Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
The Cardinals are in a tough spot.
Do they spend excessively this season to make a run in what could be Albert Pujols' last season in St. Louis—bribing Pujols to stay in the process?
If they do go after some big names at the trade deadline, will it leave enough money to give Pujols what he wants in the offseason?
In my opinion, they should go for it.
David Freese breaking his hand was a huge blow to the Cards, but Lance Berkman's resurgence has offset any loss that would have been felt. Berkman can't stay on this tear forever, and they will eventually need another bat in the lineup to complement Pujols, Berkman and Matt Holliday.
Jorge Cantu and Bill Hall would fit the bill here as well, along with giving them a utility player off the bench upon the return of Freese.
As for starting pitching, I have three concerns—Jake Westbrook is a bust, Kyle Lohse will get hurt and/or his performance will nosedive and Kyle McClellan's arm will tire.
McClellan has a career high of 75.2 IP, and he is already at over 43 IP this season. The Cards would be better off getting an arm at the trade deadline while moving McClellan back to the bullpen to prevent injury or arm fatigue.
With the Pujols contract looming, the Cards would not do anything more than a rental for their rotation. Dave Duncan has worked miracles with pitchers in St. Louis, so they can afford to take a chance on a potential arm.
If the Chicago White Sox continue their early-season struggles, the Cardinals may inquire about Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson—both of whom have expiring contracts following this season. There is also the aforementioned Paul Maholm, but the Pirates may want too much in order to trade within the division.
As far as their closer situation, Ryan Franklin gave up the job after blowing a few saves early in the season. The Cardinals have some great young bullpen arms, yet they may elect to get some experience at the back end of their bullpen.
Similar to the Brewers, the Cards could inquire about guys like Matt Capps or Jon Rauch to assume closing duties for the remainder of the season.