MLB Trade Deadline: What Do NL Central Moves Mean to St. Louis Cardinals?
While the St. Louis Cardinals did make a move before Tuesday afternoon's non-waiver trade deadline, their NL Central opponents made a bigger splash.
I think the second question answers itself.
The first question, however, isn't as clear-cut as some may think.
Through 102 games, the Reds sit atop the Central Division with a 61-41 record. They don't need to get too comfortable, though.
The Pirates, 58-44, follow by only three games and made several moves in the last week. showing that they plan to go all-in for 2012.
The Cardinals sit seven full games out of first place with a 54-48 record and made only one move before the trade deadline. Is it enough?
Follow the break to see how these deals affect the Cardinals' efforts to defend their title.
Reds Acquire Jonathan Broxton
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The Reds' General Manager Walt Jocketty made only one move this week.
Minutes before the 3 p.m. CT deadline, it was announced that the Reds had picked up closer Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals.
Broxton won't be closing in Cincinnati, but instead will serve as a setup man for Aroldis Chapman.
To put this simply, Jocketty has bolstered what is arguably one of the best bullpens in baseball right now.
Where the Reds fell short at the deadline is that they failed to grab an effective leadoff hitter.
Jocketty told Joe Kay of the Associated Press that some of the position player deals they found just didn't make sense for them.
''We said, at the beginning, we were going to try to look for a leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, bench help or strengthen our pitching, and the position player deals just weren't right for us. We felt good about adding an arm like Broxton. We're still going to look at things in August, deals that can be made.'
Regardless of whether the Reds decide to make a move through waivers, their team is strong and their pitching is powerful, as the Cardinals well know.
Getting past Cincinnati will not be easy for the 2012 Cardinals. It is, however, possible.
Pirates Add Rodriguez, Sanchez, Snider, Qualls
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The Pirates didn't add huge pieces, but they did a good job of taking care of problem areas that needed to be addressed.
Last week, they acquired Wandy Rodriguez from the Houston Astros, which addresses the need to bolster their starting rotation.
The young lefty is a good acquisition who should be an instant improvement in Pittsburgh.
Another big move was the trade for first baseman Gaby Sanchez from the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, which addresses the need for a solid first baseman and gives them another bat in the lineup.
General Manager Neil Huntington told the Associated Press Tuesday that he feels they made the right moves to remain contenders.
“We feel like overall we’ve improved our rotation, we’ve improved our lineup, we’ve improved our bench, and we’ll work to put our bullpen in the same spot it was. The acquisition cost on every quote-unquote sure thing — which I will remind you, there is no sure thing — was prohibitive for us.”
While they didn't make a Zack Greinke-type move, the Pirates made a smart decision to address multiple needs.
In this case, the question isn't can they pass Cincinnati, but can Cincinnati keep them at bay? If you're waiting for the Pirates to fall apart, I'm afraid you may be waiting awhile.
After the trade deadline, it's entirely possible the Pirates will be the Cardinals' fiercest competition.
Cardinals Add Mujica, but Is It Enough?
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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.