces plus bat speed from a short, compact stroke.  He has plus raw power that translates to game action. Currently a high school shortstop, Chavis will likely move off the position as a pro. Third base remains his most likely destination because of his first-step quickness, body control and above-average arm.  Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS, California

Ranked # 21 by Baseball America, here is their take on Gatewood:
At least 70-grade raw power is Gatewood’s best tool and he hit home runs into the third deck of Citi Field and out of Wrigley Field. He has arguably the most raw power in the high school class. His ability to get to that power remains a question for scouts.  He is likely going to be a below-average hitter for average but has special hands, looseness, bat speed and leverage in his stroke.  A prep shortstop, Gatewood’s 6-foot-4 frame will likely push him to a corner.  Marcus Wilson, OF, Sierra HS, California

Ranked #44 by Baseball America, here is what they say about Wilson:
Wilson is a classic high-risk, high-reward prospect, because his baseball instincts and fundamentals remain raw. His best tool is his plus speed, but it doesn’t always play on the basepaths, where he is aggressive but not always at the right times. Some scouts say they have seen plus arm strength from Wilson as well, but others call it average. He has improved in center field, where he has a chance to be a good defender in time.  Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS, California

Ranked #26 by Baseball America, here is their take on Ortiz:
Ortiz was a hard-throwing, soft-bodied hurler entering his junior year. Then he lost 30 pounds over the course of the next year and was one of the most consistent pitchers on the showcase circuit last summer. He worked exclusively out of the stretch, sitting 92-94 mph, touching 95 with regularity and late riding life through the zone. Ortiz was named the World Cup MVP for his role as the closer on the gold medal-winning 18-and-under USA Baseball national team.  Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS, Hilo, Hawaii

Ranked #32 by Baseball America, he is what they say about Kodi:
His fastball sat 90-92 mph over extended innings this spring and has touched 95. He throws from a low arm slot that is just above sidearm, giving his fastball plus-plus life with heavy arm-side run and sink. His heavy, groundball-inducing fastball was a constant discussion point for hitters on the showcase circuit. Medeiros' slider is at least a plus offering and one of the best breaking balls in the high school ranks. Controlling his stuff in the zone will be key for his ability to remain in a rotation.
My Sleeper Pick:  Erick Fedde, RHP, UNLV

Generally considered one of the top draft prospects this spring, Fedde ranked as high as #8 on Baseball America's top draft prospects list as late as May 14th.  However, he had Tommy John surgery shortly thereafter and his stock has dropped considerably.  Baseball America still ranks him as the 24th best draft prospect and he could potentially fall to the Cardinals at #27.

In my opinion, it may be worth taking a chance on Fedde.  He situation reminds me of Lucas Giolito from the 2012 draft.  Many predicted Giolito to go number 1 overall, but elbow issues raised concerns and he dropped to #16 before being taken by the Washington Nationals.  Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012, Giolito has bounced back and ranked as the #21 prospect by Baseball America heading into the 2014 season.

Tommy John surgery has become pretty routine for pitchers and should not scare teams off from drafting a player, so if Fedde drops down to the Cardinals at #27, I hope the team grabs him.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Could extending top prospects before they're called up become the new trend?

In case you missed it, the Astros signed a groundbreaking contract extension with prospect Jon Singleton for 5 years, plus 3 option years, that could be worth up to $35 million.  He becomes the first player without any major league service time to sign such a deal.  The team then announced that he would be called up on Tuesday.

This is not the first time such a deal has been considered, as the Pirates reportedly offered top prospect Gregory Polanco a 7-year, $25 million contract extension and the Astros tried to sign top prospect George Springer to a 4-year deal with 3 option years that could have been worth up to $23 million.

With the specter of "Super Two" status hanging over many top prospects heads and making teams wary of bringing them up too soon, it makes sense for teams to look into extending their prospects to provide themselves with cost certainty and allow them to call up the prospects earlier.

It also makes some sense for the prospects, in that they get the chance to reach the big leagues earlier and make some serious money without having to first prove themselves at the major league level.

The risk for the team is that the prospect is a bust and they're on the hook for millions of dollars for a player who is not worth it.  On the flip side, the player is at risk on missing out on more earnings should he hit the ground running.

Personally, I like the idea and would have been all for the Cardinals doing a similar deal with Oscar Taveras so he could have been called up earlier to help the team's struggling offense.  Ben Humphrey, over at Viva el Birdos, speculated that such a deal would have cost the Cards around $18.6 million for 6 years.  Well worth it, if you ask me.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues or if the teams and the MLBPA will just do away with the Super Two rule during the next collective bargaining agreement.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Cardinals could trade an outfielder. Who could move and for what?

Its no secret that the Cardinals have a surplus of outfielders in their system, from major leaguers Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos and Allen Craig on down to their AAA outfield of Oscar Taveras, Randal Grichuk (who are both currently on the major league roster) and Stephen Piscotty.

In a recent article, Bernie Miklasz indicated that something's got to give, hinting that a trade is the logical thing to do.

But who might the Cardinals trade and what do they need in return?

Well, Darren Wolfson says that the Twins have interest in Jon Jay and that the Cardinals would probably ask for reliever Casey Fien and a prospect in return.  This makes sense for the Cards as they certainly could use the bullpen help and it could open up the possibility of Taveras splitting time with Bourjos in center.

Jon Heyman speculated a while back that the Cardinals could trade either Matt Adams or Allen Craig. However, if the Cardinals were to trade one of those guys, they would be looking for more than a reliever in return. 

According to Miklasz, a scout suggested to him that the Cards could try to make a big splash and acquire a "formidable starting pitcher" to complement Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha in the rotation.  Two of the biggest starting pitching names that have been rumored to be on the block are the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and the Rays' David Price.

The Cubs don't seem to be willing to pony up the money necessary to extend Samardzija, who is signed through the 2015 season.  However, the Cubs already have a couple of talented outfield prospects in Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.  Do they really need another outfielder and would they want to trade within their own division?

As for the Rays and Price, they could certainly use another outfielder, as they are currently employing David DeJesus in left field.  While he's a decent outfielder, he doesn't have the power normally associated with a corner guy. 

That's not to say that Craig or Adams would be enough to land a pitcher like Price.  Most likely it would require some prospects as well.  For example, when the Rays traded James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals a couple years ago, they acquired the Royals top prospects Wil Meyers and Jake Odorizzi, along with a couple other prospects (Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard).

Are the Cards willing to part with some of their top prospects for Price, who is only under team control through 2015?

Both Price and Samardzija are more valuable than most players on the block this time of year, as they are under team control beyond 2014, but that just means that their teams will be looking for more in return as well.

In any case, this situation bears watching and I'm sure there will be many more rumors floating around as the July 31st trade deadline gets nearer.