Buyers or Sellers: Does it Really Matter Anymore for St. Louis Cardinals?

There is a big reason you have not seen much from this space this season. To put in bluntly, I’ve not been particularly pleased with what I have seen from the St. Louis Cardinals this season.

And that’s really upsetting.

Today’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates highlights what the St. Louis Cardinals have been like this season.

You get a decent start out of your starting pitcher. Sure, they may have you down by a run but you have a line-up full of guys with the potential to get you back in the game. Those guys battle and get you the lead. The pitching staff and defense work to maintain that lead. And then, the ninth inning comes. And you don’t know what you’re going to get.

You try options from Seung-hwan Oh and Trevor Rosenthal. Both have been closers for the staff in years past. Surely, they can step up for you again.

They falter and you have to look at other options.

Brett Cecil? He was brought in to be a set-up option. He has been aboard the struggle bus all season and was seemingly turning things around until today. It was a complete regression to what he was at the start of the season when we were wanting our money back on him.

Matt Bowman? I really like him. How can’t you… Look! He’s really good at long relief or spot situations. He’d probably be a decent closer, but he’s got a role and he needs to play his part.

This is obviously something they need to be looking into at the deadline. They need a closer and more consistent relievers. But, they have other more pressing needs.

For starters, a top notch starting pitcher. One where you wouldn’t have to worry about the bullpen. This starter? He’s got this. We need that. It use to be Adam Wainwright. You catch glimpses of that guy every so often. But we also need consistency. And while Carlos Martinez has that capability – he’s had complete game shut outs and he struck out 4 in his All-Star game appearance – he too is not consistently there. I don’t know if this person is available. But it’s worth a shot to find him.

A bat. Or two. Specifically a guy that is feared when he comes to the plate. We do not have that guy this season. We have a bunch of scrappy dudes who scrap their way around the bases. Fine. That’s awesome.  … Just don’t get caught stealing and then pout about it. Just stop that. … Sorry I’m not sorry about that, guys!

But seriously. Giancarlo Stanton will probably cost a lot to get. I’d like to think there is a bargain available whether it is him or Josh Donaldson. But seriously, just a dude that can hit a freaking baseball and not let hitting coach John Mabry get in his head. That’d be awesome. We do not have that right now and our team is suffering for it. Randal Grichuk has to be sent to the minors every year to get his head on straight about hitting. Same goes for poor Kolten Wong. Aledmys Diaz unfortunately is in the same boat now. Stephen Piscotty is going through a lot this season on the personal side – I’m just thankful he’s getting a 10 Day DL stint after pulling his groin Friday. It will possibly clear his head. The guy has been struggling mightily this year. Matt Carpenter is trying way to hard to be the hero this season – bad mental mistakes on the base path and getting into arguments with the ump over obvious strike calls. He looks like a Diva out there and it’s not pretty.

Jedd Gyorko is our best hitter. Do you hear me? Jedd Gyorko. And I love the guy! But he’s a utility guy on every other team. He’s our starting 3B. And usually hitting 4th. Oh and Paul DeJong? He’s our starting shortstop after starting the season in Memphis. He has been amazing, but it seems Mabes may have had a talk with him after the All-Star break. Or something. He’s not hitting like he was. He’ll probably figure it out. But it’s happening on a weekend it should not have.

And? I want Yadier Molina from the All-Star Game and World Baseball Classic. I want that guy to show up for a game. Serious Yadi is great and all, but I would love to see fun Yadi!

I’m not even mentioning several on the team.

They are a mess. I would love to blame this all on Mike Matheny, John Mabry and Derek Lilliquist. That would be the easy way out. It’s more than them. That whole chemistry thing some of you have complained that many are too concerned with is probably valid. It seems we have got something bad that is screwing with the team’s heart. They need to find that and get rid of it. Before next season anyway.

That said. After today’s game, the Cardinals are 44-47. Some how in third place behind the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs, who are 46-45.

It doesn’t really look good for them to even get in the wild card this season.

Fine.

I don’t want to see the Cardinals quit, though. It would be great for them to get someone at the deadline that we could keep around for a couple of seasons or more. Build on something. Get back to winning. This team has a lot of talent. It sucks to see them crap it away.

After last season’s utter disappointment, it hurts to see them suck more. But we can hope that the team will see this opportunity to fix what is broken.

Here’s hoping Mo and Girsh step up and fix it.

 

Time to Put Up, Or Shut Up for Kolten Wong

Kolten can do the thing. He must prove he can, consistently.

For several seasons, we’ve been waiting on the edge of our collective seats for Kolten Wong to finally step up and be that second baseman we’ve been hoping he would be for the Cardinals.

When he signed the five-year $25 million deal last season, this was the club’s way of showing they want him to be this guy.

Instead we have gotten a terribly inconsistent hitter and a defender who has had moments of greatness and moments of falling flat on his face in the outfield. It got so bad, they even sent him to Memphis to get some work in.

