What a discouraging four game sweep at the hands of the Brewers. The old adage of one step forward, two steps back seems to apply here. Every time the Cards get on a roll and take a step forward, they face one of their chief rivals and quickly take two steps back. It's no secret where the primary frustration in this series lies: with the already much-maligned bullpen. The Cardinals were dominated in game 3 by Sabathia, but had great opportunities to win the other three games, but were let down by the bullpen. As far as the 2008 season goes, the bullpen has the season sitting on the brink. There is simply no confidence in the faces of the relievers when they come in to try and close out games. Ryan Franklin has done a nice job overall this year, after being thrust into the closer's role, but it is becoming painfully obvious what we suspected all along: as a closer, Ryan Franklin makes a pretty good setup guy. There can no longer be any hope that this group can be depended on to close out games on a consistent, pennant-winning basis. At this point, it doesn't really matter when Carpenter and Wainwright come back, as long as the bullpen is in it's present state.
So, what to do now? The trade deadline sits 6 days away, and there is little indication from Mozeliak that a deal is imminent. Given where this team is, I think I am leaning toward the opionion that CardsFan2 and others have expressed on this site: do not sacrifice prospects for anyone that is not signed beyond this year. This team was certainly built with an eye toward 2009 and beyond, and Mo should really not lose sight of that. I would forget guys like Fuentes and Guardado, who are FA after the season. What I would like to see is a possible deal for a George Sherrill or Damaso Marte, who are signed beyond this year. If the asking price is not too high (and it sounds like Baltimore's asking price is sky-high), then I think it still makes sense to upgrade the bullpen and try to salvage 2008. As it stands right now, though, I think we have to be realistic that our bullpen performance and the depth of our rotation do not match up to the Cubs and Brewers. The return of Carp and Wainwright could level the playing field, but how much of the future do we sacrifice to try and win this year. I say not much, unless we trade for players that can help us in 2009 and 2010.