By Rob Rains
Fans were not the only ones who felt frustrated when the trading deadline passed on Wednesday without the Cardinals being able to make a deal to acquire a starting pitcher.
Members of the tram’s front office felt the same way.
“You spend seven straight days in a room trying to work on something, you want to see some success or see something come out of it, so there’s a high level of frustration even for us,” said John Mozeliak, the president of baseball operations. “We have to have to be responsible for the decisions that come out of that.
“I can understand why fans would feel that way (frustrated). In fairness for the last week we’ve been working tirelessly to try to do something. When you have deadlines and you don’t come up with something you feel badly. I can’t come up with an excuse that’s going to make that go away. I hope people realize we are still excited about our club and still think we can win.”
The frustration level of the fans, as well as the people in the front office, is due in part to the realization the Cardinals are trying to end a three-year playoff drought this season. Adding another starter, especially the right one, would have given the team a better chance to stay ahead of the Cubs and Brewers and win the NL Central.
The Cardinals wanted to trade for a pitcher to join the rotation of Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright. They have had 23 starts this season from three other pitchers – Michael Wacha, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Genesis Cabrera – with a collective 5-7 record. All five wins came from Wacha.
“Obviously over the last three months we’ve had problems with our rotation and that’s why we were trying to find an upgrade for that,” Mozeliak said. “Just because we identified someone we thought who could help us doesn’t mean they were going to do a deal with us.”
The asking price for the pitchers the Cardinals pursued was higher than they wanted to pay, or felt was worth it for the pitcher who would have been coming back, Mozeliak said. Specifically, the Cardinals were not willing to include either of their top prospects, Dylan Carlson or Nolan Gorman in a trade, especially for a pitcher who could have been a free agent at the end of the season.
Some of the pitchers the Cardinals had interest in, such as Arizona’s Robbie Ray, were not traded. Neither was the Mets’ Noah Syndegaard or the Giants’ Madison Baumgarner.
“When you think about what was being asked, or what was being discussed, it just wasn’t enough to get a deal done,” Mozeliak said. “We were not going to trade Carlson for 10 or 11 starts.
“It was pretty specific what we were trying to do and we just weren’t able to get it across the finish line.
“We’re not going to do an irrational deal just to do one. I can sort of sense the frustration in the air here; ‘Oh you guys didn’t do anything.’ But what if we had done something and it was bad? Then we read about that too. The goal of this was to try to make successful and smart deals. We just didn’t feel we were at a point where we could do that.”
The lack of a trade means that Wacha will return to the team’s rotation. He is scheduled to start next Monday in Los Angeles. He has a 5.05 ERA as a starter this season.
“We were aware that upgrades could help,” said general manager Michael Girsch. “It just didn’t work out.”
The best starter who was traded on Wednesday, Zack Greinke, went from Arizona to the Astros at the cost of two of Houston’s top five prospects and two more in their top 30. The Astros also took on $53 million in salary for the next two seasons. Greinke, 35, had a limited no-trade clause and the Cardinals were one of the teams on that list.
The Cardinals did make one trade on Wednesday, sending Jedd Gyorko to the Dodgers. They got a left-handed reliever, Tony Cingrani, back, but he is out for the season following surgery on his left shoulder. The move was more to offset the financial part of the trade from the Dodgers standpoint, Mozeliak said.
One person who said he was not frustrated by the lack of a trade on Wednesday was Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt.
“I love our club,” he said. “There wasn’t a moment today when I was thinking about anything other than getting ready for tonight’s game. We have everything in our clubhouse that we need to get this done.”
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports