Three weeks ago, the big news in baseball was the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, a young outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. His passing was obviously a sad moment for all of baseball because he was so young (22) and had so much potential, but it also left the Cardinals with a major hole in the outfield.
The plan going into the 2015 season was for Taveras to play right field every day. In order to make room for him, the Cardinals traded away Allen Craig at the trade deadline and received John Lackey in return. Lackey makes the rotation deeper next season, but right field was still open.
The news that the Cardinals traded for Jason Heyward, formerly of the Atlanta Braves, just reinforces the idea that they are easily the best organization in baseball. The Cardinals realized they had a hole to fill in the lineup, and they filled it without giving up too much in return.
In addition to Heyward, the Cardinals also received reliever Jordan Walden. They sent Shelby Miller and minor leaguer Tyrell Jenkins to the Braves, but got the better of the deal. Yes, Miller is only 24 years old and could have a solid career ahead of him, but he also allows a lot of baserunners, as shown by his 1.3 WHIP last season.
The Cardinals’ rotation will certainly be fine next year without Miller anyway. They still have ace Adam Wainwright, Lackey, Michael Wacha and Lance Lynn from last year’s rotation. Those four pitchers alone make up a very solid rotation, then you add in flamethrower Carlos Martinez, who was in the bullpen last year, and you have one of the best rotations in the NL, even without Miller.
Heyward is a nice piece to add to a lineup that already includes Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta, Yadier Molina and Matt Adams. Even if Heyward continues to not hit for the power, he is still a presence in the lineup. He steals bases (20 SB last season), and he is the best defensive right fielder in the league. Heyward won his second career Gold Glove this season and had 29 defensive runs saved.
The Cardinals have always been in contention because their organization does things the right way. They build teams to win now without mortgaging their future to do so. They regularly have one of the best farm systems in the league, but they also are perennial World Series contenders. Look for the Cardinals, once again, to be serious contenders in the 2015 season even after tragedy struck three weeks ago.