The Cardinals are obviously a very good team, but some of the mistakes they make as an organization would draw much more attention if not for the best organization frame. One of the most memorable moments of the last World Series occurred in game four when Kolten Wong got picked off first base for the last out of the game with the tying run, in the person of Carlos Beltran, at the plate. It is not fair to blame that defeat on Wong as the Cardinals were in a very tough position, but if the top prospect for another organization had made such a mistake in a similar situation, it would likely have been viewed as a reflection on that organization. Similarly, failing to address the shortstop situation after 2012 was an organizational mistake.
The defending World Champion San Francisco Giants made two moves during the days leading up to the trade deadline. One, swapping top pitching prospect Zach Wheeler for slugging outfielder Carlos Beltran was intriguing, the other sending minor league outfielder Thomas Neal to the Cleveland Indians for Orlando Cabrera, a veteran shortstop who may well be finished as a useful player was not necessarily a terrible trade, but a frustrating one nonetheless.
The first question this raises is: what is meant, in this case, by playing for this year? Does that mean that Giants are going to try to get the wild card, or that they are going to try to build a team that can play deep into the playoffs and have a chance at winning the World Series? If the goal is the former, than these trades make some sense. Sanchez and Garko will be marginal players; not dramatic upgrades over Travis Ishikawa and Juan Uribe. But then again the wild card race could well be decided in the margins. The Giants’ reason for pursuing this strategy is not clear. Although the team has now missed the post-season for five years in a row, they have also been eliminated in the first round three of the last four times they reached the post-season. Another first round exit may not slake the thirst for a championship of a franchise that has not won the World Series since Eisenhower was in his first term as President.