I take a week off to travel and visit family, and all hell breaks loose. Most of the items covered below would deserve their own posts. Maybe later on. For now, some thoughts on the many recent news items from the Cardinals.
Julio Lugo acquired from Red Sox. Boston had a logjam at short, with the heir apparent (Jed Lowrie) and a serviceable journeyman (Nick Green) getting playing time ahead of Lugo. With Lowrie coming back from a wrist injury that’s sidelined him most of this season, Lugo was expendable. Boston’s SS position has been unsettled since trading Nomar away in 2004 (they’ve trotted Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Lugo, Lowrie, and Green out there since that 31 July 04 trade), and Lugo hadn’t been the player they thought he would be.
Essentially the Cardinals gave up their 4th string OF for Boston’s 3rd string SS. Whatever. I didn’t understand this move when it happened, because Brendan Ryan has played a servicable SS since Khalil went down, but it made more sense after…
Matt Holliday acquired from Athletics.St Louis has strip-mined its farm system trying to make the team stronger for the stretch drive. First there was DeRosa for Chris Perez and Jess Todd; now this trade that sent Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortenson, and Shane Peterson to Oakland.
With this move the Cardinals had the big bat for the lineup that many in Cardinal Fandom had been pining for, however, the team gave up an awful lot to get him. Initially I didn’t like this trade (although that’s par for the course with me, based on what I’m told: ‘No, I don’t want more cheesecake,’ ‘No, you can’t give me a million dollars,’ ‘No, I don’t want to fly to the All-Star Game’), but upon reflection, I am withholding final judgement pending two things: (a) whether or not St Louis makes the playoffs, and far more importantly, (b) whether or not Holliday signs an extension to stay with the team.
Early returns suggest these two moves, along with DeRosa being healthy, have made the team far more dangerous offensively (other than Blanton’s start on Sunday, the team has scored at least 6 runs in every game since the Holliday trade), so that’s good for their probability of making the playoffs.
Jason Motte should not throw any more high leverage innings…until he develops an off-speed pitch he can control. Its great to be able to throw 99-MPH gas whenever you want; I wish I could. ML hitters will catch up to it eventually, especially after watching you fire it to 5 straight hitters, as Rollins and Victorino (and Utley, although he only doubled) did on Saturday.
Cardinals fell out of first for two days, although they’re back in first after beating Dodgers 10-0 last night. Some thoughts on that:
– Chicago is 2 games up on the loss side (46 losses to 48), thanks to the Cardinals playing 4 more games than the Cubs at this point. Winning percentage is great, but losses will determine who makes the playoffs.
– I anticipate it will take 88 wins to triumph in the Central. To get there, the Cardinals need to go 36-24 (.600 ball). Chicago would then have to go 38-26 (.593 ball). Doable, but difficult. Difficult because:
St Louis really needs pitching help. This remains my biggest heartache with the Holliday trade. DeRosa, although not the offensive presence Holliday is, is a capable bat, and with Ludwick’s renaissance in progress, the Cardinals had enough protection in the lineup (Schu/Rasmus/AP/Lud/DeRosa) for AP before that trade. Middle relief is becoming pretty shaky, and after Carpenter/Wainwright/Piniero the rotation is a barren wasteland. To win 36 games implies that those 3 win every start for the rest of the year, which is a pipe dream. I would have preferred to see the team spend their prospects on a different Halladay.
Now that Wellemeyer has been removed from the rotation, a development that’s about 4 weeks overdue, we’re going to ask Mitchell Boggs to throw high leverage innings in the midst of a pennant race to get us to the finish line. He’s a professional, and has the ability no doubt, but that’s a lot to ask of a rookie.
If Lohse fixes himself and reverts to last year’s form, well, this whole discussion is moot, and the Cardinals suddenly become a much better than 88-win team.