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Theo Epstein Strikes Again: Cubs Acquire Jose Quintana, Put Pressure On Cardinals and Brewers

The Cubs made a big trade on Thursday, beating the rush into the trade market to acquire coveted starting pitcher Jose Quintana from the White Sox.

The durable, consistently good Quintana is a transfusion for the Cubs’ tired and mediocre rotation. He’s just what the Cubs needed. The defending World Series champs have other problems; the anticipated rotation regression isn’t the only reason for their blah 43-45 record. But for the Cubs to shake their lethargy, it begins with the starting pitching.

There’s some pearl clutching going on in Chicago. A crosstown trade between the North Side Cubs and South Side White Sox came as a surprise only because the same-city rivals haven’t hooked up on a trade since exchanging relief pitchers in 2006.

And that was the only surprising aspect of this transaction.

The Cubs gave up four prospects but only two are worth talking about: (1) The 20-year-old outfielder Eloy Jimenez, who is the No. 5 MLB prospect according to Baseball America’s midseason rankings; (2) RH pitcher Dylan Cease the organization’s second-best prospect who is armed with a 100 mph fastball. Both are still at the Class A level; a lot can happen between there and MLB arrival time.

The Cubs aren’t fretting over their team’s outlook for, say, 2021.

They want to win it all for the second year in a row.

There was zero chance of Cubs baseball CEO Theo Epstein sitting around, doing nothing but listening to Pearl Jam as his rotation burned.  The bellicose Epstein is not content to play it safe, nibble around the edges, tweak the roster and settle for a couple of incremental upgrades.

Last summer Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer handed over their top prospect, heralded shortstop Gleyber Torres, to lease Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman for a few months. Soon after the Cubs survived Game 7 in Cleveland to win their first World Series since 1908, Chapman returned to New York to cash in on a free-agent deal with the Yankees.

Quintana is no summer rental.

This was an outstanding deal for the Cubs on a number of fronts:

+ The trade interest in Quintana was intense, with several other teams making a run at the prized lefthander. Epstein didn’t hesitate to win the bidding up front instead of waiting around in case other starting pitchers became available. The Cubs identified Quintana as their top choice, and Epstein was bold. He posted up, and boxed out other GMs. Giving up two elite prospects is expensive, but only for the faint-hearted baseball men or prospect collectors who are more concerned with planning for 2024.

+ After posting the majors’ top starting rotation earned-run average (2.96) in 2016, the weary-armed Cubs went into the 2017 All-Star break with a ballooning 4.66 rotation ERA that ranked 9th in the NL. After mercilessly grinding out more quality starts (100) than any NL rotation last year, the ’17 Cubs are gasping at 13th in the NL this year with only 34 QS.

+ Quintana’s reinforcement is essential because the Cubs’ rotation attrition will only get worse. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey almost certainly will depart after the season. Both can become free agents. Lackey may retire. Jon Lester will be 34 next season. The Cubs already were leaning on Mike Montgomery and Eddie Butler to supply starts after losing Kyle Hendricks and Brett Anderson to the DL. Quintana should help immediately. Hendricks (hand tendinitis) hasn’t pitched since early June but should rejoin the rotation after the All-Star break. Anderson isn’t a factor at this point and will be a free agent after the season.

+ Quintana is reasonably young at 28 years old. The Cubs control his contract through 2020. In today’s marketplace Quintana is a bargain at salaries of $8.85 million in 2018, and consecutive option years at a price of $10.5 million and $11 million, respectively. That’s another reason why the Cubs were willing to move their top two prospects.

+ The two option years offer protection. Should Quintana badly lose form, experience a deterioration of endurance or become a significant medical risk, the Cubs can cut ties after the 2018 season. They are covered both ways. If Quintana performs as expected, he’ll be a tremendous asset. If he flops, the Cubs can bail. This is a preposterously team-friendly contract.

+ I’m sure there will be at least some Cardinals and Brewers fans who will sneer at this deal, and insist that the Cubs overpaid, or that Quintana’s current 4.49 ERA is a sign of decline, or that Quintana is overrated, or that the Cubs’ real problem is an underperforming lineup. Whatever.

