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Could it be déjà vu for the 2012 Cardinals and trading?

Long-time St .Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is gone, but several of his club’s key needs from 2011 have resurfaced this season. So might the method to address them.

La Russa had made public his frustration with the man who had previously been the organization’s top prospect. Of course, I am referring to outfielder Colby Rasmus.

After some rough times, Rasmus was sent on his way to the Great White North, with St. Louis meeting stretch-run needs for a starting pitcher (Edwin Jackson), left-handed reliever (Marc Rzepczynski) and a veteran right-handed reliever (Octavio Dotel) back from Toronto.

Some will forever be satisfied with the circumstances. After all, the Cardinals won the World Series with the acquired players. Yet others will wait for multiple years to pass before making a final judgment on the deal in its entirety.

One thing is for sure. When traded, Rasmus was not at his peak value. Some of that was due to his own struggles, but organization officials, La Russa among them, had also contributed to the devaluation of a very important asset.

The heir to Rasmus’ crown as top Cardinals prospect has been pitcher Shelby Miller. Like Rasmus, the confident young Texan was a first-round draft pick and has been number one among organization prospects for multiple years now. Miller had pitched very well prior to 2012, but also has rubbed some the wrong way.

Miller’s 2012 ERA of 6.00 indicates he has hit his first prolonged rough stretch as a professional pitcher. One recent action is that the organization felt it necessary to strip away his right to shake off pitches. That indicates to me that the right-hander had not been following coaching instructions.

More concerning was the fact that Cardinals officials chose to share this news with the media. Many pitchers struggle while working on their secondary offerings, yet it isn’t normally necessary to provide the specifics when the stick is used instead of the carrot.

In his weekly Q&A session, the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss dropped the word that this year’s devalued asset may be in the process of being prepared for market.

“There is growing sentiment within the organization to remove the Untouchable label from Shelby Miller,” Strauss typed.

Will the 2012 Cardinals use Miller to fetch a starter, a left-handed reliever and a veteran right-handed pen arm at the July deadline this year?

It certainly doesn’t appear to be out of the question, does it? The need for help in the same areas exist as does this year’s potential candidate.

What do you think?

Would you trade Shelby Miller?

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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53 Responses to “Could it be déjà vu for the 2012 Cardinals and trading?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    Okay, first I start out with the premise that anything said by Joe Strauss in a chat other than “hello” and “goodbye” should be questioned.

    Second, if the org is thinking of trading Shelby, I hope to heck they are thinking of acquiring long term assets rather than short term ones as they did with Colby Rasmus. We only have Scrabble left from that trade and he is struggling right now. We may have won a World Series in 2011 but this is 2012 and we are reaping the consequences now. I agree that we can’t assess that trade accurately based only on a World Series win. Colby is happier where he is for sure, but I am not sure the Cardinals’ long term interests were served, especially now with hindsight being 20/20 and the retirement of TLR changing the entire complexion of the matter. Maybe Colby may have still been traded, but perhaps at a time when his value was higher. In any event, the circumstances are different here and there is no reason for the Cardinals to be hasty about Shelby Miller. He may come out of this a much better pitcher, who knows.

    • crdswmn says:

      And in case of argument that we got draft picks out of the trade, I don’t consider draft picks to be a concrete asset until/unless the picks turn out to be big league players. A for sure bird in the hand big league player is more valuable than a tenuous draft pick, in my opinion, when you are trading away a valuable asset.

      • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

        Colby Rasmus gave BD more return than you can possible imagine. Colby hasn’t discovered gold as yet in Canada. He is morphing as we speak. He would never have made the adjustment in his approach that he has, without looking at his career flashing before his eyes. That trade cost Toronto 9 million in a salary dump for the WS. Mo had little to do with it, save bartering equivalent salaries for his player dump. The rest was just SH luck. The real benefit for BD was the separation of you know who, from you know who. Had the Braves won two games down the stretch, Tony announces after the game, Dave disappears with him, with a tidy “retirement package” , and AP makes much less money from whom ever. …………………………. Cardinals have a baseball team. Its a pretty good one. There is a far bigger story brewing than this one.

