St. Louis Cardinals: 4 Midseason Moves They Must Consider
As the St. Louis Cardinals continue trying to defend their title, the team has run into a number of hiccups.
The team has struggled to stay afloat since early May, and as the gap between third and first place continues to widen, the need to improve becomes more and more great.
They have been over-exposed in a number of areas. As they enter the second half of the 2012 season, contending teams will continue to exploit those weaknesses.
Most contending teams make changes throughout the season, and the Cardinals will be no different if they plan to make a push for the division title.
Another Lefty in the Bullpen
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This is the obvious area of need. The Cardinals need to pick up another solid left-handed reliever to bolster the bullpen as they go into the second half of the season. Teams like the Cincinnati Reds know it's a weakness and will be prepared to exploit it when it comes down to crunch time.
Being short-handed has left Marc Rzepczynski being used more and more, and that's led to some bad results for the team over time.
A Veteran Presence in the Bullpen
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At this point, the Cardinals bullpen is very young and it shows. The loss of Kyle McClellan, regardless of his numbers at the time, hurt the bullpen by taking away the closest thing it had to a veteran (or long reliever). With his return still a while off, the Cardinals need to look into bringing in a veteran to solidify the bullpen.
There are a couple of interesting things that could happen here. The Washington Nationals recently released RHP Brad Lidge. While he's not the lights-out pitcher he once was, he could still be a decent pickup who might benefit from a change of scenery. His bad numbers in Washington could turn around in the right situation.
The younger pitchers could definitely benefit from having a guy with his experience around on a daily basis. Lidge could be picked up for the major league minimum with Washington picking up the remainder of his contract.
Another possibility, and brace yourself, is Chris Carpenter. With Carpenter expected to throw to live batters as soon as this weekend, he's likely only a couple of weeks from a rehab assignment. Why not let him spend his rehab time in the bullpen?
He would be a great influence on the young pitchers, would give the team the long relief it needs badly and would let him have a few weeks to get back in his groove, while still facing major league hitters.
Pick Up Another Starter
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A few good arms might be available. The most common name floated around has been Ryan Dempster, but he just went down with a strained lat. If it turns out that isn't too big of a deal, I would expect him to be first on their list if the Chicago Cubs are willing to trade him within the division.
Another name in the division that could become available is Zack Greinke. If the Milwaukee Brewers see themselves as out of the running in July, it's likely he will be made available for the right price.
The other possibility is Cole Hamels. Expected to be a big money free agent in the fall, Hamels would be a huge pickup for the Cardinals if the Philadelphia Phillies are interested in moving him. The downfall is that it might take more to get him than most teams are willing to give without knowing whether they could sign him at the end of the year.
Picking up another number five starter isn't the answer. If they make a move, it needs to be worthwhile.
Greene or Descalso Need to Go
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The Tyler Greene/Daniel Descalso experiment is due to come to an end. Neither has managed to standout at second base and it's time to move one of them and bring in someone else who can pick up the slack.
I still see potential in them both, so it's a coin toss which one goes. If I had to take a gamble, I would say Descalso. While Greene could be worth a bit more on the trade block, I also believe he still has potential to grow. Whether he will realize that potential in a Cardinals uniform is still not chiseled in stone.
If the team could trade for a solid second baseman, Greene could fill in as a backup to Rafael Furcal when he needs time off. It's his native position and currently it looks like backup might better suit him. His speed off the bench also makes him more desirable than Descalso.
We've seen glimmers of hope in him, but after multiple chances, he has yet to really stand up and take control of his position and bat.
Whether the Cardinals do anything, there are definitely issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. With a 4.5 game deficit in the National League Central, the team needs to do whatever necessary to get back in the running to take the division.