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.

 

Game 1: Exciting Stuff from Martinez, Grichuk

Opening Day at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals is always spectacular. The Clydesdales, the Red Jackets, the trophies … the high hopes of adding to that trophy collection.

The Cardinals got to do this on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the defending champions, the Chicago Cubs. And we certainly got a good game.

  • Carlos Martinez went 7.1 innings. He threw 10 strikeouts and gave up 6 hits. And no runs. It was an amazing performance from the young man who took the number one pitchers duty this season. A nice continuation of the good stuff we saw from him last season. He has grown and matured more. If you ignore the eyebrow raising Instagram stories, and see the work out stories, the young fella and put his work in for this new role. I look forward to seeing what all he does this year! It’s just really unfortunate that Carlos didn’t get the win in this one. He pitched a hell of a game.

  • Randal Grichuk. He got the walk off hit to score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Prior to that he hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Pedro Strop. Thank goodness for him.
  • Seung Hwan Oh. He gave up the three run homer to Willson Contreras in the ninth inning. But he, thankfully, kept it at just that. Hopefully it’s just first game jitters for the pitching staff’s closer. Be the Final Boss, Oh!

Stephen Piscotty and the Cardinals got some good news on their off day as Piscotty signed a six-year extension with the club. According to MLB.com, the agreement could take Piscotty through an option for 2023 and guarantees him $33.5 million and could be worth $50.5 million. He went 1-3 with a couple of walks in Sunday’s opener. I really like this deal and what Piscotty brings to the team. Excellent news for Stephen and the team.

Tomorrow night, Adam Wainwright takes the mound against Jake Arrieta and the Cubs. Should be a good one! … Go Cards!

Another Year, Another Pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals

As a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals it almost seems certain. We enter Spring Training and one of the team’s starting pitchers has an injury that will take him out of the rotation for the next season.

Think about it. In 2011, it was Adam Wainwright. In 2012, Chris Carpenter. In 2013, Jaime Garcia. In 2014, we were without Waino again. In 2016, it was Lance Lynn. Plus. Throughout that time there were periods without Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales, Mike Leake … and more!

That’s really frustrating.

When it was announced pitcher Alex Reyes was going to have Tommy John surgery, Reyes admitted to feeling the pain for a few weeks. He said that he was feeling it during his off-season program. It makes you wonder what the plans Pitching Coach Derek Lilliquist and the strength and conditioning/training folks are giving these guys in the off-season.

First off, I’m more than a little surprised that GM John Mozeliak didn’t act a little quicker to get his top pitching prospect checked out. This is a guy you’re planning the rotation around in future seasons. Maybe treat him like it. Maybe surround him with a coach that has the team and the players best interest at heart. It just seems absurd that every single season, the pitching staff has some sort of issue. Then again, I’m not a bit Derek Lilliquist fan as pitching coach. I’d be content with Chris Carpenter taking the reins. It would bring so much fire to the staff. Not to mention, a Cy Young winners perspective. But. Until that happens…

What will the Cardinals do? Who will join Carlos, Adam, Lance and Leake in the rotation?

Obvious choice? Michael Wacha. After several inconsistent starts … since 2014, Manager Mike decided to give the young arm a much needed break. There, the team found there is a shoulder issue that needed to be monitored. After one bullpen session this spring, Manager Mike says Wacha looks better than he has in sometime. That makes me nervous. What do you mean Mike!

Long shot? Luke Weaver. He looked impressive in his spot starts for the birds last summer. I think he seriously could use some more grooming in Memphis before rejoining the big club.

Even Longer Shot? Trevor Rosenthal. I’m sure you just rolled your eyes. Right? I know I did! This guy couldn’t give a solid ninth inning last season without a panic attack. It was so bad, Seung-Hwan Oh took over the close role. And thank goodness, he did. Knowing this, what on earth gives the impression this guy could become a starter? Why on earth more should he be given the shot. With Marco Gonzales or Tyler Lyons as possibilities, I don’t see why it would be a possibility.

… It just seems ridiculous. Therefore, he’s probably who Matheny will go with.

Finally, there is the possibility of signing one of the remaining free agents. That list includes Jake Peavy, Doug Fister, Colby Lewis or Jered Weaver. Then there is the possibility of trading for someone like White Sox lefty Jose Quintana. A guy with some pitching experience would be nice for this staff. So. Don’t count on any of these happening!

