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Tipsheet: Experts pan Cards' trade for Moss

Tipsheet: Experts pan Cards' trade for Moss

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Brandon Moss debut

Cardinals first baseman Brandon Moss makes his debut in Thursday's game against the Colorado Rockies. (AP Photo/Billy Hurst)

See! The Cardinals had a whole different offensive look with Brandon Moss on their 25-man roster.

They were able to out-hit their mistakes -- and there were mistakes everywhere, in the field, on the bases, on the mound -- and outlast the Colorado Rockies 9-8 in a sloppy marathon Thursday night.

Alas, Moss didn't contribute to the outburst. He almost dumped a bloop RBI single into left field, but the ball didn't touch down on his first at-bat as a Cardinal. He did get a standing ovation welcome at the plate.

And this victory did little to ease criticism of the deal that sent elite pitching prospect Rob Kaminsky to Cleveland to get him.

Teams are paying extravagantly for help in this robust trade market. Former top picks and pricey international signings moved on to new teams left and right.

The Cardinals played along, sending Kaminsky, a former first-round pick, to the Indians for an itinerant slugger who is trending the wrong way.

This a stiff price to pay. The Cardinals could afford to do it, thanks to their pitching depth, but high cost is high cost.

Here is how some of the leading baseball experts saw it:

Keith Law, ESPN.com: "The St. Louis Cardinals may be without Matt Holliday for an extended period after he re-injured his quad Wednesday night . . . but it seems like a significant overpayment for a player who doesn't materially change their chances of winning the division or making the playoffs and could easily be omitted from the postseason roster in October. The 2013 version of Moss appears to be a fluke in hindsight, much as it did at the time that it occurred, and over the last 365 days he's hitting .201/.298/.364 with strikeouts in 30 percent of his plate appearances. He does have plus raw power -- he has 17 home runs in that span, which considering his low contact rate is solid -- but that's most of what the Cardinals are buying, along with average defense in an outfield corner. Moss is a marginal upgrade over Mark Reynolds -- a similar player with even worse contact problems -- at first base, and no upgrade at all over the Cards' potential in-house replacements for Holliday in left (notably Stephen Piscotty), making this trade utterly baffling no matter how I look at it."

Craig Calcaterra, NBCSports.com: "The Cardinals were looking for a corner guy to help fill the void left by Matt Holliday's return to the disabled list. Moss fits that description, and is the lefty bat the Cards were looking for as well. The bat has not hit too well this year — he’s hitting just .217/.208/.487 this season and perversely, is hitting lefties better than righties — but he has a line of .254/.340/.504 over the previous three years. And of course, the Cardinals and their devil magic tend to turn everyone into a near-superstar as soon as they’re acquired. If they didn’t get Moss they could’ve probably signed Will Clark out of retirement again and have him hit .280/.340/.500. That’s just how they roll."

Jay Jaffe, SI.com: "The well-traveled Moss—a 31-year-old former Red Sox draft pick heading to his sixth major league team in nine years—was hitting just .217/.288/.407 with 15 homers and -0.5 WAR for the Indians, playing 79 games in right field and 10 at first base. That performance is well off the combined .254/.340/.504 with 76 homers he hit as a vital piece of three Athletics playoff teams from 2012 to '14; in terms of OPS+, he’s gone from 135 over those three years to 91 this season. Moss struggled greatly in the second half of '14, hitting just .173/.310/.274 with four of his 25 homers and playing through a torn labrum in his right hip. He underwent surgery in October, then was traded to Cleveland for minor-league second baseman Joe Wendle in December. For the disappointing Indians (46–54, last in the AL Central, 15 games out), his production has waned with each passing month, from an .802 OPS in April to .740 in May, .682 in June and .564 in July. Moss's falloff has been particularly acute against righties. Though he's hit .241/.319/.462 against them for his career compared to .252/.326/.414 against lefties, this year he's been much better against the latter (.265/.336/.453 with four homers in 131 PA) compared to the former (.191/.262/.382 with 11 homers in 244 PA). Despite similar exit velocities off his bat against both lefties (89.8 mph) and righties (89.0)—those are MLB Statcast numbers via Baseball Savant's Daren Willman—his batting average on balls in play split is wide (.342 against lefties versus .221 against righties), suggesting some amount of luck is involved."

MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE

Questions to ponder while Carlos Martinez regroups:

Are the Dodgers looking to make an even bigger deal today?

Didn't Sheldon Richardson learn anything about speed limits while studying at Mizzou?

Are Roger Goodell's punishments really as random as they seem?

MEGAPHONE

"To sit here right now having addressed our biggest needs in the rotation and bullpen and added future pieces while preserving our top guys in the system is a really good outcome. But we came into it without any hard and fast rules and were open to a lot of different conversations. Things could have gone a different direction, but to have things shake out the way they did, we're really happy -- not only about 2015 but going into the winter and beyond."

Dodgers president of  baseball operations Andrew Friedman, after engineering a 13-player, three-team trade with Miami and Atlanta.

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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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