Cheap Seats

Would it make sense for Cardinals to pursue Giancarlo Stanton?

It doesn't make a lot of sense in some ways.

After all, the Cardinals are already paying good money to their corner outfielders in 2013 and they have another hot prospect that plays that position on the verge of the major leagues.

But, as they say during the NFL draft, sometimes you have to take the best talent available. So how could the Birds pass it up if they had a chance to jump into the Miami fire sale and pick up Giancarlo Stanton?

The kid is 22 years old and he's already got two seasons of 34 or more home runs under his belt. He strikes out like crazy. But he's got a .270 career batting average and a .350 on base percentage with a huge upside in that department. And, because he's only played three mlb seasons, he's cheap.

So wouldn't it make sense in the big picture to pick Stanton up if he could be had?

The Cardinals could try to trade Carlos Beltran and open up Stanton's usual position -- or they could just count on the fact that Beltran's going to only play 120 games at the very most and that if Matt Holliday plays 140, you've already found half a season worth of at bats for him in a corner outfield rotation.

The Birds could project Holliday in left, Stanton in right and top prospect Oscar Tavares in centerfield in 2014 -- if not sooner.

The problem when trying to acquire premium talent is that the team you're dealing with is going to want to get top prospects in return. As I have said before, I would not give up Tavares, second base prospect Kolten Wong or young pitchers Rosenthal, Kelly, Carlos Martinez and probably not Shelby Miller in any deal. But that doesn't mean there still isn't a lot left to deal.

For starters, Matt Adams might be appealing to the Marlins as a regular first baseman on a young, rebuilding team. He has significant power potential and could become a team centerpiece for several years. There's Lance Lynn, who won 18 games last season and who is cheap to be a significant piece of the rotation. He's seemingly not very popular with his Cardinals team mates and the front office after he pouted in 2012 upon being removed from the starting rotation. And then there is centerfield Jon Jay. He'd be expendable if Tavares was starting in centerfield. And he might have special appeal to Miami.

The Marlins, who have alienated every free agent with other options and most of their fan base by signing big money players last year and then trading them after making assurances that they wouldn't, may take a positive step in the public relations department by acquiring Jay. He's a Miami area native who starred at the University of Miami during his college days.

Jay isn't a centerpiece. But he is a guy who might become a fan favorite and put a few people in the seats of the new Miami ballpark.

So... I think an 18-game winner in the majors who is cheap, a starting centerfielder with strong local ties and a slugging first baseman who has 80 homers in the high minors over the last three years and a .318 batting average might be a pretty good start on a Stanton trade.

The final reason to make the deal is that the guys the Birds would be trading are basically surplus parts. The most difficult to lose would be Jay who is arguably the least valuable of the three. Allen Craig seems to have written his name in permanent marker on the lineup card at first base, Tavares is the top prospect in the Cardinals system and will be looking for a place to start in 2014 -- if he isn't ready earlier than that. And Lynn is probably the odd man out in the rotation picture if Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter are healthy at the top of the rotation. Jake Westbrook is guaranteed the third spot by virtue of his new contract and a reportedly healthy Jaime Garcia, and youngsters Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal will fight for the last two openings with the other two guys working in the bullpen.