Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cardinals trade Joe Kelly and Allen Craig for John Lackey

OK, stop me if you've heard this before:

John Mozeliak: Mike, you got a minute?
Mike Matheny: Yeah. Take a seat.
John Mozeliak: You can't start Craig in right tonight. You'll have to start Taveras.
Mike Matheny: Yeah, I don't want to go fifteen rounds, Mo. The lineup card is mine, and that's all.
John Mozeliak: That lineup card is definitely yours. I'm just saying you can't start Craig in right.
Mike Matheny: Well, I am starting him in right.
John Mozeliak: I don't think so. He plays for Boston now.
Mike Matheny: You traded Craig?
John Mozeliak: Yeah. And Joe Kelly too.
Mike Matheny: You are outside your mind.
John Mozeliak: Yeah. Cuckoo.

In a scene right out of Moneyball, the Cardinals traded Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston for starting pitcher John Lackey, minor leaguer Corey Littrell and cash.  Not only does the move help shore up the Cards starting rotation, but it seemingly forces manager Mike Matheny to play Oscar Taveras, who has only started 6 games since July 10th.

Like Matheny, I was torn between playing Craig and letting him fight out of his slump versus playing Taveras and seeing what he could do on a regular basis.  Now that decision is no longer in Matheny's hands.

In addition, the Cardinals replace Joe Kelly in the rotation with John Lackey.  Kelly, who has a career 3.25 ERA as a starter, has struggled this year with a 4.37 ERA in 7 starts.  While Lackey has pitched well this year with a 3.60 ERA in arguably the toughest division in baseball.

As an added bonus, Lackey has apparently said that he will honor the unusual clause in his contract which pays him only league miminum for the 2015 season due to his having Tommy John surgery between 2010 and 2014.  Thus, the ability to keep Lackey around next year for a mere $500K definitely makes this move more attractive.

Long story short, it appears that both Kelly and Craig had fallen out of favor with the Cardinals, so Mozeliak made a move to bring in some new blood and hopefully breath some new life into this team.

Coupled with yesterday's acquisition of Justin Masterson, the Cardinals rotation now has a new look with Adam Wainwright, followed by Lance Lynn, Lackey, Shelby Miller and Masterson.

Plus, the Cardinals may not be done, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times is reporting that the Cardinals may also still be involved in the David Price sweepstakes.  (If such a move is made, its likely that Shelby Miller will be involved).

All-in-all, its been a pretty interesting deadline to say the least.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cardinals acquire Justin Masterson from Indians for James Ramsey

While John Mozeliak was busy blowing smoke around all the reporters, myself included, that thought he was chasing the likes of Jon Lester, David Price or Cole Hamels, he was quietly working out a deal with the Indians for starter Justin Masterson.

According to Peter Gammons, Masterson will be headed to the Cards and will likely make his debut on Saturday.  Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report that James Ramsey would be the player headed to the Indians.

After a stellar 2013 season, in which he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA for the Indians, Masterson has struggled this year, posting a 5.51 ERA in 19 starts.  However, per Steve Adams of, Masterson's former pitching coach, Mickey Callaway attributes his struggles to a knee injury which may have caused him to change his mechanics.

In any case, the Cardinals are hoping that he is now healthy and will return to form.

As for the Indians, they are getting one of the Cardinals better outfield prospects in Ramsey.  A first round pick in 2012, Baseball America ranked him as the Cards # 8 prospect heading into the season.  He has put up excellent numbers at AA Springfield, with a .300/.389/.527 with 13 homers.

Despite the acquisition of Masterson, the Cards could still go after Jon Lester, per Jon Paul Morosi.  However, such a deal would likely cost them Shelby Miller, per Morosi.

Overall, I like the Masterson acquisition.  It is a classic low risk/high upside kind of move.  Losing Ramsey hurts, as I considered him the Cards center fielder of the future, but hopefully the team can turn Masterson around and convince him to stay long-term.

As for a deal involving Miller for Lester--yes, please, as long as it doesn't require 3 other prospects on top of it.

More Cardinals trade rumors: Pitching, pitching and more pitching

UPDATE:  The Cardinals have acquired Justin Masterson from the Indians in exchange for AA outfielder James Ramsey.  You can read more about the acquisition HERE.

The non-waiver deadline is only a day away and the Cardinals remain linked to various starting pitchers.  Joe Strauss has a nice article explaining why starting pitching is the focus for the Cards, while the offense continues to struggle.  He lists Jon Lester, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Cole Hamels, Ian Kennedy, Justin Masterson and David Price as the pitchers that the team is at least doing due diligence on.

Here's a look at each of those pitchers and where things currently stand in the rumor mill:

Jon Lester

Lester is certainly the hottest commodity right now.  After he was scratched from today's start, indicating that a trade may be imminent, rumors having been flying left and right as to where he may end up (and most of them false).

Sifting through all the noise, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks that the Dodgers, Cardinals, Pirates and Mariners are the primary suitors for Lester, while Jon Heyman is reporting that the Dodgers and Cardinals may lead the race for Lester's services.

