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Ranking the Redbirds' Biggest Deadline Needs

Posted Monday, July 30, 2012, at 11:21 AM

With the MLB trade deadline looming at 4 p.m. Tuesday, the St. Louis Cardinals have yet to address any of the several needs they have.

While the Cardinals have few glaring needs, like every team there is always room for improvement.

A number of names the Cardinals were mentioned as potential "fits" for have already been moved. Francisco Liriano was traded to the Chicago White Sox on Saturday evening. Huston Street had his contract extended by the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

The pitcher who could have been a good acquisition, Wandy Rodriguez, is now with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even though some of the possible candidates are gone, there are still a few issues the Cardinals could choose to address before the non-waiver trade deadline.

Continue reading for a ranking of the Cardinals' biggest remaining deadline needs.

3. Second Base

The Tyler Greene/Daniel Descalso second base experiment hasn't gone so well for the Cardinals in 2012.

Greene continues to struggle at the major league level. A hitter who averaged .323 in Memphis with the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, Greene is only hitting .218 in 74 games at St. Louis.

Descalso, who is the other half of the second base "platoon," has had similar troubles to Greene. While Descalso has a better batting average (.248), he's put together only 13 RBI and 12 extra-base hits.

For the Cardinals to make a genuine playoff push, an upgrade at second base is a necessity.

The only issue is, with the Cardinals second base prospect Kolten Wong expected to make the big leagues in late 2013/early 2014, the team will be hesitant to make any long-term commitments at the position.

While the chances of them making a move at second base are slim, it is an issue that needs to be addressed if the team plans to push for the postseason.

2. Another Starter

This may appear a more subtle need, given the success of the rotation, but there is in fact a need there.

While Lance Lynn has done a fantastic job of filling the vacancy left by Chris Carpenter, the fix for Jaime Garcia's absence may not be so permanent.

To date, rookie pitcher Joe Kelly has done a good job of filling the gap.

That being said, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday evening that Kelly could be used as trade bait for another starting pitcher.

In some scenarios, it could mean Kelly himself is in play. The Cardinals remain players for Tampa Bay starting pitcher James Shields and had expressed interest in Minnesota's Francisco Liriano, but he was traded Saturday night to the Chicago White Sox. The Rays are committed to acquiring major league talent for Shields, who is under control through 2014. Shields is an innings monster who offers the kind of short-term flexibility the Cards seek as an alternative to long-term commitments to free agents.

If general manager John Mozeliak has plans to do anything, so far he has kept it very quiet. There have been rumors about the Anaheim Angels being interested in Marc Rzepczynski. Another rumor surfaced on Sunday that the Seattle Mariners are interested in Allen Craig.

Little is known of what could come to St. Louis in either of those deals.

A pitcher like Shields would, however, likely make the Cardinals more willing to deal. While he is under the last mandatory year of his contract, he does come with options for 2013-14, so a deal for Shields wouldn't be a simple rental. He would also be a definite upgrade to the rotation, giving them a 2013 rotation of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Shields, Garcia and Lynn (not necessarily in that order).

Will the Cardinals move for a starting pitcher? We'll know soon enough.

1. Setup reliever

The single most glaring need for the 2012 Cardinals has been the bullpen.

While moves within the organization and the signing of Brian Fuentes have improved the bullpen, they are still in need of long relief help.

Mitchell Boggs has been quite solid in the eighth inning for the Cardinals and closer Jason Motte has been good in the ninth. Getting to the eighth if a starter has a bad night has been the problem.

When Kyle McClellan went down in May, the Cardinals lost their only reliever who could consistently pitch two to four innings when the team was in a bind.

The signing of an additional starter would even give the team the option to move Kelly to a bullpen role where he could help in an area where the team has desperately needed assistance.

