Have The Cardinals Done Enough to Do Battle With Philadelphia?

Scott LudwigContributor IAugust 25, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 19:  St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa runs back to the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 19, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

With the recent additions to the St. Louis Cardinals roster, a long playoff run looks like a real possibility.  My question for October is was it enough?

The manoeuvring began on June 29, when utility player Mark DeRosa was acquired from Cleveland.  A guy who can play nearly every position is valuable to anyone, but with the status of Khalil Greene and Troy Glaus unknown this was an excellent move by St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.

On July 23, the Cardinals acquired middle infielder Julio Lugo from the Red Sox.  With Boston on the hook for the majority of his salary, Lugo has done very well with the change of scenery.  Lugo is hitting .291 and has played well in the field.

Two days later, the move of the summer came when St. Louis sent Brett Wallace, Clay Mortensen, and Shane Peterson to what seems like their sister-club Oakland, in exchange for All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday.  A free-agent to be, I was very skeptical of this move, especially if Holliday does not re-sign with the Cardinals.  Giving up Brett Wallace, who was rapidly moving up the minor league ladder since winning the Pac-10 Triple Crown as a Sophomore at Arizona State, was nothing I was interested in seeing.

Holliday has played 29 games with St. Louis.  He has a .387 batting average, 7 HR, and 27 RBI.  The Cardinals are 21-8 since the trade, best in the majors.  They are 73-54 and lead the NL Central by 9 games over the second-place Chicago Cubs (62-61).

And what feels like the final piece to the 2009 roster, veteran pitcher John Smoltz was signed after Boston placed him on waivers.

And what does the 21-year veteran Smoltz do for his Cardinals debut?  In his first National League start since April 27, 2008 with Atlanta, Smoltz shut down the San Diego Padres for five innings to earn the victory.  Smoltz game up just three hits and struck out nine batters.  Oh, and he went 1-for-3 at the plate.  Not bad for a 42-year old who has not hit in a MLB game for nearly 16 months.

And so, the question remains: Can the Cardinals compete with the Phillies and Dodgers in the post-season?

Two former NL batting champions (Pujols & Holliday), a 2-time (possibly three) NL MVP in Pujols, and a supporting cast of All-Star catcher Yadier Molina (.290), Skip Schumacher (.295), Brendan Ryan (.297), and outfielders Rick Ankiel, Ryan Ludwick, and Colby Rasmus.  Not bad.

The pitching staff includes Adam Wainwright (15-7; 2.50 ERA), Chris Carpenter (14-3; 2.16 ERA), Joel Pineiro (12-9; 3.15 ERA), and All-Star closer Ryan Franklin (33 saves; 1.09 ERA).  I think they have a shot.