Cliff Lee

Lee is probably a fallback option for most teams, including the Cardinals.  He just recently came back from an injury and has been roughed up in his two starts.  Per Jayson Stark, scouts who have watched Lee feel that he is "far from healthy" and he is likely to be traded in August, if at all.

A.J. Burnett

There hasn't been much buzz surrounding the Cardinals and Burnett, even though the Cards are one of the teams that Burnett can be traded to without his consent, per Jerry Crasnick.

What we do know is that its unlikely that Burnett will be returning to the Pirates, as Jayson Stark reports that talks between the Pirates and Phillies are "all but dead".

Cole Hamels

Hamels remains an option for the Cardinals as they are once again one of the teams he can be traded to without his consent, per Jon Paul Morosi.  

However, it appears that the Phillies are not serious about trading Hamels, according to Jon Heyman, as their asking price is astoromical. 

Ian Kennedy

There has been little or no talk regarding the Cards and Kennedy and it remains to be seen if the Padres are serious about moving him.

According to Jayson Stark, its about a 50/50 proposition that Kennedy is traded.

Justin Masterson

Masterson is another pitcher on the block who appears to be flying below the radar.  He is having a down year, but Buster Olney says that the Indians are "ready to move" him.

David Price

The Rays have put themselves back in the playoff hunt after climbing from 18 games under .500 to just one game under. One would think that would preclude them from trading Price, especially since he is still under team control for 2015 and could be traded this winter instead.

However, Jon Heyman reports that the Rays are telling teams that they are "talking and willing" to trade Price.  While Heyman notes that, in addition to Lester, the Dodgers and Cardinals are also the most aggressive pursuers of Price.

Overall, the Cardinals appear likely to acquire a starter by the deadline as they have no starter listed for Saturday, per Derrick Goold, with Mike Matheny indicating that the starter for Saturday could be an "external" option.

Stay tuned for more and the rumors continue to fly....

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cardinals and Jon Lester trade rumors heating up as quest for a starter continues

UPDATE:  Jon Lester was scratched from his start tomorrow, according to Jason Mastrodonato. He will likely be traded tonight or tomorrow morning per Rob Bradford.  Are the Cardinals involved?

While yesterday we learned that the Phillies have made Cole Hamels available and that the Cardinals are interested, today's trade rumors surround Boston's Jon Lester.

After getting a good return in the Jake Peavy trade to the Giants, the Red Sox are apparently willing to consider trading rotation stalwarts Jon Lester and John Lackey, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.

Jim Bowden of ESPN reports that the Cardinals, along with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Brewers, Dodgers, Orioles and (surprisingly) the Marlins are all in on Lester.  Jeff Passan and Tim Brown of also list the Pirates as a dark-horse to acquire Lester.

For their part, the Red Sox are using the tight NL Central race (and potentially the bad blood between the Cardinals and Dodgers) to try to leverage more prospects out of the interested teams, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman suggests that the Red Sox are telling the teams that Lester could be the difference maker in the race, while also suggesting that the Cards could make a trade for Lester just to keep him away from the Dodgers.

Jayson Stark of ESPN, breaks down 8 potential landing spots for Lester, quoting one NL exec as saying "I can't imagine them [the Cardinals] giving up Taveras for Lester. That doesn't make a lot of sense," but Stark suggests that the Cards could trade Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez or Stephen Piscotty for the lefty.

While a source told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that there is less than a 50 percent chance that Lester is traded before the deadline, you have to think that with this much interest, something will happen--an opinion that is shared by Andy Marino of the New York Daily News, who says that there is "little doubt" than Boston will trade its ace.

Overall, I cannot see the appeal of Lester to the Cardinals, unless they think they can get him for cheap (i.e. a deal that does not involve Oscar Taveras) or at least cheaper than the other starters that are available.

With the Phillies reportedly asking the Dodgers for Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias (their 3 best prospects) in return for Hamels and telling other teams that it will take 3 top prospects and another mid-level prospect in return for its lefty (per Bob Nightengale), the Red Sox's asking price for Lester certainly would be considered cheap in comparison.

Cardinal's GM John Mozeliak has been saying for weeks that, with their crowded outfield situation, something's going to have to give.  Well, Mo, now's the time to make that something happen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Could Cole Hamels be an option for the Cardinals?

Yesterday I posted a list of possible starting pitching trade targets for the Cardinals.  Well, now you can add one more name to the list of possibilities.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Phillies have made Cole Hamels available, however, the asking price is said to be very high.

Hamels can block a trade to 20 teams, however, the Cardinals are not one of those 20.  Per Morosi, the Cardinals and Dodgers are the two most likely teams to pursue Hamels.

Hamels could make a lot of sense for the Cardinals, maybe even more so than David Price.  For one thing, he is signed through the 2018 season, with an option for 2019.  Granted, he is owed $22.5 million per season, which is not cheap, but Price would cost at least that much and is only signed through 2015.

