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Who's next to pull off an Arenado or O'Reilly type of deal?

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St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Jeff Gordon discusses his favorite stories he wrote about this year.

Q: Fans always come up with unrealistic trade proposals where their team trades 2 or 3 marginal players and a draft pick for an all-star or future hall-of-famer. It happens once in a while, and we have been fortunate to see both the Cardinals and Blues pull off this type of trade in recent years. Two questions:

1) Which of this type of trade by Cards or Blues do you think is the most significant in recent years?

2) Which of our teams do you think pulls off the next one?

A: The Blues stealing Ryan O'Reilly from the Buffalo Sabres takes the cake, since it led to this team finally winning the Stanley Cup. The Cardinals getting Nolan Arenado at that trade price was remarkable.

Which team will be next to make such a deal? Given the NHL cap rules, I'd give the nod to the Cardinals because the team has no such restriction and it has been more inclined to swing big in trades rather than free agency.

Q: Could we see a show of hands of the Cardinal fans who believe Ollie Marmol will be a better manager than Buck Showalter or Bob Melvin in 2022 or beyond? Mozeliak was not interested in the best available manager. He wanted a puppet, someone he can control. 

A: I'm not going to write off Marmol as a puppet. He earned this chance, as Shildt did. Like most managers, he will have to take input from many more voices in the baseball operation than, say, Whitey Herzog or Tony La Russa did. The sport has changed that way. Commanding managers like Buck Showalter are becoming extinct.

Q: You’re cards GMfor a day post lockout. For this exercise let’s say no major changes to service time but DH added and 2 more postseason teams. What’s the one move you make (or try and make)

A: I'd take Brad Miller back. He proved he produce in a part-time role, he can play multiple spots on the field, he hits from the left side, he hits for power and he has already done well in this environment.

Q: I still contend that the Cards need an upgrade at lead off. I like edman a lot but he doesn’t walk or get on base at an average rate so I’m not sure he’s a great fit there in front of our big bats

A: I could see Marmol using a lot of different guys there, including some unconventional choice depending in matchups and his eagerness to get his best hitters the most possible at bats. Depending on what others do, Edman could get moved into a super utility role unless he improves his on-base percentages and produces more balanced splits.

Q: Is it too much to expect that the Cardinals secure a more high end lefty bat like Anthony Rizzo than some middle of the road guy a la Colin Moran?

A: In a word, yes. Nothing has changed during the lockout. Lars Nootbaar will get a chance to earn at bats next season and so will Nolan Gorman. Rizzo is going to command multiple years at high dollars with no-trade protection. None of that makes sense for the Cardinals.

Q: Gorman arriving in ‘22 should not be a priority for this team. Anything he gives them should be whipped cream. They have money and should be spending it on a permanent solution. Gorman should only be a real topic if DeJong and Sosa flop and they have to move Edman to SS.

A: If Gorman hits this spring, he needs to get his shot at the big leagues. If he is just so-so, then he can use more time at Triple-A. And if he hits in Triple-A again after a so-so spring, then he needs his shot in the big leagues.

The Cardinals have had a tough time developing their own power-hitting prospects. Now they have a few in the system and they need to develop them on time.

I'm guessing service time won't be an issue thanks to the next CBA. I don't see the players settling for a contract that gives teams an incentive to hold prospects back longer than necessary.

Q: With the recent positive tests for Tarasenko, Perunovich and Walman what are your concerns other than one, two or all of them possibly being out for more than the minimum days? In other seasons I may be ready to hang my head but with the positive showings of the AHL call-ups I'm not so much as worried, quite the opposite. Granted that 91 is our leading goal scorer but Kyrou has shown he can bury the biscuit, 55 is playing really good defense, Schenn is back, etc....

My only fear is losing Walman and Perunovich as we have been giving up more than three a game is our biggest weakness.

I imagine Rosen will be recalled, is Santini the other? How do you see this playing out?

A: Bortuzzo jumps back in the lineup for Perunovich, so their starting six is not an issue on defense. Walman is the No. 8 defenseman, so his absence isn't a big deal. The initial hope for Tarasenko was a short stay in protocols because he had no symptoms, but that doesn't guarantee a quick return due via negative tests.

With No. 91 out, the Blues need more from Perron and Saad in particular. They have been quiet lately. This team has plenty of finishers, but they need to get back into their game after suffering some slippage in Pittsburgh.

Q: Bozak is -8 and getting less and less play time. Is it time to cut ties and play one of the younger forwards on the 4th line?

A: I do not see the Blues going away from a veteran with a history of winning faceoffs, killing penalties and adding to the leadership group. Injuries and COVID-19 protocols will made depth critical. The Blues will need a LOT of forwards to get through this season.

Q: I have an Illinois basketball question for you; if and when Curbello makes it back do you think he will take minutes away from Frazier and Plummer? I hope not!

A: Curbelo will get minutes for sure, perhaps more at the expense of versatile Da'Monte Williams. But the savvy Williams has helped the Illini run their offense fairly well without a pure point guard. Also, Curbelo will need to step up his defense to earn a lot of minutes for Brad Underwood. That was an issue for Curbelo coming into the season. Frazier has been tenacious on D. And Plummer . . . wow, all he does his score. He needs to play.

Q: Great "character" win for the Mizzou women against South Carolina and a nice follow-up OT victory last night against a decent Auburn team. Did you see either game? All I saw were clips of the last 15 seconds or so of the SC game. Pretty exciting in itself, though.

A: I have not watched that team play but I need to. We need something positive to watch, right? The men are unlikely to win more than a few more games this year.

Q: With the Bonnies struggling a bit any thoughts on who takes the reg season A10 crown? Richmond also not looking great but hard to tell with all the cancellations.

We don't know how many games the A-10 will play this season or how often any team will play with a full lineup. Good luck forecasting the league under those circumstances. The Bonnies haven't played a conference game yet and they have been idle since Dec.. 17, so it could be a while before we can assess them.

Q: What's more important a great basketball mind or a great recruiting college basketball coach? I'm thinking talent trumps coaching.

A: Obviously you need both abilities to win at the highest level. And the ability to connect with and motivate younger players. But getting talent is Job One. Look at Illinois. Brad Underwood is an excellent coach. But Illinois started winning for real with Dosunmu taking over games. Underwood has Cockburn dominating in the paint again this season and he went out and added an elite shooter in Plummer. So the Illini are excellent again.

Take Cockburn and Plummer off of this team and no amount of Xs and Os would make the Illini a good bet to survive their Big Ten schedule. Illinois could be good without those two, for sure, but it would come up a bit short at that competitive level.

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

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