Despite all of that, we were told this offseason that defense up the middle was a priority, and that Wong was going to be there guy.

Was there something we Cardinal fans weren’t aware of? Did Wong drink some sort of special potion that instantly made management think this way?

After several weeks of the same result in Spring, manager Mike Matheny said they would run a platoon at second base and Wong would be part of this platoon.

Kolten was not happy about this, at all.

In a story from Ben Frederickson of the STL Post-Dispatch, Wong said:

I just got mad at the fact, thinking, I’m over here trying to work on things, trying to get myself better. Not trying to go out here and have an amazing spring training. I’m trying to go out there and have an amazing season. To hear that (he might be platooned) was something that hit me out of left field. I didn’t mean it in a bad way. I didn’t mean it for me to come off  seeming like I wanted to be traded or wanted to get out of this organization. I love playing for the Cardinals. If that wasn’t the reason, then I never would have signed that extension. I wanted to be here for the long term. I still want to. Right now, I’m going through a rough stretch, trying to figure out my stuff. Eventually it will turn around.

Hey Kolten? Prove it!

I don’t want to give Manager Mike any credit, but maybe he is showing you some tough love so you will actually step up and be the player we have all hoped.

Instead of moping around and pouting, turn that rough patch around and focus … get timely hits and play better defense. Stop trying so hard. Have fun out there. Prove that you are capable of being an everyday player.

And Manager Mike. Play Kolten. If management signs this guy to a big deal, that means THEY want him in this situation for the team. So. Play the guy. Let him get some time to work on stuff.

It’s proven that consistently playing and working on stuff, will actually make you improve.

So. Allow Kolten the time to play. Let him get some time at second base. Let him get some time at bat. Let him prove that he can turn it around.

If he can not prove himself, the experiment of Kolten Wong can end. If he gets consistent time and still can not prove to Mike that he deserves to play everyday, it will be time for him to pay elsewhere.

Kolten’s little outburst Sunday could be a good thing. It could force the team to take a look at this player they have had so much hope in. For Kolten this little outburst means it is time for him to put up or shut up.

Thoughts on the Cardinals Through 57

The St. Louis Cardinals are 57 games into the 2016 season. So let’s discuss how they have done thus far.

  • They are 10.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs and in third place, behind the Pittsburgh Pirates. We knew the Cubs were going to be good this season. And they are. The Cardinals have a series this weekend against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Our birds could gain some ground.

    Welcome back, Jhonny!
  • Kolten Wong optioned to Memphis. He’s been slumping and just not playing well. This is something we’ve become used to with Kolten. He’s gone through spats like this before where he will seemingly try too hard and his whole game stinks. He’ll get benched or sent to Memphis to work things out. I, for one, hoped the Cardinals extending Wong to a  5 year/$25.5 million deal would give him the assurance that the team trusts him and wants him to succeed at second base with them. Ease some of his anxiety. Thankfully, the team is in a decent position to allow Wong time to work through it all and get his confidence back at the plate. It will be great to have the player we know he can be out on the field.
  • This team isn’t what anyone expected! That’s baseball. And it’s awesome. The team is going to be taking an interesting turn in the next few days with Jhonny Peralta returning to the team … to play third base.
  • This opportunity happened with the amazingness that has been rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz. Holy crap is that kid amazing! Before this week, Jedd Gyorko, Greg Garcia and Wong have had chances at second. With Peralta back, Matt Carpenter is going to get a chance at second. He’s had some success there before!
  • And then, first base. Matt Adams has put together a nice little run that shows fans should have never really counted him out. He seems to just need some time to heal and get some reps at the position. He’s become one of the best hitters on the team. And then Brandon Moss. Who knew he’d be such an important part of this team. He leads the team in home runs, most of which come from pinch hitting appearances.  Matt Holliday has also gotten some time in at first base as the team has so many options in the outfield now.
  • Speaking of the outfield. Stephen Piscotty has become my favorite member of the team. He provides outstanding coverage in the outfield, a great arm and he’s pretty good with the bat. He flat out hustles. Love it. Randal Grichuk has been streaky this season … going through massive slumps at the plate and then coming along with a nice jolt of power every few days. He needs to get more consistent. And it seems to be something he’s working on. Jeremy Hazelbaker seemed to be the find of the offseason in April providing depth in the field and off the bench. He’s dipped a little bit and wouldn’t be surprised if we see him sent to Memphis soon to get some work in and allow Tommy Pham the opportunity to come back and make a difference.
  • Matt Holliday has been pretty awesome for an old guy this season! He’s done some great work in the outfield, has been a surprise option at first base and he’s been clutch with timely hits (Booming homers too!). For years, this fan base has given the team loads of crap for his 7 yrs/$120M deal. The team has an option for 2017 and they need to strongly consider using it.

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