Yes, friends, I’m really skeptical of what this will bring to our beloved Birds on the Bat. Grab your popcorn, it’s going to be interesting!

Cardinals Sweep Cubs … No, Really

On Sunday, St. Louis Cardinals nation was reeling after being swept at Busch Stadium by the Texas teams. Thursday morning, we’re elated after our beloved birds on the bat swept the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley on Wednesday afternoon. The first time they have done this since 1988.

To put that in context for myself, I was 8 or 9.

Kolton Wong raises his hands in celebration after scoring in the sixth inning. The Cards went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-2. ScreenGrab!
Kolton Wong raises his hands in celebration after scoring in the sixth inning. The Cards went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs 7-2. ScreenGrab!

This little week and a half stretch could be considered quite the snapshot for the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals season.

Some games, they are on fire. Other games, it’s like they don’t care. But you know, deep down the do. It’s just… you know. Baseball.

It was a relief to see great starts from Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. Wacha pitched with a confidence we haven’t seen in some time. Garcia is looking like we’ve hoped he would look for seasons now and Waino, while not completely bueno, was not bad at all.

The lineup put together great at-bats. And, dare I say it, they looked scrappy on the basepath and in the field.

Minus the dramatics of supposed-closer Trevor Rosenthal, it has been what we have been hoping to see from this team. And I couldn’t be happier this team showed up against the freakin’ Chicago Cubs. How sweep it is!

Here’s a little recap from MLB on the Cards 7-2 victory over the Cubs Wednesday.

Let’s hope they keep on this track of playing great baseball as they head to Seattle for a three-game set against the Mariners.

Pitchers And Catchers Report Day is Here

One of my favorite days of the year is finally here! It’s the day that signals spring and summer are just a little bit closer … it’s MLB’s Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!

I’m usually very excited in the lead up to this day. This year? Not so much. I think it has something to do with my beloved St. Louis Cardinals losing in the playoffs to the Chicago Cubs. Bleh.

And, the team was unusually vocal in their attempts to secure a desired free agent, in Jason Heyward, and said desired free agent goes to the Cubs.

It had this fan wondering what on earth is wrong with her team.

And, if you really sit down and think about things. There is not a lot wrong. In fact? There is a lot to be excited about.

  • The Cardinals didn’t fork over ALL the money to pay Heyward. Nor did they pay ALL the money to get David Price. More power to them for going out and getting all the money. The team now has more money at its disposal. And that has to be a good thing … Right?!
  • The bench is dramatically better from last season. No more Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, Tony Cruz or Pete Kozma. Or even Mark Reynolds – who I’ll actually miss.
  • They did get Jedd Gyorko and Brayan Pena. Jedd will give rest to several infielders. I wouldn’t be surprised if he even made Kolten Wong have to work a little harder. Wong is great but he has his moments … and if he has too many, the team has an option. Pena is an actual legit option to back up Yadier. Remember that feeling of OMG when Yadi was out because Tony Cruz was going to be exposed. Well. Whew! Brayan has some experience and can hit some too.
  • Greg Garcia and Tommy Pham will be other bench options. Both are such an exciting players. It will be fun to see them get chances.
  • Matt Adams will be back and has some competition. He could be a bench option too if Brandon Moss has a great spring. And both could end up bench options if Matt Holliday taking reps at first base becomes a more serious idea. And there is always Stephen Piscotty. Speaking of …
  • Oh my goodness, we’re going to have a full season of Stephen Piscotty! I’m beyond excited to see what this young man can do! The bat, the glove, some speed, the baseball IQ. The kid is great and it will be nice to watch. He gives you an outfield option and a first base option with a bat.
  •  A healthy Randal Grichuk. Yes, please! When he is healthy and he is on, he is amazing to watch.
  • A healthy Yadier Molina. He got his cast off and is looking to be ready for opening day. I hope he is ready for opening day. Having him behind the plate is just too important to this team.

We haven’t even gotten to pitching yet!

