Cards likely to add before Trade Deadline
St. Louis in need of starting, bullpen arms for another postseason run
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' run to and through the postseason in 2011 was a ride that likely never would have occurred had general manager John Mozeliak not pulled the trigger on a pair of late July deals.
In the span of five July days last year, the Cards acquired five players, four of whom (Rafael Furcal, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackson) went on to play key roles for the club during the second half of the season. One year later, the Cardinals are eyeing similar impact deals.
Major League Baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline is set for 3 p.m. CT on July 31, giving Mozeliak less than three weeks to address the club's most glaring needs. That wish list begins with starting pitching.
Last week's news that right-hander Chris Carpenter will miss the rest of the season due to upcoming thoracic outlet syndrome surgery augmented the club's search for another starter. A rotation that was expected to be defined by its experience instead has been pieced together with the inclusion of Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly.
Lynn's first half earned him an All-Star invite, and Kelly has held his own, but to make another run deep into October, the Cards need a boost. Kelly could be replaced by Jaime Garcia, who is expected to be ready to come off the disabled list in August. Lynn, whose workload is becoming a concern, could be shifted to the bullpen if St. Louis can find an external replacement.
In other words, acquiring a starter could not only fortify the rotation; it could make the bullpen better, too. As the Cardinals laid the framework for 2012 last winter, Lynn was projected to be the team's setup man. The bullpen hasn't been settled since Lynn left it in Spring Training.
"I think if we can find starting help, that would be a benefit for us," Mozeliak said. "When you look at our rotation and the volume [of innings] that [Adam] Wainwright has had to throw and the volume that Lance Lynn is throwing, when we start to look long term, we want to make sure we're smart about that."
The Cards are willing to look at short-term fixes, as well as long-term impacts. Acquiring a pitcher whose contract extends beyond this season will be tougher, and it will require St. Louis to give up more.
While it would take a lot for the Cardinals to deal any of their top prospects, they have a chip in Triple-A first baseman Matt Adams that could be appealing to other clubs. With Allen Craig seemingly solidifying himself as St. Louis' first baseman of the future, Adams could be expendable.
As the Cards search for starting pitching, Mozeliak will also continue to scour the relief market, which is expected to be the more saturated of the two. Since releasing J.C. Romero in mid-May, the club has been looking for a second lefty to join Rzepczynski in the 'pen.
Barret Browning has done fine since being called up two weeks ago, but the Cardinals would prefer a more experienced option for the stretch run. A veteran right-handed reliever, though not considered a priority, also would be considered.
On the offensive side, expect the Cards to stay put. St. Louis' batting average has been the National League's best for most of the season's first half, and it is now about to be at full strength. With Lance Berkman nearing his return, the Cardinals appear to have enough depth on the position player end to handle potential injury issues.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.