June 01, 2018

St. Louis Cardinals at the one-quarter pole — my thoughts

Mildly surprised, overall, am I, given everything that has happened, that they're just 1/2 game back of the Cubs, but 4 1/2 back of the Brew Crew, in third.

As I predicted at the start of the season, right now at least, trailing the Brew Crew. Even if not predicting Milwaukee in first.

What needs to happen to change this?

Well, the pitching just needs to keep on keeping on. Miles Mikolas has been the pleasant surprise indeed. He and Michael Wacha have more than filled the Adam Wainwright hole. We need Carlos Martinez back off the DL sooner rather than later. And, this makes me wonder if we're getting into Cardinals rabbit hole territory about occasionally being coy on injuries. But, with Alex Reyes headed to the big show, if Carlos does have a more serious injury, don't rush him back. Just tell us what's up, Mo and Girsch. (Update: Carlos starts Wednesday, June 6.) The pen has been serviceable, with Bud Norris the surprise and Jordan Hicks lighting up radar guns (and umps' balls-counters for walks).

We're good there, overall. Really.

Well, we WERE good until the announcement that Reyes was going on the DL with a lat strain. Sounds significant enough that Carlos needs to be gotten healthy again sooner rather than later after all, though his own lat problem will reportedly shelve him for up to a month, though it could be less. And, the injury might explain Reyes having no Ks after the first inning of his start.

So, we're closer to so-so than good there.

The plate sucks. Dexter Fowler can't bat his way out of a wet paper bag and remains a defensive issue at times, too, Marcell Ozuna continues to underperform (though not greatly underperform outside of what may turn out to have been a fluke/career year last year) and Matt Carpenter in Dex's territory until recently.

Kolten Wong has become a fragile-ego disaster, and it's time to stop pinning all of this on Matheny. Jose Martinez has been a pleasant surprise and that's it.

With Paul DeJong out for some time, two of the four of the Dex/Carp/Ozuna/Wong foursome have to step it up, period. Hopefully Yadi Molina is back by mid-June.

With a currently-crowded NL playoff-potential field, the Birds can't afford to give up much more ground, if any, before the All-Star break.

This is what needs to happen. Will it?

Not sure.

I don't think Dex hits above .260 for the rest of the season. Of course, I was against signing him to the contract he got at the time Mo offered it. I thought four years was enough, and I said that, if absolutely necessary, give him either a fifth year or a no-trade, but not both.

I was also against the Ozuna trade, assuming that Christian Yelich was already available then and the price no more than what the Brewers eventually paid. And, I think that he doesn't get to where he was last year. Put him down for ending the year about at his 2015 level, which is certainly not what the Birds wanted. (Derrick Goold claims the Fish pushed Ozuna first and wouldn't commit as to whether or not Yelich was available. If true, Jetes and his general management sound even dumber than they already have. Goold says he got this from Marlins sources, but ... it still sounds like the Birds didn't try to push that hard on the "noncommittal" on the Fish trading Yelich. And, Goold can at times, in my opinion, be a team mouthpiece. The difference in trade dates was about six weeks.)

As of today, both the Cards and Cubbies would miss the playoffs. That's how tough the NL is right now.

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