Purveyors of latest St. Louis Cardinals trade rumors should be institutionalized

Posted by Scott Wuerz on June 20, 2014 

The Internet was supposed to be a fantastic place where we could all learn anything we wanted to know in seconds by tapping into an endless supply of resources.

Unfortunately, the disinformation, speculation, outright lies, and other static have almost completely wiped out the benefits of the Information Superhighway. And, while it seems pretty cool to have access to every story about major league baseball at your fingertips, the amount of made up garbage that spews forth makes me miss the days where all I knew about the St. Louis Cardinals came from an a.m. radio.

The latest attempt of some blogger in his parents' basement to make a name for himself is the completely fabricated rumor that the Cardinals are on the verge of trading their three best young players to Tampa Bay for a year and a half of David Price and the right to assume Evan Longoria's nine-figure contract.

I can find no hint of this on any legitimate media source. And, with absolutely no journalistic credentials claim to have "insider information," it's pretty hard to believe the tap of information is open to them -- but not to anyone who is actually paid to collect information. The Cardinals have been known to collect cell phones of staff members in their efforts to prevent information from leaking to the media before their ready to release it. So who is in a position to know intimately about this alleged trade who wouldn't mind losing their job when it becomes obvious that they're the leaker?

While anything is possible in baseball, as evidenced by the fact that the Anaheim Angels shipped Jim Edmonds to the Cardinals for Kent Bottenfield, this is about as implausible thing as I can imagine.

 

Regardless of the balance of talent in the deal, the complete lack of equity in terms of money makes the deal a non-starter.

Longoria is in the first season of a 6-year, $100-million contract that will pay him about $96 million over the next 5 2/3 seasons. Presuming that Price, a guy who has one Cy Young Under his belt and one second-place finish to his credit, thinks he deserves at least as much as the home town discount contract Adam Wainwright got from the Cardinals, that means the Redbirds would swap three players who combine to earn less than $1.5 million this season for two $100 million contracts.

And that's the sunny outlook. I am guessing that Price, who has one Cy Young Award on his trophy shelf and one second place finish under his belt probably thinks he deserves a pretty healthy contract. He could ask for SUBSTANTIALLY more than $100 million and force the Cardinals to either overpay or let him walk. Ending up in that position is the kind of thing that gets general managers fired and they generally avoid it like the plague.

Price has been forced by Tampa Bay to work on year-to-year contracts because they know they can't afford to sign him to the type of contract he's going to command. But, through arbitration, he's earned more than $25 million already. So it's not like he's going to be desperate to sign the first contract placed on the table in front of him. He's made it this far toward free agency. Why not hold out and let egomaniacal MLB owners fall all over themselves to offer him ridiculous amounts of money? Excuse me, Mr. Price. Arte Moreno is on line two...

Beyond the money, these players are both 28. While Longoria's contract could be viewed as relatively reasonable since it only pays him through his age 33 season, Price is in a spot where a six-year contract singed after he hits free agency would pay him until he's 36. That's pretty shaky territory for a guy that's logged a lot of innings early in his career.

Price hurled well over 200 frames in three consecutive seasons before suffering through some health issues last year that limited him to 186 2/3 innings. This season Price is putting up ridiculous strikeout numbers with 121 whiffs compared to 10 walks. A 12:1 strikeouts to walks ratio! But there are reasons to believe there are cracks in his armor. He's given up 15 homers already this season, one shy of his total each of the past two years. And this season isn't even halfway over yet. He's on a pace to shatter his previous high of 22 homers allowed in 2011.

One of the reasons the Cardinals would presumably acquire a top starting pitcher -- despite the fact that they have one of the statistically best rotations in baseball, is because they'd like to better their top three for upcoming post season battles. It makes little sense to deduct one of those top three, Wacha, for the purpose of adding another piece to the puzzle. When the dust settles, you've missed your target of assembling three top starters.

Besides, Price has been generally terrible in the post season over the course of his career. He's 1-4 with a 5.06 ERA in five October series. The one win came in a relief appearance all the way back in 2008. Compare that to Wacha who flips Price's stats completely. He's 4-1 in the playoffs with a 2.64 ERA. He had one clunker start in the World Series. But, besides that, he was brilliant. Wacha helped the Cardianals stave off elimination in the NLDS against Pittsburgh on the road with an amazing start in which he allowed one run on one hit over 7 1/3 innings while Pirates fans taunted and harassed him.

It was a performance for the ages and the minting of the next great Cardinals pitcher. But we're to believe the club is going to give him up less than a year later? It's the life blood of a mid market team to develop its own talent. This is the business model that the Redbirds have been pushing since Walt Jocketty was fired six years ago and to trade Taveras, Wacha and Wong would be wadding up the business model that almost every club in the majors has tried to copy and throw it into the trash.

To get down to some of the finer strokes, I get that if the Cardinals traded Wong they could move Matt Carpenter back to second base to create room. But what happens with Jhonny Peralta?

The Redbirds were fairly candid in their assessment that Peralta's days at shortstop were number and he was likely to finish the second half of his four-year deal at third base. If Longoria is at third base, that's not going to happen. And the Birds are going to have a pretty pricy pinch hitter in 2016.

The Cardinals only signed Peralta because they didn't want to trade Taveras in a blatant overpay to fill their obvious need at shortstop. So now we're supposed to believe they're going to dump him for two players who don't fill important needs for this club.

The only way I could see the Cardinals trading Taveras is if they could deal him and a lower level pitcher (Miller, Carlos Martinez or Lance Lynn as opposed to Wacha) to land Giancarlo Stanton. But that's not going to happen with the Miami Marlins in the thick of the National League East race. I don't know if I would give up just Taveras and Wong for Longoria, Price and a whole pile of money if I were the St. Louis general manager.

I sure hope the Cardinals don't do any of this. It would be so disappointing to wait, excitedly, for all this young talent to arrive in the big leagues only to pull the plug right as it's all on the verge of coming together.

It seems fairly obvious that this is all based on circumstantial evidence include the false premise that sending Oscar Taveras back to the minors meant, somehow, that the Cardinals have given up on him and that the decision to rest Wacha Sunday was because the team was on the verge of trading him and didn't want him to be injured while plying his trade.

I guess that's a lot more exciting than the truth that Taveras can be prevented from reaching Super 2 status with a couple of more weeks in the minors and Wacha needed to tap the brakes because he was on a pace to pitch 250 innings this year.

The sad part is that when people spout ridiculous fabrications, some people believe it and the false rumors spread like wildfire.

Thanks, Internet.

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