Three Bats the Cardinals should Target

Trey Mancini, Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles stink.  That’s a simple fact.  They are going nowhere and need to be in full rebuild mood.  One of their few assets is 1B/OF Trey Mancini should be available and can make an immediate impact in the middle of the Cardinals lineup.  Mancini has an impressive stat line of .281/.340/.500, most notably is the slugging percentage.  The Cardinals have ranked in the bottom of the league in Slug and Isolated power all season.  

Adding power is a need for the Cardinals and Mancini fills in that need.  The Orioles will take pretty much any prospects you can offer, they need everything so you can offer anything.

Eric Sogard, Toronto Blue Jays

Eric Sogard is not a flashy name by any means, but he is a solid major league player that has been hitting all season.  Sogard was an afterthought in the offseason when the Blue Jays signed him but slow starts and injuries from their starters forced the veteran into service and he has rewarded them with a .371OBP and a 2.1 WAR from a guy that no one wanted.  

Sogard has shown some surprising power in 2019 hitting 10 homers in 2019 which is one shy of his career total. Sogard,33, is not a new kid on the block but he is currently in the middle of a career season and can fill in a slot at the beginning of the order. The leadoff spot has been a problem all season for St. Louis, adding Sogard would give them a player that has an .883 OPS when batting first.  Sogard’s price tag will be moderate as he is 33-year-old journeymen.  Worth a prospect just outside of your top 20. 

Eduardo Escobar, Arizona Diamondbacks

I am a fan of Eduardo Escobar; I was hoping St. Louis would take a run at the switching hitting utility man. Escobar has quietly put up great numbers for the Diamondbacks launching 19 homers and has a .879OPS.  Escobar will fill in nicely for the injured Matt Carpenter providing the power that Carpenter has not shown during 2019 and his ability to play multiple positions will allow Mike Schildt to utilize his other assets. 

Escobar also has a serviceable contract at 3year-$21million. The Diamondbacks have seen what the young Cardinals can do with two impact players Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver already on the roster, so you know they have spent time scouting the Cardinals system. Escobar is an impact bat without the impact notoriety.

MLB Trade Deadline

Best

Dodgers- Manny Machado, Brian Dozier

With Corey Seager out for the season the Dodgers needed to find a replacement at shortstop.  Playing Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez are better utilized in a play anywhere and everywhere role. Adding Manny Machado gave them a player with huge upside, while his defense is suspect he right away can be placed in the middle of the Dodgers order making an impact.  With the Diamondbacks hot on their heels in the National League West it was fair to assume that the Dodgers brass didn’t want to rely on the bats on Max Muncy and rejuvenated Matt Kemp.

The Dodgers also added more depth to their middle infield adding veteran second baseman Brian Dozier.  Dozier, whose name has come up around the deadline for what seems like the last century will finally be placed on a team that is ready and willing to do what it takes to compete for a championship.

Yankees- J.A. Happ, Zach Britton, Lance Lynn, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees had a few holes to fill going into the trade deadline.  Starting pitching was the biggest need.  They filled it without giving up their top tier prospects.  While J.A. Happ doesn’t have the sexy stats you may want to see in New York he does bring a valuable asset.  He can beat the Red Sox. Since 2015, Happ, a 35-year-old lefty, has one of the lowest ERAs at 1.78 among starters vs. the Red Sox. This season alone in two starts vs. the Red Sox Happ has allowed only one run in 10 2/3 innings pitched.  The Yankees were also able to add a veteran starter Lance Lynn who can eat up innings down the stretch allowing your dominate bullpen to get rest during the dog days of August.

The under publicized move to add Luke Voit can end up being an impact for the Yankees.  With the injury to Aaron Judge the Yankees will have a small void to fill for a few weeks.  Voit allows the Yankees to place power back in their lineup.  Will he be Aaron Judge? No that’s not fair but he can supply a right handed bat to platoon at DH and 1st base for the time being.  Oh… Zach Britton also joins a bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and Delin Betances.  That’s not to shabby.

Worst

Astros- Roberto Osuna

I am not a believer in getting involved in the personal issues of professional athletes, this one is hard to ignore.  Roberto Osuna is an extremely talented reliever with huge upside now and in the future but this seems like a buy low move from an organization that has openly stated they have zero tolerance against domestic abuse.  Osuna makes them stronger on the field but has a chance to cause some issues in the locker room.  Team leader Justin Verlander has already openly made a statement against the move which right away could cause a rift between new teammates.  I understand Osuna’s talent and every person should have a second chance in life if they truly regret what they have done but this move I cannot agree with.  The Astros are a classy organization with respectable players.  If any team can handle some controversy then it would be this team, but why bring it??

