As the Cardinals’ season unraveled in ugly fashion on Wednesday, restless and confused fans screamed louder for answers regarding unused starter Shelby Miller. The highly-touted starter was an early Rookie of the Year candidate after a 15-9 inaugural campaign, and finished his season with a 3.06 ERA and the third-most strikeouts on the staff.

When the postseason began, manager Mike Matheny said that Miller was being held out of the starting rotation in order to provide protection in long relief. That statement, we now know, was a lie. For undisclosed reasons, Matheny and the organization kept Miller (and Edward Mujica) on the postseason roster without intending to ever use them, crippling this team’s chances. It’s a miracle they staggered as far as they did. Fans were correct to be angry about this stunning roster mismanagement in such an important moment.

In the final hours of the season, clues to Miller’s predicament began leaking out of the media. No, Miller wasn’t hurt. He wasn’t a bad seed like Colby Rasmus. Apparently, the Cardinals intend to trade Miller, as I had hypothesized on October 20th, and they didn’t want anything to happen to him during the postseason.

First was a cryptic message from Joe Strauss during a question and answer session:

I’ve heard there is a factor other than game situation compromising Miller’s usage. I don’t have confirmation yet but believe my information credible. I would expect you’ll hear more in coming days and/or weeks. It’s a very legitimate question at this point why he’s on the roster.

A “game situation” would include injury, matchups, and pitch counts. That means either Miller is causing Rasmus-like trouble in the clubhouse, or the team had something else in mind. Bernie Miklasz tweeted something late in Wednesday’s game that clarifies the situation even more:

So if the team plans to trade Miller, is there already a deal in place?

We know that GM John Mozeliak had discussions with several teams about a shortstop prior to the Trade Deadline, including the Rangers, the Angels, and the Rockies. Miller’s name likely came up as bait in those discussions, along with prospects like Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Trevor Rosenthal. Given the Cardinals’ postseason hopes at the time and the unknown abilities of Wacha, Mozeliak was likely unwilling to part with Miller.

Then Wacha shocked baseball by nearly throwing back-to-back no-hitters at the end of the season, and vitually carrying the Cardinals by himself to the Sixth Game of the World Series. In a blink, Wacha leapfrogged over Miller on the organization’s depth chart and Miller became the odd man out in a crowded rotation without ever throwing a pitch.

Given the refusal of the organization to use Miller at all during a postseason that needed long relief multiple times, I’d be surprised if Mozeliak didn’t already have an agreement in principle with another team. It’s the only real explanation for the team’s refusal to use Miller at all in the postseason. If a deal wasn’t already in motion, wouldn’t it be a better option to pitch Miller and showcase his abilities for the trade market? Instead, the team hid Miller away behind a smokescreen of lies. It seems obvious that Mozeliak has already talked to a team (or teams) regarding a Miller trade.

But what team, and for what player? The Cardinals have repeatedly stated that they want long-term fixes at key positions like shortstop. They secured Allen Craig for first base (or right field if Matt Adams stays). They were hoping Kolten Wong would assert himself at second to allow Matt Carpenter to move to his natural third base position.

But the organization doesn’t have a good internal solution for shortstop, which is why they spent part of the Trade Deadline discussing trade possibilities at that position. So who would represent a talented, long-term solution to the shortstop dilemma for the Cardinals?

One name: Jurickson Profar.

The 20 year-old shortstop for the Rangers finds himself the odd man out after Texas committed long-term dollars to shortstop Elvis Andrus. Profar, considered baseball’s best prospect, stagnated as the team’s DH during a second-half trial run. One could almost see a scenario where the Cardinals trade Miller and David Freese (or another? Perhaps Matt Adams?) to Texas for Profar. That move would allow the Cardinals to move Matt Carpenter into third (while waiting on the emergence of third base prospects like Carson Kelly) and using Kolten Wong at second. Meanwhile, Freese would be a solid DH/backup third baseman for the Rangers, and Miller would look very good sandwiched between Yu Darvish, Matt Garza, and Derek Holland.

