The 2011 MLB trade deadline has come and gone, and as always, there are clear winners and losers in its aftermath. With 14 teams within six games of a spot in the postseason, there was obviously a lot of buzz and rumors associated with this year’s deadline. Many players rumored to be on the block were dealt, but some big names surprisingly stayed put. At the end of the day, the trade deadline is all about general managers putting their teams in the best possible position for success both in the near and distant future. Strategies on how to go about doing this vary greatly, but I can say with relative confidence that every GM has nothing but the best intentions for his franchise. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what John Mozeliak was able to get done transaction-wise this past week for the St. Louis Cardinals.
If there was any doubt about the approach that the Cardinals would take moving forward, I think it has been erased. St. Louis is in a “win now” state of mind, which is exactly what the fans like to see. Given the facts that the NL Central is a closely contested four-team race and that the Cards let the division title slip away last year, it was clear as we approached July 31st that they could not afford to simply sit back and bank on what they already had in place.
Let’s start with the Colby Rasmus/Edwin Jackson trade. So far, I’ve heard mixed opinions as to whether or not this was a smart move for the Cardinals. Look, I’m not about to sit here and say that this team didn’t need some pitching help and that this trade didn’t address that particular need. However, it would be foolish to think that the Cards got the better part of this transaction or even came away with a dead even trade for that matter. The trading away of Colby Rasmus, a 24-year-old with superstar potential, shows a lack of patience by the organization in my opinion. The expectations for Rasmus were unreasonable at times, and I’m not sure the team did enough as far as sitting down with Colby and coming up with a game plan to help him develop into a true professional on and off the field. If you’re really that set on winning now then you have to at least get more value for a player like Rasmus. If he does end up developing into a star in Toronto, the Cardinals are going to look really, really bad.
I could go on and on about why Rasmus should still be a Redbird, but I’d like to touch on the other players in this deal as well. The Cardinals also sent relief pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays. At 38-years-old, Miller is at the end of his career anyway, and his numbers are good enough to warrant any sort of complaint about his trade. Brian Tallet, who has an ERA north of eight, is currently injured and has only pitched in 18 games this season, so I think this is just a matter of the Cards unloading some dead weight. At this point, P.J. Walters is nothing more than a Triple-A reliever who will need to improve quite a bit to lower his career 7.24 ERA. The only problem I have with this part of the deal is that St. Louis now has just one left-handed reliever in the bullpen, which is concerning to say the least.
Obviously, Edwin Jackson is the highlight of the trade for the Cardinals. Although I’m not as fond of Jackson as John Mozeliak seems to be, there’s no question that he is a significant upgrade for the starting rotation. He’s not the kind of guy who is going to throw seven innings of one-run ball every time out there, but he’s a power arm that will provide consistent quality starts when given some run support. Not to mention, Jackson is still relatively young at the age of 27.
Octavio Dotel is an acquisition that I love for the Redbirds. Why? Well he is an established veteran who can be used in a variety of situations and has been reliable throughout his entire career. With nearly a 3:1 K:BB ratio and 1.02 WHIP, he is a guy who should and will be used in key situations down the stretch. Corey Patterson is likely to find himself in a fourth outfielder’s role for St. Louis. He won’t turn any heads at the plate and he isn’t good enough to start on a daily basis, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to have a lefty with speed on the bench. Finally, Marc Rzepczynski is a great addition for this team. He is now the featured lefty in this bullpen, and his stuff is as good as any of the other relievers’ on this roster. The 25-year-old has posted an impressive 2.83 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 44 appearances this season. He has a tendency to labor through innings, but he gets the job done at the end of the day.
Let’s move on to the Rafael Furcal trade. Just hours before the trade deadline, St. Louis went out and got shortstop Rafael Furcal from the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Double-A outfielder Alex Castellanos. Castellanos is in the middle of what is easily his best season in the minors to date, and there’s no question he has high value. With Lance Berkman near the end of his career, the Cardinals may be wishing that they had held on to this young outfielder in a couple years, but this team doesn’t seem to worried about the future. At least Rafael Furcal is a quality player to get in return. Furcal addresses the middle infield issue for St. Louis, and the two-time all-star will be counted on as the new leadoff man in this powerful lineup. Furcal is just one year removed from batting .300, but he has played in only 38 games this season because of LA’s depth at shortstop. No matter how you look at it, he is an above-average backup plan since Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker weren’t working out as planned.
Trouble keeping track of all of the moves made at this year’s deadline? Click here for the full list of trades.