As expected, the Cardinals moved impending free-agent pitchers Jordan Montgomery, Jordan Hicks, Jack Flaherty, and Chris Stratton plus shortstop Paul DeJong in an offload operation that added prospect bulk to a thinning farm system. Now that the trading deadline has passed, let’s take an updated look at the state of the Cardinals …

1. The process played out in a predictable way. And that’s fine.  Based on recent precedent trade-deadline precedent, the Cardinals weren’t going to land elite, upscale prospects in exchange for rentals. But what they did was the next best thing: go for volume, collecting six young pitchers, two live-wire hitters and a major-league reliever in lefty John King. The upper levels of their minor-league grad school are in better shape. And that matters when a struggling team needs to look within the organization for promotable pitching help, only to see empty shelves.

2. The Cardinals received a transfusion for their top 30 prospect list at the MLB Pipeline. Pitcher Tekoah Roby enters the St. Louis system as the No. 4 prospect. Pitcher Sem Robberse was slotted in at No. 6. Infielders Thomas Saggese and Cesar Prieto appear on STL’s updated list at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively. That’s four top 10 prospects. Other new arrivals on the top 30 list were pitchers Adam Kloffenstein (No. 22), Zack Showalter (23), Drew Rom (26). Another pitching prospect that came over in the DeJong deal, Matt Svanson, isn’t ranked but has a big arm that gets strikeouts.

3. The return in these trades may have seemed light in some instances. There’s no pushback from me, because prospects are like thoroughbreds. It’s foolish to expect a yearling to become the prospect equivalent of Secretariat, Affirmed, or American Pharoah. But it’s also ridiculous to expect disappointing results, or failure, just because prospect evaluators aren’t impressed by the bloodlines or the early performances in minor-league ball.

3a. I took a look at Cy Young award winners from the last 30 years or so to make notes on how many were drafted beyond the first three rounds. Corey Kluber, Shane Bieber, Corbin Burnes and Cliff Lee were chosen in the fourth round. Pat Hentgen and Jake Arrieta went in the fifth round. Dallas Keuchel was picked in the seventh round. Jacob deGrom and Brandon Webb were eighth rounders. Bob Welch came off the board in the 14th round, Jake Peavy was chosen in the 15th round, Bret Saberhagen went in the 19th round, and John Smoltz was chosen in the 22nd round.

3b. MLB drafts have produced an extensive list of early-pick pitching busts. Mark Appel, Bryan Bullington, David Clyde, Brien Taylor, Matt Anderson, Greg Reynolds and Jay Franklin were drafted 1st or 2nd overall. The list of top-six overall picks include B.J. Wallace (3rd), Bryan Oelkers (4th), Pat Picillo (5th) and Stan Hilton (5th) and Steve Soderstrom (6th.) You shouldn’t judge a player based on where he’s drafted — high or low.

4. Scouts are attracted to specific pitching attributes. They have reasons to believe in an early pick’s chances for instant or early big-league success. They hope that the pitchers stay healthy and are properly developed. But history tells us that even the most heralded pitching draft picks can flop, and teams can identify later-round gems that win Cy Youngs. The Cardinals obviously saw specific qualities in the six young pitchers they just acquired; and now we must wait to see if their scouting pays off.

5. What about turning young pitchers into good major-league pitchers? I’ll be blunt: I have little confidence in the Cardinals’ institutional ability to develop young arms, and that’s what concerns me about the fate of their pitching harvest at the deadline. This organization traded for former first-round draft pick Matthew Liberatore and has done nothing to fix his glaring weakness against right-handed batters. To this point, the Cardinals have messed up former first-round pick Zack Thompson because of chronic indecisiveness – starter or reliever – and it’s embarrassing. Andre Pallante had a 3.17 ERA as a rookie last season but has regressed (4.43 ERA) in his second big-league campaign.

After his early big-league success, Dakota Hudson leveled off and declined. Yes, Hudson had elbow surgery in late-September 2020, but the front office and field staff can’t lean on that excuse forever. And let’s remember that Hudson’s velocity increased after his elbow repairs.

I like that the Cardinals concentrated on quantity when seeking young pitchers at the deadline. But can they develop these kids? And what about the accuracy of their assessments? This is a front office that traded away youngsters Sandy Alcantara and Zac Gallen.

6. Will STL’s deeper pitching-prospect pool exceed expectations and turn some of the acquisitions into above-average MLB pitchers? This is a huge part of the process and the Cardinals haven’t earned our trust. In The 2023 Cardinals collapsed – in large part – because of their failure to get their pitching prospects ready to go for a promotion to the majors.

7. Will anything change? Let’s take Takoah Roby as an example. The Cardinals got him from Texas in the Montgomery-Stratton deal, and FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen rates him as the No. 64 overall prospect in the majors. If Roby can overcome a shoulder issue and stay healthy, will he continue to rise on the prospect network under the Cardinals’ supervision and evolve into a mid-rotation MLB starter? Or will he stagnate and drift into fringe-level mediocrity? This organization must take a hard look at how it handles young pitching.

8. The Cardinals didn’t ease their outfield gridlock. Dylan Carlson, Tyler O’Neill and Alec Burleson are still here. The front office is set on Jordan Walker and Lars Nootbaar but the futures of Carlson, O’Neill and Burleson are less clear. The Cards have five outfielders, and Juan Yepez is at Triple A, and Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan have been utilized in the outfield. The shortstop position will soon belong to prospect Masyn Winn, and we don’t know what that means for Edman. Donovan (flexor-tendon surgery) will be out of service until next spring, but the utility asset has logged 480 outfield innings over his 1.5 seasons in the majors, and we should consider him as part of the outfield mix.

9. The outfield traffic congestion is OK as long as the Cardinals do something about it after the season. The front office held onto all of their outfielders at the deadline, and it’s probably because they didn’t like the offers that came their way. But president of baseball operations John Mozeliak also spoke to multiple teams about bigger, multiple-player deals, and that could be the initial groundwork for pursuing expanded deals next offseason. Why sell short on Carlson or Burleson when they can be part of a more substantial offseason trade that puts an established, coveted major-league starting pitcher in place for 2024? O’Neill is in a different category; he can become a free agent after next season. Carlson can’t become a free agent until 2027, and Burleson doesn’t reach his first year of salary arbitration until ‘27. If Mozeliak stayed with his younger outfield talent because he sees better trade opportunities ahead, then he made the right call.

10. Coming next: Cardinals ownership-management has to prove it realizes that effective, experienced starting pitching isn’t an optional accessory. It’s mandatory for a team that has a sincere goal of winning the division, making a postseason run, and pursuing a league pennant and a World Series trophy. No exceptions. No excuses. All eyes are on chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak. They can make it happen … or not.

I’ll delve more into this topic in a column that I’m working on now and will be available soon.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie hosts a weekday sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

The “Seeing Red” podcast on the Cardinals, featuring Will Leitch and B. Miklasz is available at, the 590 the fan app or your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Fielding Bible, Baseball Prospectus or Bill James Online.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.