With the trade deadline upon us, the St. Louis Cardinals may be best served by standing pat – and getting a boost from their returning injured players.
The Cardinals are set to receive a major shot in the arm in the weeks that follow the All-Star Break, receiving the likes of outfielder Matt Holliday, pitchers Jaime Garcia, Mitch Harris, Matt Belisle and Marco Gonzalez and center fielder Jon Jay as they return from injury.
Holliday, who has been swinging a bat and running during All-Star Week festivities, is a “virtual certainty” to return on Friday against the Mets at home, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, while Garcia and Walden appear poised to be back with the Cardinals before the calendar turns to August.
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St. Louis entered the All-Star Break on a low-note after dropping three-of-four to the resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates in the final series of the first-half, trimming their lead in the National League Central down to a mere 2 1/2 games.
In that series, the Cardinals dropped two games in walk-off fashion – leaving fans with a bitter taste in their mouths and doubts in the back of their minds.
Manager Mike Matheny said he delved into the loss on Saturday, hoping to identify what needed to improve. As we know now, however, that didn’t do much as the Bucs walked off again Sunday by the same 6-5 final.
"“You go through (it) a little longer last night because there was so much going on,” Matheny said. “Evaluate what happened. What could we have done differently? What lessons need to be learned? Who needs to be talked to? And what are some of the things we did well? You talk to guys and encourage them. We had a lot of positive things happen in that game. And we had some things that didn’t go well either."
So why should the St. Louis Cardinals make a trade to address a weakness? Some have said that shoring up the bullpen or the starting rotation should be a focal point, but with nearly half-a-dozen arms nearing their respective return to action, such deals seem fool-hardy.
General manager John Mozeliak has said that he won’t jeopardize the future of the organization as he believes he did in the past with trades this summer. Instead, he’s looking for more stopgap measures – players that could fill the team’s voids for the rest of the year, rather than create logjams down the road.
The team will not only get a bevy of arms and the veteran bat of Holliday back this season, but will also receive a nice boost when first baseman Matt Adams returns to action next spring.
This is another reason why a major trade seems like a long-shot at this point for the Redbirds. First base is one of the team’s biggest weaknesses (although Mark Reynolds has held his own over there this year) – and with Adams returning next year, a trade for someone like Ryan Howard is, in my opinion, never going to happen.
And, regardless of what many fans may think, when you finish the first-half 23 games over .500 – you don’t need such deals.
This team will be fine – even without a single trade.