  • Adam Wainwright will be back after a good chunk of the season off recovering from a torn Achilles. He has a rested arm and a desire to prove the naysayers wrong regarding his abilities to come back better than ever. … Y’all. This is Waino we’re talking about.
  • Carlos Martinez. I enjoyed what I got to see last season from him. I felt sad when the team lost him to shoulder issues. If you watch his Instagram, he has been working all offseason to get better. I am looking forward to seeing what happens this season for him.
  • Michael Wacha. I think we all have really high expectations for him. Last season, he didn’t really meet them. Let’s hope he does so much better this year.
  • Jaime Garcia. Holy crap, I can’t even believe I’m excited to see what he does this season. Let’s just make sure we get him to his happy place before his starts and have some Sprite or Pepto ready. No more upset tummies for big games, Ok buddy.
  • Seung Hwan Oh. The Final Boss. Look. With this guy’s background as a top closer in Korean baseball, it’s hard to imagine he won’t give Trevor Rosenthal a run for the closer position. In fact? I hope he does. Sure Rosenthal gets me significantly angry with his Typical-Cardinal-Closer-Antics. It gets old. And that Manager Mike Matheny babies him. Well, enough is enough. Give Mike an actual option for once. Oh, I hope Oh has a great spring. … Yes, I am so looking forward to him pitching just for the puns!

And then there is the stuff about baseball that are unexpected and awesome! The players that come out of nowhere to become options.

Baseball starts today, you guys! Thank goodness.

 

My Sports Wish List For Santa

Dear Sporty Santa,

2015 has been a real meh year sports wise. Let’s see what we can do to make 2016 a little better.

First things first, I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan. I’m upset that Jason Heyward didn’t want to be with the team anymore, opting for the younger Chicago Cubs.

After failing to get Heyward and pitcher David Price, I’m just pleased the team was able to find a guy in Mike Leake that wants to be with the team.  It helps that he’ll be able to pitch a lot of innings and provide a decent bat. He is also looking forward to taking down the Cubs. Love that Santa.

So, we’re hearing that team could be looking to trade for one of the Colorado Rockies outfielders. Ok. Fine. Just make sure the person can also hit really well not a mile up!  Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez. Whomever. I look forward to seeing what happens.

And if that doesn’t pan out Santa … Yoenis Cespedes or Alex Gordon, please!

And thanks for your part in the Jedd Gyorko for Jon Jay trade. A nice backup infielder that has a bat. Plus? No more Jon Jay hate debate! Woo!

Also, Santa:

  • A more consistent Memphis Grizzlies basketball team. Maybe add a little youth, too. That are frustrating this season. Stop it!
  • A St. Louis Blues team that can make it well past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
  • More amazingness from Cam Newton, please. He has had an awesome 2015 season. MVP worthy. We get to see him rack up passing yards, rushing yards and TDs every week. And then we get a fashion show during the post game presser.

Look at this Santa!

Postgame with @cameron1newton. #CARvsNYG 📷: Kathy Willens/AP

A post shared by NFL (@nfl) on

Those shoes, Santa. I hope we get more Cam!

  • And, if I could get a winning fantasy sports team … specifically football… that’d be awesome, Santa!
  • As many gold medals as possible for Team USA in the 2016 Olympic games at Rio! USA USA USA!
  • More soccer goodness. Men, Women, Man City, MLS… yeah!

Finally, the following can get a little sack of coal:

  • Jason Heyward
  • Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones, too.
  • Abhorrent fans
  • The San Francisco Giants for paying Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto those crazy contracts … and because it’s an even year.
  • The Chicago Cubs.

Merry Christmas! May all your sports Christmas dreams come true!

Love, M

St. Louis Cardinals Offseason … So Far

Well. I certainly meant to write more here over the last few weeks. Silly life and work!

That said, I do have a few thoughts on what has been going on thus far for the St. Louis Cardinals.

* I’m perfectly OK with the Cards being second in the stakes to get David Price. Sure, he is good. But the price tag, if you will, and commitment was huge for someone with a lack of amazing play in the playoffs. Pitching in the playoffs, and pitching well in the playoffs, is very important. Look back on the last couple of seasons for the Cardinals. Pitching. It’s important, y’all.

* Jason Heyward hasn’t been re-signed. Jason Heyward needs to be re-signed. As soon as possible. Continue reading “St. Louis Cardinals Offseason … So Far”