In a bit of a surprise move late Tuesday, the Cardinals swapped former first-round pick and third baseman Zack Cox to the Miami Marlins for RHP Edward Mujica.
Fans may have expected a bigger move, but the Cardinals' chief concern was addressing the relief issues in innings six and seven.
With the loss of Kyle McClellan in April, the Cardinals have been short of long relief.
While Mujica's numbers aren't amazing, he is a pitcher capable of eating innings. He's struggled in giving up home runs over the years but has improved his ground ball-to-fly ball ratio in recent years.
Regardless, the Cardinals feel he will be the key to what has been one of their biggest issues most of the season. Having struggled in close games in 2012, the Cardinals hope a veteran arm in early relief could be their savior.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak spoke with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Tuesday and said they feel good about what Mujica could bring to the bullpen.
“All along, we’ve been trying to isolate someone who could help the bullpen but we never were focused strictly on the back end. We feel the guys who are doing it, pitching the eighth and ninth innings, are doing it well. We felt we needed someone to bridge the gap between the starters and the late innings. Mujica will be a great fit for us. You look at his splits between (facing) lefthanders and righthanders and they’re pretty equal.”
Mozeliak could still make a move, though it would be more difficult because they would have to clear waivers. The Cardinals have done it in the past, but don't expect too much between now and the end of the season in terms of additions.
The Cardinals have indicated on multiple occasions that they feel good about the team as it is. The key to the rest of 2012 will be for all of the pieces to this puzzle to fit together at the same time.
As it stands now, they would have a tough time winning this division. If they can get the offense heated back up, solidify the bullpen just a bit with today's move and keep the rotation solid when Jaime Garcia returns, its still entirely possible this team could come out on top of the division.