    • RobbLG says:

      Rasmus was a distraction and it sounds like Miller has similar issues… If it is… Not listening to Coaches is one of the best reasons I can think of for a one-way ticket out of town… I remember when I was young and just becoming a MLB and Cardinals fan… They made a trade that I really didn’t understand at the time… They traded a player that led the team and league in hits just about every year and a 2 time NL all star and previous year “Silver Slugger” for a player that had just been selected for his first all star game and was notoriously NOT a good hitter but he made up for it with above average defensive skills…I liked the hitting consistency and wasn’t so sure that it was THAT big of a defensive upgrade… I was too young to really get the personality and attitude issues but both teams had them with the respective players… In hindsight it’s a really easy call and It put my fears to rest when we won the WS later that year, but, at the time I wasn’t too sure about trading Garry Templeton for this Ozzie Smith guy… Now… Many years later… It’s one of the reasons that Whitey ranks above TLR to me… It’s easy to take a Dotel and plug him in as a closer… It’s another thing to take a player that is basically great in only one dimension and develop the other areas of his game so much that he becomes one of the best ever at his position and a HOFer… A change of scenery sometimes best for all involved…

      • Brian Walton says:

        Welcome, Robb. Some interesting parallels…

      • blingboy says:

        The credit for trading Templeton for Smith goes to Whitey in his role as GM, rather than as manager, so I’m not sure it factors into a comparison with LaRussa. I shudder to think what might have been if Tony had worn both hats. But who knows.

      • RCWarrior says:

        I believe its tough on any player when people ask him to change what has been successful over the years and better yet to change what he had/has done that got them to the Big leagues. I know Colby struggled with the concept of giving up what made him the player he was and had issues with having someone remodel his entire game because they thought they knew better. I say if you believe you have to draft a player and change his entire game then either draft him to trade him or don’t draft him. Shelby may very well have issues with being changed and more likely being changed and not seeing results that the changes are a positive move.

        See I don’t think there was a coach that developed Ozzie into a great baseball player. I believe Ozzie developed Ozzie and when Tony L came along and tried to dictate every move Ozzie made they quickly clashed and Ozzie was out.

        I continue to read and just can’t help but laugh at people who get their information from a newspaper or better yet internet postings that feel they have their finger on the pulse of the situation. I have had this discussion with Marilyn about politics where most people get their information from political adds and make their decisions based on those adds. Guess what? There may not be many truths in those adds so those people are making a choice based on false information.

        The Cardinals seem to have a tendency to try to get a player to conform by leaking mess in the media(just my observation and may not be accurate) and in St. Louis that is the kiss of death because Bernie and Gordon will take that little tidbit and expand on it with their wealth of personal knowledge of athletics, which amounts to zero. and have a mountain built where a mole hill once stood. Shelby is an outstanding talent and now the rumors have started that he won’t listen to his coaches…..the kid is uncoachable. Well let me tell you how thats going to end up in St. louis……Bad. But before it ends bad the two media geniuses(Gordon and Bernie) will trash the player until the Cardinals will not get what he is worth in a trade because word will get out that the kid is a bad seed.

        I voted to trade the player, Shelby Miller, while he still has fair value because unless things change in the media in St.Louis he may continue to get beat like a dead horse until he is put out to pasture with another team.

        • Brian Walton says:

          It is only a supporting point in your post, but your understanding of Ozzie and TLR is inaccurate.

          The issue was not in anyone trying to change Ozzie’s style of play. The issue was playing time. TLR wanted to work in a new shortstop, Royce Clayton. Ozzie felt he was lied to regarding an open competition for the starting job and believed he had earned more than a part-time role in what would be his final season at age 41.

          • RCWarrior says:

            My understanding with relation to the Ozzie and TLR relationship is/was that Tony tried to position Ozzie and control every aspect of his defensive alignment and when Ozzie balked then those two started having other issues develop. My sources may be inaccurate but I doubt it. I have had more than a few former ML players call me this year and tell me great stories about such stuff and other issues. Its like a AA meeting where people come together and tell their stories. Funny stuff.

            And TLR has little problem lying and I’m sure that the lies only hurt the Ozzie/TLR relationship even further.