Another reason that Hamels makes sense for the Redbirds is that he has spent his entire career in the NL, so there would not be any transition period for him.  He has a career 3.33 ERA and, oh yeah, he's left handed, making him all the more appealing.

One drawback is that Hamels is already 30 years old and the Cardinals would be committed to him through his age 35 season.  However, that may not be an issue for the Cards, as they recently signed Adam Wainwright through his age 37 season.

Another drawback is the cost to acquire him.  It doesn't appear that the Phillies are going to be giving out any kind of discount for Hamels, in case you were thinking his high contract value would warrant such a thing.  Jayson Stark is reporting that the Phillies are asking for every team's top 3 or 4 young players while they are only willing to eat $10 million of the $90 million remaining on his contract.

For the Cardinals, any offer would likely have to include 3 or 4 of the following players: Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales, Stephen Piscotty, Alex Reyes, James Ramsey, Rob Kaminsky and/or Tim Cooney.

It will be interesting to see if the Cards make a play for Hamels before the deadline.  Hamels is unlikely to clear waivers, so if the Phillies are serious about moving him, they have 4 days to do so.  The question is whether any team will be willing to pony up the prospects to get him.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Who are the starting pitching trade options for the Cardinals?

It appears that the Cardinals are looking to acquire a pitcher before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.  However, while most of the talk has surrounded David Price (apparently not yet on the market) and Jake Peavy (already traded), who are some of the other options that are reportedly on the market?

Cliff Lee

Lee just recently returned from the DL and was roughed up in his first start.  Given his contract and health concerns, he is unlikely to be traded before the non-waiver deadline, but he will easily pass through waivers and could end up being traded in August.

Should the Cardinals strike out in their attempts to land a starter before the July 31st deadline, Lee could certainly become an option for them in August.

Bartolo Colon

Per Andy Martino, the Mets are willing to eat approximately $2 million of the roughly $14 million remaining on Colon's contract (he's owed $11 million in 2015).  At age 41, Colon just keeps plugging away, with a 4.01 ERA and a 100/19 K/BB ratio. 

He is a better innings eater than Peavy would have been (and a better eater in general), but would likely cost the Cardinals one of their outfield prospects.

Jorge de la Rosa

The Rockies are reportedly listening on de la Rosa, among others (and no, Troy Tulowitzki is not one of them), per Thomas Harding of   However, after asking the Orioles for their top prospect, Kevin Gausman in return, its pretty obvious that the price is pretty high.

De la Rosa is 11-6 with a 4.19 ERA, but has actually pitched better at Coors field (3.23 ERA) than on the road (5.37 ERA), making one wonder what his results would be if he pitched his home games at a "normal" ballpark.

Jon Lester

The Red Sox appears to be at least listening on Lester and Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reports that the Red Sox and Dodgers were considering a Matt Kemp for Lester deal. 

However, Ken Rosenthal says the the Red Sox want a "huge" return for Lester and Alex Speier reports that Lester is unlikely to sign an extension with any team that trades for him, making Lest a pretty unappealing target for the Cardinals.

A.J. Burnett

Burnett's preference is to return to the Pirates, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark, but their interest in him is mild, leaving the door open for other teams to step in. His contract includes a $15 million team option ($7.5 million player option) for 2015 and, although he can block trades to 20 teams, the Cardinals are not one of those teams.

There are other pitchers available, but the pitchers listed above probably the most appealing of the bunch.  Colon of the Mets may be the best fit, as they are looking for outfielders (among other things) and the Cardinals certainly have plenty of outfield depth.  Burnett is enticing as well, but its unclear what the Phillies would be looking for in return.

In any case, I fully expect the Cardinals to acquire a starting pitcher before the deadline, but, if they don't, they may take a hard look at Cliff Lee, once he clears waivers in August.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What will happen with the Cardinals' Oscar Taveras?

By next Friday, Oscar Taveras will likely be somewhere else.  The only question is whether that will be another team or AAA Memphis.

The Cardinals are at a crossroads with Taveras.  After being called up on July 1st to try to spark the offense, Taveras started 9 of the first 10 games, but after hitting .219 in those starts (7 for 32), he has started just 3 of the last 9 games.

If he doesn't get hot soon, he could be headed back to the minors or maybe elsewhere as part of a trade.

Here is Taveras' catch 22 situation it a nutshell:  Cards manager Mike Matheny is not going to bench Allen Craig for a guy hitting .205 and Taveras is not going to start hitting unless he gets regular playing time.

All signs point to some change being made in the near future.  It makes no sense for the Cardinals to keep Taveras up in the majors, just to have him rot on the bench.  On the other hand, he is still a top prospect and Cards are in need of pitching, so using him as trade bait for a guy like David Price could be an option.

What is apparent is that he's unlikely to get regular playing time at the major league level.  At least not this season and not while Matheny is still managing the Cards.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What to make of the A.J. Pierzynski signing

The Cardinals made a move to try to shore up their catching situation tonight by signing A.J. Pierzynski.  Per Ken Rosenthal, Pierzynski will join the Cardinals tomorrow in Chicago. 

