St. Louis Cardinals fans who were personally attached to traded players Allen Craig and Joe Kelly aren't the only ones fretting the trade that sent the duo to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for John Lackey.
Some national baseball pundits are criticizing the Redbirds for giving up way too much for an aging hurler.
USA Today writer Non Nightengale was on KMOX Thursday in the wake of the trade. He said he didn't understand how the Cardinals could give up two players he considers to be cornerstones of the franchise in exchange for a starting pitcher who is 35 years old with a limited future.
Nightengale said he thought St. Louis pulled the plug on Craig, one of the best run producers in baseball over the previous few years, too soon. But he seemed to think the real loss was the subtraction of Joe Kelly who he said was a legitimate third starter in the big leagues who was under team control for several years.
ESPN quoted Boston GM Ben Cherrington as saying that the Red Sox have coveted Kelly for a long time and that they think he is going to be a core part of their starting rotation for years to come. That seems to be a much higher opinion of Kelly than the Cardinals have had the last two seasons.
Last year the Cardinals buried Kelly in the bullpen and seemingly explored every option before giving him a chance to fill in following several starters being injured. Once in the rotation, Kelly was fantastic. But he was back to battling for a job in spring training. After her missed two months with a hamstring pull, the Redbirds seemed oddly uncommitted to Kelly's future by publicly considering putting him back in the bullpen.
Some of the folks who seem to support the trade cite getting rid of Craig's contract as a huge benefit.
But, oddly, those who don't like the deal say Craig was a steal because of a team-friendly paycheck. He makes $5.5 million next season, $9 million in 2016 and $11 Million in 2017. By major league standards, that isn't exactly an albatross of a contract. Especially next season when he'll make about the same amount of money the Cardinals shelled out to sign back-up second baseman Mark Ellis.
Boston leaders told the media they think Craig's swing still looks good and that he'll regain his productive performance next season. They subscribe to the theory that the lingering effects of his late season ankle/foot injury have messed up his mechanics instead of the idea that he's somehow over the hill at 30.