*Sigh* Another rain delay. Bad for baseball, good for writing.
As I reflected further last night and today on the big trades that took place in the NL Central earlier in the week – for those not paying attention, the Brewers got CC Sabathia and the Cubs got Rich Harden – the more I’m convinced that the Cardinals did the right thing by not getting into either sweepstakes.
I know a lot of Cardinal fans are convinced that John Mozeliak could’ve come up with just as much as the Cubs did for Harden without harming the long-term future of the club, but for what? For Harden to go down with injury and for someone like Anthony Reyes or Mitchell Boggs or Jaime Garcia to finally put it all together and become this trade’s Danny Haren?
I thought Jayson Stark had a great snippet in his article about the deal on ESPN.com:
In fact, one baseball man called Oakland’s decision to trade Harden now — while he’s pitching great and the A’s are still in a race — a “serious red flag.” Meanwhile, in a potentially related development, a scout we surveyed reported that Harden’s velocity hasn’t been quite the same in his most recent couple of starts, since his eight-inning, 11-strikeout two-hitter against the Phillies on June 26.
The Cubs GM Jim Hendry may well have pulled a master-stroke in landing Harden for another year-and-a-half, not to mention Chad Gaudin on top of it. But this deal involves a whole pot and kettle worth of ‘ifs’.
No, I think the Cards made the prudent move by standing pat in the starting pitcher sweepstakes. And I hope they continue that philosophy, even as “prognosticators” around the globe have them jumping in on the Erik Bedard and AJ Burnett trade rumors. Why on Earth any self-conscious Cardinal fan would mutter the names of Bedard and Colby Rasmus in the same sentence is far beyond me.
So while I was pondering the Sabathia and Harden trades – and quietly wondering to myself if Wednesday would bring a Cardinal trade out of left field – I watched as the Birds went about their business. With all of the hoopla on Tuesday surrounding the Harden deal, coupled with Sabathia’s first start as a Brewer, almost non-descript in comparison was the Redbirds’ ho-hum 2-0 victory over Philadelphia, currently in first place in the NL East this season. All of the focus on two difference making pitchers joining two in-division rivals, and Joel Pineiro is out in Philadelphia outdueling Phillies ace Cole Hamels. I say outduel carefully, because Pineiro certainly didn’t outpitch Hamels. Hamels was for the most part brilliant, short of two pitches to Ryan Ludwick (please get hot Luddy) and Rick Ankiel (please STAY hot Ank). But Hamels’ offense betrayed him, and Pineiro and his offense both did just enough to win. Sabathia and his emotion-filled but otherwise relatively pedestrian first start, Harden and all of the trumpeting coming from Chicago about his impact, and little ole Pineiro blanking the Phils. Guess who got all the headlines on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight?
But I digress…
I said this a bit in short last night, and I’ll say it again. The Cardinals need only make a deal with the devil to keep up in this “arms race” in the NL Central. Tell the man downstairs that you’ll send him some free Cards-Cubs NLCS tickets, and perhaps he will wave the healthy stick around the Cards’ always full disabled list. Have Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright both come back fully healthy, and we’ll see how the rotations stack up. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take my chances with a healthy Carpenter/Wainwright/Kyle Lohse versus Carlos Zambrano/Harden/Ryan Dempster or Sabathia/Ben Sheets/Manny Parra anyday. Get Todd Wellemeyer healthy and back into early season form, and I’ll throw him versus any fourth starter from those teams.
The answer for the Cardinals is in rehabilitation. The answer for the Cardinals is perserverance. The answer for the Cardinals is to keep doing what they’ve been doing. Don’t worry about the other teams, because they clearly haven’t affected the Cards’ performance to date. Take precaution, get guys healthy, and stay within 5 games by the end of July, and we’re bound to see a great race to the finish.
Rain is over, tarp is off. I’m off to watch the other rehab project for the Cards. C’mon Mark Mulder, prove thousands of Cardinal fans wrong!