The trade line is approaching fast and rumors continue to mount throughout the majors. David Price, Jon Lester, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and other starting pitchers are still available, but to this point, the Cardinals have done nothing but trade their seventh best prospect in outfielder James Ramsey for a rental starter (Justin Masterson) with an ERA of 5.51 in 98 innings. Sure, Masterson has been a workhorse in his career and has been known to have a ton of upside, but that upside has amounted to a career 4.16 ERA and a compiled record that’s twelve games under .500.
Eating innings will be an essential job for Masterson, as the Cardinals have struggled to do so since Michael Wacha’s injury, especially outside of Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn. Joe Kelly went just five innings in his start Wednesday night, needing nearly one-hundred pitches to do so. Masterson, however, has failed to go deep in any of his last three starts, compiling just nine innings total in his last three starts. Perhaps Masterson can help solidify the clubhouse and create a spark for the Cardinals. Masterson seems like a great clubhouse guy based on the reaction of his Indians teammates upon hearing of his trade. In response, the entire Indians roster donned high socks for Wednesday’s game. The high socks had become a trademark look for Masterson during his time with the Cleveland organization.
With the addition of Masterson, the Cardinals now have eight starters on the 40-man roster (Wainwright, Lynn, Miller, Kelly, Martinez, Gonzales, Lyons, and Masterson). Even so, the Cardinals could make a move on the final day of the trade deadline to add yet another quality arm. David Price now seems a lock to stay in Tampa Bay unless the Rays are blown away by an offer, and the same goes for Cole Hamels. However, Jon Lester, AJ Burnett, Cliff Lee, and John Lackey are all possibilities for late additions.
According to Ken Rosenthal’s source, Jon Morosi, the Cardinals were still considering Jon Lester at 11:30 PM (Central Time), despite making the earlier move for Masterson.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 31, 2014
Lester still seems as though he may be a rental player as well, although a deal with the Cardinals would seem imminent if a trade were to go through.Lester was scratched from his start Wednesday night, and it’s a bit shocking to see him still available. Lester has top of the rotation stuff and is having the best season of his career. Lester ranks fifth in the AL with a 2.52 ERA and has compiled a 10-7 record for the struggling Red Sox. Lester was in attendance for the Red Sox game Wednesday and took batting practice for the club in preperation for next weeks interleague series’, so he could of course remain with Boston through the deadline.
A more likely fit would be Phillies veteran Cliff Lee. Lee has also been an innings eater, throwing more than 200 innings in each season since 2008. Lee has also been very consistent since 2008, compiling ERA’s lower than 3.25 in each of those seasons. This season, Lee has struggled with injuries, but has still been able to maintain a 3.78 ERA in 78.2 innings. If healthy, Lee could be a veteran addition to a team really struggling to find itself going into August.
As it is, the Cardinals offense has struggled and the prospects of the club have done little with their time up. Cardinals fans continue to grow impatient with an organization used to winning in the past decade, but there is of course a chance that this just isn’t the Cardinals years. It will be interesting to see fan reaction whether a trade is made or not, but as of now, no deal is expected.