On my drive back from Springfield, thoughts about what would happen if no trade was made were interrupted by another scary 9th inning for the St. Louis closer. With that in mind, Marco Gonzales may have plenty to say about how the Cardinals tackle the upcoming July 31st deadline. The sixth starter after March has had his share of adventures this season but had good control of everything but his change-up last night.
Given that his three inning performance was the longest since returning from a shoulder condition, Gonzales and his premier pitch will now stretch out on a regular turn either in the Springfield or Memphis rotation. The best part about that for me is that it gives the St. Louis Front Office more leverage in the upcoming weeks. As a number of experts have been pointing out for at least a month, starting pitching depth may never be more abundant or expensive for that matter.
The Cardinals are certainly dealing from a position of depth, as they have the best record in the game and can be picky with any potential trade partner. With that in mind, however, the past couple of days have highlighted just how the next month may play out as Gonzales, Stephen Piscotty, and Jordan Walden to name a few are thrown into the equation.
Piscotty was impressive as his transition to first base looked much closer to being big league ready than expected. Memphis played in Iowa on Thursday and was spotlighted as the Minor League game of the week for some cable providers. Piscotty struggled at the plate, but that was not the concern coming from my couch. He has hit at every level and can provide some much-needed pop from multiple positions now. The strongest sense for a time frame, though, remains up in the air as a spot on the 40-man as well as possible trades cloud the situation.
Because Piscotty is another right-handed option, that may limit the upside in the next couple of weeks as potential deals for lefty mashers are discussed by the Mozeliak brain-trust first. Will the St. Louis faithful get to see the debut of the next possible Craig or Carpenter or is a deal already in the works? That question and many more rest on the shoulders of a trio of lefty who are being counted on to soak up some innings and take some away from a pair of All-Stars.
Tim Cooney continues to impress after his rocky introduction and starts tomorrow in place of Jaime Garcia. Those southpaws as well as Gonzales factor into how the Cardinals prepare to decide which options to pursue in the volatile trade market. Many more posts will go up soon detailing all the different paths that St. Louis can utilize, but my question is why give in to the market? With Walden nearing a rehab stint and the possibility of shifting a starter to the pen if needed, how Mo chooses to navigate the choppy waters this month is fascinating.
Gonzales is the ace in the hole in my opinion, given his success last year coming out of the bullpen. He is even more untouchable than Piscotty, simply because he offers an impact arm that has already been a thorn in the side for big league competition. His change-up matches up with the best in the game when healthy, and that is the biggest question remaining. Do the Cardinals hold steady and wait for reinforcements or go all-in for an impact rental?
This time of year is always the most fun to follow as well as frustrating given the lack of real rumors. No one saw the deal with Boston coming last deadline day, and this year is shaping up to be just as crazy. Hold on for the ride, fellow Birds on the Bat faithful, as it is about to get bumpy!