Good afternoon. I hope you're all having a great day. Fire away.
Grichuk has driven in a run in four consecutive games. I wouldn't give up on him just yet. I know Piscotty has struggled. I would assume that one of those two will be traded at this winter, and I would say that Matheny will be wise to stick with Bader and Pham consistently with Grichuk or Piscotty filling in.
I wouldn't say it would be considered a bargain, but there's no doubt that contracts are going to continue to get higher. The Cardinals definitely have the revenue to add a superstar free agent if they were inclined. You have to believe they'll make a run at acquiring Stanton via trade, but you have to understand that the Marlins might have to eat some of that contract to get the deal done.
I agree 100 percent that Oh should not pitch any high-leverage innings. He has no feel for his slider anymore, and opposing batters are making him pay consistently.
I had a long chat with Alcantara last night after his first scoreless inning in the majors. He said he felt much more comfortable and relaxed on the mound last night than he did in his debut. "I felt good, but I was also nervous because it was raining and the mound was horrible," he said. "I tried to focus and do my best. Compared to my debut, I felt more confident because the shock of my first day was over with. Now the second day was better and I'll stay positive going forward." He noted that he felt a bit timid in his debut. "Each time I made a pitch, I became less timid. Now I'm 100 percent positive," he said.
I will be surprised if MIzzou makes a bowl game. Barry Odom appears to have bitten a bit more than he can handle by firing his defensive coordinator and assuming more responsibilities. Mizzou needs the offense to be special to overcome their defense, and I don't know that Drew Lock will beat many elite SEC defenses if he plays again like he did last Saturday against South Carolina.
Keep in mind that there's an adjustment period. They call it the major leagues for a reason. It's unfair to expect a 21-year-old kid to dominate right away in the majors. You have to consider that it's a major step in competition and it takes a while for young players to gain confidence. Give Flaherty time to settle in and gain his footing in the majors. He'll be fine.
At this point, I think the Cardinals' best chance to make the playoffs will be as the NL Central champions. They control their own destiny because they still have games against the Cubs and Brewers remaining on their schedule. If they take care of business against the Cubs this weekend, they'll likely enter next week atop the NL Central standings.
I expect the Cardinals to take two of three from the Cubs this weekend. Unless one team is swept, I would say no decisive blow will be struck this weekend. I fully expect this race to go down to the final weekend. The Cardinals close the season with a six-game homestand against the Cubs and Brewers. Those final six games should decide the NL Central.
Considering how we've caught the MLS2STL folks twisting the truth or flat out denying facts, I cannot tell you that I trust anything that comes out of the MLS2STL ownership group's mouth. They had claimed that their group was breaking up, yet they didn't break it up. They claimed they weren't having any Plan B talks, yet they were trying to figure out a way to put together a non-profit stadium effort. I don't know what to believe or who to believe. That's all I can tell you.
Jemele Hill is a very good friend. She has been a friend for a very long time, and some of my close friends are actually quite close with her dating back to their days at Michigan State. I don't think she attacked the President. She made some observations. She is entitled to her opinion, as you note. I'm not going to try to critique what she did or didn't do, but I can tell you that I stand with Jemele Hill 100 percent. We were on a panel together a year ago at the NABJ-NAHJ. That's my pal, and I have her back 100 percent.
If I could redo the roster, I would keep Tommy Pham in LF, play Bader in center and acquire Giancarlo Stanton. I would ask Dexter Fowler if he would accept a trade, and I bet you he might be willing if it gets him closer to the West coast. You're missing a third baseman in your lineup. My preferred lineup would be. 3B Carpenter, CF Bader, SS DeJong, RF Stanton, LF Pham, 1B Martinez, C Molina, 2B Wong. As much as I think Carpenter is better at first than third, I think Martinez has done enough to merit the starting spot at first base. As far as I'm concerned, the Cardinals should go all in on Stanton or stick with their own internal outfield options.
One of my good friends in the baseball industry was actually in town last night scouting. He works for the Mets, the team that we all assumed had an abundance of star-studded starting pitching at the beginning of the year. As you surely know, the Mets' vaunted pitching depth has been depleted. There is no such thing as too much pitching depth in baseball. Anybody who tells you otherwise is lying. I do, however, agree that the Cardinals have an abundance of outfield depth. At this point, you have to expect that the Cardinals will trade Piscotty or Grichuk or Tommy Pham and perhaps even some of the minor-league outfielders who could be packaged in a deal for a major bat or even arm.
Let's see how Juan Nicasio finishes the season. He might be somebody the Cardinals decide to bring back. It will be interesting to see if rookie Sandy Alcantara can continue to get outings and work his way into high-leverage situations. Alcantara has an electric arm. He threw only one breaking pitch last night while hitting 98-mph, 99-mph or 100-mph on his other pitches. The mound was a mess as well. The Cardinals might need to acquire a reliever for the back end of the bullpen regardless of what they do with Nicasio and Alcantara, though.
Jose Martinez has played well enough at first base to push Matt Carpenter over to third. If the Cardinals are open to playing Carpenter at third base, I would give Martinez the job at first base. He's not going to win any Gold Gloves, but he's the Cardinals' best option at this point to maximize the roster while Jedd Gyorko is out. If I could trust Carpenter to play third base, I'd give Martinez the opening day nod at first base next year. I think he has earned it this year.
Dexter Fowler still has swelling in his knee. He hasn't ruled out being able to play this weekend against the Cubs.
If they make the playoffs, I would say Tommy Pham in left field, Dexter Fowler in center and Randal Grichuk in right field. \
If the reports are true, Stanton might be the easiest one to pry away from the Marlins, although the price will be steep in terms of his contract. Considering how Tommy Pham has played and how Harrison Bader has looked, I wouldn't give up on them to acquire a more expensive Yelich or Ozuna. I would go big or stay pat. The Cardinals need a true middle-of-the-order threat, somebody who puts fear in opposing pitchers. Stanton is the only batter who fits that description, and the Cardinals would be wise to acquire him. Considering all the quality outfield depth, I bet the Cardinals already have a player that will eventually be similar or better than Yelich and Ozuna in their system. Stanton, however, is a once-a-generation type of player. That is the type of bat the Cardinals need.
I would expect that Piscotty could be the centerpiece of a few multiple-player trade proposals. Although he has struggled this year, most baseball folks appreciate his talent and know he's had a huge off-the-field weight on his shoulders this year.
Adam Wainwright expects to return this season. He took a positive step forward with a 24-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. He'll either throw another bullpen or a live batting practice session on Thursday, he told us last night.
Keep in mind that Wacha, Wainwright and Weaver are expected back. The Cardinals would also be wise to re-sign Lance Lynn or another veteran arm. Regardless, though, the Cardinals have plenty of hard-throwing depth in the system.