Mike Matheny argues with plate umpire David Rackley on Aug. 9. Matheny was later ejected.
It wasn’t shocking to see many National League Central Division contenders like St. Louis, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh stand pat when last week’s non-waiver trade deadline passed.
This is especially true for the Cardinals, who garner the best development system in the game.
However, the deadline for teams eying to add the finishing touches via waivers expires Aug. 31. What will the Cardinals do? With five-time Gold Glover Yadier Molina sidelined with a right knee injury, will general manager John Mozeliak add a veteran catcher to accommodate the youth of backup Tony Cruz and call-up Rob Johnson? How about the possibility of adding a power bat off the bench for late-game situations? What about depth at shortstop?
All of the aforementioned equations represent different necessities the Cardinals could use, each carrying more importance.
So far the Cardinals remain quiet in terms of publicly expressing their plan of attack. They would be foolish to inform other general managers of what they intend to do for the time being.
An upgrade behind the plate while Molina continues to nurse his right knee would be one route Mozeliak could take.
Then again, he isn’t in a position where acquiring such player is a must, and reserve backstop Cruz is doing just fine in Molina's absence. Cruz is no Molina, but he's taking on his share behind the plate.
As far as a power bat off the bench, the Cardinals remain intrigued by slugger Matt Adams, who hit his third pinch-hit home run of the season against the Dodgers on Aug. 7, the most by a Cardinals pinch-hitter since Carl Sawatski, who had four in 1961.
But the Cardinals are in danger of snowballing.
On June 20, the Cardinals were the best team in the game, sporting a mark of 47-26 and a 3.5 game lead over the second-place Pirates.
Who will win the NL Central?
Since then, the Cardinals have sleepwalked their way to a 20-24 mark and have been elbowed out of first place by the Pirates, who hold a three-game advantage.
Some will argue against Mozeliak’s inability to land a trade following the deadline, others will cry afoul. Putting it bluntly, the Cardinals didn’t need to make a move before the deadline, and they don’t need to make one in the days following.
If you thought the Cardinals could sustain such excellence throughout the season, you’re kidding yourself. It’s extremely rare for a team not to struggle in a whirlwind of a 162-game schedule.
The Cardinals are in the thick of a pennant and division race. Shaking up the roster could negatively impact team chemistry.