Good afternoon. Thank you for joining this week's live chat. Fire away. Let's get this one rolling.
Despite their struggles, the Cardinals are in the middle of the NL Central race. We can all agree that they have underachieved, but there is reason for hope. As we've stated many times, the starting pitching is the biggest and most important reason to believe in the 2017 Cardinals. This has been one of the best rotations in baseball this year. As long as you have strong pitching, you have a chance. Now it's up to Dexter Fowler to straighten his season out and finish strong. I fully expect Piscotty to return later this season. If Carpenter, Fowler and Piscotty play up to expectations and Gyorko gets out of his funk, there's more than enough reason to believe that the offense will perk up, as we've seen over the last three days. You are correct, though, let's see what this roster can do the rest of the way and then fix the issues over the winter. With that said, the Cardinals might be wise to add a back end reliever before Aug. 31 if they're still within two games of the top spot or ahead in the NL Central.
Leake has three years left on his deal after this season. He's set to make $17 million next season, $16 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020. I don't see another team picking up that contract. He's an expensive No. 5 starter, but the Cardinals are likely stuck with him. Fortunately for the Cardinals, they have some top young pitching prospects ready to make an impact in the majors.
Tony La Russa is a Hall of Fame manager. Matheny is barely in his sixth season. Matheny won't be 47 until Sept. 22. He has won consistently. At this point, it's unfair to compare Matheny to La Russa. Let's wait 20 years to see how Matheny's managerial career evolves.
A three-game suspension appears harsh, but there's no doubt Joe West was out of line. Joe West forgets that fans pay to see the players. The best umpires are the ones you don't notice much. West is a self-promoting umpire who forgets that he's only well known because of the players and the game fans pay to see. I would have only reprimanded West for his comments about Beltre, but I don't have a problem with MLB's decision to suspend him.
Thanks. I would venture to guess that ownership and the front office pay more attention to what we write than the players. Nonetheless, it's our job to remind them when they don't live up to expectations.
Each Cardinals player who doesn't have a no-trade clause should realize his place on the team isn't safe. Some guys with no-trade clauses are more untouchable and secure than others - Carlos Martinez being the best example - but everybody is playing for a job. Keep in mind that the Cardinals reportedly shopped Piscotty in a bid for the A's Sonny Gray.
As the old Godfather quote goes, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." The Cardinals have played just good enough to be in contention in a very weak NL Central this year. They play bad enough to frustrate fans and good enough to give them hope. The Cardinals' starting pitching staff is good enough that you have to believe they'll be in contention for the NL Central all year.
I have put pitchers on my MVP ballot before, but I wouldn't put a pitcher ahead of Altuve or Judge or Springer this year in the AL.
Keep in mind that Jedd Gyorko is locked up through 2020 at a team-friendly deal. Mike Moustakas is definitely a player the Cardinals should consider, but they might find better options elsewhere.
According to MLS commissioner Don Garber, all 12 teams bidding for MLS expansion teams were represented last week at the MLS All-Star game. I don't know how realistic the MLS2STL bid is anymore. At this point, I'd say the MLS2STL bid is on life support, at best.
John Mozeliak has done his job long enough to know that he cannot be fooled by small samples. He might argue that the club doesn't necessarily need a No. 3-type hitter, but he knows the offense needs help. I assume the Cardinals will still be in search of a middle-of-the-order bat this winter even if they make the playoffs.
I would choose Mike Trout or Carlos Correa first overall.
I'll pass your message along to Mike Matheny.
I haven't heard any rumors, but I can almost assure you that Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader will be called up in September after their teams are done with the playoffs. You also have to expect Luke Weaver up. Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty will also be back up in September if they're not called back up earlier.
Unless the Marlins agree to pick up part of Stanton's contract, I'm 99 percent certain that the Cardinals won't make a run at Giancarlo Stanton. The Cardinals simply don't have an appetite for such a long-term commitment. The Cardinals' farm system is actually in a good position right now, so they could put together a solid package for Stanton if they wanted him.
I haven't discussed that possibility with anybody. I assume the Cardinals would be cautious with Reyes' workload in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, so it might not make sense to put him in the bullpen and run him out there on consecutive days. It might be more prudent to pitch him every five days with extra days off from time to time between starts.
I firmly believe Kaepernick would have a contract if he were better. NFL owners look away at almost everything, as you note, when the players are deemed good enough. But if you're one of the league's elite stars they will blackball you if you do something that conflicts with their ideals.
I wrote a blog last month after he played catch for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery. I haven't checked in more than a week, but he was progressing quite well.
I definitely expect Piscotty to come back this season. Diaz has started to settle in at the plate at Memphis, and I assume he can help the team later this season as a September call-up.
I've been really high on the Cardinals' pitching depth in the minors. With Reyes expected back next year, the Cardinals should be in a good position next year as Weaver, Flaherty and Reyes compete for spots in the rotation as Dakota Hudson and Sandy Alcantara start to push their way toward the majors as well.