            • bigchieftootiemontana says:

              In 1996 Ozzie clearly was the better player at shortstop with the bat and glove. TLR stated in spring camp that the best player would get the most playing time. Instead Clayton got the most playing time thruout the season and unfortunately Royce was playing during
              a critical playoff game vs. Atlanta and made a huge mental error in the field that led to Atlanta winning the game and going to the World Series.
              If Ozzie had been playing instead of Royce, Ozzie makes the correct play, Cards go on to possibly beat the Yankees in the WS and Tony gets another ring his first year in the NL. That would have been quite incredible considering that TLR didn’t even know how to double
              switch properly when he arrived from the Junior Circuit.

        • blingboy says:

          Smith wouldn’t kiss Tony’s butt, its as simple as that.

          Speaking of Bernie, he ripped Davidson a new one.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    There is nothing wrong with how Miller is pitching right now. The PCL is a tough league and he is a rookie. Wainwright’s ERA at Memphis was 4.6. Miller can learn and improve.
    It may be a good thing if the Cards leak they have curtailed his discretion on choice of pitches. Last year he earned a suspension. He probably needs guidance. A lot of elite athletes are spoiled by success. They get too much handed to them.
    It is interesting how Joe Kelly got called up first. Kelly and Miller signed the same time, but Kelly was a college junior and has had the maturity to harness his abilities to compete at the ML level. Miller should be able to do this too, he is just younger and needs more time in the minors to lift his game. I doubt the Cards trade Miller.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Its also not clear the Cards have a clear need at the ML level, for which trading Miller would make sense.
      Right now, we have 4 starting pitchers who are having surprisingly good seasons: Lynn, Lohse, Wainwright, and even Westbrook. Kelly is the weakest link, but has been hanging in there giving us a chance and his ERA is a run lower than Garcia. Chris Carpenter may be back by August.
      If Berkman returns by August, then this team is pretty strong.
      We could use the addition of an effective lefty reliever, but we are not going to trade Shelby for a reliever. So there is not pressure on Mo to trade Shelby Miller.
      Last summer, the Cards may have wanted to woo Albert via achieving a winning season. If Albert was going to leave, it would have felt like now or never, so Mo was bold and decisive.
      This summer, we have a more rounded team, with fewer holes. If Chris and Lance can make it back, there is not a lot of pressure to make a significant change.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Jumbo said:

      “There is nothing wrong with how Miller is pitching right now.”

      That is only because he is not pitching right now! Let’s see. He has an ERA of six. He leads the PCL in homers allowed. The organization had him miss his most recent start so he did not have to work on his “non-problems” in a game situation.

      That doesn’t mean he can’t fix it, but there is plenty wrong.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        For comparison, Little Lord Fauntleroy Rasmus had a horrendous rookie season for Memphis during early 2008, but is in the majors now, raking in millions.
        Didn’t Adam Ottavino have a horrible beginning for Memphis? Dave Duncan praised Adam for getting things turned around after a brutal start to his rookie season. Now Adam is pitching for the Rockies, who value his abilities.
        Triple A can be a tough adjustment for many a player. Miller should turn out fine, in due course.

  3. Bw52 says:

    IMHO it would be dumb to trade a kid who is struggling in his first taste of AAA at 21 or 22 yrs old who has been the teams top prospect.Same with Zack Cox…………both kids need to get experience and both are competing against players who are older.You don`t throw the baby out because the bathwater is dirty.
    This is Cox`s 2nd full season and Millers 3rd (i think) so both are still raw.Cards need to think longterm AND stay competitive.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Good point about Zack Cox, Bw. A lot of fans do not appreciate how long it takes to prepare a kid in the minor leagues. If he does not excel immediately at AAA, some fans write a player off. Cox is only in his second year of minor league ball and already at Memphis. That is a steep and challenging ascent, for anyone.

