Matching Up For the Millers

Welcome to the Silly Season! Now that my favorite part of the season has passed (Draft) followed by an extremely eventful July 2nd (International Signing) period, it only makes sense to dive right in for my first post of 2016. The timing is right to re-introduce myself just as the craziest part of the calendar takes place over the entire weekend.

As far as those in St. Louis are concerned, the annual Trade Deadline should just be changed to Relievers ‘R Us until the middle of August. It has turned into a yearly tradition for the Cardinals that will continue sometime in the next 72 hours. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, however, the safest method is to go with what has worked in the past.

Let the Cubs get all press for making the splashy moves while the Dodgers and Nationals fight for the scraps. History has proven that while some trades (Holliday) pay off immediately, the cost of those deals can set an organization back years in the depth department. Look down the I-70 if you need proof at what may be happening very soon in Kansas City. The Royals went all-in last July with a couple of high profile deals that certainly paid off in the short-term.

Fast forward 12 months, though, and the defending champs are mired in next-to-last place nearly ten games back of the surging Indians. While no pitchers from Cleveland or KC figure to make the trek towards the Arch this summer, the lack of depth for the Royals has turned them into potential sellers. That is eye-opening given the talent on their big league roster but not very shocking when you factor in how much top-level depth matters in today’s game.

What all of that means in the NL Central race should be fairly obvious at this point. The St. Louis front office won’t mortgage the farm unless Mike Trout suddenly wants to be a Cardinal. As great as that would be, it isn’t happening this summer or any other one for that matter because the prospect cost would cripple what has quietly become a strength again. Don’t look now but all the new additions this summer have changed the dynamic of just how stacked the prospects are from Memphis down to Johnson City.

MLB recently released their updated Top 30 lists and one familiar name hasn’t changed. Alex Reyes won’t be trading in his Redbirds uniform just yet, but when he does it will be for the Birds on the Bat and not anything else such as pinstripes. Andrew Miller has become the latest can’t-miss closer with rumors spreading to any team with a winning record. Just for the sake of speculation, St. Louis has been grouped in most likely due to the fact that Reyes has positioned himself as one of the finest prospects in all of baseball.

Listen, my fandom has never been questioned but under no circumstances should Reyes or Luke Weaver be sent to another organization for a relief pitcher. As important as it is to get the bullpen figured out, the future rotation trumps all other needs. Way back in March, the lack of depth behind the starters was a hot topic that has all but disappeared thanks to health and more than a little luck. Instead of stressing about which new hurler will be joining the Cardinals in the near future, it is time to think about adding one from the recent past.

Struggling to adapt to his surroundings would be the ultimate cop-out for Shelby Miller, who is just as likely to change teams as Andrew for much different reasons. As much as Reyes has become the next great St. Louis starter, it wasn’t long ago that Shelby had fulfilled some of that same promise. Everyone knows about the deal that sent him to Atlanta, but the Braves maximized his value by shipping him out West. Arizona was familiar with Miller thanks to Dave Duncan and Tony LaRussa, but they never could have expected the struggles that have caused a demotion and questions about his future.

The interesting part then becomes how do you value Shelby moving forward. Daniel and I had a discussion earlier today about fit so I wanted to see how Miller has reacted in his return to the PCL. And to put it mildly, I see a number of ways that Shelby could help the Cardinals not only this year but for many more seasons. His stuff is still overpowering, so why not see if Shelby could help bridge the gap to Oh. He also could help release Tyler Lyons for more regular work by taking over the long-man role.

Would it be a risk? Honestly you can say that about any deal made the next two days or two years. As far as this pitcher is concerned, however, St. Louis already knows what they are getting and with many years of control at the same time. I still wouldn’t deal Reyes, Weaver, or Harrison Bader given the fact that Miller no longer appears to be a number one or two starter. But instead of selling the future for a 31-year old reliever, how about a hurler who doesn’t turn 26 until October.

Chances are both Andrew and Shelby won’t have to forward their mail until at least 2017 but anything can happen as the Wacky Weekend is about to commence!

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