+ Quintana’s fielding independent ERA is a more accurate 4.01. And according to Baseball Prospectus, Quintana’s “deserved” ERA is 3.94. Quintana’s ERA is 2.70 over his last seven starts; he’s averaged 10.13 strikeouts per nine innings during this stretch, and has held opponents to a .622 OPS. Quintana’s strand rate is on the low side at 70.6 percent, an indicator of bad-luck randomness. His walk rate is a little higher than normal, and his HR/Fly rate is a fluky at 12.8 percent. But Quintana is tied for 17th among MLB starters with 2.0 WAR, which puts him right there with the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez (2.1 WAR.) The ZiPS projection has Quintana finishing the season with 4.0 WAR, and that’s terrific for a starting pitcher.

+ Since 2013, Quintana has posted four consecutive seasons of 200+ innings, and is on track to throw about 190 innings this season.

+ Over the last four-plus seasons, Quintana is tied for sixth among MLB starters with 20.1 WAR, has a 3.48 ERA, and ranks 8th for most innings. Since the start of last season Quintana ranks fifth among big-league starters with 5.8 WAR.

The White Sox impressively continue to stock their overdue reconstruction project with elite prospects. By auctioning off LH starter Chris Sale and outfielder Adam Eaton last offseason, and cashing in on Quintana now, the White Sox have eight of the top 100 prospects in baseball.

One is outfielder Luis Robert; the White Sox outbid the Cardinals to land the five-tool Cuban prodigy who was touted as the best available international prospect.

So what does this mean for the Brewers and the Cardinals in the NL Central race?

Quintana should be good for about two or three extra wins for the Cubs.

The Brewers are on the prowl for rotation help, and have plenty of prospects to dangle. But Milwaukee GM David Stearns is unlikely to come up with a starter that can match the Quintana addition.

As for the Cardinals … we’ll wait and see what they do between now and the July 31 deadline. As we know, the pragmatic Cardinals almost always make moves based on their needs — and carefully and cautiously assess the cost of potential trades.

The Cardinals weren’t in the hunting party for Quintana.

Sure, he would enhance any rotation but the Cards’ stated priority is finding a middle-lineup bat.

Under team chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., baseball president John Mozeliak and now GM Michael Girsch, the Cardinals’ official position is this: they don’t worry about competitors’ moves. St. Louis management makes moves based on what’s best for the Cardinals.

As DeWitt and Mozeliak have always told us in recent years their goal is to be competitive every year. They want to avoid becoming overheated and making short-term moves that will earthquake their future.

The philosophy hasn’t changed, and a long line of success backs them up.

Since Mozeliak became GM in 2008, the Cardinals are tied for second in MLB (and tied with the Dodgers for first in the NL) in regular-season wins. And the team has competed in more postseason games than any MLB team over that time, with only the Giants winning more postseason games.

It’s also true that the Cards’ extended run success has been disrupted and threatened.

Fans appear to be restless and frustrated. It isn’t easy for customers to keep turning out at Busch Stadium for 3-million-plus home attendance each year, and watching their beloved team stink in the basic fundamentals. It isn’t east for the BFIB to see their franchise get bypassed, and upstaged, by the formerly hopeless and hapless Cubs.

The Cardinals have lost ground over the last two years, ranking 11th in MLB with a .516 winning percentage. This team is in an obvious transition, trying to reestablish firm footing on the attempted climb back to dominance. It’s been a bumpy trip so far.

If the Cardinals are serious about erasing a deficit and winning the NL Central, the Cub have just made the challenge more difficult by pulling in Quintana to suture their rotation. And don’t assume that Epstein is done dealing.

The pressure is on.

Not that the Cardinals will acknowledge feeling it.

But the pressure is being turned up.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

 

  • Mozeliak is an imbecile, and DeWitt is a cheapskate. Only idiots continue to attend these games.

  • JARchitect

    Milo, it is easy to post unkind and inaccurate things about our team. Bernie posted a thoughtful article. It is not helpful in any of this to call names.

    • Christopher Toth

      Couldn’t agree more with you.

  • JARchitect

    The model for success is changing, the values on the players are changing. We will see how the VP/GM team does. The Cards have not “tanked.” This is an interesting experiment, the players have good stories. There is competition in all areas of the field. We are not being successful right now, but the value system is unique and intriguing.

    • Christopher Toth

      The system appears to be working save when quite a few minor league players are exposed too long at the major league level. Is it ability or coaching or both with the big club? Far better to answer that question first before blowing up a model that’s years in the making.

      ^ Just to be clear, my point is a general one and isn’t directed at you. If I am reading between the lines right, I suspect we are on the same page.

      • JDinSTL

        The Cardinals either don’t know how to evaluate talent or they don’t know how to coach it up.

        Take your pick.

