Several times a year, the members of the United Cardinal Bloggers engage in a roundtable project. Each participant asks a question and the other members reply. The question originator then posts a summary of the responses on their blog.
Now it is my turn.
The non-waiver trade deadline is one of the most important dates on the baseball calendar. This year, it happens at 4pm EDT on July 31. Contenders can add a missing piece or pieces to help their playoff chances where pretenders typically do nothing. Teams that are struggling and out of contention might take this opportunity to jumpstart a rebuilding program. The fortunes of a franchise for many years can be made or destroyed in the weeks leading up to the trading deadline.
The question for the UCB Bloggers:
Where do you think the Cardinals will be in the standings as the deadline approaches: contender, pretender or cellar dweller ? And if you were GM, what would you be buying or selling ?
For your enjoyment, here are the answers.
In my personal, optimistic view, I’m thinking that the Cardinals will be in a close race with the Reds and the Brewers. Maybe a couple of games up, maybe a few games back. Whatever the case, they’ll be contending.
That said, I’m not sure 1) what they’d trade for and 2) what they’d be able to give up. Young talent is going to be at a premium in St. Louis the next couple of years no matter how the Pujols situation shakes out. So unless they are able to move a major league piece such as Skip Schumaker or a couple of bullpen arms for a second baseman, I’m not sure how they’d upgrade. We know that they aren’t likely to take on salary to improve the rotation, though maybe that will be an option if the organization feels it must push all-in to get to October.
I think that the Cardinals will be pretenders disguised as contenders at that point – just close enough that they won’t throw in the towel, but just far enough back that they won’t be able to pull the trigger on a big trade to put them over the top. To get that far, I think they will need reasonably good production from just about every position, so they will be hard-pressed to trade any significant pieces. If they can benefit from another team’s salary dump, then maybe we’ll hear that they are making an upgrade “thanks to the fan support on the way to 3.3M blah blah blah” again. If not, then I’d rather that they not touch the talent pipeline that is currently in place, because it’s so close to paying off with very inexpensive contributors in the coming years.
I agree with the pretender people. I think we may stay close for awhile but I think the Cardinals will take the entire season and slowly disassemble the team and attempt to position themselves for 2012 and/or 2013. They are relatively assured the masses will still attend whether Pujols is in the fold or not. Maybe a slight downward trend but they will come back shortly.
I look for the team as we know it today, to be very different in one year.
The Cardinals will be out of the race by the deadline.
Because sometimes a season just gets going in a direction and can’t stop itself. Our best player decided to pull this arbitrary signing deadline BS and upstage the crowning achievement in Stan Musial’s life. Out best pitcher went down for the season before the first game. Our next best pitcher at the very minimum set himself back a week or two by jerking a hamstring out of socket before the first week of Spring Training. Our best utility man may be back in May after a hernia.
And by the way- we’re counting on Colby Rasmus maturing (pretty nebulous thing to determine) and Lance Berkman to be, you know, good again. Not exactly the double down most of us would drop a dime on.
Every losing streak is going to be accompanied by talk of ‘would/should they trade Pujols’. Every stressful situation darkening the black cloud that #5 has chosen to position right over Busch Stadium. Every big win rife with anxiety over how much love we should show a man/team when we’re not 12 months removed from ‘LeBron’s’ exit and the carnage he left Cleveland in.
My friends, it’s 4 weeks from Opening Day and the Cardinals are the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills… on drama HGH. This isn’t NYC – drama doesn’t make for good summers.
I think the Cardinals are talented enough to keep themselves hanging around until the trade deadline. But I also think that Pujols is going to give the Cardinals the right amount of excuse to do absolutely nothing to break down the stretch by adding a significant piece.
And until some things start going right for the team in 2011, then I’ll stick with trend.
I’ll also hope I’m wrong. If I am, I’ll deny ever writing any of this and act like I predicted it. That I know for sure.
I don’t think there will be any more room in the cellar, with the Astros & Pirates occupying that space from April to September (zero regular season games in October this year). It is my hope that we’ll be contenders, but if we’re much more than 3 or 4 games out, the realistic view (read: speculation on the 2nd of March) has to include the fact that there are no fewer than 3 teams poised to make a run at the NLC title, leaving at least 2 for potential wildcard winners…IF the WC even comes out of the Central. Many, and I’m not sure I disagree at this point, expect the Braves to be the real deal this year, and with PHI already going 7 games against BOS in the “World Series of on-paper”, there’s going to be more competition than ever to get into the postseason if you’re a NL team this year. Not to mention the West. That’s an awful lot of teams to have to leapfrog in order to clinch a spot, if you’re not going to win your division!
