Flashback to 2009, when the St. Louis Cardinals were desperate to maneuver out of a two-year playoff drought. As July’s division races between the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds began to intensify, the Cardinals took a gamble by acquiring struggling outfielder Matt Holliday from the Oakland Athletics for prospects Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortenson and Shane Peterson.
Holliday would go on to finish the 2009 season as one of St. Louis’s largest offensive contributors, compiling a .353 batting average with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs in less than half a season with the Cardinals. While the trade provided some uncertainties at the time, Holliday has overcame such obstacles to later represent St. Louis as a four-time All-Star recipient and a 2011 World Series Champion.
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Yet Holliday’s triumphs have also came with a few recent organizational setbacks, as the left fielder suffered a right quad strain for the second time this season in the first inning of Wednesday’s shutout loss. Although acquiring and re-signing Matt Holliday to a seven-year deal involved large commitments for the Cardinals’ franchise, this triumph in St. Louis’s recent trade history shows that general manager John Mozeliak may still have the ability to make a big-name acquisition before Friday’s non-waiver trading deadline.
When the Cardinals have proven themselves as big-time buyers in Mozeliak’s eight seasons as St. Louis’s general manager, the team has found ways to address weak areas without giving up valuable future pieces. For instance, trading once highly-touted prospect Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays allowed the Cardinals to acquire little pieces for an emotional World Series run, including innings eater Edwin Jackson, bullpen stopper Octavio Dotel and lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski.
This same objective has applied for the Cardinals’ smaller trades in recent history, as St. Louis picked up John Lackey for former fan favorites Allen Craig and Joe Kelly, both who have spent time with Boston’s AAA affiliate this season. But even in the hype of finding big-name long term fixtures, the Cardinals have seen repercussions from trades involving Justin Masterson and Pedro Feliz among other rental acquisitions.
Less than 24 hours after Holliday’s recurring injury, Mozeliak wasted no time finding a formidable replacement in first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss. Acquired from the Cleveland Indians for 2013 first round pick Rob Kaminsky, Moss brings the potential upside of a Trade Deadline steal with 15 home runs and 50 RBIs, even though his .217 batting average and 106 strikeouts prior to Thursday may not immediately jolt the Cardinals’ streaky offense.
With lower runs-per-game totals every month and a shrinking division lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cardinals could very well make another big-name trade before Friday’s 3 p.m. CT deadline. Rather if St. Louis searches for last minute upgrades regarding infielders, outfielders or pitchers, John Mozeliak could retract to the high-risk, high-reward system that he utilized to acquire Matt Holliday now that the former trade centerpiece is temporarily unavailable.