The grand dreams of starting out the second half on a run have taken a turn for the worse for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals limped out of the gate in the second half, losing five of six and getting swept by the Reds.
With a chance to knocking on the door of first place with a sweep in Cincinnati, the Cardinals played poorly and found themselves swept. The Cardinals pitching was decent, but the hitting was poor in the Reds series. The Cardinals left 30 runners on base during the series.
When they moved on to Milwaukee, the bats still didn't wake up, leaving 18 runners in the two losses in Brew Town.
While the Achilles heel of the Cardinals, the bullpen, did fair in the six game since the break (3.38 ERA in eight innings pitched), it still has many holes that need to be filled.
It was trade deadline moves last season that sparked the Cardinals championship run. Here are five moves the Cardinals should consider to see if they can get the flame sparked again.
Liriano's name has been bantered around for trade rumors since the Twins season went south and that was about early May.
Liriano hasn't thrown up huge numbers or even decent numbers in Minnesota this year, but the guy can strike batters out. Liriano is averaging 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings so far this season. Plus Liriano has a 2.84 ERA in his last nine starts.
Sometimes a change of scenery does a player good and Liriano could benefit from the fan-friendly environment in St. Louis and energy that occupies Busch Stadium during a pennant chase.
The Cardinals have had major issues with consistency at second base this year. With injuries and lack of production, the second base position has been a major hole in the lineup for the Cardinals this season.
Tyler Greene has been poor at the plate as with Daniel Descalso, who is batting .095 with runners in scoring position. Both have a decent glove, but with such poor production at the plate, the Cardinals need to get a guy who can string a few hits together. Then you have Skip Schumaker, the man who seems to have no home to go along with the fact he can't stay healthy.
Enter Yunel Escobar. The Blue Jays have been shopping him and other teams such as the Oakland A's have shown interest. Escobar is a career .284 hitter and has a .357 career OBP. While he is having a down year, Esocbar would be a definite upgrade from what the Cardinals have been running out there.
The bullpen has been bad at best this season for the Cardinals. So far the bullpen has racked up 15 losses and posts a putrid 4.42 ERA. There have been a few bright spots, including Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte, but the rest has left much to be desired.
Marc Rzepczynski has been terrible this season as the Cardinals lefty specialist, posting a 5.28 ERA with five blown saves. Barrett Browning has been brought up from the minors and has done a nice job posting a 2.70 ERA in his eight appearances.
The bullpen needs someone who can help Mitchell Boggs get the Cardinals to the ninth inning with the lead. Victor Marte, Fernando Salas and Eduardo Sanchez have all been poor this year in keeping the lead nailed down. Alex Burnett of the Twins is a young arm who has been very solid this year. He has a 2.78 ERA in his 39 appearances and is only 24 years old.
If the Cardinals could swing a deal for Burnett, he could be a fixture in the bullpen for years to come.
I am still a believer that the Cubs will trade Ryan Dempster withing the division if the price is right. The Cubs are so far lost for the season, trading within the division to build for the future makes some sense if the pieces fit.
Dempster would fit in swimmingly into the Cardinals' rotation. With the unsure return of Jaime Garcia and Chris Carpenter lost for the season, Dempster could be the guy to fill the hole and give the Cardinals a solid staff down the stretch.
Dempster has been extremely effective in his starts since his return from the DL. While he has only pitched 11 innings in his two starts post DL, he hasn't allowed a run. In fact, his scoreless streak dates back to June 5, which encompassed five starts. Dempster leads the NL in ERA at 1.86 and that speaks volumes considering he pitches in Windy Wrigley.
I'm sure I'll get comments about trading within a division, but Theo Epstein would be a fool to turn down a solid offer from the Cardinals to help rebuild a futile team in Chicago.
There is no question the Cardinals need a dependable lefty in the bullpen. Marc Rzepczynski has already been a target of mine in this piece and in other pieces. The guy is just not dependable at all when he comes into the game He reminds me (here goes the way back machine) of Juan Agosto from the early 1990's Cardinals. He was supposed to be the lefty specialist and it seemed like every time he came in the game, bad things happened.
Barret Browning has been solid since his call-up from Triple-A Memphis, but the Cardinals can use someone who has been around for a bit and has proven effective.
Jose Mijares has been very solid for Kansas City this season. The guy has a 1.54 ERA and is averaging nine strikeouts per nine innings. The Royals always have hope in April and by this time of year, their hopes are usually dashed. That has not changed this season. The Royals are a half game out of last place in the AL Central.
If the Cardinals can put together a decent package for Mijares, the bullpen would be shored up nicely for a second half run.