John Mozeliak is approaching the trade deadline all wrong again

On Saturday, John Mozeliak tipped his hand on his trade deadline strategy. It appears that once again, he's approaching it the wrong way
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

On Saturday, John Mozeliak spoke with several bloggers and podcasters about the state of the Cardinals. One topic he touched on was the trade deadline and how he plans to approach it.

The Cardinals are right in the thick of the race, but are still two games below the .500 mark, so you could argue that they could be buyers or sellers.

I've made my stance on this matter clear several times, so I won't continue harping on that in today's piece. But Mozeliak tipped his hand on what his strategy will be this year at the deadline.

The longtime Cardinals' executive says he plans to shop instead of sell and is looking for a fifth starter to eat innings and a right-handed bat who can play a little center field.

Whether you're in the buy or sell camp, one thing is clear. Mozeliak is approaching the trade deadline all wrong again.

John Mozeliak has the wrong approach for the trade deadline

In a perfect world, the Cardinals would be buyers every year. That's what we'd all like to see. And if the Cardinals end up buying this year, great. But they have to do it right, and based on Mo's comments, it doesn't seem like they have the right approach.

Once again, they appear to be aiming low. If the Cardinals really want to contend, they need to aim higher. Simply going for a fifth starter is not going to get the job done. They need top-level pitching. I'm talking somebody like Nathan Eovaldi or even Justin Verlander if the Astros and Rangers end up selling.

Sure, a fifth starter will help, especially given all the uncertainty surrounding that spot right now. But it's not going to make them World Series contenders.

To me, this feels like Mozeliak trying to do the bare minimum and just doing something so he can say he tried. When you look at this starting rotation, it's clear that there is only one guy who can be trusted in the postseason, and that's Sonny Gray. As Jim Bowden put it a few weeks ago, the Cardinals could win his start in a three-game Wild Card Series, but would likely lose the other two games against the National League's best teams.

Granted, the National League isn't all that good this year, and that's why the Cardinals still have a chance. Sure, just getting in means you have a chance. Look at the Diamondbacks last year and the Phillies in 2022.

But those teams had the pieces necessary to go deep into the playoffs. They had several solid starting pitchers and well-rounded clubs altogether. The Cardinals don't have that, and the only way they can make noise in the playoffs, even if they sneak in as a Wild Card and make that kind of a run, is if they add a starter that can go next to Gray and be trusted in postseason games.

An extra bat could help, especially with all the injuries. I don't think the Cardinals are going to go big looking for a bat either, unfortunately, and it doesn't sound like they want to. They seem to be looking for more of a complimentary piece, someone like Harrison Bader, which isn't bad, but they need someone better.

But if the Cardinals are going to buy, they need to make that big splash that both Central divisions seem to want to avoid, and I don't see them doing that. That's why I've been skeptical about buying this whole time.

None of the moves Mozeliak is talking about will make the Cardinals World Series contenders. They have enough back-end starters already, and if they're going to buy a starter and a bat, these need to be big pieces.