WHAT THEY NEEDED: They lost their ace when Andy Benes signed with Arizona, and the bullpen was a concern.
WHAT THEY GOT: Pitchers Jeff Brantley, Kent Mercker, Rusty Meacham and Kent Bottenfield, outfielder Wayne Kirby, utilityman Craig Shipley.
WHAT IT ALL WEANS: Replacing Benes with Mercker is like replacing Dustin Hoffman with Todd Bridges. Simply put, the Cards didn't get the ace they needed to challenge for an NL title. On the bright side, Brantley could regain his '96 form (44 saves), and journeyman Meacham may help in middle relief.