With the trade deadline just about a week away, why not come up with a hypothetical move for the Cards at this point in the year-you know, just for fun.
The trade I am about to propose takes a lot of trust. A lot of trust. Yet if we look at the numbers, and the projections of the players involved, it could work out beautifully for both teams involved. Let’s dive in to a purely hypothetical dealing of Cardinals First Baseman Matt Carpenter, for Mets RHP Zack Wheeler, along with fourth outfielder Curtis Granderson.
The Mets Side
For the Mets, this trade would seemingly be nothing but a positive. They would gain a career .280 hitter in Matt Carpenter, to replace a very powerful, yet horrendously inconsistent, Lucas Duda at first base. As well, Carpenter could play any position around the weak and agin Mets infield, basically ensuring that he would play almost every day, giving veterans like Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera much needed rest.
However, Cardinals fans all know, the normally consistent spark plug of the St. Louis offense hasn’t exactly been himself this season. Although in the last month and a half, Carpenter has shown signs of returning to his old form, he is still hitting 30 points below his career clip so far in 2017, with just 14 home runs and 45 RBI just a week before the deadline. So, yes, the Mets would be taking a risk in making this trade for a star who seems to be having an off year. However, Carpenter is clearly better than anything they have at first base right now, offensively and defensively, and if he returns to form in 2018, watch out.
The Cardinals Side
Now, it is the Cardinals who would be taking a huge leap of faith, on multiple fronts with this, again, hypothetical, trade. Let’s first look at the most stable piece of the move, Curtis Granderson.
With Granderson, you basically know what you are getting. A skilled veteran, who is great in the club house, and can still give you 80-100 games in the outfield if needed. Even with declining offensive numbers, he would be a great guy to have, even if just for a year, as the Cardinal outfield continues to mature.
Now, for the question marks, the biggest of which is clearly Zack Wheeler. Despite undeniable talent, Wheeler has spent almost the entirety of his professional career on the DL, missing all of 2015 and the majority of 2016 due to complications with his Tommy John surgery. Still likely not at 100%, and pitching in what amounts to his first full year since 2014, Wheeler has hit some speed bumps in 2017. In 16 starts, he is just 3-7 with an ERA just below 5.00 and a WHIP of 1.55.
However, no one questions the talent of Zack Wheeler. With a four-seam fastball and a sinker, both running up to 95 mph, the Mets right-hander can miss bats with velocity alone. Add in an 80 mph curve and an 89 mph slider that has very good movement, the stuff is clearly there for Wheeler to be an elite starting pitcher. It is possible that another year removed from his injury, and a new setting, away from the New York media, could be just enough to let this star shine.
Lastly, The Kid
One more piece goes into making this trade work for the Cardinals, and that’s for Louis Voit to blossom into the player he has shown signs of potentially becoming. Again, this is another big act of trust the Cards would have to be willing to make, given that Voit has only had 50 at bats in 20 games at the Big League level.
But in this small sample size, he has shown nothing but positive signs. Batting .280 with 3 homers and 9 RBI, he has shown to be a consistent, disciplined force at the plate. He has also, in his time at first base, shown to be a solid defender around the bag. Maybe 20 games is not a large enough sample size to trust this kid with the starting first base job quite yet, especially considering how the other youngsters around the diamond have panned out in recent years.
However, the Cardinals seem to be moving in a different direction, into a new phase, which includes a lot of new phases like Paul DeJong and Alex Mejia. So would it be the worst thing in the world to fully commit to that plan, and entrust a position to a guy who clearly has talent at the spot, and could be a future franchise player? It does take a lot of trust, but I could think of a lot worse situations.