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Cardinals Not Quiet on Off-Day

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IApril 21, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 17: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals recoils after being hit in the arm by a pitch from Carlos Marmol of the Chicago Cubs in the 9th inning on April 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 8-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Cardinals may have not have had a scheduled game yesterday, but they made news all the same, trading minor league outfielder Brian Barton to Atlanta for Blaine Boyer.

My initial reaction on the trade was a decided "ugh."  That led to quite a bit of Twittering as I defended my position that Barton was more valuable than what we received.  That line of thought seemed to be more prevalent at Viva El Birdos yesterday as well.  (Of course, I also was taken to task for stating I'd have rather them move Brian Barden instead, something I still hold.  Barden is more in line with the value of Boyer than Barton, in my book.)

Let me be clear, I'm not saying Brian Barton was a world-beater.  I'm not saying that he'd have seen a lot of time in St. Louis.  I'm not saying that he should have been kept at all cost.  What I am saying is that Barton was more valuable than a relief pitcher with shoddy numbers and that had already been designated for assignment.

If I have $1 million dollars to spare and I decide to give you $100 for a piece of gum, I can do it, but it's still not the smart move.  Even though we have a surplus of outfielders, giving them away for apparently mediocre talent isn't going to make the team any better, which is the purpose of minor league assets.

The positives on this trade seem to be that he had a decent first half but was over used (a la Kyle McClellan) and blew up in the second half and that we have Dave Duncan.  However, there are some that think the McClellan comparison is pretty weak.  While Duncan is the best pitching coach out there, remember that the last DFA pitcher that actually worked is Jeff Weaver.  Everyone thought Duncan could fix Mike Maroth as well.

I just don't really see how this makes the team better.  Boyer's allowed six runs in an inning and a third this season, and while I know he was kind of left out there to take one for the team, he still walked in two runs during a Phillies comeback against the Braves.

Time will tell, I guess.  The other downside to the trade, or the necessity to make it at least, is the fact that the Cardinals are now going to go with 13 pitchers for a while, demoting David Freese to Memphis (of course, after I said he was probably safe yesterday).  That means the bench, such as it is, will be Jason LaRue, Barden or Joe Thurston, whichever outfielder isn't playing, and Brendan Ryan.  Not exactly a strength, huh?  Which may mean we see more pitchers batting when they shouldn't, pitchers staying in the game because we can't afford to pinch-hit, and pitchers pinch-hitting (I bet Adam Wainwright pinch-hits at least twice during this span).

All of that is intriguing, but the Cardinals have a game tonight to play.  Todd Wellemeyer gets the call against Oliver Perez and the Mets.  Wellemeyer has had some trouble with the big bats in the Mets lineup, especially David Wright and Carlos Delgado.  If he's able to contain them, it could be a good night.  Hopefully he gets into the seventh or later and keeps the bullpen activity to a minimum. 

You never know which Oliver Perez will show up.  He's had some good outings since he made it to New York, but has been torched a few times as well.  Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina have some good career numbers against Perez, so we'll see if that carries over into tonight.  Pitchers Hit Eighth provides The Bird's Eye View for this series and the YNOT is available as well.

The rotation is on Duncan's mind as well, as they'd love to skip the fifth starter slot as often as possible.  That's just not going to be possible too often, though.  Still, if the pitchers keep throwing the way that they have, having to use a fifth starter pales in comparison to dealing with the bullpen.

Finally, if this blog isn't enough for you, you can also read my recap of the first two weeks of the Cardinals' season over at Baseball Reflections today.

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