MLB Trade Deadline Decisions

It’s this time of year that trade rumors are flying left and right and rarely do any of them get executed. GM’s all across baseball are working endless hours with their top deputies to inquire on any player they feel would help their club and gauge the asking price. So with a week left before the deadline what are the Cardinal’s needs? Who should be be targeting? What players/prospects should be off limits? I will try to break down this very complex process to define the Cards biggest needs and players we should be targeting.

Cards Needs

Anyone who watches the Cards on a regular basis can identify our weaknesses. We need to upgrade our rotation, bullpen and SS. My gut feeling says the Cards have identified our rotation as the biggest need so we can move McClellan back to the bullpen which kills 2 birds with one stone. McClellan is very effective against lefties as well so he could be used when needed as a lefty specialist (as weird as that sounds). If we can’t find a fit that is within a price we are willing to pay for rotation help we will certainly find a bullpen arm to provide stability and depth. The last and hardest area to address is SS. Theriot’s offense was making up for his defensive woes early in the year. Well his offensive is suffering of late and today’s game is the reason why we need someone that can sure up the defensive side.

The Untouchables

1) Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras – The first 2 are names that most everyone knows about and its been publicized that we are not going to trade them. Taveras is another guy I see as an untouchable product. By far our best upside offensive prospect. He has 5 legit tools and is tearing up opposing pitchers this year (over .400 avg). He has been on the DL twice but nothing concerning long term. he can play all 3 OF positions well.

2) Colby Rasmus – With all the talk of teams being interesting in Rasmus and Mo stating he is not looking to deal Rasmus I will set the record straight. I don’t think Mo is going to sell low and no team will be willing to give a package of MLB upgrades in the rotation as well as 1-2 upper tier prospects to get a deal done. Maybe he isn’t untouchable right now but because the price “should” be very high no team is going to come close. Continue reading

Performance-based play?

Trade rumors are swirling around Colby Rasmus like nothing else. Then comes the bombshell earlier in the week that Tony LaRussa will be going by performance to determine who gets playing time. What that means is that Rasmus is sitting more often and Jon Jayis getting more opportunities.

I supported that idea. I thought it was a good idea. I’d wondered aloud if maybe making Rasmus earn his starting job back would be the catalyst to get him focused.

Rasmus has just one hit since the All Star break and his hitting .133 in July. That follows up a .213 June and a .253 May. It’s been a slow decline for the former first round pick. One that has the rumor mills considering a change of scenery for the 24 year old center fielder.

His counterpart, Jon Jay, on the other hand is hitting .368 since the All Star break and an even .300 in July. Combine that with Jay providing more sound defense than Rasmus has been and you have yourself the makings of a mid-season starter swap, though LaRussa has been hesitant to call Jay the team’s new starting center fielder.

However, I was fine with everything until tonight’s game against the Pirates. It’s the top of the 9th inning and there are two out. Jason Motte came in to get the final two outs of the bottom of the 8th and the pitcher’s spot came up in the Cardinals’ half of the 9th. Up goes Motte to the plate for his fourth major league at bat. Before tonight, he was 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts. After tonight, he is 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts. Motte comes out to pitch the 9th, right? Wrong. Continue reading

The lefty-lefty matchup

I don’t like playing armchair manager the next morning after a game and saying how I would have done things differently in order to bring my team to victory. Though, I’m sure we’ve all done it at some point. However, there are times where the manager makes decisions that the statistics dispute and should you really be surprised when it goes bad?

I’d say that over the last year, I have been heavily critical of Tony LaRussa. Last year, I felt that he spent a lot of time managing the Cardinals out of games while he tried to make something happen. However, praise is definitely in order for the job he did in the first half of the season as we balanced injuries and underperforming players and pitchers who just lost their ability to pitch. Then we came back from the All Star Break.

Fans have been quick to call out Fernando Salas for his blown save and his two losses over the last few games, the one in Cincinnati and the one last night. I don’t think the entire blame needs to be put on Salas, because it never should have been a tie game or a one-run lead in the first place. I read one Cardinals’ writer who claims that LaRussa doesn’t have faith in his left handed relievers. But can you have faith in their handling after seeing how he has handled them over the last few days?

Let’s take a look at the situations.

