National media calls out the Cardinals for fumbling Tyler O'Neill trade

MLB Network hosts Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo and Brian Kenny roast the Cardinals for messing up the Tyler O'Neill trade among others.
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox
Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox / Jaiden Tripi/GettyImages

MLB Network hosts Brian Kenny and Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo fulminated on the St. Louis Cardinals' recent trade of Tyler O'Neill. O'Neill was part of a trade with the Boston Red Sox that featured minor league pitcher Nick Robertson and Victor Santos coming back to the Cardinals. Both Robertson and Sanchez are currently on the AAA Memphis roster.

Conversely, Tyler O'Neill has done nothing but destroy baseballs with Boston. He is currently slashing .343/.489/.857 with 6 home runs, and he has been the best hitter in baseball since the season kicked off. It is great that Tyler O'Neill is succeeding. The blueprint was always there; health just happened to be in the way.

While O'Neill was able to put together an MVP-caliber season in 2021, he was unable to replicate that offensive output in any other season. Outside of 2021, O'Neill was never able to play in more than 96 games, he never had an OPS+ greater than 99, and he never got close to 100 hits in a campaign. O'Neill had overstayed his welcome in St. Louis, and a change of scenery for both the player and organization was necessary. In order for us to truly evaluate this trade fairly, fans and analysts must wait to see how the returning pieces pan out.

Kenny and Russo go on to ream the Cardinals organization as a whole for their bad trades recently. Players such as Luke Voit, Randy Arozarena, Adolis Garcia, Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk, and Lane Thomas as notable outfielders traded away recently. The Luke Voit-Giovanny Gallegos trade was actually a heist on Mo's part, as Gallegos was a top-7 reliever from 2019-2022 in all of baseball and Voit dropped off precipitously after a decent start in New York.

Tommy Pham had one 3.4-WAR season in Tampa Bay in 2019, but he has since been a replacement-level player. Randal Grichuk doesn't belong on this list, as he has never recorded a season greater than 1.0 fWAR outside of 2018, and Dominic Leone was a serviceable reliever. Lane Thomas has a better argument than Pham, Grichuk, or Voit as a net loss for the Cardinals, but his 2023 season has been his only stellar season outside of St. Louis, and he even showed some holes last year (terrible walk rate, high strikeout rate).

Perhaps the only two players listed by BK and Mad Dog that hold water as an argument against the Cardinals would be Arozarena and Garcia. Mind you, the Cardinals have also had fleeces of that magnitude in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, so the value in vs. value out is virtually a net-zero quantity.

The sentiment that the Cardinals have been terrible at valuing their own players is becoming a bit tired. John Mozeliak has had a 50% success rate on trades since he became the Cardinals General Manager/President of Baseball Operations, a rate well in excess of the bulk of teams in baseball.

For all of the discourse and vitriol hurled at the Cardinals' organization revolving around trade losses, there isn't much true proof. Plenty of teams have traded away 20-year-olds who have turned out to be fantastic players for another organization. The Dodgers had Yordan Alvarez, Miami had Miguel Cabrera, John Smoltz was once a Tiger, the Phillies nabbed J.T. Realmuto for scraps, and even the Rays tripped up when they dealt Blake Snell.

Every team and organization will mess up with trades; the key is how they A) rebound from mistakes and B) change how they evaluate players. Trading someone like Tyler O'Neill, an oft-injured 30-year-old outfielder, shouldn't condemn a general manager. John Mozeliak has been able to break even with big trades (Arozarena and Garcia paired with Goldschmidt and Arenado) while winning out in trades on the margins (Gallegos, JoJo Romero, and Jedd Gyorko).