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The Cardinals Need to Trade for…

by Aaron Mullins

If you asked the Cardinals fan base what needed to change this off-season, what kind of response would you get?

 

11th Inning Stretch on Twitter

@AaronArchCity @CrashStL @IvesBaseballSTL @bschaeffer12 @Graham_Stl @ballparkbeef @ArchCityMedia Good question. Probably either that middle of the order bat (you know the two names I’m talking about) or an established lefty rotation arm.

Hunter Ives on Twitter

@AaronArchCity @CrashStL @11InningStretch @bschaeffer12 @Graham_Stl @ballparkbeef @ArchCityMedia To me, it’s that definitive “big bat.” That difference maker offensively that STL has been in need of for a while. (We all get tired of hearing it.) Yes, we thought Ozuna would be that. The perfect match, would be either a 3B, or corner OF.

Jason Eaton on Twitter

@AaronArchCity @CrashStL @11InningStretch @IvesBaseballSTL @bschaeffer12 @Graham_Stl @ballparkbeef @ArchCityMedia a bat at 3rd is a glaring need on this team.

3rd Straight October Golfing on Twitter

@AaronArchCity @CrashStL @11InningStretch @IvesBaseballSTL @bschaeffer12 @Graham_Stl @ballparkbeef @ArchCityMedia A power bat infielder, and Corbin.

GBonds on Twitter

A difference maker. We have too many complimentary players. Bullpen help is an obvious need as well. https://t.co/IpYaCosDrq

Hmm… That’s interesting. The consensus seems to be a middle of the order bat, followed by a left handed rotation arm, and then perhaps more relief help. If you’re read any of my previous work, you’d know that I’m a big fan of going after a guy like Patrick Corbin via Free Agency. Will the Cardinals shell out for him? No real true way of knowing, but it would still help bolster the rotation. While discussing potential moves, 11th Inning Stretch also replied with Dallas Keuchel being a good option for the Cardinals as well, and I agree. I think he could be a great addition as a 4-5 starter for you next year. I personally think he might actually be more affordable than Corbin, given Corbin and his recent success.

Under the Radar Free Agent Target for the Cardinals

What I found interesting in all of these replies was that nobody mentioned a glaring problem on this team this season.

Defense… Or I guess the lack-thereof.

Aaron Mullins on Twitter

If you all don’t mind, I’ll most likely be using some of these tweets in my post! Also, feel free to mention their biggest need here. #STLCards

The Cardinals currently lead the Major Leagues with 127 errors on the season. It isn’t exactly close either. Behind them, the Philadelphia Phillies sit with 117. The Cardinals have over twice as many errors as the best team, the Houston Astros, who currently have just 62 errors this season. This hasn’t been a problem for just one season though. After being ranked in the top 10 for least errors in 2013 and 2014, problems arose. Between 2015-2017 they finished in the top 10 in errors twice. This season however has been the culmination of this trend.

How do we fix this problem? Well, I think it starts with a trade.

The Cardinals should trade for Andrelton Simmons from The Los Angeles Angels.

Hey now, we don’t need another infielder.

Well, that’s the thing. He isn’t just another infielder.

He’s arguably the best shortstop playing baseball… from a defensive standpoint.

But again, here’s the thing. He can hit too.

But I’ll get to that later. Let’s start with his glove.

It’s no secret that if you have heard the name Andrelton Simmons, it’s been for his stellar defense.

This year for the Angels, Simmons has 19 DRS on the season, which is good for 2nd in the Major Leagues behind Nick Ahmed for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

He made his Major League debut back in 2012, and since 2012 he leads all shortstops with 182 DRS over that time. Next up is Brandon Crawford… With 77. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 2007 to find another shortstop with 100 total DRS (Brendan Ryan).

If you aren’t too big into the analytics, Simmons also has tremendous range and a cannon for an arm.

Why don’t you take a look here…

Credit to Made the Cut

As you can see, Simmons is an elite defender. If you paired him up with Kolten Wong, you would have 2 of the top 5 leaders in DRS across all positions. That’s impressive. You’d have arguably the best defensive middle infield in baseball.

I want Andrelton Simmons to be a Cardinal, and in now way is this meant to be disrespectful towards Paul DeJong.  DeJong has played spectacular defense this season. He actually ranks 4th among shortstops this season with 14 DRS. My plan for DeJong is that he gets shifted towards his natural position of 3B. His scouting report showed that DeJong was an average defender but since coming to the Major Leagues he has blossomed into a solid defender. If he makes the move to third, you have an infield that has a chance to be special.