  • Scott Singer

    I know you pointed out his 2.70 ERA over his last 7 starts to show he has been more successful. Here’s some more fun with arbitrary beginning points:
    -3 quality starts in his last 9 starts(and it doesn’t take much to get a QS).
    -5.17 ERA, .784 OPS in those 9 starts
    -5.59 ERA, .778 OPS in his last two starts

    There’s really not much to suggest Quintana is 100% back to being what he used to be. He also had a great 5 start stretch in late April-early May then slide back downhill these last 9 starts. It’s hard to say “he’s back” when he really struggled his last two outings.

    A 4.01 FIP isn’t too special either. Certainly not something that screams “give up Eloy Jimenez for this guy!”

    I know the Cubs really don’t care about moving Jimenez. They have bats. It’s the opportunity cost that matters more IMO. Could they have done better if they waited? Did the Cubs have to rush a trade now? Or could they wait? Their window was/is open for a loooong time with Rizzo, Bryant, Russell, Baez, Schwarber, and Jimenez. Pitching is always available. We’ve seen numerous aces get moved in the last 3-5 years via trade and free agency.

    Maybe I’m still just recovering from Mark Mulder. We’ve seen a Cy Young contending lefty go downhill in a hurry first hand. The warning signs were a lot more apparent with Mulder, though. Why Jocketty felt the need to get him in the first place has always confused me. Mulder went from All-Star Game starter in the 1st half of 2004 to 6+ ERA in the 2nd half with Oakland. That’s called a red flag. A huge red flag.

    The Quintana contract is a pretty nice plus for the Cubs, though.

    • geoff

      It could just be that Quintana has been pitching in bad luck. Luck is the latest saber-metric rage. I wonder who wrote the ” Al Gore Rhythm” that quantifies luck…I wonder if there is a way to use that before going to the track. You know, to see if I am betting with good luck.

    • JohnS

      His (Quintana’s) numbers will undoubtedly improve in the weaker hitting NL. Sad but true….the pitching prospect apparently actually is more like a 95 mph guy with a straight FB, very hittable it is said….

  • James R. Norvell

    My angst is that I know we need to doing some dealing, but I don’t want Mozzie in charge of it. I’d rather have Girsch take a solo shot. I know that’s a gamble because he doesn’t have a solid baseball background, but we need some new thinking. I almost threw up when Mozzie said that he would have the final say on moves.

    • JDinSTL

      Promotions and extensions all around!

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    My focus would be on the blown late innings. For me a closer would be a priority. If possible another quality starter but Bernie suggests there aren’t many available. I’m fine with that. A thumper? I just don’t see it as “the” answer.

    • JDinSTL

      What happened when Whitey traded for Jack Clark?

  • BradW

    He seems like a very solid pickup for the Cubs. However, according to a Goold article, these are the last two top 100 prospects the Cubs had in their farm system. So, I’m not sure how they make additional moves without any perceived quality minor leaguers.
    On the other hand, the Cards have a few top 100 prospects to deal. A middle of the order bat would be nice, but where is he going to play? Gyorko is doing well at 3B, Carp is doing well at 2B, Voit is doing well at 1B, Dejong is looking pretty good for SS, Pham in CF, Fowler in LF, and Piscotty in RF. The only glaring weak point is Piscotty, who has a .655 OPS in the last month. So, will the Cards get a middle of the order bat to in a corner OF spot and turn Piscotty into a 4th OF? That’s the only thing that I see that makes sense at this instant. Of course, Voit, Dejong, and Pham have not proven they can maintain their performance at the MLB level, so there is a lot of risk that can be mitigated. The same holds true for Wong. I suppose the team is looking for a stud corner OF, which would make sense. But, that guy won’t be cheap. It might be interesting to bring up Bader or Sierra and move Pham to RF, instead, and make Piscotty the 4th OF. That is, unless Grichuk can prove something, but his clock is ticking and his time has nearly run out. The team can’t wait for him to assert himself on a continuous basis. Maybe the team just needs to start the hot bat in RF between Grichuk and Piscotty. That would make a lot of sense.
    Honestly, I think the team is in a position to make a major push in the 2nd half of the season. I think the rickety rotation is the biggest risk. The closer role has to be resolved, and it isn’t Rosenthal. Unless Oh can switch gears from the first half, it isn’t him either. It’s probably time to get one of the in-house options. What about Cecil as the closer, with Duke returning?

    • James Berry

      Carpenter is doing well at 2nd?