Should we be worried?

Pierzynski has a reputation around the league as a clubhouse cancer.  A reputation that apparently goes back to at least 2004

The Red Sox were undoubtedly aware of his reputation before they signed him to a one-year $8.25 million deal. 

According to Ricky Doyle of NESN, Pierzynski has received the following "honors" from his peers in his career:

  • the player they would most like to see beaned (2006);
  • the meanest player (2011); and
  • the most hated player (2012).
After the signing, Doyle tried to downplay Pierzynski's reputation, saying his "reputation as baseball villain likely overblown, shouldn't be an issue in Boston."  Even when he was designated for assignment, Doyle downplayed his reputation as a reason, saying "his on-field work simply didn't fit the Red Sox's mold."

Others were not so kind.  Rob Bradford of WEEI didn't hold any punches saying that "the A.J. Pierzynski problem was worse than anybody could have imagined."  Bradford further states that, "according to multiple sources within the Red Sox clubhouse, Pierzynski had become such a negative influence on the team that players approached both the Sox coaches and front office to address the problem."

So, the Cardinals are bringing in a catcher with a bad reputation, at least some of which is probably warranted.  The questions is whether he is a cancer only when his team is losing, as was the case with the Red Sox, or if he is a cancer all the time.  The Cardinals will find out soon enough. 

Reading between the lines: Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak's thoughts on the trade market

In case you missed it, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak was a recent guest on Jim Bowden's "The GM's Office" video blog on  Steve Adams of has a nice synopsis of the highlights from the interview, but its worth checking out the video in its entirety.

Whenever I see quotes or hear soundbites from a GM around this time of year, I always like to try to think "what is he really saying", as you can often read between the lines and get to the underlying meaning of what they are saying.

With that in mind, I tried this exercise using some of the quotes from his interview and here's what I got out of it (your results may vary):

Quote #1:  It's "clearly a seller's market".

What he's Really Saying - "Don't expect us to make any moves anytime soon, until the asking prices come down."

From what we have seen from some of the early trades, the seller's are getting a pretty good return on the players.  Knowing how much Mo values his prospects, he is not going to make a move unless the asking price comes down.

Quote #2:  “We’re certainly not in this for the short term. I think one of the good things about the St. Louis Cardinals is the ability to have sustained success, and we want to continue that” (when asked about David Price).

What he's really saying - "We're not going to mortgage the future for a short-term fix."

While acquiring David Price would be nice and could certainly help this team this year and next, the Cardinals will not make a move unless they feel the cost is reasonable and helps the team in the long run.  In other words, the only way they would acquire Price is if the asking price is not too high and he agrees to a long-term extension before the trade is completed.

Quote #3: "…looking at the next two months, if we could find a way to sort of bridge that gap between now and the time we may get [Michael] Wacha back, I think we want to try to do that” (when asked about acquiring a starting pitcher).

What he's really saying - "Despite what I said before, we could really use some more starting pitching."

Mozeliak goes on to discuss Michael Wacha's unusual injury and the uncertainty surrounding it, making it all the more obvious that he's looking to add another starting pitcher.  However, the "bridge that gap" part makes it sound like he's looking more for a stop-gap type pitcher (i.e. Jake Peavy) than an ace (aka Price).

Quote #4:  “One thing we’ve always said is we’d like to see what Tony Cruz is capable of doing on a day in and day out basis. But having said that, we also want to give ourselves the best chance to win” (when asked about whether the team is comfortable with Cruz and George Kottaras manning the catcher's spot).

What he's really saying - "Cruz is a nice backup, but we need someone better to be our starter."

It doesn't help Cruz' cause that he's hitting only .167 (5 for 30) since replacing Yadier Molina in the starting lineup.  That is probably why the Cards' interest in Kurt Suzuki has increased recently.  Per Jon Heyman, the Cardinals are Orioles are both showing the most interest in trading for the Twins' Suzuki.  Mike Berardino of the St.Paul Pioneer Press indicated that the Twins and Sukuki are far apart on extension talks, making a trade more likely.

Overall, its pretty obvious from all the recent rumors that the Cardinals are looking for starting pitching and it appears they may be looking for an upgrade at catcher as well.  All-in-all, it should make for an interesting week leading up to the deadline.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

All signs point to Cardinals acquiring a pitcher at deadline

With the trade deadline looming, it appears that the Cardinals are focusing their efforts on acquiring a pitcher.

Per Ken Rosenthal, St. Louis is still looking for rotation upgrades. The Cardinals are exploring everything from front-line starters to back-of-the-rotation types, he says.

Jennifer Langosch confirms Rosenthal's report, indicating that the Cardinals are looking for starting pitching, however, per GM John Mozeliak, nothing is imminent.  Asked if Cards were seeking a top end starter or back-end depth, Mo said that the later was more likely.

