Why I’m OK trading or blocking Matt Adams

Last night on Twitter, I discussed whether Milwaukee would accept a straight-up offer of Matt Adams for Adam Lind. Immediate reaction is that it seems like an overpay for the Cardinals for Lind, but I don’t think so. Though that may come because I never truly believed in Adams a Major League caliber player. His power plays, no doubt, but does the rest of his skillset? Here’s why I think the way I do.

1. Matt Adams has taken a step back every season he’s spent in the big leagues

I consider 2013 to be his first real big league season. That season he had a phenomenal September in relief of the injured Allen Craig that may have really set that bar too high. He slugged 17 home runs in just 319 plate appearances and put up a 129 OPS+. Since then, he’s taken steps backwards in every season.

Based on his 2013 numbers, projected at 600 plate appearances, he was on pace to have hit 32 home runs. In 2014, that number fell to 16. And then this year, a little further to 15.

In 2013 he had a .839 OPS. In 2014 that fell to .779. And then this year even further to .656.

Now basically two and a half seasons into his MLB career, he’s shown himself to be little more than a platoon caliber player with his .198 career batting average against left handed pitching making him a “must bench” a quarter of the year.

2. Matt Adams will be arbitration eligible this fall.

Because of his injury and the aforementioned steps backwards, he won’t get as much as he could have, but he will still be making more than league minimum. For a guy that you aren’t sure can be an everyday player, is he the right investment for you to be making?

3. Adam Lind is as good or better than Adams right now.

Lind and Adams are similar players. Both have power as their main calling card and both profile as the kind of players that you’d ideally platoon. The only difference is that Lind is five years older and has a little more proven performance in his background.

Lind is on pace for 26 home runs this season and is hitting .285. It isn’t a fluke year for Lind either, who has done this before. More than once. The Cardinals are in position to win now and I think it’s about time that they make a move like their are. If you could add Lind without giving up a top level prospect, that’s a win all around regardless of what Adams goes on to do in Milwaukee.

Going forward, Lind would actually fit well into the Cardinals’ plans. He can platoon with Stephen Piscotty at first base while Piscotty also grabs some at bats in the outfield. It carves out Piscotty the kind of role that Allen Craig filled in 2011 and 2012. When you consider exactly how such a move would fit together, I think it makes sense.

After all of this you may be asking why Milwaukee would want Adams now that I’ve torn him apart. Two main reasons, cost savings and potential.

Out of the gate you’re saving the Brewers $8 million next year and a few million the rest of this year. Obviously the Brewers will pick up that option if they can’t trade him because of the value Lind can provide at the plate.

Then there is the potential of Matt Adams and the player he has been. Milwaukee can give him the ability to play everyday to find that potential in a way that St. Louis can’t. If Matt Adams isn’t going to be good today, a championship contender like the Cardinals doesn’t have the luxury of waiting on him to become it.

The Brewers have the ability to let Adams play everyday and come into his own. I’d even be willing to send along a lottery ticket prospect to grease the wheel.

On our monthly UCB Radio hit, Kevin Reynolds and I talked that 2015 was probably the make-or-break year for Adams, as far as penciling himself into the team’s long term plans. With the injury, he’s probably bought himself another year. That’s lucky for him because this year wasn’t going very well.

For his part, John Mozeliak seems to still be high on Adams as an everyday player that you want to see taking 600+ plate appearances a year. He’s even said that he doesn’t want to block him with a trade acquisition, but I’m hopeful that’s just to create a bargaining position. I see Matt Adams’ value at a tipping point that may be as high as it will be going forward. Historically, that’s when Mozeliak strikes.

Cardinals acquire Steve Cishek

The St. Louis Cardinals added RHP Steve Cishek to their bullpen this afternoon, announcing the acquisition of the former closer in a trade with the Miami Marlins. In return, the Cardinals will send Double-A reliever Kyle Barraclough to Miami. So let’s dig right in.

Cishek, 29, entered the 2015 season as one of baseball’s up and coming closers. In his previous four seasons, Cishek had a 2.70 ERA to go with a 1.19 WHIP over 249 relief appearances. He had accumulated 91 saves.

Despite all of that, the season started rough. He made 8 appearances in April and allowed 8 earned runs over 7.1 innings. The end numbers were ugly, but beyond a couple rough showings, he actually had more good than bad.

That changed in May as he began getting hit more. He allowed 7 runs in 12 innings over 11 appearances in May while opponents hit .365 against him.

He was demoted to the minors on June 2nd. He returned two weeks later and has pitched much better since. His opponents batting average is just .239 with a .294 on base percentage. His 3.0 BB/9 is much more in line with his previous two seasons as the Marlins’ closer. He has allowed just a single run over 12.2 innings.

