ST. LOUIS — Considering the recent effectiveness of the St. Louis Cardinals' starting pitching, don't anticipate the club to make a major move before the nonwaiver trade deadline of July 31.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak is satisfied with the rotation of Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook and rookie Joe Kelly, a group that has compiled a 2.45 ERA since the All-Star break.
With the rehabbing Jaime Garcia scheduled to return as early as mid-August, a move that likely would send Kelly to the bullpen, the Cardinals believe pitching is an area of strength.
"Our starters have been great," Mozeliak said. "It clearly takes a little pressure off in terms of feeling like we have to do something.
"Plus, when you look at Garcia, where he's at and how he's progressing, we feel very confident that he's going to be back by mid-August. Having said that, if you were to go out and get another starter, who are you bouncing out and how are you improving?
"That's why I don't think the urgency is quite there for rotational help as it was, say, three or four weeks ago."
Despite rumors to the contrary, the Cardinals are not in the running for either of the two most sought-after starting pitchers, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, both of the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs are NL Central combatants with the Cardinals, and Mozeliak doesn't want a prospect like pitcher Shelby Miller, whom the Cubs covet, to haunt the Cardinals for the next decade.
"I don't really have a problem with trading in the division; I'm not really against it," Mozeliak said. "Given that our division has six teams, it's not exactly smart to eliminate five that you can't talk to.
"Having said that, if you're buying and you're giving up an elite prospect, that would be tough to look at for the next seven to 10 years. That's something you just want to be cautious of --not making that mistake.
"It's one thing when you do a trade with, say, Toronto, where it's sort of out-of-sight, out-of-mind vs. you're going to see (a team) 16 times a year. It doesn't matter if it's a pitcher or a position player. If you're going to see it every week, it's tough."
The Cardinals also like their everyday lineup and are not interested in moving any of their core players.
"It's really hard to do," Mozeliak said. "I don't know where you would find better (offense), even if you go position by position.
"Maybe, arguably, you could find more offense at second, but we don't want to tie our hands for too long in that sense because we're pretty comfortable with how (Kolten) Wong is progressing. We think he will contribute in the near future."
Wong, 21, was the Cardinals' first-round draft pick in 2011 (22nd overall). The left-handed hitter began Saturday batting .296 with 12 doubles, four triples, seven home runs, 37 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 87 games at Class AA Springfield.
Any transaction the Cardinals might make to add a position player would likely be minor. A right-handed-hitting outfielder who could play center for Jon Jay against left-handed pitching could be an option, as could a reliever.
"There's not a ton of flexibility," Mozeliak said. "Now, perhaps we could look at the bench and try to see if we can improve that. But I don't think that's really going to change the look of our team."
Mozeliak said teams that currently are in selling mode might settle for lesser prospects as the deadline approaches. That would help facilitate deals being made in the days leading up to July 31.
The Cardinals will wait and listen to any offers.
"Our job is to just sort of look at ways we can try to improve this club that we think make sense for us not only on the short term, but on long term," Mozeliak said. "That's how we pursue it every year."