Today or tomorrow? The Future or the Present? Mexican or Italian food? At least the answer to the last is both. But for all the others, we have to choose. And in Cardinal nation this summer feels different. Usually we are a good team with a chance, or a bad team with no chance. This season we are awful with a chance? We sit a measly 5.5 games back of the sure to falter Brewers at the break. We can hit, catch, and throw, but seemingly never in the same game.
Below I give you two forks in the road of this “choose your own adventure” of a second half.
Each is exciting.
Each is treacherous.
Tread lightly my fellow friends of Fredbird.
The Cards giving up? It feels foreign, like seeing pics of Lou Brock in his Cubs uniform, but hang with me. Which player will bring us the biggest haul back? What the league needs is relief pitching, and believe it or not this is where the team deals from an area of strength.
1. Trevor Rosenthal- This one hurts. At his apex Rosenthal is as good as any closer on the planet. At his worst, he makes Jason Isringhausen look like mid-90’s Greg Maddux. Where to send him? Our nation’s capital. The only thing between Dusty Baker and that ring he’s been chasing is a shutdown closer. The Nats just signed K-Rod to a minor-league deal for crying out loud! They’ve been a willing trade partner in the past and they WILL pick up the phone.
2. The Stone Buddah- Oh at his best is almost Rosenthal at his best. He doesn’t scare, but he loves running the count full more than Barry Bonds loves Barry Bonds. Prospects are what the farm system needs and Oh could bring 2-3 promising youngsters to restock from the Quad Cities to Memphis. Any team looking to sure up the 8th and occasionally nail down the 27th out will be interested in the Final Boss.
3. Lance Lynn- I know. He is a well above average MLB starter. From 2012-2015 Lynn averaged 15 wins, 189 innings, and 3.38 ERA. But, do you want to pay him 180-200 million smackers? It’s easy to leave the lights on when you don’t pay the electric bill, but I cannot justify that salary if the club is rebuilding. He’s 30 now and the last I checked he ain’t Benjamin Button. For teams looking for starters (see the Yankees, Orioles, Rangers, Angels, etc.) a consistent, reliable, horse like Lynn will prove valuable to any team still in the mix. And thanks to the double-edged sword that is the second wild card, a lot of clubs are.
4. Kolton Wong- Confession. Anyone wearing 16 not named Ray Lankford brings forth the dormant rage within. That aside, he is an asset a team that feels they are close could have an eye on. The Cards won’t get as much as the pitchers above, but he does have some appealing qualities. He is under a reasonable contract until 2021, has a good glove, speed, and power for his position. Mozeliak could play up the “change of scenery” angle and site Matt Adams as a recent example. I mean, it’s not like Wong got picked off 1st to lose a World Series game or something, that would be utterly ridiculous and completely unforgivable.
5. Jedd Gyroko- Of position players to move, he is the most valuable. Pop for miles, a versatile glove, and under contract through 2020. Look, I like Jedd as much as you do, but his ceiling should be a depth guy. He was supposed to be Greg Garcia. Instead, he’s the guy opposing pitchers are supposed to fear. If you want to compete and win rings, this cannot be the case.
Buy Baby Buy!!!
I know, that was a little depressing. The Cardinals giving up? NEVER! We are the Saint Louis Cardinals. The next five moves are what will win the Central, and then, well, the playoffs are such a mystery they need Robert Stack narrating them.
Yes, it would be awesome to trade for Manny Machado, Mike Trout, and Paul Goldschmidt, but that’s as likely as me having a full head of hair again. These moves are possible, and exactly what this club needs to take back the Central from those imposters on the north side of Chicago.
1. Eric Hosmer- Yes, he would be a rental. But we got McGwire and Rolen to stick around, so why wouldn’t Hosmer. Hosmer is the first baseman that we could still have in the middle of the lineup until at least the middle of the next decade. Gold Glove defense, 20+ HR power, and a postseason resume that shows he belongs in Cardinal red.
2. Todd Frazier- Another rental, but the Todd Father is tailor-made for this city. And here is the truth, lineups are built from the middle out, not the top down. Every World Series winning lineup needs at least that one guy a pitcher must account for. The one guy that can single-handedly beat you. Yes, it’s awesome to have a guy in the lead off who gets on base, but when your power hitter goes about 5’10 a buck seventy, you’re never going to win a pennant let alone a World Series. Frazier gives this lineup a bat to fear. He knows the division, the pitchers, and would be re-energized by an actual pennant race.
3. Matt Kemp- Yeah, I said it. The outfield is average now. Tommy Pham is my favorite Cardinal since Chris Carpenter (and his missing rib), but on a championship team he, or preferably Piscotty, must be a fourth outfielder. From 2014-2016 Kemp has averaged 28 hrs and 99 rbi’s with an OPS of .802. This season he is on pace to at least match those numbers. He is signed through 2019 by the Braves, a great trade partner in the past, and a team willing to eat some of his salary.
4. Adeiny Hechavarria- Who? Get to know this name because you will be hearing it a lot as the trade deadline looms. Remember Rafael Furcal? Remember when a ball was hit up the middle and you didn’t have a mild panic attack? That’s what Hechavarria brings. Team him with Frazier and Hosmer and you’ll have a stress-free defensive second half. The mental benefits to the bi-state area alone are worth the trade. I know DeJong has been solid thus far. But, imagine if you will, a world where he is a luxury and not a necessity. A world where a young Redbird prospect isn’t overexposed in his first spell in the bigs. It can be a reality, if only.
5. Ervin Santana- He is the number 1-a this club so desperately needs. He is signed through 2018 with a club option for 2019. This season alone, he 10-6 with a 2.99 ERA with four complete games and three shutouts. He routinely goes 7 innings in a start. That’s normal. That’s what a starter is SUPPOSE to do. He may be 34 years old, but with a short contract and a rubber arm, he would take the starting staff to a championship level. Back to back with Martinez you then have two excellent starters that can win you a playoff series.
That’s the list. I am always a buyer because I think the Cardinals are supposed to win every single World Series, and that is a perfectly sane state of mind. Is this a crossroads, an impasse, a crisis of organizational culture? That is only up to the front office to decide. Choose your adventure Mr. Mozeliak, but choose wisely my friend, choose wisely.