If the first three months of the 162-game baseball season represent the opening act where teams are more willing to take chances on certain players, the final three months must represent something of the opposite.
There’s really no room for error in that final stretch. None at all. If something didn’t work in May, it won’t help you get to the postseason in October.
That’s where July 31 comes in. The non-waiver trade deadline may seem like centuries away but, in reality, it’s not. The groundwork for deals that happen then are being laid this minute. Actually, it probably started in the offseason and maybe even last year.
The trade deadline becomes what many refer to as a chance for midcourse corrections. What the team thought would work out in February but didn’t quite come to fruition now has a chance to be remedied by redirecting assets via non contending teams.
If Team A is in contention but needs help in its starting rotation and Team B has a quality veteran pitcher yet is 20 games out of first place, Team B might be willing to trade said pitcher to Team A in exchange for a prospect.
Team A wants to win now. It’ll worry about later, well, later. Team B has no choice but to think about the future.
This is where the Cardinals come in. Many teams will be in contention this July and many will not. The teams that are not will all have good - some great - players they’re willing to move for prospects. The contending teams with the best prospects have the best chance, by definition, of obtaining those elite talents.
And no one, I repeat no one, has better prospects to dangle right now than the St. Louis Cardinals.
Does that mean it’s a given GM John Mozeliak will part with such impact youthful talent in an “all in” move for 2013? Absolutely not. This organization prides itself on making smart decisions for both the present and the future.
But should an opportunity arise where they can acquire someone they would never have an opportunity to get otherwise? Mo has proven he’ll get aggressive in making something happen. Just like he did in 2009 with Matt Holliday.
Other teams don’t have Matt Adams sitting on their bench rocking a 1.872 OPS with a team leading three home runs despite getting just 18 at-bats.
Other teams don’t have arguably the top hitting prospect in the minor leagues in Oscar Taveras stuck in AAA because there’s nowhere to put him in St. Louis.
Other teams don’t have a combination of David Freese-Matt Carpenter-Kolten Wong (also stuck in AAA) at second and third base for the future. Which of those three doesn’t deserve to get 500 at-bats down the road?
Other teams don’t have the high end pitching the Cardinals do in Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyrell Jenkins.
Will any of those above mentioned names get moved come July 31st? It’s way too early to tell. Unless you’ve got an illegal phone tap of John Mozeliak’s cell phone could you have that answer. And even then what’s being discussed now is likely to change by the end of July.
However, this I do know. Should the Tampa Bay Rays make David Price available this deadline - or something else unforeseen of the equivalent - the Cardinals have as good of a chance as anyone to pull something off. Their depth is historically good.
No one in baseball is in a better position of strength to deal right now, though, than the Redbirds if they so choose.