A trade of this size would open a pressure valve in the crowded prospect market for the Cardinals. They simply have too many starting pitchers lined up for next spring, and Miller (unlike Profar at this stage) is a proven commodity. I believe the Cardinals already have their eyes on the treasures of other teams, and they’re ready to go shopping. Profar is one of the largest jewels dangling in the marketplace right now. For the right price, he’d be hard to resist.

One day removed from the World Series, and the trade market is already beginning to churn! Mozeliak has some work to do. Let’s hope he makes the right decisions!

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About The Author

Lifelong Cardinal fan and general loudmouth.

  • Kimberly Bright Finn

    All this at the price of the World Series for the Cardinals this year. I hope we return and win it next year or this will be one incredibly disappointed fan.

    • Andrew

      Miller is a good pitcher but I don’t think he would have made much of a difference in this series. You can’t win many ball games scoring 1 or 2 runs.

    • harley

      ya true but we still need to keep him in stlouis

  • Edward McKee

    Freese has been persona non grata for a while now, and without the series heroics of the past, he is most likely on the trade block. Carpenter hit an unfortunate slump at the wrong time, but he is solid both defensively and offensively so moving him to third certainly makes the most sense. Wong is second base all the way. Beltran is great, but old and will probably want big money and a multi-year deal. Bad idea; think Birkman. With Craig and Adams already on the roster, right field and first are covered. Can’t say much about short. Don’t know Profar. Descalso is still available though. Miller on the other hand is a proven commodity and one the Cardinals could surely use. Westbrook and C. Carpenter are history and who knows how long Garcia will last in the 2014 season. He hasn’t pitched a whole season since he got a sweet multi-year deal (which is why I am personally against giving pitchers long multi-year contracts). We may need the likes of Miller to fill out the five-man rotation next year. Waino, Garcia, Wacha, Kelly and Miller; that’s pretty darn good pitching staff in my estimation. It’s gonna be an interesting off-season for sure.

    • Bergybones

      We would be dumb not to offer Beltran a qualifying offer. With that said I think the Yankees offer him something in the 3 year 39 mil range and it is not a secret there is mutual interest there. I think Craig starts in right and Adams at 1st next year along with Wong at 2nd and Carpenter at 3rd. That leaves Freese as the odd man out and in my opinion will be traded. I am a Miller fan, but for Profar I think it is a good move. Little Pedro has shown promise and could slide right into the starting rotation to fill the spot left open by Miller. The one big question mark in our rotation will be Garcia and whether he can healthy. I out our starting 5 as Waino, Wacha, Kelly, Garcia (or Lynn), Martinez next year if this trade happens. Add in Holliday, Taveras, Craig, Carpenter, Profar, Wong, Adams, and Yadi and that is a very well balanced team that can hit for power, hit for avergae, run the bases well, and play above average defense.

      • Postal Jim

        Beltran will be a Yankee very soon. Too old to risk that kind of money, again. We got lucky this time.

      • SocraticGadfly

        The only truly good think about Garcia at this point is he’s a lefty. After his initial breakout season, he’s not had another year with an ERA+ above 110.

    • Derp

      Beltran is probably thinking what most aging players do that can hit – head to the AL where they prop up players that would otherwise be done as DH and that’s why I’ve never liked the DH – these are players that otherwise would be retired a long time ago but because they can still swing the bat you still remain on the roster and usually at very high cost. Beltran can still play position so one or two more years in the NL is still possible. Then if he wants to head to the AL to be bat boy it would make more sense.

      • Edward McKee

        Glad to hear someone else agrees that the DH is an abomination. It’s not a level playing field between the two leagues with a DH. Besides, at bats and hitting is part of baseball. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball, pitchers included! By the way, I completely agree with you about Beltran. If we could keep him for one more year at the right $$$, maybe. Otherwise, see ya!

  • Howie Waller Jr.

    If the Cardinals would trade Miller and Freeze for Profar I would be on the market for season tickets. We then would have to use the $20+M. coming off the books for a quality center fielder.

