Well, the Cardinals head into their do-or-die game tomorrow against the Atlanta Braves. The last time these two hooked up in October, the Cardinals swept the Braves out of the playoffs in the NLDS in 2000. Here is to hoping Lohse brings his A-game and pitches well enough for the Cardinals to advance.
This year's squad brings a nice mix of youth and savvy veterans to the party. It doesn't hurt that most of the guys on this year's team are sporting a bling-filled piece of hardware from last season's improbable World Series run.
Without major turnover, minus Pujols having to watch the playoffs from his couch this October, the Cardinals have a lot of veterans on this squad. Cardinals GM, John Mozeliak, has done an excellent job of finding talent at a reasonable price, all the while, growing from within.
Carlos Beltran was a fantastic pickup for the Cardinals this season and there is no way they are in a position to be in the Postseason without his efforts. He did a much better than expected job of replacing Albert Pujols' offense in the lineup. If it weren't for a second half slump, Beltran would have been well over 100 RBI this season. As it turned out, Beltran drove in 97 runs and whacked 32 homers. Not bad for a guy who was considered past his prime.
With his "second wind," as it seems, Beltran would be an attractive option for an American League squad looking for a DH. His trade value would never be higher, Beltran played in 151 games this season and his age showed at certain points in the outfield. If packaged properly, Beltran could bring some nice young prospects.
The same possible scenario could be made for Rafael Furcal. Furcal started out blazing hot, batting .333 with a .391 OBP through the first two months of the season. He was the catalyst of the offense when the Cardinals were beating their opponents into submission. But then a cold streak, a really long cold streak, came on. In June, July and August, Furcal batted a measly .219 with an anemic .278 OBP. The guy was solid in the field this season, but the prolonged slump may be a sign it's time for him to move on.
Add to that the late rise of Pete Kozma, the Cardinals would be in a position to move Furcal if the right deal came along to add some young talent.
I am not dead set on moving Furcal or Beltran, but if the right deal is there, Mozeliak has got to take a look. Not only would he shed $20 million in payroll, but both players are on the last year of their respective deals, so there would be possibly a minimal return if they leave in free agency in 2013.
All that said, hopefully Furcal can heal in the offseason and the Beltran of October 2004 shows up and the Cardinals make a deep playoff run.