Cards may be better off not making a deal

July 29, 2013 

About a month ago, I wrote a blog suggested that the Cardinals go after Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy to add some beef to the front of their rotation for the playoff push.

But, as things seem to go in major league baseball, the market has spiraled completely out of control. The Pale Hose seem to be under the delusion that they're going to get three top prospects for a pitcher who seems to spend as much time on the disabled list as he does in the rotation.

I thought, at the time, Peavy might be a relative bargain. He was out of action with a rib cage injury. So he had to be cheaper than Cubs trade bait Matt Garza, right? As it turns out ... not so much.

It made my blood run cold last week when I read a Chicago Tribune report that claimed the White Sox had turned down an offer of one of St. Louis' top pitching prospects, Carlos Martinez, in exchange for mediocre shortstop Alexei Ramirez.

If a 32-year-old shortstop with a .309 on-base percentage and two years left on his contract that averages $10 million a year costs a top pitching prospect, I shudder to think what a starting pitcher goes for. The Cardinals' top three prospects and general manager John Mozeliak's right arm?

If that's the case, to heck with it. There are very few players on MLB rosters whom I would be willing to trade the top prospects in the Cardinals system to get. I sincerely doubt that many of those guys are even available.

So, while I am typically in the corner of trading unproven prospects for veteran talent (within reason), this does not seem to be a time of reasonability.

Maybe the Redbirds would be better off scaling back plans to add a No. 2 starter and a shortstop. Instead they should try to bolster their bullpen and go with what they have for the playoffs.

The emergence of Joe Kelly as a legitimate starting pitcher has stabilized the starting five for the regular season. If the Cardinals could get a dominant righty bullpenner or two, maybe they could make like Tony La Russa and use the weaker starters for four or five innings, then pull the plug at the first sign of trouble.

I was shocked to see the Redbirds bring up Marc Rzepczynski after his exile to the minors. But, if he is effective, the Cardinals could potentially have a seven-man bullpen with three lefties and two righties that would allow the team to drive the opponents (and opponents' fans) nuts by making a call to the bullpen twice an inning in the second half of the game. In a short series, they could probably send the fifth starter to the bullpen to be an eighth reliever.

A closer might be ideal because his acquisition would push Edward Mujica back to the seventh inning where he has spent most of his career. But, failing that, ESPN reports that the Padres have put the for sale sign out in their bullpen where Luke Gregerson (2.98 ERA, 42 1/3 IP, 35 hits, 37 strikeouts and 9 walks) and Dale Thayer (2.66 ERA, 47 1/3 IP, 38 H, 47 strikeouts and 16 walks) currently toil.

Maybe the Redbirds could get one or both of them for "second tier" prospects instead of Martinez or Michael Wacha. But, if not, I would rather see the club hang on to the best crop of young pitchers it has had since Steve Carlton was a youngster instead of giving them away on mediocre talent that doesn't even make the team that much better over the short haul.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at 239-2626 or at swuerz@bnd.com. You can find his Cardinals fan blog "View From the Cheap Seats" daily at www.bnd.com/cheapseats. Follow @scottwuerz on Twitter.

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