The St. Louis Cardinals currently rank third in the NL Central, sitting two games back of the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates. And with their current lineup, it doesn’t seem likely that the Cards will overcome that deficit.
Before the deadline last year, GM John Mozeliak made a few trades to strengthen what was one of the worst bullpens in the league. The moves paid off, pushing the Cardinals into the NL wild-card spot, where they played their best ball of the year and won the franchise’s eleventh World Series title.
A few moves like the previous season could be the key to the Red Birds’ success after the all-star break.
St. Louis went 14-8 with an ERA of 2.61 in the month of April. In May, however, their performance significantly declined, posting a record of 13-16 and a 4.72 ERA. The Cardinals are currently one game above .500.
Injuries have hit a catastrophic level for the team. Recently, OF Matt Holiday sat out two games, and SP Jaime Garcia was placed on the 15-day DL. Additionally, the Cardinals have had to deal with the losses of SP Chris Carpenter, 1B/OF Lance Berkman, OF John Jay, 1B/OF Matt Carpenter and OF/2B Skip Schumacher. It’s tough to maintain any kind of regular day lineup with that many players inactive.
The problem is that so many of the Cardinals’ versatile players are out. Ordinarily, it’s Berkman and Schumacher who are moved around the field to fill in for hurt players. With so many guys out, especially the ones who can play anywhere, it’s tough to stay successful.
“Would I like to see us more consistent? No question,” said Manager Mike Matheny.
Youkilis could be a great addition for St. Louis with his ability to play all over the place. Youkilis could support rookie Matt Adams at first or Adron Chambers and Shane Robinson in the outfield. Adams, Chambers and Robinson were moved up from AAA Memphis for the Cards, but aside from Adams, their offensive production is lacking. Chambers and Robinson are each hitting right around .215 in the big leagues.
St. Louis is still highly ranked in the MLB in almost every hitting category, so pitching may be the point of emphasis for Mozeliak in late July. Last season, there were talks of Houston Astros' SP Wandy Rodriguez making the move to St. Louis, and a lefty arm is exactly what the Cardinals will need with Garcia out. The Astros are going to be “sellers” yet again this season, but Rodriguez’s contract may be too expensive for the move to pay off; $23 million over the next two years is a little pricey for a 3.27 ERA.
A much cheaper solution would be SP Edinson Volquez of the San Diego Padres, who makes just $2.2 million a year. Come mid-July, the Padres will be on the verge of dumping their lineup and might want to get rid of Volquez, whose contract expires in 2013. He’s definitely not the best pitcher in the world, but all the Cards need right now is a short-term solution.
St. Louis has won just two of their last 10 series, so it might be time to start shaking things up.