Mariners- Zach Duke, Sam Tuivailala, Adam Warren

Jerry Dipoto loves to make trades.  In fact a strongly believe that during his time off he plays fantasy mode on MLB the Show just so he can make more trades.  He reminds me of the guy in your fantasy football league that will offer you a trade every week that makes no sense for you or him.  He just can’t help himself.  When evaluating his moves I focused more on the actual moves made closer to the deadline.  The pickup of Denard Span and Alex Colome were very good but a little early for our rating system. Adding three arms to the bullpen was a sound strategy for a team looking to make a run right now, but it doesn’t really get you over the hump against the beasts of the east.  Juan Nicasio’s offseason signing has turned out to be a bust as he currently sits with an ERA way to close to six but Sam Tuivailala and Adam Warren are not two guys that are battle tested enough to fill in that need.  Zach Duke has been a consistent performer in his major league career but are you really going to trust him in the middle innings of a playoff game to get a big out….nope.  These moves have make the playoffs all over them but the Mariners were likely to do that anyway.  They don’t put them any closer to the World Series.

 

Surprising-

Brewers- Mike Moustakas, Jonathon Schoop

I am trying to understand the moves that the Brewers made during the deadline and I have come up with this…they are going to try and out slug everyone.  Continually their starting pitching has been questioned.  After the injury to Brent Suter all eyes were watching for what potential starting pitcher was going to be headed to Milwaukee.  Instead they added two players that bring the boom stick with them.  Adding Schoop and Moose to a lineup that already features one of the best home run hitters in the league, Jesus Aguilar, makes their lineup up one of the most vicious the NL has seen in years. I guess who needs starting pitching when you can potentially put up 12 runs a game.

Pirates- Chris Archer, Keone Kela

No much was expected of the 2018 Pittsburgh Pirates.  An offseason of change saw veteran franchise faces Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole moved in what seemed like the beginning of a rebuild in the steel city.  Sitting 3.5 games back in the NL Wildcard race and seeing their young stars emerge into the roles they had envisioned has inspired the front office to make moves that are not only bold but uncharacteristic of the organization. Picking up Keone Kela to match up with All- Star Felipe Vasquez as already a noteworthy move.  Then out of nowhere the blockbuster deal getting long time Ace Chris Archer from the Rays caught the entire league off guard.  The Pirates have decided they are very close to being a true contender for years to come and they proved it today.

 

Final thoughts

St. Louis needed to go young in the outfield.  Welcome to the majors Tyler O’Neil.

Tampa Bay may have the craftiest front office in all of baseball.  Austin Meadows can hit.

Braves bullpen got much better.  O’Day and Brach are going to help them win the East.

Poor Nationals

 

 

Time to sell. Is that a bad thing?

The Cardinals stepped into the second half taking a glass is half full approach.  By moving on from Mike Matheny all their problems would magically dissapear.  The bullpen would pitch better, Ozuna and Fowler would start hitting, the defense would play error free.  After just six games they realized that not only was the glass half empty but it has been thrown to the ground and shattered.

Sitting five games back in the Wild Card is an illusion of potential for a team that has lost its way.  While they only sit five games back they have to jump two teams in their own division just to make case for the second spot. It is time to open their eyes and see that this is a team that has to find a new direction.  I wrote a piece earlier in the month talking about the potential of trading “ace” Carlos Martinez in hopes to have a return that can set them up for future success.  While it is unlikely that they move on from Martinez they have to see that it is time move the pieces that are not going to be a part of the future.   Players like Jedd Gyroko, Jose Martinez, Kolten Wong,  Tommy Pham and Bud Norris have to be put on the trade block.  Each one of these players have friendly contracts and assets that can intrigue true contending teams.

Players like Jedd, Jose and Kolten may not bring you high valued prospects in return, but  they can allow the team to open up spots for young talent. Players that are ready in the minors like Patrick Wisdom and Tyler O’Neil need to be called up and put into bench roles while Yairo Munoz and Harrison Bader should be given the chance to play everyday to see what they can bring to the table on a day to day basis.  The players that can bring you the most value on the market like Bud Norris and Tommy Pham should be moved in order to restock your system with top 15 potential players.

So why not move your hottest hitter Matt Carpenter or your bad contract Dexter Fowler or your “big” offseason pickup Marcell Ozuna?

