Trade talk part 2: Position players -

Trade talk part 2: Position players

(Baseball StL) -- OK, in the last article, I traded Jake Westbrook before he goes back on the DL, (ending any chance to get something for him) because as Cards’ GM for a day, I have so many pitchers I’m not bringing him back at $9.75 million anyway.

I’m considering what to do with Joe Kelly, the forgotten man on the Cards staff. (But since I’m GM today, I’m keeping him. If someone else goes down, he becomes pretty valuable).

Now we move to position players. What should I do?

Well, two things to consider. First, I must know what I want. Then I have to find the team that has that commodity and they have to want to trade it and it has to be for what I have to offer. Trading is not as easy as fans think it is.

Secondly, the Cards are in a pennant race and hope to still be playing when the leaves fall. Why is that significant? Because you need veterans who have experience, maturity and perspective.

So, let’s assume Yadier Molina is untouchable, and Allen Craig, since he just signed an extension. Matt Carpenter is my co-MVP with Yadi so he’s staying and if I’m GM, so is David Freese (up yours, Ken Rosenthal).

I’ve already bussed the crupper of Pete Kozma so you know he’s staying. Daniel Descalso is a vital cog in the machine because of his versatility and his competitiveness.

Eminently expendable is Ty Wigginton, although finding someone who will pay him $2.5 million this year and next will be difficult. He was signed to be a big bat off the bench and to play a little. With Adams’ emergence, he has played very little and in hitting .188 this year, has struck out more often than he has hits.  Yes, we need a right-handed pinch hitter, but not at $5 million for a .188 hitter. I could do that for a lot less money. But bench players don’t bring much so I may be stuck with him.

Moving to the outfield, Matt Holliday makes $17 mil a year so he is not an attractive trade candidate. And despite what some fans might think, Holliday is vital. He is a thumper who can get hot and when he does, he is a beautiful human being.

If the Birds weren’t rolling along like a hunchback doing summersaults, I’d dangle Carlos Beltran to see what he’d bring from a team looking for a big bat for a play-off push. He is only signed through this year, he’s 35 and he would be very difficult to sign next year.

And, sooner or later I’m going to have to address the coming logjam.

Oscar Taveras is going to play in the majors and from every indication, it will be at a very high level. Matt Adams forced his way onto the roster through sheer talent and desire and let me tell you something, that big boy can rake. Teams are asking about him but as GM, I am not going to trade any part of the next core of Cardinals. Beltran may leave, Westbrook, etc., but I cannot lose my core for the next five years. So Adams stays.

But because we need Beltran’s veteran leadership, I may have to ride that horse all the way to the finish line, even if it means I lose him with no compensation.

So that leaves John Jay. Pluses; a speedy and reliable fielder, a good teammate, a young player who will develop. Minuses, hitting less than .200 against lefties, not a lead-off man, Taveras needs his spot. 

I don’t want to trade Jay because he could be part of a fleet outfield that makes my pitching staff even better. But at some point, Taveras has to play and so does Adams. If Adams is at first, Craig is in right, then Taveras is in center.  Jay is not a platoon player so his opportunities appear limited in the long run. Unless something unforeseen happens, it is difficult to envision where he would play next year. (But I won’t be GM then, thankfully).

So I’m in a box. Any tinkering could ruin the mojo and, except for Wigginton, I need what I have for the long grind. So I’m going to exercise my number one rule: If you’re not sure what to do, don’t do anything, because sometimes the best trade is the one you don’t make.

All of the issues can be addressed in the off-season, after we’ve won the World Series and I’ve been named GM of the year



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