For as much grief as we give the St. Louis Cardinals front office for how they have managed their roster over the last few years, there's a part of me that empathizes with them over one thing. No, I'm not giving them a pass on giving up so much young talent over the last few years, or even giving them a pass on how they've mismanaged the opportunities they give to young players.
Where I empathize with them is on this - it is really, really hard to choose which of the young bats to commit to, and which bats may need to move on from.
Want proof of this? Go check on a poll I ran on the Redbird Rants Twitter account recently. I asked voters if the Cardinals would live to regret trading each of these players individually: Lars Nootbaar, Dylan Carlson, Brendan Donovan, Nolan Gorman, and Tommy Edman.
The only player who was voted on as "No, they would not regret trading him" was Tommy Edman. And yet, I know of some very smart baseball people who think getting rid of Edman would be the worst thing the Cardinals could do.
The same can be true of each of the other young bats. Everyone has their own opinions on Nootbaar, Gorman, Donovan, Edman, and Carlson. No one thinks of those players are "bad", but there is no consensus on who the most valuable players are from that group. I can see why the Cardinals are having the same issues deciding that for themselves.
I myself have gone back and forth on who the Cardinals need to hold onto and who they need to shop around to improve their starting pitching. I think I've finally landed the plane on what I believe they should do, though.
This conversation hinged on multiple things. First, this is a painful process. No one is going to be able to agree on who the Cardinals need to commit to and who they need to be willing to let go of. And there is risk involved with each of these players. Some of the guys I am going to say they should keep are less "valuable" players than the ones I am going to say they should deal. Why? Because they have to trade talent to get talent.
When it comes to this trade deadline, yes the performance of players they let go of will matter in terms of how we evaluate their decisions. But what is even more important is how the guys they keep perform, and how the guys they acquire perform. For example, if Matthew Liberatore was a budding starter in this league in the vein of a Logan Gilbert, it may still be painful that they let go of Randy Arozarena, but it wouldn't be as big of a miss. The Cardinals need to maximize the value of both the guys they keep and the guys they deal, and I think this is the best way to do so.
In the next few slides, I am going to make an argument for how they can maximize their roster in order to bring back the best possible talent for their roster as well as maintain a strong offense moving forward. Buckle up, as this is going to be a wild ride for all of us.