If you haven’t heard, once the Cubs acquired Rich Harden they won the NL pennant. C.C. Sabathia led the Brewers to the wild card spot. And the Cardinals? Well, they’re the Cardinals and there is no way they’ll last until October.
From pre-season predictions to Ryan Ludwick’s impressive early season stats, the Cards were supposed to fold by now. But somehow they have fought their way into wild-card contention, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to be leaving anytime soon.
Being in the NL Central race, a year many didn’t think they would be, has put the Redbirds into a difficult situation. Should they go out for a big name or just stay put?
Buying is something many Cardinal fans have been yearning for, especially after the Harden and Sabathia deals. But is giving up two or three prospects for an impact player really what the Cardinals need?
So who would the Cards go after if they were looking to make a splash? Two Rockies names have been floating around, Brian Fuentes and Matt Holliday.
Picking up Holliday would be a significant boost to the current roster. He has improved every season, hitting an impressive .343 through Friday. Yes, Coors Field does inflate numbers, but Holliday is still batting .313 on the road.
Fuentes would fill that spot for a lefty in the bullpen, and has pitched well (3.50 ERA) considering half his gigs are at Coors. Also Fuentes’ strikeout-to-walk ratio is strong, over three to one. Fuentes would arguably help the team more than any other acquisition.
This should not be a road the Redbirds go down, though. The Cardinals would likely have to trade several of their prospects to get Holliday or Fuentes. If teams like Tampa Bay are as serious as they are reported to be to get players like Fuentes, the Cards shouldn’t one-up them.
It’s fairly clear that I’m advocating not signing away our home grown talent for a big name. Why am I so confident, you ask?
The Cardinals pitching staff been ravaged by injuries, yet still has held together. Can you imagine how this exciting this rotation will be once Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are back?
It will also lift some pressure of the bullpen to work four or five innings every so often. Adding their arms next to Kyle Lohse will give the Cardinals three-fourths of their rotation for the postseason.
The offense went missing for a week, but looks to be firing on all cylinders now. Troy Glaus seems to be coming into his own the last few games and could make the middle of the lineup a veritable murderer’s row.
Albert Pujols is having a fantastic year, even by his standards, batting .355. The Cardinals are tied for the second least amount of errors in the NL as well.
Why else don’t I want to Cardinals to trade for big names? Because the prospects that are lined up can make a premier team for the next five to 10 years.
Colby Rasmus and Jamie Garcia have already gotten a taste of the big leagues and can be everyday guys for 2009. Fernando Salas, named to the Futures All-Star Game, has been a successful story from the Cardinals dipping into Latin America.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. The future is close and it is bright.
Who will the Cardinals be in a race with? On paper, the Cubs have the division locked up and realistically the Cards will be fighting for a wild card spot. The other main contenders will be the Mets and the Brewers.
The NL is weak this year. The Cardinals can still get into the playoffs with the team they have. Going out and getting talent that will help for two years means sacrificing a decade with each of our prospects.
I’m pleading with you, Mozeliak. Think of what the future could bring.