Saturday brought not only a much needed win for the St. Louis Cardinals, but also another bat for their sometimes slumping offense.
Many Cardinal fans had been clamoring for weeks for Cards GM John Mozeliak to acquire the versatile Mark DeRosa from the Cleveland Indians, and the deal was made late Saturday night for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later.
Versatile is the word most often used to describe DeRosa, not only for the many positions he can play defensively, but also for the flexibility in where his bat can be used in the lineup, and his leadership and teammate qualities in the clubhouse.
DeRosa commands a respect from his peers that is demanded not necessarily by his words or actions off the field, but by those on the field. Always considered the consummate pro, Cubs and Indians fans alike have lamented their club’s loss after DeRosa’s departure this season.
For the Cardinals on the field, this move represents a bolstering of their team in several ways.
DeRosa is a much needed right-handed bat in a lineup that has struggled versus left-handed pitching. Hitting a stout .339/.409/.661 versus lefties at the time of the trade, DeRosa gives the Cards another hitter that can capably handle any spot in the lineup versus a southpaw.
His experience defensively is the perfect fit for a Tony LaRussa managed ballclub, bringing both infield and outfield gloves to St. Louis, and already flashing the leather in left field on Sunday. DeRosa’s ability to play either left or right outfield positions will allow LaRussa to play the splits, as he so often does, and the Cards can now line up two right-handed hitters in their outfield, something not possible without someone playing horribly out of position.
Perhaps most importantly, DeRosa can play a very capable third base. A position in flux all season with Troy Glaus on the shelf, DeRosa should hopefully bring some stability to the position as he settles in with the club.
DeRosa spent most of his at-bats with the Indians in the second or fifth positions in the lineup, but he will figure to see plenty of time in the clean-up role with the Cardinals, as he did on Sunday. A prime candidate for the second slot in a LaRussa-made lineup, a split of at-bats between second and fourth the rest of the season would not surprise.
Early indications are that eventual evaluations this trade will hinge on the player to be named and/or the Cardinals’ ability to reach the post-season. If the Cardinals win the NL Central Division and DeRosa had a hand in that, it’s an undoubted success. If they miss the playoffs, and Chris Perez can find the command he’s lacked to fulfill his “closer of the future” promise in Cleveland, the trade may start to lean in Cleveland’s favor. Many have noted that Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro is a shrewd executive, having plucked gems from other teams in similar trades, and this one may not be different.
Many assume that the quality of the player to be named later is contingent upon either the Cardinals making the playoffs, the Cardinals’ ability to resign DeRosa beyond the end of his current contract that expires after this season, or both. JP Morosi at FoxSports.com has reported that Cardinal farmhand relievers Jess Todd and Francisco Samuel are on the shortlist, either of which, along with Perez, would represent a fairly significant haul for an Indians team that has watched their bullpen implode and cause much of their struggle this season.
Time will tell on this deal and this may not be the end of the trading deadline season for Mozeliak.