      I’m hoping the Brass goes after Yelich. He would slot in really nicely at the 3 spot. That would send Fowler to LF, if Matheny can find his stones and not acquiesce to Fowler’s insistence he play CF. He’ll cost a hefty ransom, but we are log jammed at too many positions as it is and need to clear that up some. His contract is extremely team friendly. I could see Sierra and Alcantara headlining the package.

      Piscotty won’t become the 4th OFer. His contract and the fact that he can’t play CF at a replacement level precludes that.

      • geoff

        Wow, we’re a half season in and people are already dissatisfied with the biggest free-agent signing the Cards have made in a while. I can only imagine what would be said if Mo went out and got someone like Stanton with his 28 homers , 200 strikeouts, and his .260 average in the middle of the lineup. I think maybe everyone but Mo knew that Fowler is not a very good defensive center fielder. He is however a pretty good lead off man with GREAT base running skills. Now he has been moved out of the lead off spot in favor of Carpenter , who is not fast or smart on the bases, because Matt seemingly can’t get on base unless he is the first man to the plate for the Cards in every game. Tough spot for the Cards. Two lead off hitters one fast and alert on the bases, the other slow afoot and shows no instinct whatsoever, and both are average at their very best in the field. Yelich is the left-handed hitting version of what they thought they were signing when they extended Piscotty. The Cards are chin deep in outfielders and ankle deep on the infielders. They have guys to fill the positions but none are outstanding.

        • EJetson

          I don’t get it either. Fowler has been just fine for us, offensively. If they move him to left field, and bat him 2nd or 3rd, I’m good with that. He’s got that energy that many of the others don’t seem to have.

          • JDinSTL

            Dexy says “CF is his position”. Catch-22 agrees.

          • EJetson

            He can say whatever he wants but if the gutless manager grows a pair and tells him that he’s moving to LF, then he can say “LF is his position “.

          • JDinSTL

            Same gutsy manager that continues to employ Jon Mabry as his hitting coach.

          • BradW

            I think Fowler wants to play CF because his offense for a CF makes him more valuable than in a corner OF spot. He wants to keep getting paid, but his further decline is inevitable. The team needs to sit him down and have a talk with him.

          • EJetson

            He’s 31 with a 5 year contract. He’s done getting paid.

          • BradW

            Exactly. But, he wants to continue to give himself options in the future, and it makes him a better chance to get into an all-star game.

          • EJetson

            Disagree on all points.

          • BradW

            Why do you think Fowler wants to stay in CF?

          • EJetson

            Ego

          • BradW

            That may be. If so, it’s kind of a shame that a player would put his ego above the team. Stroking his ego may be the easiest remedy. But, everybody has their ego bruised in time, so it would not be the end of the world if he doesn’t buy in.

        • James Berry

          I’ve no idea why you directed your comment at me. You basically said what i said. That Fowler and the team would be better in LF. I didn’t add the Fowler at lead off aspect or Carpenter’s many shortcomings because BradW didn’t speak of that and i didn’t want to veer off his topics. But since you brought them up…

          Carpenter is a player without a position and, as you said, can’t hit unless he’s in the lead off spot. He’s slow, the opposite of having good instincts and now goes to the plate looking to walk. A trio of bad things for a lead off hitter. The sooner Carpenter is traded to an AL team, the better.

          Yelich is a better player than Piscotty. That’s a bad comparison on your part. As i said, Yelich moves Fowler to LF and that’s something Piscotty can’t do.

          As far as having too many OFers, there are cures for that. For instance, in the package for Yelich, Grichuk is a good candidate to be included. The Marlins will almost certainly move Ozuna as well. Grichuk can take his spot in LF.

          • geoff

            I probably directed my comment at you because yours was the comment that came up closest to my arrow thingie. I kinda have a sense that Grichuk will probably be traded from AAA. Everyone keeps saying how great the three outfielders for Miami are. If they’re so good why can’t they pick up that team and carry it a bit. Off subject comment…watch at the deadline or sooner for Atlanta to trade Adams to the Yanks for a booty load. The Yankees are desperate for a productive first baseman. I am surprised they didn’t acquire Votto. who is really really good.

          • James Berry

            Well Grichuk was DL’d today with “back problems” which is code for we have too many OFers.

            Miami has no real starting pitching. Pitching will always be key to winning.

            Adams is a possibility, but Pineda went down with a torn UCL and will need TJ. I vote we package Lynn & Carpenter to them.