Based on these reports and previous rumors, it appears the the Cardinals are probably looking at David Price on the top end or Jake Peavy as back-end depth, amongst others.

According to Bob Nightengale, one high-ranking AL exec thinks that St. Louis is the most likely landing spot for Price (should the Rays decide to trade him).  For what its worth, David Price recently took in a Cardinals game and told Nightengale that he was treated well.

On the other end of the spectrum, it appears that the Cards are keeping Peavy on the "back burner", according to Nick Cafardo.  While Buster Olney says that the only reason that no Jake Peavy trade had been completed as of yet is that the Red Sox want a prospect, but Cards are only offering salary relief.  Nonetheless, Peter Gammons says that the Red Sox are scouting Cardinals prospect Rowan Wick.

Reading between the lines, it appears that the Cards are checking out all their options when it comes to finding a starting pitcher.  While Mo says a back-end starter is more likely, I'm sure they wouldn't be opposed to acquiring Price, if the price is right.  However, it appears that Mo wants to see if the price will come down on Price, before making a move on Peavy.

However, despite playing the waiting game, it appears that the Cardinals believe they will acquire a pitcher.  The most telling thing is that Carlos Martinez is being moved back to the pen, according to Derrick Goold, with Shelby Miller returning to the rotation.

Even with the return of Miller to the rotation, the demotion of Martinez leaves the Cardinals with just 4 starters (Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly and Miller).  With off days on Thursday and Monday, the Cards will not need a 5th starter until August 2nd.  The demotion of Martinez to the pen, makes it appear that they believe they will have a new addition to the rotation by then.

So, while it may come down to the wire, I think that the Cardinals will acquire another starter by the July 31st deadline and it appears that the team believes that as well.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Cardinals are taking a hard look at David Price

Usually when it comes to trade rumors, you can discount much of what is being thrown around as just that, rumors.  However, when more than one person is hinting at someone, chances are that it is true.  Like they say "where there's smoke, there's fire".

That appears to be the case when it comes to the Cardinals and Tampa Bay's David Price.  According to Joe Strauss, the Cardinals remain "fixated" on Price, while Derrick Goold indicates that the Cards interest in Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009.

This is a bit surprising, as we were told just a week and a half ago, by Goold himself, that the Cardinals were looking for "hitting not (Jake) Peavy".  Of course, Price is not Peavy and, as Strauss points out, beyond Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn, there are many questions surrounding the Cards starting rotation.

Despite the loss of Yadier Molina, there is still the belief that the hitting will come around.  Matt Holliday is starting to heat up.  He is hitting .304/.407/.522 in July and Allen Craig is too good of a hitter to be hitting only .244.

There have been signs of life with the offense and I think that the Cardinals just need to string a few good games together to get on track.  However, the way this season has gone so far, that's a big if.

On the flip side, despite being 3rd in the NL in starters ERA, the Cardinals pitching has been shaky as of late.  Shelby Miller was recently demoted to the bullpen after posting a 7.30 ERA in his last 5 starts, with the Cards saying he looks "tired".  Carlos Martinez has been maddeningly inconsistent, as most rookies are, and Joe Kelly just came off the DL as is still trying to find his form.

Add in that Jaime Garcia is done for the year and Michael Wacha could be out at least until September and you can see why John Mozeliak could be looking to add a pitcher. 

So, if you're going to add a pitcher, why not go big?

Well, according to Goold, there are a couple things the Cardinals will need to sort out first, before they even consider a trade for Price:  (1) the chances of Price re-signing with them and (2) their willingness to pay the high cost (both in terms of money and prospects). 

In his Baseball Tonight podcast last Friday, Buster Olney indicated that he thought that Price would be open to signing an extension with the Cardinals, as St. Louis is close to his hometown of Nashville.

As to the second point, the Cardinals certainly have the money for Price.  Their 2014 opening day payroll of $107 million was less than their 2013 payroll of $115 million.  Plus, they will have the salaries of Jason Motte ($7.5 million) and Mark Ellis ($5.25 million) coming off the books, giving them at least $20 million to play with.  Add in the new MLB TV deal that kicked in this year, as the Cards should be flush with funds.

The main question that remains is whether Mo will be willing to part with the prospects required to last Price.

For his part, Price is making it hard for any team, let alone the Cardinals, to say no, as he has posted an 0.85 ERA over his last 4 starts and a 1.64 ERA over his last 9 starts. 

With 11 days until the deadline, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Will the Cardinals make a big splash this trade season?

With the All Star Break out of the way (finally) and meaningful games being played again, many will be turning their focus to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. 

The last couple years have seen little trade activity for the Cardinals.  Last year, the Cards acquired John Axford, but not until after the trade deadline.  Before that, in 2012, the team acquired Edward Mujica. In fact, you have to go back to the July 2011 trade deadline for the last significant move at the deadline.  That was the year that saw the club trade Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller and a couple prospects for Edwin Jackson, Marc Rzepcynski, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson.