Don’t assume too much, though. If I were in Mozeliak’s position come the end of July when I don’t realistically see the Cards making it into the playoffs, I might still be a buyer, not a seller. I’d have to at least consider it. This team could have a very different look next season, as I eluded to here, and if we want to compete in & beyond 2012, we might have to go get some talent to help us do so. If we don’t extend our 1B, there are a couple of options out there, and the added advantage of being able to have seen how a Carlos Pena does against NLC pitching for over half a season. Fielder is gonna be out there too. (I know, I know…just sayin’, he’ll be out there) Then, there’s pitching (No Waino in ’11, Carp’s future unknown…etc). What, you’re gonna go into 2012 with a possible starting rotation of Garcia-Westbrook-Lohse-4-5, and with that rotation, look Albert in the eye & tell him we’re committed to being competitive and we expect to win? Yeah, I don’t think so either. The problem? You think teams overpay for free agents during the off-season? Let some owner/GM think they taste the postseason, and watch things go to the next level at the end of July.
So yeah, I expect the Cardinals to compete this year. I expect a battle all season long, and I hope that we’re still a factor in that battle come trade deadline time. If we’re not, I think we might *still* be among the buyers rather than sellers, contrary to what most people would consider normal, rational thinking. Either way, it’ll be an exciting time–I’m looking forward to a trade deadline where I can hear about what’s going on in baseball in late July, and not be interrupted by NFL news. (c:
A couple days ago at work I printed out the MLB level depth charts of the six teams in the NL Central and stared at them until I crowned a division winner. Long story short (rotation/lineup and bullpen comparisons) I came to the conclusion that the Brewers should win the division on paper with the Cardinals and Reds two and three.
Obviously losing Wainwright is a very significant loss. For some reason the Baseball Gods are not being very sympathetic to the Cardinals currently. With that in mind though there’s no reason to believe that Mil, Cin and Chi are going to go through their seasons without losing a key piece or two as well.
I’m right in line with what Daniel was saying. Even if Mo was looking for a front of the rotation type starter or an impact bat down the stretch I just can’t see them pulling the trigger and shipping out more young cost controlled talent. In fact I’m hoping guys like Craig, Jay, Lynn, Anderson and Descalso play big roles on the field this season and not as trade pieces.
Final Answer: Contender but no moves made at the deadline.
I want to be positive, and I’m hoping that my feeling that the Cards will be in contention at the trading deadline turns out to be true. (I thought they would be last year too — although I guess they were at the deadline. It wasn’t until later that things went south.) Maybe it’s a little too sunshine and puppies to think that the team will use the injuries as a way to rally together for the season, or a little too movie-like to actually happen. But at the moment I do feel that way.
And, for the reason that have already been stated by others, I don’t think they will be either buying or selling come July 31. The talent they have left is too valuable and is going to be needed in future years, and the pieces that they are able to part with now are likely not ones that would help get an impact player anyway.
Mark from RetroSimba
I suspect the Cardinals will be close enough for a wild-card berth or NL Central contention to be in position to buy. They may have to give up a prospect such as Matt Carpenter or Mark Hamilton or Brian Anderson to do so.
I prefer the puppies, rainbows and cotton candy vision. And while I am the first to throw a fit when one of our boys gets traded away, I would expect the Cardinals to keep emptying their pockets (and shipping off the talented youngsters) if they are expecting to impress (and hold on to) Mr. Pujols. Last season looked like a sure thing on paper before the season, and this season is starting off rather awful. But I’m sticking with the “Anything Can Happen” club and hoping for a surprise result for the 2011 Cardinals. 😉
All great answers, and I thank these great contributors for taking the time to share their thoughts.
I suspect that 2011 will look a lot like 2010, but with a few (hopefully) important differences. Even without Adam Wainwright throwing over 200 innings of 2 runs or less per game, the pitching staff still looks to be good enough to win in the NL Central. As long as we don’t experience a cluster of injuries like this year, I look for a slight improvement over last year. That said, as we approach the trade deadline I just don’t see how the Cardinals are going to make any big moves unless both the Pujols and Wainwright contract situations are worked out.