  • Ginger Ann Purdue

    Fire the General Manager and MATHENY…..SEND THEIR BOYS WITH THEM :Freese, Kosma, Lynn, Jay !!!!!!

    • Chris

      Agreed! I hate always going to the NLCS and World Series! It sucks!

    • disqus_fTqLwnod5d

      Seriously? This is one of the most ignorant comments I’ve read here. Likewise with Chris below…I guess he forgot that we won the world series in ’06 and ’11. I think he also forgot that Mike Matheny’s first two years of managing this team we went to the NLCS and WS in respective order. Only one other team in the majors has more world championships than we do. In the past 14 seasons we have been played postseason baseball 10 times. TEN TIMES! That’s unreal! We are spoiled as Cardinal fans. Imagine being a Pirates fan or a Reds fan. The Cardinals management has been absolutely outstanding. I have faith in them that whatever moves we make, if any, will help our team tremendously. Use some judgment before you post something as uninformed as this again.

      • SocraticGadfly

        Matheny needs to learn how to coach base-running better, among other things. He and players also need to learn how to get their stories straight. First, we hear the double steal was his idea, then Jay says it was HIS idea.

        Does Mo in general make good trades? So far, yes. Is he the God and King of all GMs? Well, maybe not.

        • Jared Amason

          Tough for a runner on base to call for a double steal.

          • SocraticGadfly

            But, not impossible. Runners have signs they can use among themselves. In the Whiteyball era, runners calling double steals happened. I’m not saying Jay is telling the truth. But, that’s what he claimed. Given his propensity for baserunning stupidity, it’s possible.

          • Jared Amason

            It might be possible, but very unlikely.

        • Jared Amason

          Most importantly, Mo has DRAFTED well. Who cares about trades when you can create the best team in baseball through your draft.

    • casey

      Ginger your a nut…

      • Postal Jim

        You’re not good with English…..

    • Postal Jim

      Shut up.

    • tim

      amen

  • Terry

    I’d be highly disappointed in losing that extra bench depth if the plan was never to use Miller. You go for the win and the bench has been suspect… that being said… Lynn is better to lose than Miller… along with Kozma, Jay & Freese….

    • Andy Heustis

      Maybe Wong has not been impressive because he never really got any playing time. He was called up on August 16th and played in 18 games. He started in 10 of those and only played the whole game 7 times. Kinda hard to impress when your sitting on a bench. I watched him play down here in Memphis this year and belive me, he can play. He can hit and has speed. But your not going to see that until he plays on a consistant basis.

      • Terry

        I’m glad to hear that… he has all spring to get some at bats and show his talent… I’d rather see Carpenter at 3rd anyway…

    • Drew Maurizio

      Wong only got limited at bats. If this makes you feel better about Wongs future, when Matt Carpenter first came to MLB is about the same amount of at bats Wong got, Carpenter only hit .091. and now look how he did. Wong has always been a good hitter throughout the Minors, no reason to believe he wont be in the Major Leagues.

      • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

        Exactly.

  • Jared Amason

    If we get rid of all our extra pitchers, what happens when one gets hurt?

    • Debra Baldwin

      From triple A…..were they got Wacha and the other rookies….heck we couldn’t do any worse…..SMH

      • Jared Amason

        They could do MUCH worse. Lynn had an ERA of 3.97 last year. If we were to bring someone up that wasn’t a stud like Wacha, we could hope for a 5. An ERA around 4 would make Lynn the best #5 pitcher on every team in baseball.

    • Bobby-O

      We could get one with the pick we get for Beltran. Siegrest could also move into the starting role as could Carlos Martinez.

  • Jared Amason

    Don’t forget we have Oscar Taveras, who could replace Jay in CF. I’d like to see Miller and Jay for Profar. But… Miller straight up for Profar is already in the Ranger’s favor. No way would I do Miller and Adams. Freese can be included, as his value at the moment is very limited.

