22 July 2009

Cards Trading, Moving, Shaking It Up

It's late in July and fans of the St. Louis Cardinals are starting to wonder what General Manager John Mozeliak has up his sleeve for the next few weeks. In the past three weeks, the Cardinals' GM has made two key moves to bring change to the lineup, including the acquisition of veteran utility player Mark DeRosa for young pitcher Chris Perez, and swapping a struggling Chris Duncan for recently-designated-for-assignment infielder Julio Lugo from the Boston Red Sox.

Duncan and Rick Ankiel have been splitting time in left field over the past couple of months since Colby Rasmus gained fulltime status as the Birdos center fielder, following a dramatic injury to Ankiel at Busch Stadium in May.

What's next on the agenda for Mozeliak? Speculation has been ongoing that the Cardinals might be in the hunt for Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. However the price to make that trade is steeper than most ballclubs are willing to entertain. That stream of thought probably includes the Cardinals, as the rumored trade would have St. Louis sending Joel Piniero and at least one top prospect and one major leaguer in addition to taking Halladay's remaining pay for the season. Piniero has been the victim of poor run production behind him, but has been excellent on the mound, giving up the fewest walks of any major league starter over the past 10 weeks, and even single-handedly winning his last start with an RBI double which drove in the winning run.

The stage is set for Mozeliak to push another club for a trade. But the question is will he be able to grab a pitcher from another major league team? The Cardinals' Todd Wellemeyer, the worst pitcher in the past ten weeks, could be the trade bait --- but to whom and for whom?

Speculation that a recently demoted major league starter is available may have some in Redbird Nation curious when they look deeper at the reasons behind the demotion --- and even moreso if they see the statistics since Ian Snell, a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher for the past five seasons. Snell was 2 - 8 with the Pirates this season before being sent down to AAA Indianapolis where he has been pitching better than he had for Pittsburgh --- except for the walk-to-innings-pitched ratio. Snell has a 2 -1 record in Indianpolis, giving up only two runs in 32.1 innings pitched, making his ERA 0.56 in that span --- but he has given up nine walks in the past two games. Pittsburgh General Manager Neal Huntington has been less than pleased because Snell commented about his status to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and said he felt that the Pirates were making him the scapegoat for their troubles. Huntington meanwhile says that Snell's comments make the pitcher an unlikely candidate to return to the Pirates.

Does this sound like two pitchers who could use a change of scenery?

Could Ian Snell be another Dave Duncan reclaimation project, or is Snell too wild for the Cardinals' pitching coach and manager Tony LaRussa to tame.

We'll have to wait and see if Mozeliak and the Cardinals can make a deal with Huntington and the Pirates --- and if such a swap would make sense.

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