The St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to their first solid trade rumor of the season this week, and it's a doozy—rumors from the usual unnamed sources have the Cardinals interested in both shortstop Jason Bartlett and closer Heath Bell of the San Diego Padres, a package that inspires confidence only in people who don't know what Bartlett has been doing lately. Bartlett would bump Ryan Theriot to second base, while Bell would likely bump troubled ex-closer Ryan Franklin off the roster and rookie Fernando Salas into an eighth-inning role.
The Cardinals do have problems in the infield and the bullpen, but this would be a high price to pay to try to fix them rather inefficiently. Bartlett has been average at best outside of his brilliant 2009 performance and is now both 31 and signed through 2012 at a contract that would pay him more than $5 million. Bell is a free agent after this season and has hit his stride playing in the biggest pitcher's park in baseball. Both together would command a higher price in prospects than the Cardinals ought to pay.