The old adage in baseball is that great pitching will always defeat great hitting. Think about it: a man firing bullets on the mound towards the plate at a man holding a bat hoping to solve the mystery in what's coming his way. The pitcher has the advantage every time, due to him always starting on offense with the ball on the mound.
Why am I rambling? No, I've had enough coffee to power an AM radio station. I'm just thinking about life after Giancarlo Stanton, the stud from Miami who will more than likely not accept an trade to St. Louis. So, instead of shedding tears over an Imos pizza, let's pivot to something else that is enticing. Something like a young, durable starting pitcher. Someone like Tampa Bay Rays arm Chris Archer.
Now, let me preface this dose by informing you that I have heard ZERO legit chatter in St. Louis or around St. Louis about actually working out a trade for Archer. On Tuesday afternoon on MLB Network's Intentional Talk, talk show host Chris Rose name-dropped me as one of two sports radio hosts speculating about the Cardinals pivoting to Archer now that the Stanton trial had fallen through.
1. The Cardinals hadn't moved on from Stanton, and it wasn't over.
2. I didn't "report" anything. The fact is I don't do much reporting. I leave that job to aces like Derrick Goold, who gets paid to do it quite well. I take reports and serve up my opinion on them. I'm a commentary guy.
One more thing: It's unwise to complain about free publicity. I didn't promise Chris anything or pay for the shoutout, so I'll take it. I just wanted to clear things up, before certain St. Louis peeps thought I was taking someone's report and making it my own or drawing pictures with pen instead of pencil.
Now, back to Archer, the hot rod starter for the Rays who could make the Cardinals rotation instantly elite. Let's take a break from Hot Stove torture and just think about the effect a guy like this could have on the Cardinals.
There have been reports about the Cardinals talking to the Rays about closer Alex Colome and third baseman Evan Longoria, so let's just imagine a scenario where they would also inquire about Archer.
At first glance, the baseball card stats of Archer don't truly stand out. Once you do a little extra looking, the flavors start to show in the 29 year old's skill set, and here are five things.
5. He is a horse on the mound, making at least 30 starts in each of the past four seasons with at least 194.2 innings thrown in each of them.
4. Archer's fielding independent pitching of 3.46 is below his career earned run average of 3.63. Each mark is impressive for a pitcher in the American League East, but seeing a pitcher acquire outs without the need of his defense separates him from the pack.
3. Archer's strikeout rate is trending in the right direction. The last thing you want to see in a pitcher as he nears 30 years of age is the ability to strike someone out decrease, especially for a formerly dominant K artist. Archer's 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings mark in 2017 was a career high, showing the best is yet to come.
2. He can get hitters out with more than a single pitch. With no offense to Lance Lynn, it's nice to have an extra weapon to use on the mound as the season extends into August and September. According to Brooks Baseball, Archer doesn't depend on a 96 mph fastball to get his strikeouts, instead mixing in a deadly 87 mph changeup and an 88 mph slider for his higher whiff percentages. The man has more than one bullet in his arsenal, and that can make his talent endure.
1. He has a very friendly contract. Archer is currently signed through 2019 on a six year/25.5 million dollar contract, with options for 2020 and 2021. Those are team options, which only go as high as 11 million dollars in 2021. Archer is the pitcher equivalent of Christian Yelich, a young star who may only be getting better.
He's not perfect. Archer did turn 29 years old this past summer, so he's not a young gun anymore. He also fires way too many wild pitches, with double digits the past three seasons. He allows a few too many home runs, with 30 and 27 allowed in 2016 and 2017. Archer isn't an ace, but he's an extremely valuable arm to slot in at #2.
Fake downside: Archer likes to show emotion on the mound, like a certain Cardinal. Hope the fan base can handle that.
The price will be high. We are talking about two top pitching prospects, a position player prospect, and some MLB ready talent. It would be Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Harrison Bader, and a sure bat like Matt Carpenter or Jedd Gyorko to even start conversations. Archer gives the Cardinals four more seasons of low liability, so it would cost. But the reward would solve the Cards rotation issues.
I don't know about you, but the expectations for Miles Mikolas after his Tokyo sabbatical are far from assured. There's no guarantee what he can truly offer to the Cardinals, and his price wasn't cheap. For instance, Mikolas will make more than Archer the next two years.
Archer didn't have to go overseas to learn how to be a great pitcher though, and he would slot in behind Carlos Martinez as a deadly #2. There would be no need for the expensive services of Yu Darvish or a return call to Lance Lynn. The Cards could reload on pitching and see where a bat lies on the market.
Trust me, this probably won't get done, because I doubt the Rays allow Archer to walk. But I wouldn't call it impossible, due to the chances of that Rays team competing in a frantic AL East. The Rays haven't won 90 games since 2013, and even then it only bought them second place. With parts of their roster aging out and Archer at the tradable age, the time may be now to strike.
Here is what I know: if John Mozeliak thinks the addition of Miles Mikolas solves the Cardinals rotation dilemma, he is delusional. Speaking on KMOX radio this week, he considered the rotation search party to be over, switching the focus to the bullpen. That's a bullheaded move for one reason: Martinez, Wacha, Weaver, Wainwright, Mikolas. There's your rotation next year. That threatens ZERO teams, and if Martinez goes down, it's broken.
The Cardinals need another starter. A very good one. Someone to bridge the gap between Alex Reyes' recovery and Wainwright's exit.
It may be unlikely and there are NO legit reports of a trade coming together, but if you didn't know why Chris Archer is someone to covet, now you do. No fancy stats required. Just reasons.
Oh, did I mention he liked pitching at Busch Stadium this season? Check out the humility in this kid.
Thanks for reading. Find me on twitter, @buffa82.