COMMENTARY | The St. Louis Cardinals enter June 27 with the best record in baseball, tied at the top of their own division with the Pittsburgh Pirates. July will bring forth trade rumors and teams trying to upgrade. The Cardinals have very few needs, but that does not mean that they cannot get a little better down the stretch.
Taking a look into the future, here are the top three things the Cardinals need going into the trade deadline.
The main thing the team needs is patience. This team does not require a major upgrade in any one area, so there is no need for them to get involved in bidding wars with other teams over the hot commodity trade prospects like Ricky Nolasco. The team needs to be patient, let the market develop, and make sure that whatever pieces they give up in a trade are truly expendable. The good news for the team is that general manager John Mozeliak has proved time and time again that he has the patience required.
Another starting pitcher
The team has done well to get to this point with the pieces that it currently has in the system. Players like Michael Wacha, Tyler Lyons, Joe Kelly and John Gast have done remarkable in the limited roles they have encountered. While there are plenty of arms in the system, utilizing those arms as a package to get a solid, innings-eating starter from another team could make this team that much more of a threat. The thin market beyond Nolasco is going to drive the prices up on starting pitching and may keep the Cardinals from jumping in. It may not be long before fans are hearing "Getting Chris Carpenter back is as good as any trade."
A bullpen arm
Like most every other contender in baseball, the Cardinals will be shopping for another bullpen piece. Unlike most of the others, the Cardinals will not need a major piece, if they need one at all. As the season as moved along, the young bullpen has formed quite well and developed into a cohesive unit. A shutdown arm that could hold down the seventh inning may be a perfect fit in St. Louis and the Houston Astros may be just the fit to work with, if they are willing to deal Jose Veras. The New York Mets' Bobby Parnell or the Chicago White Sox's Jesse Crain are other names floating around as available.
The Cardinals have the pieces to move in a deal, if they feel the return is beneficial enough to justify it. They have players in the minor leagues that are ready to step into major league roles as soon as they are called on, making established players expendable in the right deal. Ultimately, a combination of prospects and proven big league players could allow the Cardinals to make a big splash at the trade deadline if they want to.
They do not need to make a big move, but the right move could bring home the 12th world championship in franchise history.
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