Greetings chatters, plenty to discuss today. Baseball’s precarious situation. Carlos on the mound tonight. Blues are in the bubble. Let’s roll.
This Marlins situation is not good, and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism during his MLB Network interview last night predictably looks shortsighted today. Players are going to be hesitant to play the Marlins moving forward or to travel to Miami. Baseball’s system revolves around not letting the virus in and getting it out ASAP once it breaks in. Miami had a breakdown, clearly. The idea that the Marlins were going to take two games off and be back out there goes against what experts say about the incubation period. This is a bigger setback than Manfred made it seem. Will it be enough to derail everything? I don’t know that we know for sure yet. Baseball will try to keep moving forward.
Only if the other option is 50 Cent. We have to be able to laugh, right? It’s the only thing keeping me sane.
I'm not quite sure yet. I would say it's a good measure of how invested fans are going to be in this shortened, strange season -- but there's another element in play here that should not be dismissed. Some people will tune out because the Cardinals wore Black Lives Matter shirts and participated in a display of unity before opening day. They did not, for the record, kneel during the national anthem. Most of them didn't kneel, period, because the moment of silence they had planned got screwed up. Anyway, I've heard from multiple people who say they will not watch because of these things. I don't agree with their opinion, but they are entitled to it. It's going to be hard to determine why people are not watching, is my point, no matter how much we are told it's one thing or the other.
That's a lot of pressure to put on two guys who have never played a major league inning, and I won't do it here. The expectations for Carlson have grown so high it's going to be hard for him to meet them, especially when he's first called up. The fans have never seen him fail at the MLB level, as John Mozeliak mentioned recently, so there is an assumption that he never will fail. Yes, it's in Mozeliak's best interest to attempt to tamp down expectations for the top prospect, so let's acknowledge that, too. What the Cardinals are missing more than star power is an outfield that produces, collectively. No other Major League lineup is hitting its outfielders 7-8-9. These are supposed to be power producing positions, and the Cardinals are stacking them at the bottom, because they can't count on production from three spots. The outfield offense is the biggest anchor on the team. It doesn't need to be full of superstars. Just league-average production would go a long way. Could Carlson help that happen? You bet.
It's the question we all want to know, right? The Cardinals are not answering, because that would undermine the status of their current outfield group. It comes down to a few factors. One, and perhaps the biggest, is how the team is performing. A winning team does not see the need to change course. Another is how the outfield is performing. The Cardinals keep making Carlson's promotion into a left-field issue, but it's not. He can play center and or right field. The notion that Tyler O'Neill and Lane Thomas are being robbed of opportunities if Carlson is called up is true only if it implies that starts for Bader and or Fowler are automatic. They should not be automatic if those players struggle. Again, we are talking about the 7-8-9 hitters in Shildt's lineup. Nothing is automatic for 7-8-9. The problem for Carlson is that there is usually a third item to consider -- how a prospect like Carlson is performing at Class AAA. Unfortunately, with no minor league season, there's no real good way for Carlson to light a flame under the Cardinals with his play. How he plays during intrasquad games will be tracked, of course, but it's not quite the same.
It's almost as if the Cardinals brought a routine-oriented foreign player to a new country and drastically changed his role, asking him to excel in a spot he has hardly ever found himself in during his lengthy career. This could take some time, even if it works out. And yes, it could end poorly. We will see. KK' stuff fits the job description. There's no sample size that suggests his mentality will. That's the risk the Cardinals are taking.
Because the team need to get a sense of what they are dealing with first. Four more positive tests today moved the number of positive cases among players to 15. That does not include two coaches, bringing the total to 17. Considering the incubation period of the virus can be up to two weeks, there's no guarantee anyone in the Marlins organization who was recently interacting at summer camp has not interacted with the virus. Before you start mixing players on the still-quarantined travel squad with players brought in from the 30-player pool, you better have certainty you're not spreading the virus to the reserves.
That would not make much sense to me, considering the new collective bargaining agreement that will have to be hammered out after the 2021 season could drastically change young players' path to arbitration and free agency, specifically that rule.
There have been multiple reports that the team decided via player text thread to take the field Sunday, even after finding out more players had been pulled out of the clubhouse for quarantining for positive tests. I don't blame the players for making the decision they made. Players are always going to want to play. The long list of protocols baseball came up with does not have a great answer for a big problem this virus presents -- the gray area that is the incubation period. A player who has cleared his most recent test could be coronavirus-positive and shedding the virus to teammates before the next round of every-other-day-testing catches it and pulls that player out of the equation. You can see how the dominoes can fall pretty quickly when that is the case.
A lot of things were discussed. I don't know if a mask mandate 100 percent of the time was one of them, but it would have been hard implement and impossible to enforce. Wearing one during athletic performance is challenging. There is debate about how necessary it is to wear one while while outside and in the sun, as those conditions are helpful in dispersing the droplets that can cause infection. Most importantly, baseball's setup -- if it's going to work -- really hinges on not letting the virus breach the ballpark, and removing it rapidly if it does. If that part of the plan cannot be managed, then the idea of keeping players from passing it to one another while sharing team planes, hotels, clubhouses, and the playing field seems hard to imagine to me.
An honest evaluation of what we saw suggests that is not a crazy idea, right? He found a place on the bench during the first series of the season to make room for the fourth outfielder to get a start. Anyone who finds himself in that spot could wind up being the fourth outfielder, yes.
That would be beyond the five-game window that secures the extra year of contract control, but I'd have a hard time seeing the Cardinals bringing him up while the team is on this road trip. They're back in STL against the Tigers on August 5th. That would seem more right -- if the outfield shows a need.
The Cardinals are sticking with a two-player taxi squad of the guys you mentioned. Just two because they are keeping three catchers on their roster. There's a third spot on the taxi squad if the spot is used for a catcher.
I don't know if it's a bold prediction, but I think Yadier Molina is going to ball out this year. Short season. He's in great shape. His swing looks really, really good. The understandable pandemic distraction has clouded the reminder that this is a contract year for him. He's going to do everything in his power to get in 2021, whether it's by the Cardinals or another team.
I think it has a lot more to do with the team than the state. Again, we don't how this Marlins breach happened, or if more could have been done to stop it, but until this line of thinking is proven to be false, I'm having a hard time believing it's entirely a coincidence that a team known poor performance and a lack of clear direction is the first team to have a big problem.