Against Cincinnati, LaRussa brought in Raul Valdes to face Joey Votto in a lefty-lefty matchup in the 6th inning. Votto would single off of Valdes and was standing on third base when P.J. Walters got out of a bases loaded jam. The next time Votto came up to the plate, LaRussa brought in Trever Miller to face him. Votto would rip a ball for a ground-rule double and plate the go-ahead run of the inning. Continue reading

Around the NL Central

Take a look at the NL Central standings and you are likely to do a double-take. The Reds in fourth? Where are the Pirates? First? Quick! Someone check hell! It’s got to be frozen over.

No, it’s very much the way it is. An injury plagued Cardinals team and a solid Brewers team are being topped right now by a very young and very good Pirates team. Nobody expected this from them this year, but most give the credit to their manager Clint Hurdle.

It was Hurdle that brought the 2007 Colorado Rockies to the World Series with a plethora of young talent. Names like Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki. They weren’t well known at the time, but have become household names for baseball fans, and Cardinals fans have gotten very familiar with Mr. Holliday these days.

It was Hurdle that has brought considerable improvement to the Pittsburgh Pirates this year. So much improvement, myself and other UCB writers had them penciled into the cellar of the NL Central once again, contending with the Astros for the honor of bringing up the rear. However, young teams are always tough to predict. On one hand they have talent and could break out, on the other they could just continue in their ways. I was one of the few to say that the Pirates had the ability to go with the division as I labelled them my darkhorse candidate for the playoffs this year. It’s been an amazing story, but not what I’m talking about today.

The point of today’s article is a look at the top teams in the NL Central. Basically, those that still have a chance, and figure what they need to do in order to continue to contend down the stretch. Do they need to make a trade? Should they? That’s what I’m going to look at. Continue reading

Has the time come for Colby Rasmus?

Much like Jaime Garcia, who the St. Louis Cardinals are announcing a 4 year extension with today, Colby Rasmus will be arbitration eligible at the end of the season. Yet Garcia is about to enjoy security while Rasmus’ future is anything but secure.

The touted 5-tool center fielder was drafted in the first round of 2005′s MLB draft. He hit well through the minors and became the fifth best prospect in baseball in the 2008 Baseball America Top-100 list. In 2009, he moved up to third. But as of now, he’s looking more like a bust than a boon.

According to Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are reconsidering their stance of trading Colby Rasmus. Last year, he was a player that the team was interested in retaining. And why not, Rasmus enjoyed a fairly breakthrough season last year. He hit .276 with 23 HR and 66 RBI. It was a good improvement over his rookie season, and despite the rumors of Rasmus asking for a trade, he stayed a Cardinal.

The 2011 season started out well for Rasmus. He lit up the world in April as he got a chance to hit in the #2 slot in from of Albert Pujols. Being the hitter in front of Pujols, he would always get something around the strike zone to hit because the last thing you want to do is walk the guy who hits in front of the best hitter in baseball (or was before this season, but that’s another story altogether).

His defense was much improved too, with many recognizing a renewed focus in the outfield at the start of the season. He was making good decisions, taking good routes, and making good throws. Something he has struggled with. Continue reading

Garcia’s extension and other notes

The big rumor out of St. Louis right now has nothing to do with potential trades, but rather retaining one of our own. No, not Albert Pujols. It seems that reports are circulating that the Cardinals and 25 year old left handed starter Jaime Garcia are closing on an four year extension.

Garcia was drafted in 2005 by the Cardinals and won the fifth starter’s role in spring training in 2010 after coming back from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 2.70 ERA over 28 starts and 163 innings. He also finished third in rookie of the year voting.

With Garcia being a potential “Super Two” during the offseason, one of a handful of players with more than two but less than three years of MLB service time who become arbitration eligible a year earlier. The four year deal would buy out his four years of arbitration and offer him two option years, according to the rumor. Something I’ve expected to happen this offseason, and very similar to the deal proposed to Adam Wainwright when he hit his arbitration years.

The rumored cost of the contract is a 4 year, $27.5 million deal with two option years. That puts the average annual value of the contract at $6.875 million per year. With the type of pitcher Garcia seems to be evolving into, this looks like a stellar deal for both the Cardinals and Garcia. The Cardinals lock up one of the top young pitchers in the game through the 2015 seasons and Garcia doesn’t have to worry about pitching for his next contract. Continue reading