(BaseballStL) — Although the St. Louis Cardinals have now been overtaken by events, I do not believe the original intention of starting Carlos Martinez Sunday was solely to rest Michael Wacha, or because they promised Martinez a few starts.
Certainly Wacha needed a break more urgently than the Cards realized when they announced the decision. But it is also quite possible Martinez was being showcased because the Cardinals were further along in reaching a resolution to their dual problems of too much talent and not enough power than fans realize.
Those plans, if they existed at all, have now been washed away by the news that both Wacha and Jaime Garcia are on the disabled list, which will indefinitely delay any trades the Cards might have in mind.
And that is the hidden loss in all this.
While Garcia’s shoulder problems were not wholly unexpected, Wacha’s certainly are and potentially a far more damaging blow, depending on the duration and the severity. Martinez and Joe Kelly were always considered insurance against Garcia’s breakdown but one was certainly expendable to package with prospects or other spare parts to secure a quality offensive threat.
The limp offense in the latest three-game losing streak pointed to the need to make sweeping decisions both for additional offense and to alleviate the talent jam.
Too much talent might be a good problem to have, but if it were a good thing, it wouldn’t be called a problem. While it is wonderful to have identified, drafted, signed and developed so many outstanding players, it is clearly another to be able to get maximum value out of that investment.
Rotating outfielders, alternating stays on the disabled list and an express shuttle between St. Louis and Memphis has managed this situation for now, but that is not a long-term solution.
Mike Matheny and his staff have done a remarkable job juggling the many pieces and giving everyone an opportunity to contribute. But history tells us that while everyone is happy when a team is winning, dissatisfaction rises with the frustration of losing.
So, before Sunday’s startling loss of 40 percent of their starting pitchers, the Cardinals may have been close to finding a trade partner to move some talent in exchange for someone to jump start a team that should be sponsored by No-Doz instead of Budweiser.
While it is great to have two starters ready to replace the two that just went down, long-term decisions about the future of all these pitchers still have to be made soon. Kelly and Martinez are not going to be content as occasional fill-ins or with bullpen set-up work. Those roles don’t command the same salaries starters do; either one would be a valuable enticement in trade talks.
But now, John Mozeliak cannot act until he knows whether Garcia’s shoulder can withstand the rigors of the starting rotation and whether Wacha needs more than just rest.
Any trade partner willing to part with a bona fide offensive threat will want baseball’s most valuable commodity in return. Prior to Sunday, it appeared the Redbirds were overstocked with it.
Now, they may not have enough, which hurts them both on the mound and in the trade market.