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The Essence Of Price

by Dan Buffa

I will admit. David Price would shine like a brand new penny in a Cardinal uniform. Standing atop the mound on a Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium wearing a throwback jersey, Price would be sharp.

However, the biggest question with the potential of a Price to the Cardinals transaction is indeed the price or cost involved. What would it take to get Price? Is the juice worth the squeeze, folks? Let’s examine.

The circumstances. Shelby Miller left last night’s game with a stiff back and utter lack of control. Give it a name but I think we are looking at something else far more serious than back troubles. I have back troubles. Shelby’s issues could stem towards something a little more severe. Michael Wacha will be out for a few weeks with shoulder stress reaction troubles. That’s basically doctor terms for every time he puts stress on the ligaments in his shoulder, it will scream, NO!!!! Don’t expect him back until late July. Jaime Garcia is also out with a shoulder injury and it’s one he knows fairly well. Garcia and the labrum in his left shoulder have a few differences on his career choice. He will be out for a while. Expecting him back would be like expecting David Chase to make a Sopranos movie. Nope.

Adam Wainwright pitched very well on Saturday but his outer elbow and forearm have already started barking. You know what they say. A ligament keeps you out but a muscle or tendon injury comes back as many times as a bad guy in a horror film. Keep an eye on him. Lance Lynn is starting to pitch like he means business but he is entering the stage of the season where he may hit a wall. It’s less likely but not set in stone that he will be fine. Joe Kelly is lurking but don’t hold your breath just yet. Let’s see him throw a few pitches in a game first. Tyler Lyons is making his way back, but I don’t look at him and think savior. John Gast is out there somewhere vollying back and forth with minor league hitting. Carlos Martinez is coming along well but his pitch count is being monitored and such so expecting a ton out of him would be right next to crazy.

So, you have two very reliable seasoned toughened starters in Waino and Lynn as July nearly begins. Take the pressure medication now.

David Price would fix a few things.  He beat the Pittsburgh Pirates today, 5-1 and struck out 10+ batters. That is the 5th start in a row he has struck out ten or more. That hasn’t been done since 2004. On the season, he has 144 strikeouts to only 14 walks. That’s about a 10-1 ratio there we are playing with. Price is an elite lefthanded pitcher. Something the Cards haven’t had in quite a long time. The team has pushed Garcia to the brink of reliability and seen his body crumble in return. Marco Gonzales is a very young arm and making his debut today(3 earned runs through 3.1 innings so far against the Rockies) so he isn’t up to speed just yet. Price would change the makeup of this team in a heartbeat. While he has struggled this season, Price is still a Cy Young caliber pitcher.

Now, let’s be clear. Price isn’t known for his hitting. He can’t drive in runners with 2 outs or hit for power. He has had minimal interleague experience and hasn’t wowed anyone with his swing. He isn’t going to help Mike Matheny’s lineup in any capacity other than a sacrifice or taking up a spot in the order.

Price is also a rental and will cost the Cardinals. The Tampa Bay Rays have Will Myers in right field so they may not need Oscar Taveras but you can be sure they will request Carlos Martinez, Matt Adams, Allen Craig, and Stephen Piscotty in some kind of package. Gonzales and Tim Cooney aren’t off limits either. The price will be stiff and John Mozeliak will have to negotiate a long term deal with Price before he lets go of so many precious commodities. While this kind of deal isn’t outlandish due to circumstance, I find it a hard one to pull off cleanly. There will be Cardinal blood sacrificed in such a blockbuster trade.

The Rays have said Price is expendable, via CBS Sports this afternoon. That has been clear. They haven’t named a price or spun Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney like a bottle yet to start furious rumors. It can be said that The Cardinals and Rays will at least be talking.

So, is Price worth it? This season, he is 6-7 playing for the worst team in the American League. He has a 3.63 ERA to go with those amazing K/BB ratio and has allowed 17 home runs in 124 innings. Price has 2 complete games and yes, 124 innings built up. If St. Louis acquired him and Wacha didn’t miss a ton of time, the Cards would have three ace like pitchers in their rotation.

He was 10-8 with 186 innings pitched last year and 4 complete games. In 2010 and 2012, he won 19 and 20 games and had a sub 3.00 ERA to go with 200 innings pitched. In 2012, he posted a WAR of 6.4. In 2011, he was a rougher 12-13 but pitched 224 innings and only allowed 16 home runs and struck out 218 batters. The alarming thing about 2014 is Price already giving up 17 home runs. That is a career high and we are only halfway through the season. That is something hopefully a new pitching coach can modify or figure out with Price.