          • geoff

            I figure you a not the only one with that sentiment. I am a complete fool Kool-Aid drinker, and I still have this crazy illogical scenario in my head where the Cards can take off and win the Central going away. My dream second half is heavily dependent on Lynn having the life back in his arm. I don’t think as badly of Carpenter as many do and I don’t know that I would be in such a hurry to unload him without a substantial return. I would rather see an intra-division trade where the Cards go get Votto. He is exactly what they need to get this team over the hump. I don’t know what the Yankees have to trade in return for what you suggest.

          • James Berry

            You and Votto. So it doesn’t matter that he’s said many numerous times that he will not waive his full no-trade clause?

            Carpenter adds very little to anyone outside AL teams and that halves it right there. I just don’t see him ever bringing back a substantial trade.

            Lynn needs to be unloaded since he won’t be re-signed.

          • geoff

            OK first off, guys with full no-trade contracts have been traded before, after saying they weren’t going anywhere. But to the real point…I am an old guy who does not, and has never had a job running a baseball organization. I am an armchair Mgr, GM, Owner. Anything I would propose or say is just me dreaming or fantasizing about what I think could or should be done. I actually have no stake in the Cardinals, except that they provide entertainment for a substantial part of my year. I am a die-hard Cardinal fan because like most fans I form some illogical attachment to the players whom I have never met , nor will I probably ever know. Hell, I have even taken vacation to spend a week in Jupiter to watch spring training. To give you an idea of what an idiot I am, I stood for over an hour one day watching PFP for minor leaguers. I am just bullshi&&ESg with everybody else on here. This is just a part of the fun, kinda like looking up all the saber stuff is for Bernie. There are people who delight in being internet trollers…they go to the comment sections and just spew vitriol about one team or another. They are not fans of the team and most of them know or care little about whatever team they are railing against, they glean their enjoyment from getting a rise from idiot fans like me. Again, another form of entertainment provided by baseball.

          • James Berry

            Yes, players with full no-trade clauses have been traded in the past. But those players were usually in situations with no discernible light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t see Votto as one in that type of situation. They need a couple of top pitchers at Cincy and with the way they’ve cleared a lot of payroll and stacked prospects, getting those pitchers might happen rather quickly. That’s why i don’t see Votto being moved.

            As for the rest, i understand all of it. I fit most of those categories as well. Sadly, i’ve never been able to get to Jupiter or i’d probably have been right there at the fence watching PFP as well. I look at forming bonds, illogically, with players in this way. If Simba and McGee can get traded away, and it hurt me to the core when each were, then i can get past anyone on this team, or any future team, being shipped away. I might not like it, but it won’t affect me nears as deeply as those two did. One of my very favorite times of the season is July, because it’s knee deep in trading time. I try to make as logical trade scenarios as possible. You won’t see me just say some goofy thing like “We need to trade Gyorko for someone” because i look within 25, 40 rosters and prospects of other teams for possible fits as returns.

            I won’t tell others to go root for another team, because it’s childish and a bottom of the barrel reply. I will voice my opinion when i see others overvaluing ours or other team’s players in trade scenarios, because i don’t believe they are being realistic.

          • geoff

            I didn’t go to Jupiter this year but I did get down there last year and came back dumfounded that I spent a week watching from 7:30 in the morning until about noon for seven days and not one time did I see the Cardinals big league team take infield or outfield. It is little wonder that they were so terrible in the field. Even at that level you have to sharpen your skills through repetition. That said, I highly recommend taking the trip. I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriot right in front of the ballpark entrance( about 200 feet away and was able to see the back fields from my room on the third floor. The area where the facility is located is great, restaurants and bars only steps from my hotel, and of course a short one or two block walk to the back fields. The actual multi-field complex is a bit more of a walk. The Cardinals could not have been more gracious to those people who came out to form that “illogical connection”. I wanted to go to the back fields one day but I was having trouble with my hip and I was telling the head usher Skip (he’s the old guy on the three wheel bike)that I just couldn’t take the walk, so he called a golf cart to take me back there and the driver simply asked him what time I wanted to be picked up. The next morning I was out back and he asked how my hip was doing and he came up to me just before game time and said to wait a minute as he called a golf cart to take me up to the front entrance of the park. I introduced myself to Bill DeWitt and he took the time to visit, even though he was on his way out of the park. Mo stops and talks to the fans continually. I also was very impressed by Adam Wainwright, who stayed behind after BP every day talking to fans and taking pictures, and signing things for as long as an hour one of the days. If you can swing it, it is a really nice experience.

          • James Berry

            I’d like to go one Spring. It sounds like a great vacation.

          • geoff

            It is worth the time and treasure. I highly recommend that same hotel, as there is no other hotel within walking distance of the facility. If you use Marriott Miles you get a room for the equivalent of about $120 a night. If you pay any other way the rooms were much more expensive.

          • James Berry

            I may be too poor for this excursion. lol

          • BradW

            I agree on all points, but I do wonder if the Reds would trade Votto to the Cards. He would be a great addition. His contract is prohibitive, but the Cards have money with all of their cost controlled players. It seems unlikely the Reds would trade within the division, but it would be a great addition.

          • JDinSTL

            That is Jonestown-Strength Kool-Aid

          • BradW

            Grichuk has made this easy. Maybe it’s time time to bring up Bader or Sierra again.

          • James Berry

            Bader would have to be added to the 40 man and someone else would have to be taken off. We’d likely lose whoever that might be. Piscotty is likely to go on the DL with his groin injury, so Sierra seems the safe bet to be brought up.

        • JohnS

          Fowler has not been running like a man with great base running skills. He has run the bases basically like Matt Carpenter this year. We are so going to be regretting this contract in the future even more than we do today!

        • BradW

          I like Fowler, quite a bit. He just needs to put the teams’ interests first and move to LF.

          • geoff

            Actually, I don’t know if MM and Mo have asked him to move. I think that talk is mostly from fans and media.

          • BradW

            I read an article that stated Mo has not asked him to move. I’m not sure why, but he must have his reasons. So, yeah, it’s just a fan thing right now.

          • JDinSTL

            Bernie stated that Fowler is incapable of playing CF. He’s right.

      • BradW

        Carp was an all-start at 2B in the past, if I recall correctly, because his offense is huge for that position. His range would surely be limited compared to Wong. Voit can stay at 1B if Carp can move to 2B. Honestly, I like Carp as a LF or RF with Wong at 2B. I am kind of giving up on Grichuk, I suppose, and Piscotty is moving into the 4th OF role. Pham plays CF, until he goes into a huge funk.

        • James Berry

          Carpenter was ONLY an AS 2nd baseman because of his bat. His range is so far below league average at 2nd that it’s ridiculous that he’s ever even put there. Not to mention his very poor mechanics because of a long ago shoulder injury. He just can’t be quick enough to turn DPs with his feet or throwing motion.

          Originally, during the off season, before Fowler was signed, i wanted 1 of 2 scenarios to happen. Carpenter in LF, Adams at 1st and Wong at 2nd. Or, Mo to get Bruce from the Mets to be a bridge in LF for a season and Carpenter packaged somewhere for prospects since we were going to lose picks. This was even before it was official that we were losing picks. The penalties were pretty obvious before they happened.

          I’m pretty much the same with Grichuk, but he does have skills. There are always GMs out there that believe their guys can turn a guy around. Piscotty can’t play CF at a decent clip, so being a 4th OFer is out. He’d be more in line with what GMs and managers considetr a 5th OFer. Like a Jose Martinez or like Ludwick was. His contract also makes that unrealistic.

          As far as Carpenter playing a corner OF position, his range would be very poor and his arm won’t play in RF. As a bridge in LF on a poor season, as we are having now, he could have worked for a season.

          • BradW

            Interesting. I was kind of hoping to see your first scenario, where Carp was in LF, Adams at 1B, and Wong at 2B. Carp has the offense for the position, and I think he would be close to league average on defense in time. At the time, Piscotty was coming off a good year, and we just got Fowler. The jury was still out on Grichuk, but we were going to find out what he had to offer with extended playing time. Thus, both Grichuk and Carp both needed to play full time. With Adams hitting at a .950 OPS for Atlanta playing 1B, it’s obvious now that we should have had him at that position instead of Carp. Carp still needs to play to provide offense, and Grichuk still hasn’t proven he can play consistently at the MLB level. Thus, they both still need everyday playing time. So, now we have pushed Carp to 2B so we can use a less proven version of Adams named Voit. But, Wong had a turn-around year offensively, so we want to keep giving him the chance to play, assuming he resumes to form from earlier in the year. Ideally, Wong will resume form and become an AS-caliber 2B. The logical thing is to move Carp to LF permanently, because he can probably play the position adequately in time. I’m leery of trades, because the only thing you know for sure is that it is going to be absurdly expensive.

