6 Cardinals front office missteps that put the team in this terrible position

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
2 of 4

The 2016-2019 Drafts

Look, the MLB Draft is very often a crapshoot and every team makes picks that don’t work out. However, when looking at the Cards’ 2023 roster, one cannot help but look at the 2016-2019 drafts which, in theory, should be contributing at some level to the big league club now and seeing some missed opportunities with their day one picks. This is especially true when we look at the total lack of pitching depth on the Cardinals' big league roster right now..

While the 2020 draft class is looking quite good with Jordan Walker, Masyn Winn, and Tink Hence coming from the five round draft, the previous few years are looking decidedly less kind. In 2016, the Cardinals spent their first pick on Delvin Perez who was rumored to have failed a PED test and subsequently flamed out in the minors and is now in the Yankees' organization. 

The Cardinals lost their first and second round picks in the 2017 MLB draft because of the hacking scandal and they didn’t get anyone of note the rest of the way. Nolan Gorman is showing a lot of promise from the 2018 class, but St. Louis doesn’t have much to show beyond that and 2019’s top pick, Zack Thompson, was converted to the bullpen and hasn’t exactly shown out there. Four draft classes being that shallow and not getting a single arm of note for the big league roster is pretty rough. 

Tommy Pham Trade Return

The deal that sent Tommy Pham (along with $500,000 in international bonus pool money which is not a small deal) to the Rays is a weird one because deals like this end up flaming out all the time, but this one uniquely compounded the Cardinals’ existing problem of not using their assets efficiently. Pham had real trade value back at the trade deadline in 2018 and should have provided St. Louis an opportunity to shore up their minor league ranks.

Instead, they got a few players that have made minimal impact in a Cardinals uniform. Justin Williams was banged up for St. Louis and was granted free agency a couple years later after doing next to nothing. Genesis Cabrera has turned into a decidedly medium reliever with issues walking too many guys. Finally, we have Roel Ramirez who made one (bad) appearance in the big leagues for the Cardinals and ended up getting claimed off waivers by the Mets. 

Trading Pham wasn’t the sin here. The issue is that the return looked weird back then and now we know for certain that it wasn’t good and cost St. Louis some prospect/youth depth all these years later.