Greetings, everybody. Welcome to another edition of the Cardinals chat here at STLToday.com. I'm pinch-hitting for chat monster Derrick Goold this week, and I can't promise Rick Hummel's Hall-of-Fame wit, but I'll do my best. Away we go ...
Mass chaos, most likely. And don't forget, they missed the postseason last year, too. The Cardinals are .500 with 32 games to play. History is not kind to teams in this position. And even if the Cardinals managed to pull off a stunning surge or snag a wild-card spot, some serious maintenance is in order -- if the goal of contending annually is going to continue to be the message for the organization. There's too much roster redundancy. There are major needs that will be tough to fill, and that list is growing. Now it includes closer in addition to a threatening bat. Starting pitching, too -- if Lance Lynn leaves.
Better, yes. Back together? I'll wait to see more before feeling good about that.
Matheny didn't give Piscotty the contract. The manager isn't the only one who believes in him. There's no sugarcoating his disappointing season. But I won't dismiss the stress he's played under this season, either. I'm talking about his family situation, not his contract, to be clear. In the end, it comes down to performance. Even anointed players can lose favor. But Piscotty's opportunity isn't going to dry up because of this season. I would not be shocked, however, if the Cardinals wind up moving him via trade. That's something Ken Rosenthal touched on a while back. Best way to trade a guy is to have him perform at this level. I'm OK with Piscotty being back -- as long as he doesn't block Pham, who has been the Cardinals' best player this season.
No, I can't. I got the sense the Cardinals wanted to start Leake again as a one-last-chance kind of approach. Perhaps he did enough to earn another. They would prefer to stick with Leake, and have Leake look like the guy who starred earlier this season. As for the workload, innings are innings, no matter where they come. Innings in Class AAA can be managed easier, and decreased without worrying as much about how it affects every aspect of the big club. Flaherty is the hot name. Everybody wants to see him. Same here.
It's easy to eat a J Broxton contract. Not so much a Brett Cecil and Mike Leake contract. Cecil signed for 4 years. Leake for 5. They're making big bucks. You give them time to fix themselves, or look at changing their roles, long before you pay them to not pitch for you.
Attendance is tracked. A significant and sustained decrease in it would not go unnoticed. Believe that.
Semantics. Same non-moves could be phrased as "banking on the guys who are already here." And, let's be honest. The players can't demand they were one player away. They can't stay above .500.
He hasn't made the most of his opportunity now that Rosenthal's out, that's for sure. He's got the heat. Problem is guys hit it at this level. Opponents slugging .455 against his four-seam fastball. Ouch.
I'm not sure people realize how well Wong has played this season. It's off-the-charts good for him. Career best, and it's not even close. In the past Wong has campaigned for the leadoff spot. Now that he's simply going about his business, he looks like a heck of a leadoff candidate. His .396 on-base percentage supports the argument. It would mean Matt Carpenter moving down, and that hasn't gone so well in the past. It might also mean Yadier Molina moving down. Good luck with that.
DeJong looks pretty good at shortstop.
Both. But check out the Cubs' schedule down the stretch. It has its cupcakes. I know people are getting tired of hearing about the Cardinals' "soft schedule." Some seem to think it implies the Cardinals are going to win. I don't view it that way. To me, it's worse when you can't make up ground against inferior teams. And it's not Kool-Aid drinking to note that the teams beating the Cardinals are not good teams.
You have to try to introduce an offensive presence that lifts up every other bat in the lineup. And you really need a closer, unless someone (Alcantara?) rises to the occasion there. You attempt to add needs by de-cluttering position that are overcrowded (outfield). You dig deep, and pay up to prove to your fans that this decline that the past two seasons are a blip instead of the new normal. It's a big offseason, no matter what happens the rest of the way.
Hey, I'm here, had a long answer that got deleted. Retyping. Stick with me.
As for the "reluctance to criticize MO and the front office", I'm not sure which scribes you are referencing. There has been plenty of criticism of the Cardinals in the P-D. But maybe it's not the scorched-earth "Fire Mo!" takes that you prefer. To me, it seems like anything that offers even a hint of nuance is so often dismissed these days as being too team friendly, too afraid to "tell it like it is" or whatever. Look, the Cardinals sell sustained success to their fan base. It's a risky sell in a game that is built to defy such things. But, they have pulled it off for a long time. Now there is a real trend that this team is going in the wrong direction. It's on Mo and the front office to stop that, to get things back on track. They know that. We write it often, and will continue to do so. But I'm also not going to dismiss that since Mo took over, the Cardinals have ranked third in regular season winning percentage, second in postseason wins, that they've won a world series and been to another. Could it be that the guy who took them there might be the best candidate to lead them back? Perhaps.
I know. I know. I'm going to pick up some extra drills. It really helped the Cardinals' baserunning.
The Cardinals have a ton of outfielders and Pham has turned himself into the hottest. If he doesn't have a long-term future with the team, and I often wonder if he does, then the Cardinals should deal him. The Phamatics hope and pray Pham's stellar season has convinced the Cardinals to see him in a new light, that it's been enough to overshadow his injury and eye-issue history. I'm Pro Pham. But I do think it's interesting the team has had multiple chances to confirm his presence in this outfield moving forward, and has passed each time.
Somewhere between realistic and optimistic. It's all about the defense. Offense should keep Tigers in any game. Back to baseball ...
The GM? I've never seen him swing. Might have surprising power, but seems like more of an OBP guy. Grichuk? He's got power. You hear it. Since 2015, his 19.74 at-bats per home runs ranks above Tommy Pham (21.48), Matt Carpenter (22.32) and a bunch of other Cardinals. Does he have enough power to justify the strikeouts and slumps? The Cardinals, stocked with outfielders, need to answer this. I'm not as convinced as I hoped to be this season.
Bingo. The game has changed. The Cardinals have changed, in a direction they do not like. Time for the approach to change. If not, more of the same.