For the record, I am not on board with trading Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals. I don't like the idea at all. But if you believe the rumor mill, a combination of factors have pushed the Astros in that direction today. One, he would waive his no trade clause to go there. Two, he would do it without demanding that his 2012 option be guaranteed (which might be torpedoing the deal with Philadelphia). Three... well, they apparently want him. Probably quite a lot, if they are indeed the current front runners.
The problem is, St. Louis' farm system sucks. It sucks a lot. It's very similar to ours in a lot of ways, but with fewer young, high upside potential blue chip prospects (like Jiovanni Mier and Jay Austin). So I took painstaking care, by which I mean spending a few hours looking at top prospect lists, stats, and scouting reports and assuming that makes me an expert... and came up with seven players who interest me.
I want them all, or at least most of them, including Shelby Miller. That's how much I hate the idea of trading with St. Louis. If they aren't willing to basically allow the Astros to pick and choose anything they want out of their minor league system, I hope Ed Wade walks away and finds somebody else to trade with.
With that out of the way, here's my list, which may or may not be similar to Wade's.
- Shelby Miller, RHP (19, A). Miller is the only blue chip prospect in the Cardinals' system. He is a young starting pitcher with potential top of the rotation stuff; a plus fastball, a plus curve, and the ability to throw strikes. He's far from the majors, but like Jordan Lyles, don't be surprised if he's a fast mover.
- Allen Craig, 1B/3B/OF (25, AAA). Craig has been major league ready for a couple of years now, but there's just one problem: His best position is first base, and, well... the Cardinals kind of have that covered. He's hit at every level and he's doing it again this year at AAA. He profiles as an everyday first baseman; probably not a star type hitter, but you never know. He could step in to replace Lance Berkman next season.
- Tyler Greene, SS (26, MLB). Look, I know Greene has had some defensive lowlights against us, but he can hit, and defensive statistics like Defensive Runs Saved, UZR, and TotalZone like his defense. Angel Sanchez might be a long-term solution at shortstop, but I'm not betting on it. Even if he is, Greene can play second base, and would probably be better there than Jeff Keppinger.
- Scott Gorgen, RHP (23, AA). Gorgen is a very undersized starting pitcher (5'10") who throws a sinker around 90-91mph but has plus secondary stuff and pitchability. He was having a great season at AA before injury derailed it, and he's currently working his way back in rehab. Conventional wisdom would suggest that a guy his size can't start in the long run, and indeed, he has had some injury problems. However, I like his results--he's struck out plenty of batters wherever he's gone without walking too many. And everything about him screams "undervalued". I'd like to get him as a toss-in, because... why not? He's one of the few starting pitchers in the Cardinals' system who has actually performed well.
Adam Ottavino, RHP (24, AAA). Another boom-or-bust guy, Ottavino interests me because he looks like a guy who always struggled with one crippling problem (control) and this season it seems to have finally clicked for him. He has a plus fastball, slider, and a solid changeup, and good size (6'5"), but until this year, he never had a season in which he walked fewer than four batters per nine innings. This year, however, his walk rate is way down, while his strikeout rate is still solid. He could be a good middle rotation starter, or he could wind up in middle relief. EDIT: Just learned Ottavino is down with a shoulder injury and it may require surgery. That probably rules him out for a trade. Yet another reason not to trade with the Cards.
- Scott Schneider, RHP (22, A+). Basically the younger version of Gorgen, Schneider is another undersized righty, a six-footer with a low-90's sinker, a plus slider, and a changeup. I don't have a whole lot on him, but his results intrigue me; he strikes out plenty of hitters, gets lots of groundballs, and doesn't walk many. He's pitched both as a starter and in relief. His size suggests his future is in the bullpen, but don't write him off as a starter.
Niko Vasquez, SS (21, A+). Vasquez was a high draft pick whose tools have always drawn praise from scouts, but whose results last season were very lackluster. This year, however, he's having a breakout season, batting for .814 OPS between low A and A-Advanced. He's a shortstop, but defensive issues will move him to second or third base in the long run. He has great patience and gets on base at a high rate, but he will take some strikeouts; he has a lot of power potential and has already realized much of it at an age when few batters do.
If I'm Ed Wade, not getting all four of Miller, Craig, Ottavino, and Vasquez is a dealbreaker. The two undersized righties are just throw-ins, and I could live with not getting Greene, since I'm not that high on him anyway. But those first four are a must.
Cardinals fans will think this is too high a price to ask. That's exactly why I don't want to trade Oswalt to them; their farm is weak, so they are going to overvalue what assets they do have. Beyond that, the idea of seeing Roy in a Cardinals uniform is abhorrent to me, as I'm sure it is to many of us, so I want to make them pay extra for the privilege.