With the Major League Baseball trade deadline on Friday, fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are dreading a possibility their team will remain the same.
Back in June, John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations, was surprisingly vocal about doing what he could to make moves to help a team struggling with injuries and inconsistency.
Mozeliak had indicated he wanted to “shake things up” to better the team this season. As we approach the Friday trade deadline, talks of a trade deadline move seem quiet. Something fans of this team have grown accustomed to during the Mozeliak era.
When asked about getting rotation help, Mozeliak seems content to play the wait-and-see game for the return of Miles Mikolas and ace Jack Flaherty. The return of Flaherty is certainly something to get excited about, prior to an oblique injury that sidelined him since June, he was the most reliable pitcher in the rotation. He already compiled an 8-1 record in 62 innings pitched.
The return of Mikolas, however, does not elicit the same excitement unless you guarantee he will return to his 2018 form in which he threw 200 innings with an 18-4 record. After going 9-14 with in 184 innings in 2019, he did not pitch in 2020 after undergoing surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his right hand.
Mikolas had a slow start to his spring thanks to issues with his arm and then left his first start due to right forearm tightness. He has since been working his way to come back. After a rehab stint in Memphis, Mikolas could return in mid-August. But what can you realistically expect from Mikolas after so much time off? Dare I say, not much.
Additionally, Carlos Martinez is on the 60-day injured list with no timetable on any return.
The Cardinals desperately need another proven arm.
There isn’t much talk of the Cardinals really being in on any particular starting arm. Max Scherzer seems destined for the west coast after much speculation there would be shared interest in him coming home to St. Louis.
The Cardinals could find help in a trade for Kyle Gibson of the Texas Rangers or Merrill Kelly of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Another option could come in Alex Cobb of the Los Angeles Angels. It would also be curious to see them go after Jose Berrios of the Minnesota Twins or Matthew Boyd of the Detroit Tigers.
After attending an open showcase, the Cardinals have interest in free agent Cole Hamels but because he’s only thrown about three innings since 2019, it’s not likely he will be signed anytime soon. It would be interesting to see if the Cardinals had any consideration for free agent Rick Porcello.
While the Cardinals have seen an uptick in offense from some unlikely sources, such as Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson and Paul DeJong, it would be great to have another bat to count on. Matt Carpenter has been a decent, although frustrating, option. Lane Thomas was thought to be the fourth outfielder during spring training, but never really gained the steam needed for that to stick with Justin Williams, Lars Nootbaar and even John Nogowski, prior to his move to the Pittsburgh Pirates, around.
Thoughts of cashing in on the Chicago Cubs sell off seem highly unlikely as the Cubs wouldn’t want another Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio situation on their hands. A significant move for someone like Trevor Story or Trea Turner seems unlikely, but would certainly benefit the team.
It’s pretty certain that with all of the major needs, Mozeliak can not stay put this season at the trade deadline. While he is noted for not showing his cards, so to speak, it’s interesting to remember how vocal he was about making moves at one time this season.
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Mozeliak simply can not get by with saying getting Flaherty back some time in August or September is like a deadline move. After seasons of hearing Mozeliak talk about shaking things up to make a significant move for the team and mostly not doing so, it’s time for him to show that he really wants to shake things up to make an improvement to this team.
After the acquisition of Nolan Arenado, Cards fan could get the sense Mozeliak really wanted to go for it as he finally got a big fish. Having Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt should be incentive enough to make a go for it. Combine that with the last throes of the Wainwright and Yadier Molina battery, it’s an opportune time.
What would no move at the deadline signal to this team? As Manager Mike Shildt says after most games, the team is working their “tails off” with what they have.
It’s time for Mozeliak to reward that hard work and add some significant pieces to help through the remainder of 2021. It may be too far gone to make a run at the Milwaukee Brewers but they could make a run and could even fight for a wild card position. It’s worth a shot. And if they can get help for the future, even better.
Mozeliak must make a move or his annual promise to shake things up could prove what it will be perceived as – an empty promise. An empty promise that may create the need to really shake things up for Mozeliak.