March 30, 2018

#Cardinals 2018 — quick hit takes

First, I don't think the Cards did enough upgrading in the starting rotation plus position players. Marcell Ozuna is nice, but he's had a high variability level. I said at the time I preferred Christian Yelich. The Brewers found a way to acquire him. Mo and Girsch have never indicated that he was unavailable at the time they got Ozuna. (More on that later.)

Paul DeJong was great last year. Will he be again, or will the Aledmys Diaz sophomore slump hit?

Miles Mikolas may have gotten his spring training problems straightened out, and thus be bringing back to MLB what he learned from Japan. Or he may be who the Rangers had in 2014. Carlos Martinez did not look like an "ace" on opening day. The walks — something he had problems with last year in early innings of games — got him again. We still don't know how much Adam Wainwright has in his gas tank.  And, his WHIP and FIP were both almost as bad in 2016 as in 2017. Even if he has injury-free gas in the tank, that gas may still be only 83 octane — or whatever the top speed is on his fastball these days.

And now, after Mo and Girsch tried to pretend they were comfortable with the roster in general, and with a bullpen by committee in particular, they showed they weren't by overpaying for Greg Holland. (And they lose a comp draft pick because of the signing, which is part of the overpay beyond cash. But with that and more, Ben Hochman, the worst excuse for a sports columnist in St. Louis, still defends it.)

I wondered two months ago if the Cards really could vault past the Brew Crew into second in the NL Central — and a wild card spot; finishing ahead of the Brew means nothing if it's still out of the money.

After all, Milwaukee signed Lorenzo Cain as a free agent after trading for Yelich. That was followed by Post-Dispatch award-winning columnist team scribe Rick Hummel falsely claiming Cain is no better than Dexter Fowler.

In short, we don't know much the Birds have improved. Nor do we know if the "paper of record" can be trusted to provide an honest answer on that.

That said, it's not just the P-D that drinks Kool-Aid.

Bernie Miklasz, at the top of "Ten Bold Predictions," says Matheny will embrace change. That's even more humorous than his No.  2, that the rotation will be better than expected. (I am with Bernie on one more pessimistic prediction, that Tommy Pham will have a solid year this year but don't expect a repeat of 2017. Try 4.5 WAR, not 6+.)

Contra Bernie, and modifying my comments above, one Post-Dispatch staffer, Ben Frederickson, generally is straightforward. He says the rotation is built on hope and said that before Waino's hammy. He even wondered if the Birds shouldn't resign Lance Lynn.

I'll give 50-50 odds, and no more than that, that the Cardinals get one of the two wild cards.

Should they not make the playoffs for the third straight year, I'll give no more than 50-50 odds they get rid of Mike Matheny. DeWitt reportedly still likes him.

Would Mo himself be shown the door in such a case? I don't know.

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