As Gashaus34 mentioned a few days ago (and thank you, Gashaus, for being a much more prolific blogger thus far), I don’t think any right-minded St. Louis Cardinals fan would expect a blockbuster trade in the next 10 days.
But after a sweep of the Padres that allowed them to pull within 61/2 games of the NL Central-leading Cubs, perhaps we can at LEAST identify the Birds as buyers rather than sellers.
So, let’s for the sake of argument assume that the three upcoming series against some of the top rivals for the NL Wild Card (Dodgers, Mets, Marlins) will go well, and that the Cards will be in contention for the playoffs still. I’m not looking to throw names out about WHO they need, more just WHERE they will look to upgrade. Some thoughts:
- Relief corps. At this point, Trevor Rosenthal appears to be more of a relief corpse. Seth Maness is shaky, Jonathan Broxton has been a bit inconsistent, and up until two days ago, Seung-hwan Oh was shaky in the ninth inning. Meanwhile, the Cards are now carrying three long relievers in Matt Bowman, Tyler Lyons and Miguel Socolovich. As well as the starters are going, there are some wasted spots in the pen that could be used on a power arm instead of a two- or three-inning guy. So the Cards could use an upgrade or two in the sixth and seventh innings before we get to Kevin Siegrist and Oh. Could that come from the promotion of highly touted Alex Reyes and his 100 mph fastball? Perhaps. But another veteran presence would be preferred for high-leverage late-inning situations. Then again, perhaps Rosenthal will right himself and we can forget this hiccup (which is now going into its second month, so can you call that a hiccup?).
- Infield. Aledmys Diaz has locked up short. Matt Carpenter will be back in a few weeks, but the Cards will likely have to be pretty careful with him for a while. That means days off. Jhonny Peralta? I’m thinking he’ll be back but won’t be fully recovered until he has an offseason. So, yeah, likely a part-timer with diminished power the remainder of 2016. That puts Carp back at third once he returns. So we need a second baseman and/or a first baseman. Please don’t say strikeout machines Kolten Wong and Matt Adams, who can’t seem to stay consistent (and in Adams’ case, healthy) long enough to contribute. And as much as I like Greg Garcia, and as much as Jedd Gyorko has produced recently, they are not solid, full-time solutions. Neither is Brandon Moss, who had a nice first-half run, but he’s not a proven, down-the-stretch bat. Plus, you wanna talk about a strikeout machine?
- Catcher. Any chance the Pirates will release Eric Fryer? Can Brayan Peña actually get healthy? No way, and doubtful. So while young Alberto Rosario looks good behind the plate, he’s not much of a hitter. The Cards need someone who can fill in for Yadier Molina, who will need some rest down the stretch — and let’s not even entertain the thought of what happened the past two seasons!
So, there you have it. Three places the Cardinals can, and must, upgrade by Aug. 1. Certainly some of the upgrades could come from players righting the ship (Rosenthal) and recovering from injury (Carpenter).
But the bullpen and the bench are weaker now than the Birds thought they would be heading into this season. It’s your move, John Mozeliak.