    • crdswmn says:

      Zack Cox was drafted out of college and is two years older than Miller. More is expected from a college player than one drafted out of high school.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        Cox signed in August 2010, after two years of college ball (sophmore old enough for the draft.) He began playing n 2011, taking care of high A and AA last year. He is a AAA rookie, this season, akin to Miller. Neither bonus baby is finding the PCL easy. (When Colby was a AAA rookie, he had a dreadful start.) Cox has made adjustments and been lifting his average. Miller too can make adjustments and come to excel. Skeptics may be too hard on Miller. He needs playing time at AAA, like Cox, to improve his skills and performance. He has outstanding potential, though potential can be a heavy burden and undoes many.
        It is cool Kelly has pitched well last year at AA and has continued this year. Kelly only relieved in college. Many scouts doubted Kelly could grow into a ML starting pitcher. He is exceeding expectations.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    So far, the poll results indicate that 30 percent see Miller as untouchable while 20 percent would trade him. The other 50 percent are in the middle.

  5. WesPowell says:

    Fanatastic series. Our guys have grit.

    The previous 6 games we were 2-4 including losing 2 of 3 at home to KC—-3-2 in one loss and a 15 inning loss in the other. Then lost 2 of 3 at Detroit including an extra inning loss in the finale. This dropped us to .500.

    To come back with a road sweep is superb.

    Well done.

  6. WesPowell says:

    If the proverbial all-knowing genie in the bottle popped out and said if we traded Miller we would then win the world series this year, the ONLY answer is yes.

    • Brian Walton says:

      No, that is simply your opinion.

      Let me provide an extreme example to illustrate a point in time perspective versus the long haul. Let’s go back to 1972. Assume that the career stats of Steve Carlton and Rick Wise remain the same, with just one event change. Had the 1972 Cards won the World Series with Wise, would that have validated trading away Carlton? In 1972, some would have said yes. Over time, the generally-accepted conclusion that the trade was a terrible one for the Cards (the absolutely worst in team history, IMO) would remain.

      I am not devaluing one World Series, but had Carlton remained for most of the remaining 17 years of his career, the Cards may have won many more.

      Will Shelby Miller become anywhere near the pitcher Steve Carlton was? Odds are against, but only time will tell…

  7. WesPowell says:

    Whoever wants to twiidle their thumbs for 15 years waiting to evaluate be my guest.

  8. WesPowell says:

    Anyhow, a fantastic weekend for the good guys in KC. Our guys truly have grit. Did all of last year too.

    Prior to this series we lost 2 of 3 at home to KC, one a 3-2 loss and the other in 15 innings. Then we lost 2 of 3 at Detroit, the finale in extra innings, dropping us to .500. To follow that up with a road sweep is superb.

  9. WesPowell says:

    I do get a kick out of all the looking back about Rasmus. He would be the 5th outfielder on this team.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Rasmus and his family were self-centered from the get-go. They wanted Colby to skip over AAA, entirely. Then they blamed his horrendous start there on TLR, though Tony was not wearing Colby’s uniform at Memphis. Daddy R. wanted Colby traded before he ever got to the Majors. Wanted him to go to the Padres for Peavy.
      Then Colby asked to be traded when in Wrigley Field. Poor baby. You do not have to be a Super Genius to know, this kid has got to go. How Mo was able to unload him for useful assets, I will never know. Brilliant move by Mo.

  10. JumboShrimp says:

    The contracts for Westbrook and Lohse end this year. Chris Carpenter and Garcia have had ailments. We will need to find starting pitchers for 2013 thus seem unlikely to deal Miller.

  11. bigchieftootiemontana says:

    It’s a shame that Edwin Jackson wasn’t signed by the Cards this winter, that is somewhat hindsight but it was puzzling at the time.
    There’s never too much pitching. With Carpenter’s nerve history and Wainwright coming back from TJ seems like a no-brainer.

    Trading Wallace and Mortenson et al for Holliday has worked out great. Trading Lefty was a huge mistake in the early 70’s.

    In ’64 with all my seasoned experience of 9 years old , I couldn’t believe the Cardinals would trade the great Ernie Broglio for
    some no name kid (Lou Brock) from the Cubs. Turned out Broglio had a bad arm and the kid broke Ty Cobbs stolen base record,
    added 3,000 hits and invented the Brocabrella.

    Tavarez and Wong are untouchable in my opinion. Hard to guess about Miller but if he is rubbing the organization the wrong way
    he could be packaged with Cox and Kozma or Greene for a pretty good return.

    Trading is always a risk “but nothing has ever been got that hasn’t been gone for” .

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