Last summer the Marlins chose to hold onto Cishek while he had a much higher trade value because they believed they could contend. Instead, they find themselves 4th and fading fast.

The reason he was let go so cheaply, is that he is a non-tender candidate at the end of the season. He is making $6.65 million this year and, as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, cannot take a pay cut in arbitration. That’s a lot of money for a relief pitcher with question marks.

To make room for him on the roster, reliever Matt Belisle has been moved to the 60 day DL. With Belisle due out for longer than initially expected, it makes sense for the Cardinals to search out for relief help.

The move to shift Belisle to the 60 day DL was a tough decision, per Mozeliak. He said that Belisle is expected to be ready a little ahead of the 60 day window, but they didn’t want to risk exposing any of their current 40 man roster players to waivers. Mozeliak is winning the gold medal in roster gymnastics this season with all the injuries.

Cishek will wear the #28, which was last worn by Octavio Dotel in 2011.

Should the Cardinals make a move as the deadline approaches?

There is just a week to go until Major League Baseball’s non waiver trade deadline on July 31st and the Cardinals find themselves in a precarious position. They are leading the NL Central and have the best record in baseball, but they’re also nursing injuries. General Manager John Mozeliak now has to figure out whether the cost of improving this season’s team is worth it. Personally, I question whether it is.

Last week, I tweeted what I felt the Cardinals’ keys to the second half were.

Number 3 was to get healthy. Matt Holliday has now returned to the lineup and that’s helped stabilize the offense. The team also sent Jaime Garcia and Jordan Walden out on rehab assignments today. Marco Gonzales is close to being ready and then you have Matt Belisle expecting to return in August.

Number 2 was to find ways to protect Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez. Both pitchers were supposed to be under innings limits entering the year, but have had those mostly set aside due to the innings deficit following Adam Wainwright’s injury.

And Number 1 was to get Matt Carpenter right. It’s about time, but his slump is finally getting noticed by the media and Mike Matheny, who dropped Carpenter to 7th in last night’s lineup. Since May 3rd, Carpenter is hitting .211 with just 12 extra base hits. For comparision, he hit 17 extra base hits in April alone.

Someone commented that the offense needed to be more consistent, but to me, that will be a function of Carpenter getting right and the rest of the lineup getting healthy. If those two things can happen, the offense will be more consistent almost by default.

Whether or not the Cardinals choose to acquire anyone this week, those three things need to happen. If the team can’t get healthy or if Carpenter doesn’t get right, the impact that any addition can have is minimal. It’s because of that, that I think Mozeliak should consider standing pat at the deadline.

The Cardinals have reportedly kicked the tires on starting pitching because of the innings load that Wacha and Martinez are taking on. With Garcia and Gonzales eyeballing a return, you’ve got two guys that may be looking for a rotation spot. You can cycle either of those two or even Tyler Lyons or Tim Cooney into a spot start or two to shave some innings off Wacha and Martinez down the stretch for free.

As I wrote last year, the regular season advantage of acquiring a top shelf starting pitcher at the trade deadline is only a win or two at the most. You would make such an acquisition for the playoffs, but even with that pitcher, if you don’t have Wacha and Martinez right in October, your chances aren’t very good even if you add Cole Hamels or David Price.

They don’t really need relief help with Jordan Walden working his way back and a guy like Sam Tuivailala in position to make his mark on the bullpen in the second half. It might be a good place to make a value addition if you can find one. Something like the acquisition of Edward Mujica a few years back.

I’ll even go as far as to say that the Cardinals don’t even need to acquire a first baseman. Stephen Piscotty has gotten a hit in both of his games and will get some time at first base. You’ve also got Mark Reynolds who has hit .214 with 4 homers in July. That’s twice as many as he’s hit in any other month with the Cardinals.

I still believe that this team has the pieces it needs to make a deep October run. But unless Mozeliak has a player drop into his lap at a great value, I’d rather him just check the bet over to the Pirates. They don’t have the pieces to do any substantial shopping and even though they added Aramis Ramirez today, he’s 37 and in the middle of his worst season since 2002. Their hope is that the former star will catch lightning in a bottle, but that’s far from a guarantee.

If he does stand pat, Mozeliak will inevitably catch criticism for it. It’s already been building during the season. His reasoned approach to roster moves and decisions garnering frustration with their speed or lack thereof. But I do believe that standing pat is the right choice.

You can call it drinking the kool-aid (I like Strawberry, which coincidentally is also red), but I trust Mozeliak. He has never had a losing season as a GM and it would require a failure of epic proportions for that streak to end this season. Mozeliak has his plan and he will continue to work it.

The past few deadlines and offseasons we’ve all sat here and talked about how the Cardinals should trade away their abundance of young talent and bring in some veterans. If this year has taught us anything, it should be that Mozeliak was right to hold onto his young talent. Without them, this season is over. Instead, the Cardinals have absorbed the shots they’ve taken and continue to be the best team in baseball.