Now, with the deadline less than two weeks away, we're left to ponder what John Mozeliak has up his sleeve this year.  Will he make the big move to acquire a hitter or a pitcher or will he just tinker with the bullpen (or make some other minor adjustments)?

The Cardinals have been reportedly looking at adding an offensive upgrade at second or third, which would likely push Kolten Wong to the bench.  Ben Zobrist is a prime trade candidate for the Cards, but the Mariners are reportedly pursuing him, according to Jon Paul Morosi

On the other hand, the season-ending injury to Jaime Garcia and the uncertain status of Michael Wacha, not to mention the recent demotion of Shelby Miller to the pen, have many concerned about the Cardinals pitching depth.  Jeff Samardzija is already off the market and while David Price is available, the Cards will have many competitors to acquire his services (including the aforementioned Mariners.).

Derrick Goold was a guest on Buster Olney's Baseball Tonight podcast, in which he indicated that he thinks the Cardinals would at least be willing to discuss a deal involving Oscar Taveras for David Price.  At a minimum, Goold says that the Cards will have to address their surplus of outfielders at some point.

Another concern is the loss of Yadier Molina, who will likely be out for the rest of the regular season.  ESPN's Jim Bowden (subscription required) reports that the Cardinals are planning to scout the Twins' Kurt Suzuki as a potential upgrade over Tony Cruz and George Kottaras.

My guess is that the Cards will be relatively active this go around.  They won't make any big moves, but will make a series of middle-tier moves to shore up their lineup and rotation.  I think they will go after Suzuki, then add an infielder, such as Zobrist or Martin Prado and maybe an innings eater, such as Jake Peavy.  None of these guys will cost the Cards a lot, but each of them would be an upgrade at the respective positions.

At this point, its all speculation as its difficult to tell which direction Mo will go or if he even will make a move.  The team certainly has the pieces in place to make a splash, with an abundance of major league ready outfielders and young arms to dangle in front of selling teams--basically, the Cards have the pieces to acquire any player they want. Its just a question of who do they want and how much are they willing to give up.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Revisiting the Cardinals and Troy Tulowitzki rumors (again)

Don't look now, but Ken Rosenthal is stirring up rumors regarding Troy Tulowitzki and a possible trade.  Per Rosenthal, Tulo indicated that he would be open to a trade, saying "I want to be somewhere where there’s a chance to be in the playoffs every single year.”

However, before we all get our hopes up about the possibility of adding a true impact bat this month, Rosenthal is quick to point out that its more likely that Tulowitzki would be traded in the offseason rather than now.  

Still, it makes one wonder if the Cardinals might pursue the Rockies All-Star shortstop this winter.

This season might be lost for the Redbirds, as the recent injury to Yadier Molina and the general malaise of the team have this writer wondering if they have what it takes to even make the playoffs.  The Cardinals considered a trade for Tulo last winter before they ended up signing Jhonny Peralta to play short and they might revisit the idea again, if the Rockies make him available.

Peralta can easily shift over to third base, with Matt Carpenter moving to second, to make room for Tulowitzki.  Kolten Wong would be the odd man out, but he hasn't exactly shown that he is major league ready.  Perhaps he could end up being a trade piece (maybe even this month).

As Rosenthal points out, I'm sure many Cardinals fans would be willing to trade Allen Craig, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal to the Rockies for Tulo, as he suggested last year.  The Rockies are in desperate need of pitching help and the Cards still have a nice stable of young arms.

The only thing that concerns me about Tulowitzki is his home/away splits.  While he is a career .299/.374/.518 hitter, he has hit .324/.398/.565 in Colorado and just .275/.349/.470 on the road.  However, fans had the same concerns about Matt Holliday and he's turned out alright.  Besides, if those road numbers are his standard with the Cards, its still better than any shortstop we've had since I don't know when.

Its an interesting situation and one that bears watching this winter, however, its not gonna help the Cardinals this year.

Cards Claim George Kottaras

In other news, the Cardinals claimed catcher George Kottaras off waivers from the Indians.  He will provide the Cards with much needed depth after Molina's injury.  Kottaras is a career .216 hitter, but does have some power, as his career ISO (isolated power) is .199, which is above league average.

He will replace Audry Perez on the active roster and will likely split time at catcher with Tony Cruz while Molina is out.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

How do Cardinals replace Yadier Molina?

Short answer:  You can't.

The Cardinals playoff chances took a big hit today as the team found out that starting catcher Yadier Molina would miss 8-12 weeks after suffering a ligament tear in his right thumb. That timetable puts him out until mid-to-late September, effectively ending his season, although he could be back in time for the playoffs (if the Cards make it).

This is the worst thing that could have happened to an already struggling team.  Not only are the Cardinals losing one of their better hitters, but they are also losing the leader on defense and a guy who acts like a manager on the field.

Molina has been invaluable in working with the Cardinals young pitchers and helping them develop, while his throwing ability as well as his ability to frame pitches saves the team several runs each year.

Backup Tony Cruz will take over for Molina in the short-term, while GM John Mozeliak has already acknowledged that he will scour the market for any available catchers, according to Jennifer Langosch.

