(Baseball StL) -- The Cardinals have hit their first rough patch of the season, having lost seven of their last nine. They’ve fallen out of first place. The starting pitching, except for Adam Wainwright, is struggling.
Wainwright has been responsible for five of the last 11 quality starts. Time to panic? Time to swing a trade for a veteran starting pitcher to bolster the rotation? I don’t think so.
There are several pitchers available on the trade market if (cue Bob Barker) “the Price is Right.” Cliff Lee is the best of the bunch. He’d be a fantastic addition to any rotation, but Lee comes with a staggering contract that will pay him another $76 million.
Philadelphia would likely pick up some of that, but they’d want a quality prospect or two in return. Lee is having an excellent season with the Phillies (9-2, 2.59) but he’s 34 years old. It wouldn’t make much sense in the long term to deal a top prospect like Oscar Taveras, Michael Wacha, or Carlos Martinez for an aging pitcher with an enormous contract. We’ve seen how quickly Albert Pujols’ talents have declined. That should be a cautionary lesson when tempted to overspend for a veteran in his mid-thirties.
Other starting pitchers who are available include Matt Garza of the Cubs and Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins. Garza and Nolasco aren’t are the same level as Lee. In fact, they might not be much better than what the Cardinals have now.
The Cardinals, and their fans, need to be patient. It’s way too early to push the panic button. If Jake Westbrook and Joe Kelly struggle in their roles as 4th and 5th starters the team still has quality options and depth within the organization. Wacha and Martinez are at AAA Memphis. Tyler Lyons and John Gast have both shown promise. It wouldn’t make sense, at least under the current circumstances, to trade away a promising young prospect for an expensive veteran.