  • Terry

    not a lot of options…. probably Johnson… better to have the bat than a 23 man roster… bench depth will need to be addressed for 2014

  • Debra Baldwin

    They can get out and around contracts….like you said he is injury prone and might be worth taking a little hit and getting rid of him but guess they could keep him for a long reliever

  • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

    Tulo is too old, too injury prone, and way too expensive. It ain’t happening.

  • Zach

    I don’t know a whole lot about Jurickson Profar, and I definitely know we need a strong player at SS as that was a gaping hole for us all season, but isn’t it a big gamble to trade all of that for such an inexperienced young player? Shelby was a decent pitcher for us, and could probably get better, and I know David Freese has been struggling, but it seems like a high price for such a young guy. I’m perfectly fine with trading Freese, and actually support it. I wouldn’t necessarily like the idea of getting a rid of Matt Adams. He has a lot of potential, I think. If my comment sounds ignorant, it’s because I really am. Maybe someone knows more about all this to give me some insight.

    • KevinMcG9

      Profar was just last year the number one prospect In Baseball, Ahead Of our very own, Number 3 Overall Prospect CF Oscar Taveras… Profar is only 20 years old! Yes, he is not proven, but has the tools and talents to be one of the best SS in the game for a long time. I think we all can agree switching short stops every couple years is annoying and we need a complete guy. The last sure thing SS I can remember was Renteria. I think Profar is worth Miller and Freese in a trade especially with our current pitching situation with the emergence of Wacha, Kelly, Rosenthal, and Martinez.

      • Krazy K

        No offense Kevin, but the same things were said about Green and Rasmus. Miller is a high price to a prospect. I’m thinking something more along the lines of Lynn, Freese, and perhaps Kosma as the player to be named later.

        • Andrew Banker

          No one wants Kozma. He has zero trade value. Would you take Lynn, Freese, and Kozma for Taveras? Doubtful. I surely wouldn’t.

  • Gary

    This would be a huge help but we need one more piece and this team also is looking for pitching. This guy would be exactly what the Cards need and he even looks like a Cardinal type player and would fit in nicely. We need this guy badly and his presence in the lineup would be felt immediately. Who am I talking about???? MARK TRUMBO!!! Let’s get it done Mo.

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  • jammin502

    Shelby Miller for Starlin Castro? Not easy to do an inner division trade, but both teams could trade from depth in those positions.

    • Andrew Rock

      Just a shame that Machado got hurt seeing as the Orioles desperately need pitching and JJ Hardy would be a significant upgrade without a massive trade price attached, but I dare say they’ll want to keep Hardy now.

      If Miller is traded you can’t help but feel it would be part of a much bigger trade. Profar has impressed in the minors but after his promotion to the big leagues it was clear he hadn’t quite found his feet (of course, the same thing can be said about Kolten Wong). The word out of Colorado is that Tulowitzki is going nowhere but apart from selling some extra tickets he’s not going to be a make or break guy for the Rockies because they’re simply awful.

      Would the Rangers consider some kind of middle infield flip situation? A combination of Miller, Adams and one of the young arms for a package of Profar and Kinsler allowing Carpenter to move to third and giving the Rangers the DH they’ve sorely missed. Perhaps Freese could be an add on, giving them some bench depth and the Cardinals a little more salary room to work with (think extensions for young guys, not so much free agent acquisitions – there’s not much out there). Kinsler is a year older than Freese but has a pretty consistent track record of being a quality middle of the order bat.

    • Drew Maurizio

      Castro is like the SS version of Puig. except Castro cant hit. I don’t even want to think about getting him. unless they’ll take Kozma.

    • Jared Amason

      Castro is HORRID. Way overrated, and not stable in the head.

  • Colin Gambaro

    Pretty god stuff. However, I disagree where you say the Cardinals have too much starting pitching. There is no such thing.

  • Don Kaiser

    Miller has always been in the doghouse here…ever since that hushed up minor league incident got him suspended last year. Once you get on the wrong side of the Clark Street Gestapo, you’re gone. I hope they get something for him. But beyond that, I’m really looking forward to yet another season with Shane Robinson, Jon Jay, Fernando Salas and Victor Marte. Am I forgetting any other perennial management favorites?