But what catchers might be available?

Well, the Yankees have an abundance of catchers in their system and Brian McCann, who they signed to a 5-year deal prior to the season, blocking them all. 

According to David Lennon of Newsday, the Yankees could make Francisco Cervelli available.  He is a career .271/.342/.368 hitter, but has only thrown out 22% of base stealers in his career. 

ESPN's Jim Bowden (via Bernie Miklasz), also lists the following catchers as being available:

Kurt Suzuki, Twins.
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies.
Hector Sanchez, Giants.
John Buck, Mariners
A.J. Pierzynski, Red Sox
Ryan Hanigan, Rays.
Jose Molina, Rays

Buck and Pierzynski were recently designated for assignment and can probably be acquired for cheap.  Ruiz would only be available if Phillies GM Ruben Amaro finally admits defeat and starts selling.  Yadier's brother Jose is also well known for his defense (37% CS) and pitch framing, but is a career .235 hitter and is hitting only .187 this year.  Suzuki and Sanchez are pretty similar.  Sanchez has a career .257 average and has thrown out 26% of basestealer, while Sanchez has a .251 average and 26% CS).  Hanigan has thrown out base stealers at a career 39% rate, but his offense has dropped off considerably the last two years.

None of these guys are going to replace Yadier, but there are a few who could be upgrades over Tony Cruz and that's all Mozeliak will be looking for at this point.  What this really means is that other Cardinals need to step it up to help replace Molina's production.  If not, this season could be over in a hurry.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cardinals are "looking for offense not Peavy"

In case you missed it, there was a lot of buzz surrounding the Cardinals and Jake Peavy yesterday, with Gordon Edes, Peter Gammons and Jayson Stark all reporting the Cards interest in the Red Sox pitcher.  Jon Morosi even indicated that the Cards and Red Sox were in active trade talks regarding Peavy.

However, Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch put the brakes on that talk with a report that the Cardinals are "looking for offense not Peavy", saying there is no match with Boston given that Joe Kelly is expected to return to the starting rotation on Friday.

Goold also tweeted that Cards GM John Mozeliak believes that the team would have to give up one of its starters to acquire a top starter, resulting in a net loss in years of control.

This is yet another example of why trading season is so much fun.  You never know who is telling the truth (or even what the truth is) and what is just info that is being "leaked" to try to leverage ongoing negotiations.

In any case, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals land both a starting pitcher and a hitter.  Their pitching depth has taken a big hit lately and its no secret that their offense could use some help.  Bringing is a "cheap" pitcher (in terms of prospects) like Peavy would allow the Cards to use their bigger trade chips to land a bat.

With a little over 3 weeks remaining until the (non-waiver) trade deadline, we do know this:  Mo is definitely looking to do something significant to shake up this team.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Are the Cardinals pursuing Jake Peavy?

With injuries to Jaime Garcia and Michael Wacha, as well as concerns surrounding Shelby Miller's performance (5.81 ERA in his last 5 starts) and overextending Carlos Martinez, who has not pitched more than 132 innings in the regular season, it makes sense that the Cardinals would be looking to add another starting pitcher.

But, Jake Peavy?  Really?

According to Gordon Edes of, the Cards scouted Peavy's start on July 6 and Peter Gammons is reporting that the Cardinals have interest in the righthander.  For what its worth, the Cards also showed interest in Peavy last year around this time, before he ended up going to the Red Sox.

On the plus side, Peavy, who has approximately $7 million remaining on his contract for this season, would likely not cost the Cardinals much in terms of prospects, if they agreed to pick up the remainder of his contract.  He has proven his durability this year, logging 110.2 IP so far, and is unlikely to meet the 400 IP minimum, for 2013 and 2014 combined, for his 2015 player option to kick in.

Thus, from that standpoint, its a low risk, high potential reward move for the Cardinals.

On the downside, despite his durability, Peavy hasn't exactly been tearing it up this season, with a 4.64 ERA, including a 5.89 ERA for May and a 5.40 ERA for June.  Would he really be an upgrade over any of the Cardinals current starters?

If the Cards can get him for some low-level prospect or two, then it might be worth it, as the team could use some pitching depth.  However, if the Red Sox ask for anything of significant value, then the Cards should pass.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Catching up on the Cardinals trade rumors from the holiday weekend

While the Cubs continue to stockpile infield prospects (whatever happened to Josh Vitters?), the Cardinals have more pressing matters at hand, in particular trying to win the NL Central (or at least clinch a Wildcard spot).

With the Cubs trade of Jeff Samardzija to the A's, David Price is the only ace currently on the market.  To make things more interesting, Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi states that the Rays are willing to trade Price within their own division.

The Cardinals remain in the hunt for Price, according to Morosi, especially given Jaime Garcia's recent season ending surgery and the uncertainty surrounding Michael Wacha's return.  However, the Rays recent hot streak has at least delayed a potential trade, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports suggests that the Dodgers could look to acquire Price as a means of forcing a compromise between media giants Time Warner and Direct TV and end the current blackout that is affecting 70% of the Dodgers viewership.

