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Ranking the Redbirds' Biggest Deadline NeedsPosted 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.
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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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