Just as they did yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals have set their sights on upgrading their starting rotation as they have acquired pitcher John Lackey from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly. Lackey joins recently acquired starter Justin Masterson and incumbent Adam Wainwright to form a formidable rotation in the NL Central.
At six games over .500, the Cardinals find themselves 4-6 in their last 10 games as well as two and a half games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the division. While the addition of Lackey and his 3.60 ERA adds even more depth and veteran presence to their rotation, it does once again bypass their most pressing need — offense. Even as recently as last night, the Cardinals’ lack of run-production has left them treading water in the playoff race.
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) July 31, 2014
At 35 years old, Lackey adds another veteran presence to a staff that was full of up-and-coming prospects at this time last season. With a vesting option for 2015, Lackey figures to be a short-term answer for the Cardinals, another way for the team to overcome injuries that have taken a toll on their young stars. At a time when the Cardinals are unsure of Michael Wacha‘s health as well as the struggles of Shelby Miller, Lackey gives the team immediate reassurance every fifth day.
However, when will the Cardinals choose to address their most pressing issue of an inept offense? Despite lineup shuffling and inventive thinking, St. Louis has been unable to muster a consistently-productive offense. Even the promotion of highly-touted prospect Oscar Taveras was unable to jump-start the Cardinals.
Including Craig in the deal is somewhat surprising for the Cardinals. Despite a poor 2014 season, Craig has shown to be a formidable middle-of-the-lineup hitter. A year after signing him to a five-year, $31 million contract, the Cardinals shipped him away in a trade that is very contradictory to their usual moves. It isn’t often that St. Louis trades a young talent for an aging veteran.
The additions of Lackey and Masterson inspire confidence in the rotation going forward, but time is running short for the Cardinals to appropriately address their Achilles’ heel.