What Cards must decide before July 31 - KMOV.com

What Cards must decide before July 31

(BaseballStL) -- Each calendar year teams have 2 main times to make moves.  The offseason is the main one.  It's in between seasons and you can completely revamp your squad if you so choose.  The other is the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.  It's something to the effect of midcourse corrections.

It's the one time you make pretty changes to the team you decided to bring into the season.

Which move do the St. Louis Cardinals need to make before the trade deadline? Share your thoughts.

Now that we're just about a month away from that time teams are trying to figure out a few things.  Number one, are you a contender to make the playoffs?  Are you going to be trading for experienced talent that's ready to win now or are you trading away experienced talent for prospects?  Number two, if you're a "buyer" what do you need?

For the Cardinals...they're definitely a contender.  That's easy.  What do they need?  Well, that's a little trickier.

The offense is no problem whatsoever.  It's fine right now and is only going to get stronger once Lance Berkman returns from injury.  The pitching is a whole different matter.  The starting rotation has been ravaged by injuries and the bullpen has had inconsistencies all around.

The only thing we can sit here right now and say for sure is that this bullpen is in dire need of another left-hander and a righty setup guy to Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs.  Someone such as Octavio Dotel and what he gave in 2011 would certainly help.

Here's the catch.  What's going to happen with Lance Lynn?  Do you look to bolster your starting rotation and then rely on Lynn to go back and help out the 'pen?  Lynn was a crucial part of the bullpen last year when the Cards went on to win the World Series.  He made 10 appearances and had a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings.  Then again, Lynn's been a phenomenal starter this season but has had a couple rough starts lately (11 runs in his last 10.1 innings).  Do you want to risk those starts being an aberration and lose a power arm from the rotation?

Let's say they did decide to move Lynn back to the bullpen.  In order to do that you'd need to not only go get a starter to replace him...you'd also need one of your injured starters to return to bump Joe Kelly.  Chris Carpenter has experienced a minor setback in his quest to return from neck/shoulder weakness.  Jaime Garcia hasn't touched a baseball since injuring his shoulder.

If both come back, you could bump Kelly to AAA and Lynn to the bullpen.  If one comes back you could bump Kelly and then make a decision of whether to get a starter (essentially moving Lynn to the bullpen) or just leave Lynn in the rotation and getting another reliever.  If neither returns, well, an outside starter would be mandatory.

See this is what makes this next month so hard to evaluate.  Figuring out where injured players are in their rehab process is nothing but projections.  That stuff can change in a minute.  Just ask Chris Carpenter and how he woke up one day feeling weak.

Then you have to project, there's that word again, where someone like Lance Lynn fits best.  Is his last 2 starts a fluke?  Or is wearing down?  Or are teams starting to figure him out?

One thing is certain.  This bullpen needs to get better.  They've blown way too many leads over the course of the season and help is required.  Whether that comes from Lance Lynn, Kyle McClellan returning, a trade or two or something else...this bullpen needs to get better.

But it's what happens within the starting rotation that will determine where that help comes from.


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