Although the Cards won their last two games using statistically non-threatening starters in Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth, they could still use some reinforcements for their injury-ridden starting rotation.
Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny will not likely contribute much more (if at all) to the Cards' 2010 season, and wins still are not guaranteed from aces Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and rookie sensation Jaime Garcia.
So to where will the Cards turn for help?
Haren, 29, is having a rough year in Arizona, but has the potential to manufacture a winning season providing he joins a playoff-bound team. The Cards know Haren would be an improvement to their rotation—the right-hander proved he had talent when he pitched for the Redbirds in 2003 and 2004.
Haren further showed he was a threat on the mound after the Cardinals traded him in 2005—he had a great year with the Oakland Athletics, going 14-12 with 3.73 ERA.
Now the Cardinals are thinking about regaining this lost talent—but the big issues lie in the bank and in the future. Planning the Cards' budget is a tough task for the front office, especially considering the talent that already exists in St. Louis.
But regardless of how much Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina make after next year, there should be room for another big ticket player.
But this high-profile player will not come to St. Louis for free, and this sparks the question: Who do the Cardinals trade to get Haren?
Here are a few options:
Minor League Pitchers —The Diamondbacks need pitching, so losing Haren will require quick, preferably young replacements. The Cardinals have some players that could fit the bill in AAA in P.J. Walters, Evan Maclane and Adam Ottavino.
Rookie Position Players —This option is less feasible. The Cards are going to need their young talent during the next few years—they won't be able to afford anything else.
David Freese should be the starting third baseman next year, and Jon Jay should play center or right field. Tyler Greene has shown some serious talent recently, and he should stay with the Cards, too.
The only player who doesn't need to stay in St. Louis is Joe Mather. But who wants a player who can't hit above the Mendoza line?
Veteran Position Players —This option could work. Young talent is surfacing right-and-left in St. Louis, and veteran talent is proving to be unpredictable.
The Cards could stand to lose Ryan Ludwick, the 32-year-old injured right fielder whose paycheck is scheduled to increase within the next few years.
But who would buy damaged goods right now?
Other options include Aaron Miles and Nick Stavinoha (who's not exactly a veteran).
Who the Cards give up for reinforcement pitching is a mystery right now, but the 2010 MLB trade deadline is steadily approaching.
Most likely, the Cardinals will lose young talent—the very thing that happened when the Redbirds traded Haren to the Athletics in '05 could easily happen again: The Cards will trade young talent for veteran talent, only to find out their young talent was better than they expected.
Regardless of what happens, the Cards need help if they want to clinch the NL Central again. And pitching will be the key.