          • James Berry

            Carpenter in LF blocks a LOT of highly thought of OFers. Plus, Fowler really belongs in LF where he’s more suited.

            I love trades. The plethora of trades is one of the things that separates baseball from the other sports, for me.

          • BradW

            Blocks external OFers, right? I agree Fowler soon ends up at a corner OF. If Carp doesn’t have the arm for right, then Fowler should slide over to right with Carp in left. I think a LF of Carp’s quality would be very expensive, and we already have him. I just don’t see the cause to trade him and take on someone else’s player. Just seems risky to me. I kind of get attached to our players, too, like Adams.

          • James Berry

            Let me ask you a couple of questions. When you picture the Cardinals in your mind’s eye, what position and team do you see Carpenter in and on in 2019? 19? 20?

            Fowler’s arm isn’t for RF either. Though i’m talking mainly about internal options in the OF, i’m not excluding external options as well. I’ve not been shy about stating i’d like Yelich in CF for us and pushing Fowler to LF.

            I get attached to players as well, but i’m not that way about Carpenter because of his lack of skills and the inability to hit unless he leads off. That said, i’m for trading just about anyone if it improves the team for years to come. Rentals pretty much piss me off unless they are someone that gets us to the level as a bona fide WS contender. I am this way as i watched both Simba and McGee get traded. I learned that no player untouchable from those trades.

          • BradW

            He is signed for 18 and 19, with a team option in 2020. He would be 34 in the 2020 season, so it’s not like he is ancient in baseball age. His range will decline too much for 2B, if it hasn’t already. In LF, he would probably hold up well enough for a couple of years, at least, because he is not a big body guy. I suspect he will continue to hit .800+ OPS offensively for at least a couple more years. It seems like a reasonable fit either in LF or at 1B. The problem with 1B is he is blocking guys, like Voit and Adams, who can only play 1B. All the internal OF options he would block would be fortunate to play at his level offensively. And, they all carry a lot of risk, while Carpenter can be pretty well counted on. He probably has trade value right now, but what would we get in return? An OF starter would block internal options, as well. I’m not opposed to anyone being traded if it makes the team better. But, I’m not very familiar with what realistic options are on other teams. I think LF is the position for him, as other teams will see the same limitations we do, and he may not hold much value. That being said, his WAR appears to be on the decline the last couple of years pretty significantly, largely due to his bad defense. But, he is a plus defender at 1B this year, I think Bernie has indicated. I guess his best position may really be 1B, but it would be nice if we could get more offense at some other position.

          • James Berry

            His range in LF would be no better, comparatively, than it is at 2nd. He’s not blocking Adams any longer. lol I’m not sure the statement “All the internal OF options he would block would be fortunate to play at his level offensively” is true, only because we don’t know how players in the minors will take to the majors. Many highly touted prospects bust and many lesser thought of minor leaguers prosper. Plus, you put Carpenter in LF, then we are stuck with Fowler in CF instead of a better option defensively. Be it Pham, Sierra, Bader or Mercado or whoever. The fact is, Carpenter being on the team limits moves and blocks players no matter where he plays. There’s no speed out of the lead off position because Carpenter can only hit there.

          • JDinSTL

            Is there a risk to blocking mediocre players?

          • JDinSTL

            We’ve seen Carpenter in the outfield. He’s just as bad out there as he is on the infield. He has ZERO defensive instincts. He’s born to DH

  • ken

    earthquake is a verb now?

    • geoff

      maybe it is like the word task, which only recently has become a verb lol

  • James Berry

    Quintana was just about the only good option, at this time, for a starting pitcher. I was hoping the Cards would nab him, but knew there were GMs out there that could offer more. Quintana isn’t having his best season by any measure, but the quality, or lack thereof in this case, can drag a player’s performance down. He wouldn’t be the first player to turn things around from going to a better situation.