Carpenter is the player you have to build around, moving him full time to first base is your best option and can bring you stability to work around for your infield.

Fowler’s contract will most surely be impossible to move.  The reality is that you have to put him on the bench and try and find a suitor in the offseason that will help you take on some of his salary (Very Unlikely).

Ozuna is injured.  He has little to no value at the moment unless you want to sell low.  Shut him down and let him go fix his shoulder injury.  If you would like to move him next season before he becomes a free agent then look into it then.  He has to much potential as a great trade piece when he is fully healthy.

It’s hard for a front office to admit that the season is a bust.  I am not admitting that it is a bust yet, but what the organization is putting on the field is not one that can make it to the playoffs let alone compete in an extremely competitive 2018 National League Central.  Let the young kids come up and see what kind of impact they bring.  Being a seller at the deadline does not admit defeat it can show a better understanding of your personal.  This team needs a change, they need fresh faces beyond Mike Shildt.  Let the young guys play and see if it can turn things around.  Use Poncdeleon, Gomber and eventually Dakota Hudson in the bullpen if their is not a spot in the rotation.  Let Bader get as many at bats as he can and see if he changes your team dynamic.  Cardinals fans may not like the idea of “selling” but they will have to understand that sometimes selling just means admitting your mistakes.   Everyone can accept that.

Paul DeJong, changing Cardinals needs

The St. Louis Cardinals currently sit four games out of the Central Division.  A team riding the proverbial roller coaster all season has kept themselves relevant despite having to make adjustments to the lineup all season.  The early struggles of lineup mainstays like Marcell Ozuna and Matt Carpenter had fans voicing their displeasure with management.  They shouted from the rooftops about trading away the young arms for a rental slugger like Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson.  As the Cardinals prepare to enter July they may end up receiving a power upgrade that will cost them no prospects.

Paul DeJong has targeted a return to the lineup around the All-Star break.  DeJong will instantly bring more power into a lineup that has begun to produce at more levels.  DeJong’s development as a hitter cannot be ignored.  While strikeouts are still a problem that is impossible to ignore, DeJong has increased his walk rate.  Through 108 games last season DeJong walked just 21 times. Before his injury in just 41 games he has walked 16 times raising his walk percentage by almost 5%. DeJong’s injury also allowed more at bats for Yairo Munoz, allowing him to establish himself as a major league player.

When comparing DeJong to both Machado and Donaldsons advanced analytics the differences are not what you may think. Donaldson’s numbers are nearly identical to DeJong, while  Manny Machado’s are not earth shattering in comparison, in fact they are very comparable if played out over a full season of the season.

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Machado Advanced Stats

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DeJong Advanced Stats

Machado’s advanced numbers with nearly double the at bats compare favorably to DeJong’s with no clear advantage.  Machado brings with him the intrigue of a marquee name, but does not bring the clear offensive advantages. The Cardinals also do not have to deal with the distraction of what to do with Machado at the end of the season.  They can focus on their current needs.

That brings me to what the Cardinals need to have their focus on, the bullpen.  Bud Norris and Jordan Hicks have cemented themselves in the backend of the pen but the need for help is still relevant. Padres closer Brad Hand sits at the top of the list for most contending teams, the price for him will be very high for the Cardinals.  They will most likely look at the second left handed reliever option Zach Britton.  Britton’s 2018 has not been great but he brings late inning experience as well as experience against high level opponents while playing in the American League East.

If the Orioles are being stubborn about the value of Britton, the Cardinals should take a look at a guy they let walk away in the offseason, Zack Duke.  The Minnesota Twins have not been able to put it together in 2018, they have a few assets on their roster that may be available when the trade deadline hits.  Duke has been extremely effective versus lefties in during the 2018 season allowing just a .184 average.  While it may seem crazy to “backtrack” on a reliever that they could have resigned in the offseason, Duke will be low cost both in trade value and contact cost.

If the Twins believe they are still in contention for some reason the next potential suitor would be Alex Claudio of the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers have a long rebuild ahead of them, a left-handed reliever will not help them long term.  Claudio has tons of value with his abilities to get out left handed hitters, similarly to Britton, Claudio has the experience in the late innings.

Cardinals fans want management to make a big move, but they have to understand that they have an impact player ready to make his return without costing the team any of their prospects.  Fill the needs that make sense, go out and get yourself the bullpen help that can cement you as a playoff team.  Fans have to see that it makes more sense to fill the bullpen need rather then bank on a big name for half a season.