And that’s by Mozeliak’s design.

And I’m not sure I’m willing to sacrifice next year’s team’s ability to do the same thing.

The Cardinals activate Lance Lynn

t was initially billed as just a 15 day disabled list trip to rest his forearm, and so it has been as the Cardinals announced today that they’ve activated Lance Lynn from the DL and optioned Tyler Lyons back to Memphis. Lynn will take the mound tonight against the Miami Marlins.

“I’m just looking forward to competing again. I’ve been out for two weeks and you never want to not be able to complete. So I’m just looking forward to getting back out there,” Lynn told MLB.com about returning to the mound. Lynn missed two starts while on the disabled list with a right forearm strain.

Coming into the 2015 season, Lynn was viewed as the team’s #2 starter behind Adam Wainwright. With Wainwright on the DL, that made Lynn the de facto ace of the team and the guy being depended on to throw a bulk of the innings. Losing him for longer than just a couple weeks would have been very costly for the Cardinals who are thin now after dealing with so many injuries this season.

Tyler Lyons was good enough in his two starts as Lynn’s replacement. He went 2-0, going 5 innings in each start, allowing five earned runs between them. It was a much better run than Lyons put together while bridging the gap from Wainwright to Jaime Garcia earlier this year.

Lyons was also good at the plate. Going 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and three runs scored. His hitting performance in his last start against the Phillies is arguably the best offensive performance by a Cardinals’ pitcher this season.

Quick Hits: Can Michael Wacha win 20 games?

Michael Wacha has a 9-3 record through his first 14 starts this season. He also has a 2.85 ERA and 136 ERA+ that stacks him up as the 19th best starting pitcher in baseball this season (among starting pitchers with at least 10 games started). So the question is whether Wacha can continue this pace to become the third different Cardinals pitcher to win 20 games in the last 13 years?

Let’s take a quick glance at the history. In the last 10 years, there have been 23 times a pitcher has posted a season of 20 or more wins. Here is how many wins each had through 14 games.

11 wins (5) – Clayton Kershaw, 2014, R.A. Dickey, 2012; Brandon Webb, 2008; Josh Beckett, 2007; Dontrelle Willis, 2005

10 wins (2) – Max Scherzer, 2013; Cliff Lee, 2008

9 wins (7) – Adam Wainwright, 2014; Gio Gonzalez, 2012; David Price, 2012; Jered Weaver, 2012; Wainwright, 2010; Mike Mussina, 2008; Chris Carpenter, 2005

8 wins (3) – Roy Halladay, 2010; Halladay, 2008; Bartolo Colon, 2005

7 wins (4) – Justin Verlander, 2011; Ian Kennedy, 2011; CC Sabathia, 2010; Roy Oswalt, 2005

6 wins (2) – Johnny Cueto, 2014; Kershaw, 2011

On an unrelated note, it’s pretty impressive that Kershaw only had six wins over his first 14 starts of 2011, but won 15 of the next 19 to finish with 21 wins.

In a matter of Cardinals coincidences, each time a Cardinals’ pitcher has won 20 games in the last 13 seasons, they each had 9 wins through 14 starts.

The final numbers show that in 16 of the 23 seasons (70% where a pitcher won 20 games, they’d won 9 games or less through their first 14 starts of the season. He would seem to be positioned well for a run at it.

For Wacha though, this isn’t the whole story. Wacha will likely be on an innings limit overall for this season, so I would expect them to control how much and how often he pitches more closely down the stretch. While the Cardinals have said that they’re considering backing off the innings limit for Wacha (which I agree with), it will still make it difficult to log enough innings and enough starts to win 20 games. With his performance so far this year, that might be the biggest mountain for him to climb towards 20 games.

The fewest innings any pitcher in the history of baseball has thrown and still won 20 games is the 188 innings thrown by Jered Weaver in 2012. Weaver made 30 starts and won 20 of them. If Wacha continues to throw innings at the pace he has, he too will be at 188 innings through 30 starts, but in 30 starts he is only on pace to win 19 games. Two more starts and Wacha’s pushing the 200 innings plateau.

We know that Mike Matheny likes to give guys the chance at individual accomplishments if it’s possible, so it’s something to pay attention to as the season wears down and we know better whether Wacha might actually win 20 games.

If he does, it would be a heckuva start to a career by doing it in his first full season at the age of 23.

Cardinals promote Garcia and Scruggs

Just a day after talking about how any offensive reinforcements we can call up from Memphis probably won’t create that much of effect, John Mozeliak indicates he had to try something anyway and added first baseman Xavier Scruggs and infielder Greg Garcia to the Major League roster. Headed back to Memphis are catcher Ed Easley and relief pitcher Mitch Harris.

