The trading deadline has come and gone and the Cardinals have not made a deal for a bat, a closer or a left handed relief pitcher. With the exception of the Manny Ramirez deal it was a pretty quiet trade deadline. So now the big question, if you can get past all the screaming by Cardinals fans this afternoon, is where does this team go from here?
There have been a couple developments in the past 48 hours that make things not look so bleak. First and foremost the return of Chris Carpenter. He certainly wasn't at top form last night but he will get better. If he returns to 80% of his Cy Young award self by the end of the season he stabilizes everything in the starting rotation. The second big development is the implosion of the Milwaukee Brewers this week against the Cubs. As bad as Cardinals fans felt last Thursday the Brewers now are feeling the same thing. The upshot is the Cardinals are now sitting in the driver's seat for the Wild Card and that is what the Cardinals should be focused on. Nobody is catching the Cubs in the regular season.
The problems are still there as clear as day. Namely the bullpen remains the biggest problem. I still believe that Jason isringhausen as the closer is a mistake. Not as big of a mistake as sending Ryan Franklin out there but still a mistake. This is where the biggest question of the final two months comes in. What are they going to do with Adam Wainwright. The tea leaves say that he is heading to the bullpen to be the closer. The more I have thought about this I think that is the way to go. If you don't have the closer situation figured out then this team will not make the playoffs. If Wainwright goes to the closer's role then they have a chance. If Wainwright goes to the rotation then I believe they have no chance.
The other problem that is starting to emerge is in the starting rotation. Todd Wellemeyer has hit the wall and you never know what you are getting from Joel Piniero. Those are both bad problems to have coming down the stretch. Add on top of that the streaky hitting and the inability to beat above .500 teams and there are a lot of problems on the horizon.
The one thing everyone needs to remember right now too is that even though the deadline has come and gone there can still be trades made. They all just have to pass through waivers before anything can happen. I can guarantee that there will be some relievers traded between now and August 31st in the majors.
Tony La Russa is probably not a happy camper right now but at least he now knows the hand he is dealt and they can move forward. He has been MacGyver this year. With Duct Tape and wire he has got this team in contention. We will have to see if he can sneak them into the playoffs.