Mark DeRosa was a good start for John Mozeliak, but he still has work to do if he wants to make this a championship club.
There are too many struggling pieces to believe that one player will make the difference.
Many fans will be saying that if the team does not get Matt Holliday, then the Cardinals are not serious about winning.
Matt Holliday's time in Oakland has proved that he is in fact a Coors Kid.
He will still get that ridiculous contract, but he does not need to be in St. Louis.
Who does? So glad you asked.
Stop laughing, please. There is logic here.
Sure, Willingham has had his share of back problems over the years, but look beyond that. Think big picture: free agent eligible after 2011, not 2009.
Yes, those extra two years are important.
Willingham will have had just over four years of service time at the end of 2009. He can play catcher, first base, and both corner outfield positions.
Holliday can play left field and will—not could—be a free agent after 2009.
Oh, did I mention that there is slightly more than $10 million difference between their contracts this year? Yeah, this will be very important for later on.
Willingham, in three seasons with the Marlins, was a bigger bat in their lineup.
In three full seasons (well, two full and one injury-plagued), Willingham had the following totals and averages: 394 games (131 per season), 1374 at-bats (458 per), 191 runs (64 per), 366 hits (122 per; .266 batting average), 62 home runs (21 per), 214 runs batted in (71 per).
Not amazing numbers, but very solid and very consistent.
Oh, did I mention that a .356 on-base percentage was the lowest he had in three seasons in Miami?
Willingham currently holds a .399 OBP in Washington.
Yeah, that's true protection: a guy who gets on base.
So, enough with the overflowing numbers and statistics. It is time for the trade. Very easy, very simple: Chris Duncan, Blake Hawksworth and Casey Mulligan for Willingham.
Considering the Nationals' pitching woes, Hawksworth would make a fine addition to their bullpen or rotation.
Mulligan is a few years off, but will figure into the Nationals' long-term bullpen.
Duncan, well, that is a throw-in from the Cardinals to replace Willingham's power and give them another outfield and first base option.
Remember how I said that $10 million difference in salary between Holliday and Willingham would be important?
Well, here is why.
Reason No. 1 is the fact that Willingham would take fewer players and would be under club control through 2011 (not to mention not trading Brett Wallace).
Reason No. 2 is that the deal for Willingham would leave open enough payroll space to add Doug Davis from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Davis is a pending free agent, but he has always been a consistent starting pitcher. He also throws with an arm that hasn't been seen in the Cardinals rotation since 2005: that pesky left arm.
Sure, Davis is 3-8, but his earned run average is 3.28. That says that he receives little to no run support in his starts.
The deal for Davis is a very simple one.
The Diamondbacks are without their left fielders (Conor Jackson and Eric Byrnes) and Chris Young is struggling this season. That makes this deal perfect for the Diamondbacks: Rick Ankiel, Adam Reifer, and Jon Jay for Doug Davis.
Ankiel can play in center field for the Diamondbacks and would be a serviceable bat. A change of scenery could do him wonders.
Have him get out of St. Louis, where he has always been looked upon to be the man, and go somewhere else and regroup.
He, like Davis, is a free agent after 2009.
Reifer is a power righthander and will figure into Arizona's long-term bullpen. It'll be a couple of years before he arrives, but he will be worth the wait.
Jay has found himself falling back on the depth chart, despite impressing in Spring Training. He has scuffled this year in Memphis, but has started to turn it around in late May and June.
He can play all three outfield positions extremely well, and will be a Major League lead-off hitter.
With these two trades, the Cardinals fill some major needs. Here would be the updated lineup for the Cardinals:
2B—Skip Schumaker (Brendan Ryan at SS when the opposing starter is left handed)
SS—Brendan Ryan (Skip Schumaker at 2B when the opposing starter is left handed)
That lineup will not strike fear into pitchers, but the depth of quality hitters after Pujols will create the protection. With Ludwick hitting in front of Pujols, he will start to see better pitches and will heat up, making this lineup very strong.
That is what a championship batting lineup looks like.
You may be wondering a few things: What happens in the rotation? Or, what happens to Troy Glaus?
Well, here are the answers to those questions.
In the rotation, Todd Wellemeyer would be disabled. His lack of control, his inability to repeat his delivery, and his loss of velocity screams arm and/or shoulder problems. He should be disabled with the arrival of Davis and be thoroughly checked out.
This would create a rotation of Davis, Adam Wainwright, Joel Pineiro, Chris Carpenter, and Kyle Lohse. That is very deep and strong, while looking far better on paper than the current rotation with Wellemeyer in the starting five.
As for Glaus, he is ready to start a rehab, assuming that he starts at designated hitter or first base. He will more than likely not be able to play third base this season. He would be very valuable to plenty of clubs, but one in particular stands out above the rest.
The San Francisco Giants.
The Giants are surprising contenders in the National League West and really need a true thumper. Glaus would fill two needs.
He would be the big bat the Giants need, and he could play first base full time. This would push Pablo Sandoval back to third base, which is better for the Giants.
In return, the Giants would send Clayton Tanner to the Cardinals. Tanner has pitched well in the Giants system, and he is left handed—something the Cardinals system needs.
Here is the complicated part for this deal.
Glaus would have to be activated from the Cardinals 60 Day Disabled List, traded to the Giants, then placed on the 15 Day Disabled List for the Giants.
Along with Glaus, the Cardinals would send $4 million to the Giants (see why that $10 million difference between Holliday and Willingham is important?) so that the Giants would only have to pay roughly $2 million for Glaus.
A few added bonuses for your enjoyment: Julio Lugo.
The Boston Red Sox are supposedly ready to release Lugo whenever Jed Lowrie is ready to return.
At a pro-rated Major League minimum, Lugo would be a great add.
Lugo has experience at shortstop, third base, second base, and the corner outfield positions. That's the kind of versatility Tony LaRussa enjoys.
If added, Lugo would play a bench role for the Cardinals.
The new bench would look something like this: Jason LaRue, Julio Lugo, Joe Thurston, Tyler Greene, and Khalil Greene.
Speaking of Khalil Greene, consider this the end of his line in St. Louis. Greene has supposedly had a relapse in his anxiety disorder.
It is time to write a book on this acquisition. Greene needs to be dealt off as a backup infielder (he can officially play third base, shortstop, and could easily play second base) or be released.
There is no middle ground. Eat a vast majority of his salary and try to get something for him in a trade, or eat all of his salary and release him.
It cost Luke Gregerson and an injured Mark Worrell. Not like we traded the farm for him.
I know it was a lot to intake, but I hope you still enjoyed it. The Cardinals are not done dealing (said by Mozeliak; go figure).
They did not say when the next deal might occur or who it could be, but if Mozeliak is smart, he will make these moves.
All of these moves make sense for both the current and future state of the club. They remove logjams in the Minor Leagues and at the Major League level.
This also helps put a championship caliber club out on the field every night.
What will happen obviously remains to be seen, but put me down on the list that hopes everything written here happens.
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