With the remainder of the season in doubt for both Troy Glaus and Khalil Greene, it's time for the Cardinals to finally step up and spend some of their war chest on reinforcements.
Sure, they're in first place. But does anyone really believe the team is going to hold on to its lead without help? The magic in Joe Thurston and Brian Barden's bats has seemed to dry up. And, even at their best, those career minor league journeymen aren't going to do anything to force major league pitchers from walking Albert Pujols.
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General Manager John Mozeliak even said he believes the team could use reinforcements if doctors say it looks like Glaus isn't going to be able to return. So let's get a move on. The Cardinals have a bad reputation in this arena. They have promised to be aggressive over the off season and at the trade deadline the last two years, but they have done very, very little.
I don't agree with that policy. The Cardinals overachieved in 2008 and were hopeful for reinforcements in July that never came. The disappointment for the players was so thick you could cut it with a knife. It was obvious that it caused the team to unravel.
Before the All-Star Game, the Cardinals played .552 baseball. Afterward they were only a .500 team. The Redbirds won four of five games in the days before the trade deadline. On deadline day and over the next week and a half, the Cardinals lost 7 of 11 and they couldn't mount a charge for the rest of the year as they quickly fell out of contention, pushed aside by the surging Cubs and Brewers.
The 2008 team was in first place as late as May 25, and the parallels between that team and the current edition are startling. That squad sank because of a lack of a slugger to support Albert Pujols and a lack of pitching depth. And this team has the same need.
So, don't make the same mistake twice. Mo.
I know it's going to be tough to find someone on the trade market who is a legit cleanup bat but who won't cost a bunch of cash and a bunch of prospects. But whose fault it that? When you had the chance to get a player on the free agent market or to engineer and off season deal for Matt Holliday, you passed.
I don't want to hear about the need to hang onto prospects or the lack of money, either.
The Cardinals have more outfield prospects than they could ever fit onto the roster. Bryan Anderson is bogged down at Class AAA Memphis... And as far as the cash goes, the Birds are $11 million below their 2008 payroll level -- which allowed them a healthy profit even before they raised ticket prices during the offseason. Despite the gloom and doom attendance projections, the team is already over the 3 million tickets sold mark and seems a shoe in to hit the 3.2 million level or better by the end of the year.
Bottom line is that the team could afford any player that would be available this side of Alex Rodriguez.
If they truly want to show the fans that they want to win. this is the opportunity. The foundation for a division winner and pennant competitor is on the roster. A big gun or two could make all the difference. Besides, let's not forget that Mr. Pujols is watching, Cardinals. And he wants to know, do you plan to do everything you can to win or not?