This is going to be a current events type rambling post. I guess similar to most of my stuff so not sure why I’m even clearing that up. The Cardinals just completed the first nine games of the 2013 schedule with a 5-4 record. If you would have told me going into a 9 game stretch that included a West Coast stint to start with 3 in Arizona (Opening Day Festivities), 3 in SF (Home Opener with weekend long WS Championship Celebration), and 3 hosting Cincinnati (The favorite by most to win the Central) with the home opener pressure that they’d be 5-4 I would have been very pleased. So I’m very pleased.
Way more positives than negatives aside from the Jason Motte news. I assumed the worst right away based on how he pitches and the fact it’s an elbow injury anyway though. Still sucks. Oh well, hoping for a full and fast recovery.
So let’s talk shortstops and pitching depth. A hot topic that’s been tossed around the internets and water coolers is the black cloud of mediocrity that seems to always hang over the shortstop position and the never ending stable of young power arms the Cardinals have to choose from. By the way, do people actually stand around water coolers at work? Anyway. A common practice for a GM is to take a position of strength and use pieces of it to help build up the weakness. In the Cardinals case it would be young pitcher(s) for a proven shortstop. Now I know the few people who do read this blog already know the scenarios that have been out there for the most part (Elvis Andrus who signed a big boy contract with Texas recently), Asdrubal Cabrera, and also Stephen Drew (signed with Boston for a lot of money) who was a free agent. Some mentioned Troy Tulowitzki but I never saw that as a realistic possibility. And also that Rafael Furcal is done for the year but is on the current payroll.
I really just want to just talk about the Cards. In other words, let’s look at some of the players who would possibly be involved in such a transaction. I’m assuming interested team’s would pull name’s from this group’s hat and in most cases it would probably take more than one of these guys or another starting big league shortstop.
Matt Adams: Here’s a guy who made the big club based on his ability to hit in pretty much any situation. Once Allen Craig signed his new deal the possibility of trading Matt Adams was an obvious thought considering he can only play 1st base aside from DH with no exceptions and Allen Craig’s knee concerns make him primarily a 1st baseman. The problem is, and this will be true with the others I list, is do the Cardinals know what they have in Matt Adams? Coming into the season I think they knew he could hit but he’s been more than impressive early. Absolutely no need to rush a trade that includes Adams. Find this guy some at bats Mike Matheny!
Oscar Taveras: No
Shelby Miller: A very nice outing in San Francisco on a tough assignment. He pitched well for the Cardinals at the end of last season as well and looks to be on his way development wise. Again though, it’s early and do the Cardinals have a good idea as to what they have in Miller? Maybe, but it’s harder to sell potential than it is results. He has an Ace ceiling but is still a work in progress.
Trevor Rosenthal: Really raw talent with an extreme power arm. If I’m a team like say the Indians and you offer Rosenthal in a deal I’ll come back with how raw he is and the possibility of him never making the transition to MLB starter. I’m certainly not a GM but it’s a pretty easy rebuttal. Again having to sell potential and not getting appropriate value.
Joe Kelly: Strong arm with the proven ability to start at the big league level. Teams will, and should rate him under Miller, Rosenthal, Martinez and Wacha. The Cards would have to sweeten the pot for sure.
Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha: I’m pairing these two because neither has pitched in an MLB game and I’m lazy. Wacha’s stock shot up this Spring with very impressive outings and a glowing review from catcher Yadier Molina. Wacha’s an example of someone who can go from a player to watch as a middle -rotation guy to a possible top of the rotation guy in a short time. And then there’s Carlos Martinez who some believe to be a future Ace and others think he’ll be an elite Closer but definitely leaving room for trade partners to leverage the unproven route. So again, no need to rush.
There’s other guys on this list as well but this is a good start. Lance Lynn would be another guy to include but I think my point has been established.
So what is that point? My point is this. Pete Kozma is probably not going to be preparing a speech for Cooperstown unless he’s helping someone else. Hell, the way it is now not many do anyway but that’s for another time. The Cardinals do not and very rarely will have All-Stars at every position. I realize shortstop is on the extreme side of the defensive matrix but Kozma will manage and is also very cost effective along with the players listed above. Give him a chance to at least be around replacement level. If he can do so the Cardinals will be in really good shape. Plus, Kozma has been hitting the ball pretty damn well. His defense will struggle and his offense will probably regress but just let things play out for a bit. Make other teams call the Cardinals about trades. The team on the receiving end of a phone call regarding a trade always has the upper hand.
In closing I realize a lot of trades are made with teams trading a prospect without a definite idea of what that player may develop into for a player to help immediately. In the Cardinals case I just don’t see the need for any sort of desperation. Plus, there’s always the possibility of injuries in the rotation. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. So grab a beer or your drink of choice and put your feet up and just relax and enjoy the fact you support a great organization with a bright future and intelligent people running it.