The MLB non-waiver trade deadline came and went at 4 p.m. eastern time yesterday afternoon. It seemed like every contender added pieces from non-contenders as they attempted to solidify their position on top, or as a challenger of, a division. After the dust has settled and the moves have had a chance to percolate, who made the best moves in the NL Central? Certainly the Cardinals were active, but so were the other teams in the NL Central. Each one making a trade over the last week. Let’s take a look at their moves and determine who was the big winner. We’ll start at the bottom, just to build up the suspense.
Houston Astros (24.5 games back)
The Astros were one of the busiest teams on deadline day, but they weren’t buyers. The NL Central’s cellar dwellars made big moves, dealing both Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn over the last three days. The Astros made out like an arms dealer selling to both sides, sending Pence to NL East leading Philadelphia and Bourn to NL East runner-up Atlanta. The two trades will bring the Astros a total of eight prospects, seven of them named and one other that will be named later.
They were even very close to dealing their #1 starter, Wandy Rodriguez, to the Indians at the deadline before that deal fell apart. However, many expect that Rodriguez could still be moved during the waiver trade deadline. However, with that contract, I’m thinking he will have a hard time reaching a division leader. He has a very club friendly contract and may not be heading anywhere this year because of that. A pitcher with his history, talent, and contract will be very attractive to a handful of clubs, some of which may not even be in contention.
For the Astros, this won’t help them this year, but there is hope that it will help them in the years to come. Houston is clearly rebuilding right now and 3 years down the road, this trade could pay off big time. The question will be, will Ed Wade and Brad Mills be around to reap the benefits? Continue reading
The most popular question that seems to be coming out of the Colby Rasmus to the White Sox rumors seems to be:
Why not Mark Buehrle?
Why not Mark Buehrle, indeed. The 32 year old pitcher has 155 wins and a 3.82 ERA over his 12 seasons in the big leagues. He has thrown 200 or more innings in 10 of those, and is on pace to do it again. The fewest games he’s started when he’s been on the roster all year is 30 games. Not to mention he grew up a Cardinals fan and lives near St. Louis.
Buehrle has often spoken of his desire to play for the Cardinals before his playing days are over. He has 10/5 rights as a veteran player for the White Sox, but fans ask, wouldn’t he waive them for the Cardinals?
He probably would, and most Cardinals fans would prefer that option to Edwin Jackson, I know I would. But it ends up being the cost factor that would have the Cardinals backing out of a potential deal for Buehrle.
As it turns out, Buehrle has an option for 2012 that kicks in if he is traded. That option adds up to $16 million total. He gets an extra $1 million this year for being traded and $15 million the next year as his salary.
After the trade of Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers, John Mozeliak was asked why the Cardinals weren’t in on the player popularly known as “K-Rod.” Mozeliak said that Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option would have handcuffed the team financially next year. So if, Rodriguez’s $17.5 million option will handcuff the team, so will Buehrle $15 million one.
Time for some number crunching to see just how true this statement turns out being. Continue reading
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 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
It was an ugly, ugly sweeping at the hands of the new front runner in the NL Central. Over the 3 games the Brewers outscored the Cardinals 17-6, with 13 of those 17 runs being scored against the Cardinals starting rotation. That leads me to my first note.
- The starting pitcher has struggled so far in June. In 11 games in June, the Cardinals pitching staff sports a 4.63 ERA (compared to a 3.28 in April and 3.91 in May). In June they are the 24th best pitching staff in the league by ERA. While the injuries to Matt Holliday and other members of the offense are taking the headlines, behind the scenes the pitching has cost us games.
- Speaking of the offense, the team that scored the most runs in April, the sixth most runs in May, has currently scored just the 12th most runs in June. While Holliday hitting the DL has gotten the most attention, the lack of depth after the injury to Allen Craig is really what is hurting the Cardinals right now. Craig has filled in admirably in games where Holliday has been injured. In games where Craig has played and Holliday has not, Craig has a .298 batting average with a .359 OBP. He’s added 2 HR and 9 RBI.
- Should the sweep by the Brewers concern Cardinals fans? Yes and no. Yes, in that, it is the Brewers and I expect that they are the team we will be fighting in September for a playoff spot. No, in that the Brewers are finally at 100% after some early injuries and are really hot right now while the Cardinals are thin with Holliday, Craig, and McClellan on the shelf.
- Andrew Brown became the sixth (if my memory is right) Memphis Redbird to make his major league debut for the Cardinals this season. His was relatively forgettable as he struck out in a pinch hitting appearance. The 26 year old has done nothing but hit for power through his minor league career. He had 21 home runs in 2008, 22 last year in Springfield, and already had 11 for Memphis this year along with a career high .357 batting average. With Holliday hoping to return Thursday and Craig on the DL for at least another week and a half, it would be nice to see Brown get a start or two for the Cardinals to show what he’s got as he makes in game adjustments.
- Also, you can catch me with Dathan Brooks on the UCB Radio Hour this Wednesday night. Realignment was something we were kicking around on his blog the last couple weeks and now the news comes out that this is something that’s really being considered by Major League Baseball. We will cover that topic and more on Wednesday night at 10:30 eastern (9:30 Cardinals time). You can listen and check out more information on the show here.