One thing is for certain, with Samardzija off the market, interest in Price will certainly heat up and it will only drive up the asking price for the ace lefty.  The Cardinals will still be in the mix, but chances are that John Mozeliak will not pony up the prospects necessary to acquire Price.

With Price looking like less of a possibility, Mozeliak may be turning he attention elsewhere.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Cardinals, along with the Blue Jays and Giants are showing interest in Diamondbacks infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado.  Neither of them are having stellar seasons, with Hill hitting .241/.278/.359 and Prado .268/.314/.357, however, perhaps a change of scenery (and a pennant race) could help them catch fire.

Given a choice between the two, I would rather have Prado as he is younger (30 vs 32 for Hill), has a better career average (.290 vs. .271) and OBP (.340 vs .325).  Plus, Prado is more versatile, having played over 200 games at second, third and leftfield for his career (Hill has played second base exclusively since 2007).

Obviously, these are probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the Cardinals trade rumors, as there are probably many more that are not reported (or leaked), but it looks like the Cards are at least trying to make a significant move to help this team.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Cardinals offense needs a boost. What are their options?

After leading the NL in runs scored last year, the Cardinals offense has gone south this year, currently sitting in a 13th place tie with the Cubs for fewest runs scored.  While their excellent starting pitching has buoyed them so far this year, recent injuries to their pitchers have put more pressure on the offense to perform.

What are the Cardinals options for boosting their sagging offense?  Here are some thoughts.

Oscar Taveras

The first and foremost option was to promote Oscar Taveras and play him, which the Cardinals did yesterday.  The only question now is where will he play?

Mike Matheny started him in right field yesterday, with Allen Craig moving to left and Matt Holliday spending a day on the bench and its likely that Matheny will work out some sort of 3-man platoon with Taveras, Craig and Holliday.  I don't see the Cardinals working Matt Adams into that platoon, as he's been one of the team's most consistent hitters this season.

Taveras could also play center field, giving the Cardinals a bit more punch than the current duo of Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos, however that would come at the expense of the team's defense. 

Acquire a Second or Third Baseman

The Cardinals second base duo of Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis have been pathetic offensively so far this season.  As a team, the Cardinals' second basemen are hitting a combined .201, third worst in the NL, with a .534 OPS, second worst in the NL.

Rumors are already swirling that the Cardinals are looking for a second or third baseman (allowing Matt Carpenter to move back to second).  I went into detail as to the Cards options in Monday's post, so I won't dwell on this too much.  But let's just say that it doesn't appear that Wong is ready for prime time.

Give the bench a boost

On those days when Jon Jay starts, the Cardinals bench is downright laughable, with the likes of Peter Bourjos (.204/.270/.309), Daniel Descalso (.182/.232/.234), Mark Ellis (.194/.276/.239) and Tony Cruz (.229/.315/.271) waiting in the wings.  None of those guys are going to strike fear in the heart of pitchers if they came up to pinch hit.

The addition of Taveras to the active roster helps in that it forces either Allen Craig or Matt Holliday to the bench, giving the team at least one potent bat to use in key situations.  However, the bench could use more help.

The Cards have tried out Randal Grichuk and Joey Butler off the bench to no avail, so perhaps its time to dig a little deeper into the farm system for some help.

Stephen Piscotty is currently hitting .307/.368/.437 at AAA Memphis and doesn't seem to have anything left to prove there.  However, he is primarily a corner outfielder and, with Taveras already up, the only one he could replace would be Bourjos, leaving the team with only Taveras as the backup center fielder.

Another option might be James Ramsey, who is hitting .307/.389/.550 at AA Springfield, including 12 homers, but the Cardinals would likely prefer to keep him in the minors to continue his development.

Aledmys Diaz is healthy and hitting .291/.311/.453 at Springfield and might be an upgrade over Descalso.  However, he is hitting only .262/.295/.333 in June and may need some more time to get his stroke back.

Blockbuster Trade?

Around this time last year, Giancarlo Stanton was the subject of many trade rumors and this year Matt Kemp's name has come up.  While their respective teams are still in contention, I tend to believe their GM's will not trade them, but you never know.  The Cards have the kind of team depth to pull off such a move, if they so desired.

However, acquiring a guy like Stanton would likely require the Cards to give up a ton of prospects, starting with Oscar Taveras and adding a couple young pitchers to boot (Carlos Martinez and Marco Gonzales perhaps).  In short, you would basically have to gut your farm system to land a stud hitter like him and, while adding a guy like Stanton would certainly give the Cardinals offense a boost, I just don't see John Mozeliak making such a move. 

Overall, the best bets for the Cardinals to improve their offense would be to find ample playing time for Taveras and hope he hits, then go out and acquire a second or third baseman.  Doing so would also improve the bench by default, by pushing Wong and either Holliday or Craig to the bench and lead to a better overall offensive team.