Yesterday I mentioned that I thought Colby Rasmus may be more valuable to the Cardinals as trade bait than he is as a centerfielder.
And, after last night's blow up in Washington, I'm wondering if it might be time for St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak to get on the horn to try to use his prized outfielder to try to plug the Titanic-sized hole in the Birds' bullpen.
My suggestion is that Mozeliak jingle his San Diego counterpart to see if he can't put together a deal that would bring Padres closer Heath Bell to the shadows of the Gateway Arch.
Bell has 18 saves and has allowed only 22 hits in 29 inning pitched, which would be huge gust of fresh air for a bullpen whose current closer has managed one 1-2-3 ninth inning so far this season. But the real beauty of a Bell deal is that it wouldn't just improve the Birds in the ninth inning -- it would bump current closer Fernando Salas to an eighth inning role and current set up guy Eduardo Sanchez would be available for the seventh inning. Best of all, Miguel Batista could be sent packing while Mitchell Boggs, the two lefties left when the dust settles and Jason Motte would be available for sixth inning duty.
Now, I am not suggesting the birds ship Colby Rasmus to San Diego for a half season rental of Bell. As I mentioned yesterday, I would like to see a deal along the lines of the one that send J.D. Drew to the Braves for a major league starter, a major league reliever and a pitching prospect.
San Diego has a need for offensive talent as well as some star power after dealing home town hero Adrian Gonzalez to Boston last winter, so Rasmus would be a valuable commodity to the Padres. The biggest problem is that they really don't have a veteran lefty in the bullpen with a long track record of success.
But they do have second year lefty Cory Luebke (he pitched in four games last year) who is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA out of the Pad's pen. He's allowed 23 hits in 34 innings and has struck out 36 hitters while walking 12. He's held lefties to a .170 batting average this year. But righties don't exactly beat him up, either. He's held them to a .216 batting average which would give the Birds a level of flexibility they currently don't have in the bullpen.
I'm not sure who the third man would be. But the Padres have a ton of young arms. So there ought to be a match with a pitcher. I would love to see it be a guy who is a capable of filling in should the Cardinals lose one of their current starters to injury. But it might pay off in the long run to dig a little deeper into their system and find a pitching prospect.
Jon Jay and Skp Schumaker could split centerfield unless one of them proved to be dominant in the competition with the odd man out becoming the fourth outfielder. The return of David Freese and Nick Punto will allow Daniel Descalso and Punto to join the second base picture which could be handled by Tyler Greene and Schumaker until then.
Rasmus' upside would be gone. But so would his flakiness, his lack of hustle and his divisive nature. In it's place would be a bullpen that stop blowing huge leads. The Cardinals offense will be better than it has been with the return of Holliday and Freese. And the pitching will be in a better position to hold the leads it is given.