Nevertheless, Price is clearly a dominant ace who strikes out a lot of batters, pitches fast, doesn’t walk people, and can give a team a furious amount of innings. He is also still only 28 years old. Giving him a 6-7 year extension wouldn’t be ridiculous and one can expect his already strong numbers to improve in National League ballparks.  He is a pitcher to covet.  Indeed, Price is worth the squeeze.

Even if The Rays asked for Oscar Taveras, Mozeliak would have to think about it. If they asked for Carlos, Piscotty and Adams/Craig, one couldn’t hesitate for too long. You can never have enough pitching. That is what Mo said on Sunday. You certainly can never have enough very good potentially excellent pitching. The Cards play very good defense and support a pitcher well. Price would flourish in St. Louis.

While I am still not 100 percent for the idea of the cost the deal would take, David Price is well worth a long and measured look from the Cardinals organization.  I am starting to sip this kool aid and its very tasty.

Before you question the deal, think of this rotation in late September and October. Waino, Price, Wacha, Lynn, Kelly. When you become conscious after fainting, think about it again.

More and more, I am starting to think the Price is right here.

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Terry Barton June 25, 2014 - 15:13

They are asking way, way to much for David Price……..Cardinals don’t do this deal….

Mick Lite June 25, 2014 - 15:35

We don’t know what they are asking yet… people are just speculating.

John Butor June 25, 2014 - 17:17

The cards could give them a larger quantity of mlb ready/very close prospects than any other team. The rays know this so they should be banging on STLs door as they could really change the landscape in Tampa. If a deal does get done it won’t include Taveras Martinez or adams…Allen Craig maybe because he is cost certain and it opens up for taveras but I think the rays are gonna get desperate soon they have to move him.

Bob Cranston June 25, 2014 - 19:59

This is a no brainer . . . the Cardinals need to win now and in the future. If they can lock up Price long-term there is no reason to hesitate. Let the Rays develop the potential of the Cardinals farm system like the A’s thought they could when they gave up on Matt Holliday . . . does anyone remember Brett Wallace, Shane Peterson or Clay Mortensen (oh and the A’s threw in $1.5M on the deal)? The Rays will want pitching and a bat . . . the Cardinals have plenty to spare. Again, this is a no brainer that not only puts the Cardinals rotation on a level with the Dodgers and Giants but will also serve to take a bit of strain off the bullpen due to the number of innings that Price will eat. The only question: Will he sign a long-term deal and will the Cardinals be willing to offer him the six-year-$125M that he’ll command in free agency?

Jed Willard June 26, 2014 - 09:28

Agreed. People want to keep hording these “prospects”. That is great, but I’ve also seen reports that the Cards are getting a reputation of blocking the young guys. We have a logjam, and that needs addressed. A deal for Price would seem to clear the logjam.

As for not trading the crown jewel of the system…Oscar already has been been put in the same breath as Pujols. Are you kidding me? Never recall stories of Albert losing interest in the minors, or being “bored”. I’m not saying Oscar won’t be a great player, but that is not a guarantee, despite what some folks think.

Jed Willard June 26, 2014 - 09:13

You’re exactly right about the cost being the issue. We don’t know the cost. However, even if you give the Rays a pretty sweet package, this isn’t a bad deal for the Cards. I could honestly see sending Miller, Oscar, and another prospect or bench player in return for Price and not being upset. But, as you mentioned, that’s only if the Rays cover a decent chunk of this year’s salary and you sign a long-term deal on the way over from Tampa. Price would give you protection if Waino had any more flare-ups, if Wacha continues to have issues, and he’d be the natural leader of the rotation as Waino’s career winds down in a few years.

Miklasz had a great point the other day about us focusing on Price when really the pitching move to be made could be for a middle of the rotation starter. The more I think about it, that may actually be the move. Then again, when you look at what some of these middle of the rotation guys make in salary, I’d rather just get one of the best.

Dan Buffa June 26, 2014 - 12:38

It depends on what TB wants and you can sure it will be a package containing 3-4 players. Martinez, Piscotty, Craig/Adams and possibly Marco. Oscar is there also but the Rays already have Will Myers in right field. It just depends. I still think the team could use a bat or even a 2nd or 3rd guy in rotation to help build stability.

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