The more the Cardinals wallow at the .500 mark, the more convinced I am that a return of players from the disabled list isn't the answer to their problems.
Like in 2011, I think the Redbirds are going to need to make at least one significant deal to try to right their wrongs.
The most obvious problem the team has is that the bullpen is just terrible and inconsistent. But trading for relievers might not be the answer to all its pitching woes. Why? Because the starting rotation is very fragile with Chris Carpenter already missing three months at least, Jaime Garcia's season in doubt and Adam Wainwright racking up the innings pitched in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
I think General Manager John Mozeliak needs to try to find a starting pitcher and at least two relievers if he can -- a lefty and a righty stopper.
What the Birds have to offer:
Their most valuable chip they can afford to part with is likely slugging first baseman Matt Adams. Adams hasn't played as much with the return of Allen Craig from the disabled list. And, while he represents valuable depth, he doesn't likely project as a starter for the Cardinals in the near future. It's not because Adams isn't talented. But even if Lance Berkman doesn't come back next season, Adams doesn't have a place to play. Allen Craig is most likely to play first base with Carlos Beltran in right and Matt Holliday in left. If the Birds could deal Adams for quality pitching -- underline "quality" -- they would probably be smart to make the move.
The club could also part with some of their young power arms to acquire more steady and experienced talent. Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez are basically the same guy. They have wicked stuff. But they don't always know where it's going. They strike out a lot of people. But they walk way too many, too.
I don't know if I am ready to give up on him yet. But the Birds may be more open to offers for Shelby Miller than they were in years past. Miller is still a valuable prospect. But he has struggled in Class AAA because he's lost some velocity on his fastball while struggling to get outs with his secondary pitches. This is by no means an irreversible situation. But if the Birds were blown out of the water with an offer, they would have to at least consider it.