With the deadline at 4 p.m. EST on Tuesday, July 31, the Cardinals have to work quickly if they plan to make a move. Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny have signaled that if the team did not make a move, they would still be comfortable with the team they send out each day.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

we don't need a starter at all, there's not one pitcher out there that is a huge upgrade over anyone we already have, why give up prospects when Garcia could be our "acquisition"... we could solidify the closer role or add a 7th inning type guy because Boggs is solid.. our glaring need is a second baseman that can actually hit 250

-- Posted by Thot McGee on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 2:32 PM

I might actually go after a center fielder if a pitcher is not available. You might be able to move Jay in a trade for an outfielder that is going to hit 20 to 30 home runs a season. If you want to add power to the lineup second base and center field would be the best options.

A starting pitcher would be nice, but I'm not convinced the Cardinals will have the resources needed to promote a trade for a better starting pitcher than what it already has.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 3:11 PM

I wouldn't trade Allen Craig.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 3:23 PM

Dustin I'm curious as to why we need added power in the lineup? After a little research here are the Cardinal's offense numbers through 102 games this season.

Throughout all of MLB:

Runs: 3rd with 498

RBI: 1st with 481

SLG: 6th with .432

HR: 14th with 111

Yes our HR number is in the middle of the pack but who cares when you put up the 3rd most runs and the most RBI?

Jay has been plenty solid, although in a major slump of late. He's batting .290 on the season through 59 games. Yes he's only hit 2HR and drove in 17 batters, but the team clearly doesn't need those numbers to sky rocket so why ship him?

On the other hand our bullpen has been a disaster for the most part.

Team pitching stats:

ERA: 10th with a 3.72

Of that our starters are 4th with a 3.55 and our relievers are 23rd with a 4.10.

We rank 6th in MLB in ERA against righties with a 3.42 yet against lefties we rank 18th with a 4.08.

Offense, however streaky it may be, is not going to derail this team. Neither will a CF that has a combined MLB average of .296 in 3 seasons.

This team has to address the bullpen, specifically against lefties, in my opinion. If not we're wasting a chance at a playoff run.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 3:43 PM


As a GM you look at the move you can make that will increase your win total the most.

Questions remain regarding how many games Berkman will play. Jay's numbers are not that productive for an outfielder.

If you add a home run hitter does your win total increase more over the final two months than if you add one pitcher?

I have concerns regarding the Cardinals starting pitching the remainder of the season. However, I predict they will remain loyal to the starters on the staff who are good, but not dominant.

The Cardinals will have to score runs to get in the playoffs.

One problem the Cardinals are likely going to face is finding a team that will trade pitching. The Cardinals could probably land pitching by moving Craig, but it is a very bad idea.

Adding help in the bullpen is likely an option before or after the July 31 non-waiver deadline.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 6:06 PM

I will add I do not think the Cardinals will make the playoffs.

The Dodgers and Braves would be my picks to win the wild card spots. I think these teams are going to be more aggressive at the trading deadline and have better teams after the deadline.

I think the Cardinals have a decent chance to finish ahead of the Pirates, but will not catch the Reds.

If the Giants collapse in the west and the Dodgers win the west the Cardinals might be able to finish ahead of the Giants for the final wild card spot.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 6:32 PM

Add a home run hitter when you have the best offense in the NL when your bullpen has been terrible...bahahaha...yea thats what they need. Jay has been awesome defensively and he gets on base. When you have hitters like Holliday, Beltran, Freese, Craig, and Molina, you need guys that can hit in front of them that just get on base!

-- Posted by DaleDoback on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 7:20 PM

I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals make no significant moves at the deadline.

They should have money to spend in the offseason with the contracts of Berkman, Lohse and Westbrook coming off the books and may elect to wait until then to make big moves.

I don't think there is a long list of players that would make the Cardinals significantly better available at the deadline.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Mon, Jul 30, 2012, at 9:37 PM

What center fielder with power do you propose the Cardinals try and trade Jay for?

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 10:37 AM

I would take a strong look at the Phillies outfielders.

However, I do not think there will be that much pressure on the Cardinals to make a significant trade after winning the World Series last season.