  • geoff

    In my dream world, the Cards can make a deal for Votto. Acquiring him makes sense for both teams. The Cards can afford to send a player or two off of their major league roster and a few pitchers that are close to ML ready to contribute to the Reds’ retooling. In order for my dumb idea to work Carpenter and his team friendly contract would have to be a part of the deal. I still think Carpenter is a good player but he is just not as fun to watch since he changed his approach and his swing trying to become a power hitter. He was fun to watch back when he was a line drive hitting doubles machine. We didn’t notice how badly he ran the bases because he started from second base so often that he wasn’t holding back those more fleet of foot hitters who followed him to the plate. It would be great if the Cards had a left handed pitcher in their rotation. The Cubs have now spent the cache of prospects that they acquired by tanking for five years and they still have an old tired rotation and looking forward to next year, if they want to go get the pitching they will need to be competitive, they will have to start dealing from their major league roster, and to be honest, I don’t think Zobrist is all the rage any more so, they are going to have to unload some young talent. People can criticize the Cards all they want but, they haven’t taken away the hope of decent to good baseball as the Cubs did by losing on purpose for five years. The headline for this article probably should read something like…”Cubs…floundering and now flailing spend their last two premium prospects to pick up struggling left hander Quintana.” Saying that the Cubs are pressuring the Cards may not be as true as saying that the Cards are pressuring the Cubs to blow off any long term plan to build and develop a sustaining farm system like the Cardinals have and refuse to unload willy-nilly.

    • EJetson

      His swing change was likely a product of our non-hitting coach, Mabry.

      • JDinSTL

        I notice “Pisco” is riding that new launch angle and exit velocity to great success.

        Good job Mabes.

        • JohnS

          I’m not too sure how much Mabes has worked with Piscii. He apparently worked on his swing last year with his old Stanford coach and this year appeared to be working on his swing by himself. Wish he would come up with a single approach and stick with it for awhile. The fact he is changing his swing all the time indicates to me that perhaps the native ability is just not there if he is always having to tinker with his swing all the time…

    • JDinSTL

      Geoff,…. dream on dude.

      People like Epstein know how to re-load on the fly. Mozeliak is clearly overmatched.

      • geoff

        Uh, are you new to America or is this maybe your first year as a fan of the game. Theo Epstein’s MO is to take over, sell off the assets, tank for five or so years and build a new club that can win. He has yet to show that he can build an organization that can sustain. Now he last given up his two best prospects for a struggling pitcher. If you consider a five year losing streak to be rebuilding on the fly, then you are correct sir.

        • JDinSTL

          Epstein became the youngest general manager (GM) in the history of MLB, when the Boston Red Sox hired him at the age of 28 on November 25, 2002. In 2004, the Red Sox won their first World Series championship in 86 years and won another championship in 2007.

          I appreciated the chance to educate you.

        • JohnS

          Umm, I would take his three world series championships over Moe’s one any day!

  • Jim Parisi

    I question if the team truly needs a 3rd hole hitter. Can’t DeJung or Voit fill that void? Early sample size and all but to me the thing that is going to make us a winner is a return to sound fundamental baseball. We need to stop beating ourselves.

    We have to do something to break the logjam when Wong returns and we really lack a solid closer in Oh so what package gets you one and whom to you get in return? Do you move Carpenter and throw in Piscotty for one. Piscotty’s contract makes sitting him difficult and he may prosper given a change of scenery. Replace him with Sierra as a late inning defender or pinch runner. Moving Carpenter gives you better defense, Wong vs Carp at 2nd, frees up the leadoff spot for Fowler which hopefully makes him more comfortable moving to a corner outfield spot in that he regains his desired leadoff spot.

    • JDinSTL

      I’ll bet you are reading Moe’s mind. Hey, this DeJong kid… and Voit…

      And, WHEN (not if), they begin to struggle, you know Mabry and the rest will be there to help them just like they’ve done with Adams, Wong, Piscotty, Grichuk, etc.

      • JohnS

        Not a problem, they will just ship him to single A or triple A, where apparently the real coaches reside!

    • JohnS

      You just can’t keep depending on prospects (suspects?) to fill all your major needs. Cards have not developed a decent three/four hitter since Pujols! They show no sign of having such a hitter on the team or in the minors right now that THEY have developed….Voit, only a maybe, but they thought so little of him that he was 25 by the time he debuted…so it does not appear they believe in him that much.

      • BradW

        Adams has a .950 OPS batting for the Braves. The Cards gave away the guy the need to play 1B. He was Mathenaged off the team.

  • Dan Grossheider

    Great article, funny how other writers are saying Cubs overpaid, won’t effect the Cardinals decisions, hogwash,,,,, trouble is we won’t do anything again this year, never do, always same excuses,,,,too much $, not in our long term goals, we’ll wait to see what we can do internally,,blah, blah,blah

    • JDinSTL

      And, the cheerleaders will come along and defend Dollar Bill and his money factory at Ballpark PIllage

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    When talking about trades The Cardinals front office are quoted saying their goal is to be competitive every year. Shouldn’t that include this one??