With all of the recent trade talks, scenarios and mock packages regarding the St. Louis Cardinals, I figured it was time to settle the score once and for all on not only the guy, but also the package that is realistic and attainable for the Birds moving forward. The three obvious guys being discussed locally, and to some extent nationally, are Giancarlo Stanton (RF-Miami), Troy Tulowitzki (SS-COL) and David Price (SP-Tampa Bay). Fans are calling talk radio shows, including mine, with packages for each of these players. Some are realistic, some are anything but. Although I think all three of these players fit organizationally, there is concern on the ability of the Cardinals to sign two of the three to long-term extensions beyond their current deals-David Price and Giancarlo Stanton.
Troy Tulowitzki is the man I think fits the best, both short and long term. The package of prospects fits what we have, what we can afford to give up and the long-term financial commitment is already known pre-deal. Here are the 5 things I believe are in play.
- What package/profile does Colorado want? Colorado, like most teams, needs cheap starting pitching that is young, but somewhat proven. Unlike most teams, however, the Cardinals can deliver in that category with expendable pieces. St. Louis also has the same profile for position players, and other position players that have a ceiling that can only be seen with the Hubble Telescope, according to some pundits. The Birds are in the unique position of having several different options that fit these profiles, or the profile need of almost any team league-wide.
- The package? Given the above profile, I believe the Birds could easily satisfy the wants and/or needs of Colorado without decimating the farm system, or making it difficult to compete for the remainder of the season. My proposal would be Shelby Miller -OR- Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong, Allen Craig and Marco Gonzales. Miller or Martinez are ample to fill the need for cheap, young starting pitching at the Major League level, Kolten Wong helps revamp the Colorado middle infield long-term. Craig will help bridge the gap at 1B for the rest of the season once Justin Morneau is dealt to a contender before July 31st, and could provide some veteran winning experince. Gonzales is from Colorado, a pretty high-level pitching prospect and is a left handed starter. Good deal for both sides.
- The contract? Tulowitzki’s contract after this season is a 6 year/$118MM extension through 2020, with a club option for 2021 that he signed a few years back. The Average Annual Value (AAV or average cost per season) is $19.66MM, just $160K above semi-homegrown birds ace Adam Wainwright. That is palatable for any guy in the clubhouse, including Wainwright, and no fan is going to whine and complain about organizational hypocrisy. The former the bigger concern, but the latter is also comforting. Craig’s money would be off the books, and the Miller/Martinez “rivalry” would be gone.
- The downside of the package? Kolten Wong leaving would be the obvious downside of the package. He is a future star in the making, especially at 2B, where the Cardinals have been trying to develop a talent since the 1990s, after dealing Adam Kennedy, in part, for Jim Edmonds. Wong is a ++ in terms of fielding, base running, arm and speed. He is an above average prospect in terms of getting on base (OBP), although he hasn’t realized that at the MLB level. He is low-cost, high-ceiling player that could be really good to great for a 10-year or so period. His value at the top of the order, especially for the Rockies in that mega-sized ballpark, could lead to gigantic doubles and stolen base totals. Many people wouldn’t see Wong as the principle, but to me he would be.
- Is Tulowitzki a good fit organizationally and a good market fit? Troy Tulowitzki is a great fit organizationally for literally all 30 MLB teams. He is a Gold Glove level SS (if not for Andrelton Simmons from ATL), a perennial Silver Slugger award winner, a gentleman off the field, a hard worker, polite, and a lead-by-example All-star. His contract isn’t an albatross, he wants to be in a winning environment, is in the prime of his career and not one player, coach, manager or reporter has said the word “Boo” when discussing Colorado’s all-world caliber SS. He makes the most sense for the Cardinals, and has, for a long time. The organization needs to make a commitment to their players and coaches and go get the obvious player that fills their desires, pocketbooks and demeanor.
Bonus: Here would be the Cardinals infield, for at least 3 more season.
3B: Jhonny Peralta
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
2B: Matt Carpenter
1B: Matt Adams
C: Yadier Molina
Double Bonus: Keep Oscar Taveras in RF for the foreseeable future. Holliday has a few good years left. Certainly either, individually or collectively, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay, Randal Grichuk, James Ramsey or Stephen Piscotty can develop to at least an above average MLB center fielder for the next 3-5 years. Back of the rotation issues can be handled through free agency.
Let the debate begin. Tomorrow, Dan Buffa will have side of the argument and cast his vote for Giancarlo Stanton (OF-Miami).