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Inbox: Will Cards be buyers at Deadline?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers questions from St. Louis fans
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

The difference a week makes, huh? The public panic from a 3-9 start has largely dissolved after a week in which the Cardinals won six of seven. Certainly there are still areas to clean up -- what's with all the baserunning blunders? -- but there is also plenty to like.

So before the Cardinals open a 10-game homestand on Tuesday, let's take another look at what topics are generating the most interest with you. Remember to include your name and hometown when making submission for future Inbox consideration.

The difference a week makes, huh? The public panic from a 3-9 start has largely dissolved after a week in which the Cardinals won six of seven. Certainly there are still areas to clean up -- what's with all the baserunning blunders? -- but there is also plenty to like.

So before the Cardinals open a 10-game homestand on Tuesday, let's take another look at what topics are generating the most interest with you. Remember to include your name and hometown when making submission for future Inbox consideration.

Now that we know the Cardinals' first Draft pick will not come until No. 94, do you think they will be more aggressive than usual at the Trade Deadline to make up for the lack of talent from the Draft?
-- John B., St. Louis

The Cardinals' pipeline of talent will take a hit because of the lost Draft picks, but unless the organization reaches the Trade Deadline as a seller, it won't compensate for that via trade. If the Cardinals are buyers when the Deadline hits, it's because they are looking for players to immediately impact the Major League roster. That won't fill the holes in the lower Minor League levels.

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But where the Cardinals have made up for what could be an underwhelming Draft class is through the international market. Since the current spending period began on July 2, the Cardinals have invested approximately $11 million in international bonuses. They are ready to be players in the bidding for five-tool player Luis Robert, too. The Cuban outfielder was recently cleared to sign and will command a multimillion-dollar bonus.

Where does Robert fit into the Top 100 Prospects list when he signs with a team?
-- @KhPierce8

Robert is considered the second best international prospect behind Shohei Otani, a two-way player in Japan. It's hard to know exactly where he'd fit on MLBPipleline.com's Top 100 Prospects list, but I'd venture to say he'd fall in the Top 10. He could even crack Top 5. One scout recently told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that Robert was "the best player on the planet."

Video: STL@MIL: Gyorko's RBI triple plates Carpenter

It is early, but I could see the Cardinals trading away a few guys closer to the Deadline. Who do you think would be a good trade target the Cards could go for?
-- Todd S., Carbondale, Ill.

So much can change between now and July 31, which makes it impossible to know exactly what the team's needs might be and whether they'll even be buyers. But recent history tells us that if the Cardinals are trying to fortify their roster in three months, they'll likely be pursuing pitching help. Of the seven trades the Cardinals have made within 10 days of the Trade Deadline since 2012, six have returned pitching.

On the position-player side, you could see a scenario in which the Cardinals may still have a need at third base. Depending upon how Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia and, perhaps later Jhonny Peralta, fare there, the Cardinals could look for more proven option to step in at the hot corner.

Video: STL@MIL: Carpenter hits a towering solo homer

Carpenter obviously doesn't like the three-hole. Could they try him back at 1, Fowler at No. 2 and Diaz at No. 3?
-- @taddw23

I don't believe Matt Carpenter's production is at all related to where he hits. He's just as capable of hitting third as he is batting leadoff. One of the reasons why he was such an effective leadoff hitter was that he worked long at-bats. That hasn't changed. Carpenter is actually averaging more pitches per plate appearance this year (4.43) than in any season since 2011.

Certainly, Carpenter expects the production to be better. But moving him back to the top of the lineup isn't going to instantaneously change that.

What is the status of Marco Gonzales? It seems he is always hurt, and you never hear much about his progress.
-- Scott H., Macomb, Ill.

Starting pitchers typically need 12-18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery, and Gonzales just passed the one-year anniversary of his procedure. He continues to throw in extended Spring Training, and barring any setbacks, he could begin building up arm strength in Minor League appearances before the end of the month.

When I last spoke to Gonzales in Spring Training, he detailed a rehab timeline that targeted a late May return from the disabled list.

Video: STL@MIL: Lynn fans seven, holds Brewers to one run

What are the possibilities that the Cardinals let Lance Lynn walk in his free-agency year in 2018, knowing that Alex Reyes should be back?
-- Stephen S., Tulsa, Okla.

Earlier this month, Lynn expressed an interest in signing with St. Louis for the long term. However, the reality is that he is in line for a free-agent payday the Cardinals aren't likely willing to meet. If Lynn, 29, continues to pitch as well as he has to start the season, he'll be one of the premier pitchers in the 2017 free-agent market. He may well surpass $100 million in his next contract.

Because the Cardinals have several members of their big league staff under contract for multiple years and a wave of starting pitching talent on the way, it's unlikely the Cardinals will view retaining Lynn as a priority. Having Reyes, Sandy Alcantara and Jack Flaherty as potential top-of-the-rotation arms not far away gives the team that luxury.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

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