They should remain in the playoff hunt for most of the final two months with or without a trade and that will likely be enough to keep attendance where it needs to be at the park.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 11:18 AM

We DON'T need a center fielder. A starting pitcher replacing Joe Kelly would be a good move but more than that, we really need to swing a deal for bullpen talent like last season. We shipped off our three worst relievers and brought in two better ones. If Mo can do it again, that would be our best move. Also, I'd love to swing James Shields. That'd be awesome. With Wong waiting in the wings, I say let second continue to just be the throwaway, eighth hitter spot.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 11:53 AM

What about Skip Schumaker at 2nd? He may not be the absolute best defender in MLB but he's certainly no slouch and proven that he's willing to do whatever it takes to play. He's a consistent .300 hitter with a solid OBP. PLus he's a team guy. I can't figure out why he doesn't get more mention, respect and playing time.

-- Posted by Grussman on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 12:13 PM

The Phillies just shipped Shane V. and Pence is a right fielder. This isn't a playstation game where you can place a left fielder in center or a right fielder in center and they can perform. There is a huge art to center field and a massive difference between a corner outfielder. The Cardinals have made it clear they do not want Beltran playing center field for extended periods of time. So if the Cards traded for a guy like Pence then all of a sudden you have Craig, Holliday, Beltran, and Pence all attempting to play corner outfield spots and Beltran playing center field twice a week and the other five days a guy like Skip S coming in while Pence or Craig sit the bench.

On top of that I doubt the Cards want to give the Phillies what they are asking for Pence.

I'm wondering if the next idea you throw out there is for the Cards to go get Rasmus. He's got 18 HR on the year and a real nice .243 batting average.

Top 10 CF in the MLB according to HR:

Granderson - 28

Jones - 24

McCutchen - 22

Rasmus - 18

Trout - 17

Kemp - 15

Cespedes - 14

Stubbs - 13

Fowler - 12

Young - 11

Jackson - 11

Hmmm...which team is going to be willing trade any of these guys unless the Cards unload some top prospects all for a team that is third in the MLB for runs.

I for one would be shocked if Mo doesn't get some bullpen help. I'm not predicting a major move, or some big shot name, but something like last year that simply helped the Cards in the areas that needed help.

It's about time we quit acting like Shelby Miller is good. His stock is free falling and now would be a perfect time to ship him for a decent reliever somewhere.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 12:37 PM

Btw, Corey I'm a huge fan of yours. I've loved that Crader and the semoball staff have your blog on here. It's solid reporting with a nice added touch from a Cardinal fan. Thanks for the work.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 12:38 PM

I think it is very unrealistic Rasmus will ever return to St. Louis.

I don't think I would trade for Rasmus.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 1:51 PM

I would hope he never returns. Either way we need to make a move and quickly.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 2:18 PM

Multiple sources are reporting the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Miami Marlins reliever Edward Mujica. Mujica, a right-handed reliever, has a 4.38 ERA in 41 games pitched this season.

The Cardinals traded former first-round draft pick Zack Cox to obtain Mujica.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 2:24 PM

Marlins are having an absolute firesale. Good to see their ownership group hasn't changed from the promising fans contention then trading lots of players midseason for no names mantra that they seem to follow. No wonder they don't have fans.

-- Posted by sideline starter on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 2:51 PM

I'll be curious to see how he helps us. The Marlins have a very interesting ownership group. I'd still like to see one more move done by the birds.

-- Posted by John Unterreiner on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 3:24 PM

I don't see how the trade will have any significant impact on the Cardinals finish.

-- Posted by Dustin Ward on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 4:05 PM

we pretty much acquired another salas/Sanchez type reliever... I guarantee Zach cox would have brought one of Broxton, Rafael Betancourt, or Brandon League.. but no we get a guy with a 4.38 era

-- Posted by Thot McGee on Tue, Jul 31, 2012, at 5:35 PM

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Corey Noles, staff writer for The Daily Statesman and Editor of The North Stoddard Countian, is the author of a regular baseball/St. Louis Cardinals column and also uses his blog to sound off on various happenings in sports. He also operates a weekly baseball mailbag column.

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