Cardinals’ Biggest Needs

With the trade deadline only a month away, team’s needs are starting to develop and the respective front offices are beginning to compile their info and begin pursuing trades that could help their team right now or in the future.

The Cardinals are and always will be in a win-now mentality. This is not a team poised to have rebuilding years. Bill Dewitt’s goal is to be competitive EVERY year so completely wiping out the farm system also isn’t really an option. The team doesn’t seem willing to part with prospects like Shelby Miller, Oscar Taveras, and Kolten Wong.

The trade deadline is one of the funnest times of the year. When analyzing what a team will do at the trade deadline, there’s three main things to consider; the need, the market, and the price.

First, the need. Well for the Cardinals it’s quite obvious-the team needs pitching. The question is what type of pitching. Some suggest getting an elite starter while others are desiring a shutdown reliever.

According to FanGraphs, the Cardinals have the fifth best starting rotation in baseball trailing only the Phillies, White Sox, Rangers, and Nationals. The rotation overall has a record of 33-22 and an ERA of 3.65. With injuries to Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia, young pitchers such as Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly have had to step up and fill in. Lynn has done more than anyone could ask for at 10-3 with a 3.23 ERA and Joe Kelly has done well in limited time at the big league level.

Considering the injuries, this rotation has done a great job improvising and thriving so maybe it’s the bullpen where the team should improve.

Let’s look at how it’s fared.

The pen ranks 29th in baseball. TWENTY NINTH! The only team worse than them is the Chicago Cubs and let’s just say they’re not having the best of seasons. At 29th, teams like the Astros, Padres, and Twins rank better than them. The bullpen is 7-14 with a 4.46 ERA.

If you compare the stats of the rotation and the bullpen, it’s quite obvious the bigger need is in the pen, but some people suggest if you add a starter and move Lynn or Kelly to the bullpen, it would benefit the team more.

The market will be much more competitive for starters than relievers. The likes of Cole Hamels, Matt Garza, and Wandy Rodriguez will have many teams pursuing them. When the need is high, so is the price. If the Cardinals want to pick up an elite starter they’d have to give up a top prospect or two and I just don’t see the benefit of doing that. Why trade a prospect you’ll have for 5+
years for a starter you’ll have for two months? Also, with compensation being less now for departing free agents, teams will be less likely to trade for “rentals”.

If the team pursues a reliever it will be much easier. The price will be less and so will the asking price. The Cardinals could choose to get another solid lefty or even a shutdown, late-innings reliever. The 7th inning has become a problem. Jason Motte has also slipped, but I think he’ll figure it out and become dominant once again. Mitchell Boggs has done a nice job handling the 8th. Adding another good reliever would allow you to slide him to the 7th inning. That move also takes more pressure off the rotation because they know if they get through the sixth, the pen will take it from there.

A trade like last year’s could be in play again. I doubt they get two relievers and a starter in one deal, but maybe in two separate ones. Trading for a late-innings reliever and a good lefty in one deal wouldn’t be too complicated and that’s what I think they’ll do.

After acquiring relievers, most of the elite starters would already have been dealt and the team could choose to pursue a “second tier” starter for a lower price.

There’s a lot of trade options, but I think this scenario makes a lot of sense. Don’t be surprised though if the team doesn’t make a “big” trade, but they still have to make one. Standing pat and doing nothing will not win them a division.

Thanks for reading.

Zack

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