  • Stroker07

    I agree Drew, we need to keep Adams. He will be our “Beltron/Pujos” in just a couple of years–plus he plays a pretty good first base. I think if they could get Profar with a Miller/Freese trade we should go for it. We could bring him up to be a stable SS. I’m certainly willing to give Wong a try at 2nd and move MC to 3rd. Taveres will do well at CF, so we then have Jay and Kozma to float out there for leverage in another trade. Does that sound doable?

  • Cecilia Zirkelbach

    Once again you can’t win a game with SILENT bats!!!

  • casey

    Miller (Freese) and Adams is too much for a prospect. Must keep Adams

  • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

    Oh, okay. I think I’ll stand by my record on this one.

  • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

    THIS is right on! Constantly surprised how dumb Cardinal fans think other teams are!

  • GroomLeader .

    What I hate, is the fact that a pitcher who won 15 games, and had an ERA of 3.06 was not even given a chance. Granted, the hitting was the biggest cause of our WS loss, but who knows what might have happened, if Miller had been a starter. Which really angers me is the management, Matheny lying his ass off, to protect Miller as trade bait. What about the fans, Mathenius? Huh? What about trying to win a World Series, what, you’re just going to sing the old “we’re just happy to be here” song, and think that’s enough? You waste a roster spot, you cheat Miller of what may be his best chance to compete in a World Series, you cheat the fans of seeing Miller maybe making a big difference, and you LIE like a Persian rug about it. Disgusting, and totally unacceptable.

  • SocraticGadfly

    You’re smoking crack if you think the Cards trade Miller PLUS somebody else for Profar. Straight up, perhaps. Miller PLUS somebody else? Nope.

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      Profar is the #1 prospect in baseball. He’s not leaving Texas for just Miller. Sorry.

      • SocraticGadfly

        You want to make this trade based only on
        “prospectism,” whereas Profar’s actual rookie season says differently.
        Call me back when Profar’s actual performance warrants being traded for Miller plus Freese, not when he’s a negative run producer in the field at the Rangers seeing he can learn a new position, and also a negative run producer at bat, with negative oWAR. If you said Tavares for Profar, then we’re trading prospect for prospect. Actuality for prospect? Different story.

  • SocraticGadfly

    Yeah … even if the Cards didn’t have much in the way of additional postseason eligible bats, ANY additional bat, instead of an unused pitcher, should have been done.

  • SocraticGadfly

    Besides smoking crack on Freese PLUS Miller for Profar, you’re also assuming Wong’s ready to start 2014 in St. Louis. Until I see him in spring training, I’m not.

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      I never assumed that Wong was ready. On the contrary, I think he needs some work.

      However, the team almost won the World Series while playing Kozma/Descalso at shortstop! And neither one is a great defensive shortstop, and they hit a collective .200 with no power!

      I believe the team would be willing to try Wong at second next year and, in effect, be the “Kozma” of next year IF they could find a suitable offensive upgrade at shortstop. We already know they’ll be upgrading with Taveras in center. Wong will probably hit better than Kozma did over the course of a season once he gets his legs under him.

      Again, this team has been willing to forego offense in certain situations in order to “see what they have” in a player.

      Last spring everyone thought I was nuts when I said that Kozma would start the majority of games at short; all of the stat heads kept saying that the team would never rely on Kozma. Yet, who proved to be right in the end?

      I understand Mo’s thinking on this. He never leaves Spring Training with the team be believes will end the season. He leaves Spring Training with a team that he’s curious about, and makes changes as he goes along.

      • SocraticGadfly

        I’m ready to get a better SS. But not to trade not just one but two people who have shown more actual MLB level performance, for a “prospect.” The team shouldn’t trade actual, if brief, proven performance, in Miller, plus past, if but only a bit above replacement level, for “prospectism.” You want to trade Miller plus Freese for, say, Peralta after Detroit re-signs him as trade bait? Different story. But, paying that price of two “Birds in hand” for a prospect? Nope.

        • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

          Miller is getting traded. Face the facts.

          • SocraticGadfly

            Never said he wasn’t. Just indicated I prefer smart trades.

          • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

            Hey, cool guy- I never said a Freese/Miller for Profar trade was going to happen. There could be other players involved. I simply know that Freese and Miller are likely gone, and the team has stated that they are seeking a long term fix at SS. You need to let that go.

  • john weitzman

    That is exactly correct and what any rational fan would understand ! Its amazing how many people just throw out there first thoughts believing that they know best on what the team needs and how to get it !

  • SocraticGadfly

    No, he’s not. DeRousse wants to make this trade based only on “prospectism,” whereas Profar’s actual rookie season says differently. And, the Rangers just asked him to DH, not learn a new position.

  • SocraticGadfly

    DeRousse wants to make this trade based only on
    “prospectism,” whereas Profar’s actual rookie season says differently.

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      All I’m saying is that the Cardinals are going to trade for a YOUNG SS with major upside. Not Tulo. Not Andrus. Not Stephen Drew. Not Derek Jeter. Fans like you have this idea that the Cardinals are going with another stop gap player. Not happening.

      • SocraticGadfly

        There’s nothing wrong with limited use of stopgap players in the right positions, if you can’t make smart (ahem) trades to better at those positions and you don’t want a Yankees-price roster.

        • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

          The Cardinals are not going with a stop gap at short. Bank on it.

  • SocraticGadfly

    OK, so, if trading a good rookie MLB pitcher plus a so-so infielder for a prospect is soooooooooooo smart? Then the Dodgers should resign Mark Ellis and trade him plus Ryu for Kolten Wong, right? Heh heh.

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      Profar is not Wong, and it’s disingenuous to suggest that.

      • SocraticGadfly

        Why is it disingenious? I’m just looking at Profar’s actual performance this year. Should I compare him to Kozma or Descalso instead? Oh, but I’m not a “Cardinals expert.”

  • Brad Johnson

    Right Field.

  • SocraticGadfly

    Here’s some of my overall hot stove ideas, including several different options for improvement at SS, all of which I think are smarter than Miller PLUS Freese (or Freese equiv) for Profar. (Miller plus Kozma? Diff story.) http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2013/11/cardinals-hotstove2014-initial-thoughts.html

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      Nice article. The Cardinals will not be pursuing any of the options you listed due to age, contract demands, injury history, or PED concerns.
      Also learn to spell my name correctly.

      • SocraticGadfly

        The “de” is on your name now. Please forgive me for misspelling the name of a Cardinal Expert(TM). And, for ever thinking that any of my lowly speculations about the Cardinals’ offseason plans could ever live up to those of a Cardinal Expert(TM).

        • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

          Dude, I’ve posted my opinion, and you’ve posted yours. Let’s allow Mo to make his moves. This back and forth bores me, particularly when you’re taking an insulting tone.

  • Jeff Molnar

    Miller, Wong & Adams to Tampa for Price and Escobar.

  • T. Rob Brown

    That’s creepy what you did to his face in that photo… that’s just WRONG. Fix the photo with a real photo not some photoshopped crap.

  • Josh

    Don’t forget about Tyler Lyons!! I thought he looked good this year coming up from Triple A.

    • http://www.stlcardinalbaseball.com/ Ray DeRousse

      You’re right!

  • CrossroadsDawg

    David Keys – You seem to really be having a bad WEEK !! Lighten up !!

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  • Martel

    Profar is at best a .280 hitter who might hit 15 home runs and might steal 20-25 bases. He also hasn’t demonstrated any fielding greatness at SS, though he’s pretty good at 2B. That sort of performance isn’t bad for a SS or at 2B but he isn’t worth Shelby Miller AND Matt Adams. One or the other maybe with a lesser player thrown in the sweeten the deal, but not two players of that caliber. I know that you aren’t the only guy convinced of the future superstardom of Profar, but neither his minor league nor his major league numbers match the super hype that’s been created around him.