Last week I spoke with sports radio show host Teddy Drucker about the Cardinals recent trade of Shelby Miller/Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward/Jordan Walden, and how it is going to influence the team this upcoming season. Here is what Ted had to say.
Gus Passov: Do you think this was a good trade for the cardinals?
Teddy Drucker: I think it was a great trade for the Cardinals. They got more talent than they gave away and exploited a Braves team that needed to part with Heyward. They also got another guy in Walden who has a plus arm out of the bullpen, which is something the Cardinals need very much.
GP: How do you think Heyward is going to fit in with this team?
TD: First off, I think the change of scenery is going to help Heyward dramatically. I look at him as kind of like a Paul O’neill type player. O’neill played for the reds for six years and they wanted him to be a lefty pull hitter that could hit 30-40 home runs, but he never really reached that expectation the organization set for him. Luckily once he became a Yankee they let him play his own way and guess what? He hit .311 his first year with the team and .359 the year after. I think Heyward has the same opportunity to do that in Saint Louis. Another thing I love about Heyward is that he can hit leadoff. This takes off all of the pressure for him to be a power hitter and at the same time gives them pop out of the leadoff spot. The Cardinals lacked a lot of power last season and this is going to have a fantastic impact on the team. He’s also only 25 and if you look at guys like Alex Gordon and Robinson Cano who were highly touted prospects and took a while to pan out it’s definitely possible to picture Heyward having a career path similar to theirs.
GP: Do you think this trade solidifies the Cardinals as the National Leagues best team?
TD: No, even though this trade was great for the Cardinals, the Dodgers are still the best team on paper and easily have the best pitching staff. But, I do believe the Cardinals should have one of the most entertaining and dynamic lineups next season, there are no holes.
GP: Are there any other moves you think the Cardinals should make this offseason?
TD: I think they need to bolster their pitching staff because of the loss of Miller. I’m not the biggest Miller fan and I don’t think the Cardinals need to break the bank on a guy like Lester, but someone such as Brandon McCarthy, for example, who won’t be an expensive guy to sign and has proven himself in the major leagues would be a great fit. The Cardinals are usually extremely reliant on their farm system to feed players to their major league team, but if they want to be World Series contenders next season, they don’t have the time to wait and see if a prospect is going to pan out.
GP: Do you think Walden is going to challenge Trevor Rosenthal for the role of closer?
TD: No, I think that Rosenthal is going to be closer from the outset, without a doubt, but Matheny will keep a tight leash on him and I would not be surprised if by mid-season Walden ended up taking over. Rosenthal was shaky at times last season and had a pretty high era for a closer, but I believe the pressure of knowing Walden could challenge him for his job will make him become a more consistent pitcher.
GP: Do you think the Cardinals are going to sign Heyward to a long-term deal?
TD: That’s a very intriguing question, his current contract is set to expire in 2016 and he will be an unrestricted free agent when that happens, but to be honest I think it’s in the Cardinals favor to sign him to a long-term contract. Let’s see how he does his first year, but my guess is that they will end up locking him in for 6-8 years because they know that he has the potential to develop into a franchise player and a team leader as well.