Rumor Mill: Cardinals and Rockies keep producing smoke. Is there any fire?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on December 29, 2012 

Suddenly the Cardinals are causing some buzz on the trade market rumor mills.

The two biggest rumors revolve around the Colorado Rockies. And I am not sure I see how either one of them would work.

The first involves Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, maybe the best offensive middle infielder in baseball. But it's hard to imagine a trade to St. Louis because Tulowitzki has a huge, long term, back-loaded contract that would threaten to capsize the Cardinals budget. Second, he's a big risk because he suffered a terrible groin injury last season that took a huge bite out of his playing time.

The other rumor involves outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, the guy the Rockies traded for when Matt Holliday couldn't be signed to a contract extension. It probably got its start thanks to ESPN commentator Jim Bowden's suggestion that the Redbirds trade Jon Jay and pitching prospects Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal to Colorado for CarGo.

That deal is more financially palatable. But I haven't figured out why the Cardinals would want two left fielders. Gonzalez has played some center. But he's played twice as much in left and seems to be more comfortable there. The Birds counted on Jay's fleet feet to cover as much ground as possible since Holliday isn't a particularly speedy guy and Carlos Beltran has been slowed by knee injuries and age.

Gonzalez is still a young man. But his hitting statistics have faded the last two seasons. And his average of 24 homers a year isn't very exciting for a guy who plays 81 games a campaign at Coors Field. Regardless of how good Gonzalez is, I don't think I would be very excited about giving up the massive amount of talent Bowden suggests if I was Cardinals GM John Mozeliak.

Colorado, meanwhile, has been said to be looking for "established major league pitching" in trade conversations with other teams. The only starter the Cardinals have who would fit that bill is the mediocre Jake Westbrook, although I suppose a case could be made that the ground ball producing Westbrook might be a good fit in Coors Field. Jaime Garcia's questionable health likely makes him much less appealing to a potential trade partner and Lance Lynn only has one full season under his belt.

Other rumors surround the concept of the Cardinals trying to add a shortstop. I've heard both J.J. Hardy and Jimmy Rollins mentioned as possible trade targets. Rollins has a ridiculous contract and has been fading, batting only .250 last season with a .316 on base percentage in 156 games for Philadelphia. He has a contract that pays the 34-year-old Rollins $11 million each of the next two seasons with a very attainable option for a third year at $11 million in 2015.

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