Here's an idea my Cardinals buddy and I tossed around a bit yesterday. (My friend has a dog he named Fred, who looks like a miniature bear, hence the name)
With the St. Louis Cardinals losing 20-game winner Adam Wainwright for the season, we were wondering if they should just jettison their chances for this year and retool. A quick glance at the team's roster is –quite honestly– frightening. Not unlike what the SF Giants did with Bonds during his last six seasons or so, the Cards have put together a roster that is as thin as tissue paper, and pretty old.
Lance Berkman? Sure, Holliday is a stud. But this is a one man team right now, and without superior starting pitching, they are going nowhere. Here's Jon Heyman wasting his time trying to convince himself that the team :
…. The Cardinals' rotation, which looked fabulous on paper before Wainwright's injury, is now down to probably slightly above average with Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse, Jaime Garcia. The fifth pitcher, who may be reliever Kyle McClellan, has yet to be determined.
Yeah, right. Westbrook is in his 30's and his career won loss record is under .500. Garcia has a total of 180 innings pitched in the bigs, and Kyle Lohse –who is 32 years old and also under .500 for his career– ran out a 6.55 ERA last season in an injury-abbreviated season. Carpenter is a very good number two starter, but he's three seasons from transcendent, 35 years old, and he's gonna throw his 2,000th inning sometime this April or May. That's not a rotation, that's a train wreck.
The answer is simple. Cold, calculating, heartless, even, but simple, nonetheless. Trade Albert Pujols right now. Get the biggest package of prospects, major-league ready or close, and retool. I'd even go so far as to suggest they trade Carpenter as well. His value will never be higher than it is right now, in the pitching-thin environment that is the 2011 off-season. And if you're talking about Pujols, there's really only one team to target in this trade scenario, and that team is the New York Yankees.
The Cards should call up Hank Steinbrenner directly, because he is an idiot just like his dad, and offer Pujols and Carpenter for Mark Texeira and a slew of pitchers from the Yankees suddenly stocked farm system.
Pujols appears to be, at the least, too expensive for the team to be able to re-sign after this year. Not discounting the possibility that he may just want to go somewhere else. This team is not going to contend this year with the pitching they feature. In fact, I'll put it out there right now; they are gonna finish the year with about 75 wins.
Maybe the Yankees trade two of their top pitching prospects and a hitter.
From the Yankees perspective, they are the only team that could possibly afford $30 million a year for a single player. Pujols is what, 25% better than Texeira? For the Cards, Texeira is bit younger than Pujols, and locked into a contract that is pretty much the deal that they are offering Pujols right now. This is a fantasy, for sure, but it makes some sense if you really think about it.
If the Cards conclude that they are losing Pujols at the end of the year, and there's not much indicating that he's gonna sign off on a deal that is significantly less than what he's worth, I'd throw it out there.
What do you think?
UPDATE: My friend texted me to tell me that today on Sportscenter, someone suggested that the Cardinals trade Pujols now to avoid losing him for a couple of draft picks. Gee, I wonder if the boys at ESPN should talk so frivolously about such a serious subject? Especially since we all know that it would be impossible, right?
Although, Chris Carpenter appears to be throwing a monkey wrench in
my grand program. ;-)