With the news that the St. Louis Cardinals have acquired Brewers reliever John Axford, it’s the perfect time to check in with our friend Daniel Shoptaw of C70 At The Bat, and discern how the trade comes across from the Redbirds’ perspective.
The Brewers Bar: Axford has been a lightning rod for Brewers fans and Cardinals fans. Now that he's one of your guys, how does he fit with the StL pen? Was it a shock to see him land with the Cards?
C70: It was quite surprising to see Axford, mainly because there'd been no discussion of it at all. Most Cardinal fans had been focusing on bringing in another starter to help out a rotation that's looked shaky at times. To see John Mozeliak go get a guy that hadn't even been rumored to be on the market was a little bit of a shock.
That said, someone on Twitter pointed out this was in the vein of getting Octavio Dotel at the '11 deadline. A veteran arm who had been through the wars and shouldn't be rattled by any situation that he gets into. Right now, I figure he's a sixth-inning guy or perhaps a strikeout specialist, but if he gets in a groove and there are questions about Edward Mujica's health, I could see him becoming the seventh inning guy, followed perhaps by Kevin Siegrist and then Trevor Rosenthal.
The Brewers Bar: Axford was demoted from the closer role early this season after faltering but overall he's been decent. Do you see the Cards tendering him after 2013?
C70: I think the Cardinals plan to tender him. Of course, we don't know what they are giving up for him but I don't think they'd make a move like this just for a month or so. Now, if he tanks during September, I don't think they'd have any compunction about letting him go, but I do think the general plan would be to have him on the squad for at least 2014.
The Brewers Bar: You may have noticed Ax's various facial-hair styles. Do you prefer clean-shaven Ax, a Rollie Fingers-esque 'stache or a grizzly beard as the Cards make a playoff push?
C70: Got to have some personality in the facial hair. Losing Jason Motte's beard might have been almost as devastating as losing Motte himself. I think I'd prefer full beard, though you can't go wrong with a handlebar.
The Brewers Bar: What's your prediction for how the race shakes out for the Cards, Reds and Pirates?
C70: I still think the Cards are going to win, but it's going to come down to how they do this weekend and next, I think. I looked at the schedules and Cincinnati has the toughest road–I think they'll hold on to the last wild card slot, but it wouldn't be an epic surprise if they didn't. Pittsburgh is going to be there, but they've been a .500 team since the end of June. I'm not sure the addition of Marlon Byrd will be enough to kickstart them back to their first half status. Let's say the Cards win the division by 3 games over Pittsburgh and 6 over Cincinnati.
Thanks to Daniel and C70 At The Bat (Twitter: @C70) for his input on this intriguing Friday deal. It sure will be weird to see the Ax-man throwing his peculiar brand of stuff against the Brewers, especially in a Cardinals uniform. We wish Axford well; he was phenomenal in 2011 and though he’s hit rough patches since, he will be remembered fondly by Brewers fans. That is, unless he helps the Cardinals to yet another World Series title.