But back to Simmons. He has gone under the radar in terms of his offensive production. He has turned it on the last couple of seasons. He owns a .296/.339/.423 slash line with a .762 OPS. He has progressed as a hitter over the last few seasons. His OPS+ In 2014 was a career low 75, but it has rdised every year since up to a career high of 111 this year. Although his offensive production has never been considered elite, his defense makes up for it. Simmons has never had a season below 2.9 WAR.  What’s more impressive is that he did this back in his rookie season where he only played 49 games. He currently ranks 9th among American League position players with a 6.0 WAR.  Another great thing about Simmons is that he hardly strikes out. He has never struck out more than 67 times during a season. And given how many pitchers today rely on the strikeout, that feat is all the more impressive.

He has three gold gloves to his credit, but you could argue he should have more. It’s no secret that he has been the best shortstop in baseball from a defensive standpoint. I guess the voters want other shortstops to feel like they have a chance.

What will it take?

The Angels are blessed to have the best player in baseball playing CF for them in Mike Trout, but for some reason the Angels can’t get a pitching staff together to compliment him.

Sure they got Shohei Ohtani, and while he has been prolific this season, it still wasn’t enough for the Angels to take the next step.

One question that needs to be brought up “Do the Angels have another shortstop?”. Yes. Technically. Kaleb Kowart is listed as a shortstop, but has struggled mightily offensively this season for the Angels. In their organizations top 20 prospects list, three shortstops were listed. One of them, David Fletcher, is currently on their 40 man roster, but is listed as a third baseman. He could theoretically make a move back to shortstop if the Angels do in fact move Simmons.

Do the Angels feel that they will be in contention over the course of Simmons’ contract? He is set to become a free agent after the 2020 season, so if the Angels don’t think they will be ready to make a playoff push, they should be able to get a good return on him now by trading him. They are likely to finish 4th in the AL West this season behind Houston, Oakland, and Seattle.

The Angels need pitching… And the Cardinals have plenty. In my previous article, I mentioned just a few of the many pitchers who have made starts for the Cardinals this season. Out of our current rotation candidates, only two will be free agents after the end of this season (Adam Wainwright, Tyson Ross). So who would you dangle?

1. Austin Gomber

Yes, the lefty. Let’s face it… The rotation will be crowded, and as good as Gomber has been, I don’t see him being a part of the Cardinals moving forward. I also don’t see him being a huge bullpen piece either. He has been serviceable, but I do believe a change of scenery could greatly help his potential moving forward.

2. Luke Weaver

Personally, I think he has more upside than Gomber does. He didn’t have the best year, but I can name a ton of pitchers who have some growing pains in the beginning of their career. If Jack Flaherty struggles next year do you trade him or take him out of the rotation? Probably not… Weaver needs to iron some stuff out, but there is a lot to like about the kid and I think he would be a good arm to wave out there to LA. Good velocity and he showed good command in the minors. He needs to iron some stuff out to become more effective in the big leagues, but his youth should make LA at least a little intrigued.

3. Dakota Hudson

I think he brings the most value of this group. Pitched very well this season for AAA Memphis, and has shown promise in the bullpen for the Cardinals in 2018, but he is more valuable to a team as a starter in my opinion, and I think he will have to wait in St. Louis. He could easily earn a rotation spot out of Spring Training with the Angels. I’m not saying I want to see him go, but to get Simmons, I think it would be worth it.

I also believe that it could take multiple arms for the Angels to truly listen to offers. Whether it be for one top prospect and a low level prospect, or even two top prospects. It’s tough to truly gauge what the Angels would want in return until you make an offer.

I also believe that given the circumstances, the Cardinals will more than likely add a middle infield prospect in return. I would suspect potentially Edmundo Sosa who can play shortstop. Sosa was recently called up in order to provide extra insurance for Kolten Wong.

This trade needs to become at least an option for the Cardinals organization. The team has had far too many errors, especially down the stretch, which has made the playoffs look once again unattainable this season. Adding an elite shortstop could certainly help things. It may not be the biggest name available this offseason, but it could provide the most impact.

Time will tell.

Thanks for Reading.

Aaron M.

What are your thoughts?

Tweet me @AaronArchCity

 

 

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