So yesterday the Cardinals made the worst move possible and acquired Justin Masterson from the Indians. In return, GM Mozeliak sent one of the Cards’ top three prospects, James Ramsey, to Cleveland. This trade is simply the worst for many reasons, but it happened and Masterson is now a Cardinal. So with that in mind, here’s your profile to meet the newest Cardinal.
Masterson is a 29 year old pitcher with 7 years of experience, 6 seasons of which came in Cleveland. Masterson is a righty with a low arm slot that actually causes his fastball to rise a small amount. Last season, Masterson posted a 3.4 WAR and made his first All-Star game while going 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA. However, this season, Masterson has not been worth much of anything, posting a 4-6 record with a 5.51 ERA and a -0.6 WAR.
One reason for Masterson’s struggles this season is likely is rising BB/9 rate which currently sits at an astronomical 5.1. For comparison, Adam Wainwright has a 2.0 BB/9. Masterson’s FIP does indicate that he has pitched better than his numbers suggest, so maybe a change in scenery will be beneficial to the right hander.
Whether or not Masterson actually rebounds over the next two months to help this rotation, this trade was not a good move by John Mozeliak. First of all, while pitching depth is a good thing, Masterson cannot be reasonably considered a decent pitcher. The person whose spot Masterson is taking in the rotation is Carlos Martinez. While Martinez has not done very well so far this season, he is still only been worth a -0.8 WAR. Thats only 0.2 points below Masterson, and Masterson is making 9.3 million more dollars this season than Carlos Martinez.
Secondly, the Cardinals spent a very promising prospect on a middling, arguably washed up pitcher when they could have spent the same prospect and maybe a couple of others to get a top of the line pitcher like Jon Lester. Both Lester and Masterson are free agents at the end of this season, but Lester actually provides decent worth as a rental while Masterson is more of a prominent name to throw on the depth chart. At least the Cards didn’t give up Stephen Piscotty.
Finally, and most importantly, this deal was detrimental to the Cards because they really didn’t need pitching to begin with. If they had traded for Jon Lester of David Price, that would’ve be different because both would have provided a monster rotation in October. Acquiring anyone less than those two however is inexcusable because this offense is truly this team’s problem. Last night, the Cards were outscored 12 to 1 by the hapless Padres. The Cards don’t need another on again, off again pitcher in the middle of their rotation, they need a solid bat in the middle of their lineup.
So while I applaud Mozeliak for actually making a move before the deadline, it was the wrong move to make. This team didn’t get any worse with Masterson, but they sure as hell did not get any better.