Handicapping the trade stakes: Pitchers - KMOV.com

Handicapping the trade stakes: Pitchers

(Baseball StL) -- The most amusing reading is often found in fan comments about trades they would like to see completed.


Blogs, story comments and talk radio callers advise teams like the St. Louis Cardinals to trade a collection of spare parts, underperforming assets and bench players for another team’s star.

General managers, for the most part, are not that stupid, although compelling cases to the contrary can be made.

And, fans must remember, a good trade is one that benefits both teams. Trying to dump poor contracts, injured players and slumping veterans on a team in exchange for a great player is not a discussion likely to bear fruit.

With that in mind, let’s handicap the likelihood of who the Cardinals might trade in the next few weeks. And keep in mind that in order to trade, the Birds must identify a need they would like to fill, something that may be harder than determining whom they should trade.

Let’s start with pitching.

Most likely to be a part of some deal is Mitchell Boggs. The Cards think he can still pitch and he may, but not this year or at least not for them. Boggs lost his confidence and sometimes a change of scene is what is needed. But he has little value by himself, unless it’s a courtesy trade for a low minor league player.

Mark Rzepczynski has been passed over for promotion back to the major league club enough times to indicate he will not return soon, if at all. Lefties can last until they qualify for Social Security so he has a little value but not enough to warrant a big league player of any stature. He’s also only signed through this year so few teams will give up much knowing he’s a free agent.

Two pitchers may be on the radar.

Joe Kelly is the forgotten man. He filled in admirably as a starter last year and impressed in a spot start this year. He is not a reliever and the Cards seem awash in starting pitchers so he may be a trade candidate, but personally, I hope not.

Jake Westbrook, with a mutual option of $9.75 million next year, would seem unlikely to return. But it would be a shame to just let him go for the $1 million buy-out and receive nothing in return.

OK, so Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller appear to be a lock for three of the five starting spots going forward. Jaime Garcia will be ready to compete, but a return from shoulder surgery is slow and spotty and he may need to start in AAA to build up strength.

The last two spots, assuming Garcia cannot start the season in the rotation, are up in the air between John Gast, Tyler Lyons, Michael Wacha and, if he is still here, Kelly.

Jeez, it’s almost embarrassing to have this much talent. But one caution: Fans fall in love with potential and assume a level of achievement that youngsters seldom, if ever, attain.

Gast’s shoulder injury is somewhat of a mystery and he wasn’t exactly Sandy Koufax in the brief time we saw him (ERA 5.11).  Lyons struggled against the lowly Marlins. Wacha was perhaps the best of the three, but in limited action. Kelly has a more complete body of work with a career 3.88 ERA and more than twice as many strikeouts as walks.

It will be difficult to keep all of these pitchers so if the Cards trade, who goes? To show how ignorant I am, here’s what I suggest:

Westbrook has been on the DL 8 times in his career, often with elbow issues. He is at his absolute best at the moment, very effective and steady. Another excellent start or two would convince a team like the Yankees to take a chance on him for the stretch run. He’s not expensive by their standards and they love veterans. If they have something the Cards can use, I’d say let him go.

I recognize the value of veterans in a stretch run, but failure to move him now risks losing him with no compensation. And they could use the extra salary for the inevitable raises some of the guys deserve

That’s one down. Maybe the Cards will keep all the youngsters and see how they develop but if not, next to go could be Kelly. He has the most experience and a 95-mph fastball that would appeal to a lot of teams.  Left-handed starters are gold, so it is doubtful the Cards trade either a healthy Gast or Lyons. Wacha may be the best of the three and there is little chance he is going anywhere.

Next: Position players. 

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