Cardinals returning to health as Mozeliak eyes trade deadline -

Cardinals returning to health as Mozeliak eyes trade deadline

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(AP Images) (AP Images)

ST. LOUIS ( -- The Cardinals return to action Friday night at Busch stadium, trailing the NL Central-leading Cubs by 7.5 games. In the Wild Card race, they trail Miami and New York by one game for the second spot.

They host the Marlins for three games to open the second half, and will do so a bit stronger than they finished the first.

Kevin Siegrist has been activated, having recovered from mononucleosis. The lefty had been out since June 30, and his 2.78 ERA and 9.5 K/9 marks will certainly help the bullpen.

Trevor Rosenthal also cleared medical exams and will be 100 percent.

Team home run leader Brandon Moss is still recovering from a sprained ankle, and though he’s drawing closer to a return, is not expected to come off the disabled list when he’s eligible Saturday. He could be back in action by the end of next week.

While the rosters is returning to health, the 25-man still has a noticeable absence.

Matt Carpenter is weeks away from a return, and General Manager John Mozeliak said a recovery time of 30 days is a fair estimate. The Cardinals expect a firmer timetable next week.

Improbably, Jordan Walden was also a topic of discussion Friday. The injury-plagued reliever will be in town early next week and will go through a full battery of tests. He has been cleared to throw and, as unlikely as it may seem, the team may have a shot at getting some service from him in the second half.

Trade talk

The August 1 trade deadline is just weeks away, and Mozeliak is sizing up his options as the date approaches.

Despite the mercurial nature of the team this season, both he and manager Mike Matheny believe there’s enough in the tank to make a run with the talent they have.

“I feel good about it,” Mozeliak said of the Cardinals. “When we get healthy, can we put it all together? I think we can do that. Obviously there’s a lot hinging on that. But we’ll be patient, we have the August 1 trading deadline this year so there’s still some time to address it.”

Addressing the needs of the current roster is a tricky proposition. The Cardinals find themselves in a strange purgatory; too much talent to be complete sellers, but too many holes to identify a singular fix.

“I feel it’s almost harder to make a move this year,” Mozeliak said. “When you look position by position, where are you necessarily going to get better? Who could that actually be? It’s tough to put names and faces to this.”

The farm system has a few valuable pieces, but there isn’t enough organizational depth to comfortably move a package of prospects without risking future stability, at least in the short term.

One in-house answer could be Triple-A fireballer Alex Reyes. Fresh off an eye-popping Futures Game performance, the 21-year-old is a constant topic of discussion among media and fans. The team has maintained they want their top prospect to get starter’s innings, and promoting him to the MLB bullpen could stunt his development.

“It’s really about him gaining the innings. He’s likely going to be a starter in the big leagues when he gets here, so unless he’s taking someone’s spot here, ultimately I’d rather him continue to develop down in Memphis,” Mozeliak said.

He did hint that a spot start or a six-man rotation could be a possibility, but logic dictates Reyes would likely be in a reliever role if he joins the team this season. If the team needs help out of the bullpen and cannot find an external solution, Mozeliak wouldn’t hesitate to break from the plan. Both Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez began as relievers, and Reyes’ skill set it too compelling to ignore.

After all, “I think you can find a role for 100 miles per hour. You bring him out of the bullpen in the sixth or seventh hour, that’s a lot of horsepower,” Mozeliak said.

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