The 2013 St. Louis Cardinals were historically good, offensively speaking. With 783 runs scored (4.83 per game), they led the National League by a mile. The second place Colorado Rockies scored 77 fewer runs. They also broke a Major League record by hitting an incredible .330 with runners in scoring position.
That was last year.
Though they currently enjoy a semi-comfortable 4.5 game lead in the NL Central over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cardinals offense has been putrid in 2014. They have scored 552 runs through 143 games (3.86 per game), almost a full run per game less than the 2013 Cardinals.
The departure of Carlos Beltran (84 RBI, .830 OPS in 2013), the sudden sharp decline, and ultimate trade, of Allen Craig (97 RBI, .830 OPS in 2013), and the thumb injury to Yadier Molina (80 RBI, .836 OPS in 2013) have all taken huge chunks out of the Cardinals' offensive machine. In addition, young players like Matt Adams and Oscar Taveras have not produced to the levels expected of them going into this season.
The Cardinals have one of the most impressive pitching staffs in all of baseball. From perennial Cy Young contender Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation, to 23-year old superstar-in-the-making Michael Wacha in the middle of the rotation, to fireballers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal in the bullpen, the Cardinals have no shortage of big time arms.
What the Cardinals lack, if a team in first place can be said to be lacking anything, is a power hitter to complement Matt Holliday. The Marlins may be able to provide a solution.
A potential trade between the Marlins and the Cardinals would likely center around Giancarlo Stanton, a 24-year-old proven MVP candidate who is under team control until 2017, and Oscar Taveras, a 22-year-old potential MVP candidate who is under team control until 2020.
The Cardinals have two noteworthy pitchers who will reach free agency at the end of this season: recent bullpen addition and sometimes starter Justin Masterson, RP Pat Neshek, and utility infielder Mark Ellis. If they choose not to re-sign the 34-year-old Neshek (which was discussed on Viva El Birdos) or the struggling Masterson, they might be interested in including an affordable Marlins bullpen piece, such as A.J. Ramos or Carter Capps, in a prospective deal.
The Marlins would potentially also be interested in obtaining Carlos Martinez, who has not been consistent enough to earn a regular spot in the Cardinal rotation or even on their big league roster.
A potential trade might involve Stanton and Ramos heading to St. Louis for Taveras and Martinez. A move to Miami would provide Taveras with more regular at-bats, something he has not been able to receive thus far in St. Louis. It would also potentially provide Martinez a chance to compete for the Marlins' closer job or possibly even for a rotation spot.
As for St. Louis, the Cardinals would receive another Albert Pujols-esque guy in Stanton, who has the ability to change games with one swing and who frequently gets on base and provides RBI opportunities for teammates.
Ultimately though, given the position that the Marlins' front office has taken recently, it is unlikely that the Marlins would be willing to part with Stanton for prospects, even super highly touted prospects like Taveras and Martinez.
It is likely that a third team would need to be involved in a trade that sends Stanton to St. Louis. Even if Taveras were sent elsewhere, the Cardinals would have a surplus of outfielders with Matt Holliday, John Jay, Peter Bourjos, Randal Grichuk and Giancarlo Stanton, and the Marlins would likely not want to take on an additional Cardinal outfielder with Yelich, Ozuna and Taveras. Both teams are likewise overflowing with starting pitching, so the could not get rid of any surplus that way, either. Perhaps the third team could receive Martinez and Grichuk and send either a first baseman or third baseman to the Marlins along with Taveras.