In theory, this will help solidify the Cardinals’ bench and give Mike Matheny more options while he constructs lineups on a nightly basis.

Since Matt Adams went on the disabled list, Pete Kozma has been the Cardinals’ only bench infielder. So basically he’s been acting as the backup at second base, shortstop, and third base. He’s also seen a little time at first base and in left field. While Kozma is retained by the team simply because he’s the only one that can play a defensively plus shortstop in the organization, were anything to happen to Jhonny Peralta, he is hitting just .098/.164/.098 so far this season.

While Greg Garcia may not be able to handle shortstop on an everyday basis for the Cardinals, he won’t be asked to do that and can fill in at third and second. He’s been having a stellar season in Memphis too, hitting .313/.405/.369 over 61 games so far, and .347 over the last month.

Garcia made a couple trips to St. Louis last season. Combined he went 2-for-14 and was hit by more pitches (3), including a walk off HBP against the Cubs, than he had hits (2).

Xavier Scruggs is the other guy and I discussed him at length yesterday. Scruggs is hitting .251/.363/.488 with 11 home runs over 60 games this season. He is also hitting .339 so far in June. Hopefully some of that heat will carry over to the Majors, but unless he hits the ground running, it’s going to be awfully difficult to say that he deserves to take playing time away from Reynolds. Reynolds, while he has lacked his overall thump, is about the only Cardinals’ regular doing anything positive with the bat in June.

The move itself is good to see if for no other reason than it will hopefully quell the frustration I read every night on Twitter. The success or failure of it will depend on Matheny actually giving these guys opportunities to play.

Easley is the position player going back to Memphis, but he only had three plate appearances in the three weeks or so he was with the big league club. For Scruggs and Garcia, that won’t do it. They will need to play more often. If only to keep the infield fresh.

Perspective

Following this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Twins, Jaime Garcia now has four starts in June and has an ERA of 0.96 and a WHIP of 0.61. The Cardinals have also lost three of those four starts. Why? It it certainly wasn’t Garcia’s fault. Twice the Cardinals were shut out and today, the bullpen squandered an 8th inning go-ahead home run from Jason Heyward.

To listen to some, the sky is falling.

And to be honest, they’re kind of right.

But when you consider where the Cardinals are, that should be expected. Can you really expect the Cardinals to maintain their torrid winning pace while missing a third of their WAR production from last year to the DL for an extended amount of time.

Not really.

With Matt Holliday and Matt Adams missing from the lineup, the offense is much weaker and the bench is too. Mark Reynolds and Randal Grichuk have been pressed into everyday service and they’ve done well since being forced into starting roles. However, the bench is left without a legitimate threat. That impacts your ability to win games late. That impacts your ability to cycle out your new core hitters.

The Cardinals have yet to react to the loss of Holliday as far as the roster goes. John Mozeliak indicated that the team may make a move for offense earlier this week, but no move has been made.

There is no doubt the offense needs help. Mozeliak knows this. Since Holliday hit the DL, the offense has averaged exactly 3 runs per game. That won’t get the job in a majority of games, but is there an answer to help the offense in house?

Not really.

If you’re asking me, the best option in house is Tommy Pham. Unfortunately for Pham, he plays the outfield and the Cardinals already have a crowded and complicated outfield dynamic. It was crowded and complicated even before Holliday went on the DL, but that means that Pham won’t see much of a chance unless there is another injury in the outfield. Maybe he’s more trade bait for a bench bat than anything else at this point.

There is a heavy call to bring up a guy like Xavier Scruggs, but let’s be honest about what Scruggs is. He’s a 27 year old power hitter who has been stuck in Triple-A without a “fair shot.” This is a story that repeats every year or two. Nick Stavinoha in 2011, Brock Peterson in 2013, shall I go on?

What about Scruggs will bring about a different outcome?

Reynolds has been really good since Adams hit the DL too, so can Scruggs outperform Reynolds often enough to deserve playing time? And I hope you don’t expect him to play much at all in left field either for the same reasons Pham isn’t the right guy.

Consider last September. Matt Adams was quietly dealing with a day-to-day injury in September and the Cardinals didn’t have another true first baseman on the roster, so they called up Scruggs. Scruggs was on a Memphis team in the middle of the playoffs when he got the call, and that’s something that Mozeliak doesn’t like doing unless the guy is going to play. He was also coming off a better season than he’s in the middle of right now. Daniel Descalso was in the middle of a season where he hit .242 with no home runs.

Descalso started over him.

Even with those odds in his favor, he couldn’t get a look. Obviously there is something missing that the Cardinals believe indicates that he won’t produce on the Major League level.

Yes, he can probably provide more impact than Ed Easley can, but Easley has gotten a whopping three plate appearances in his time in St. Louis and two of those came in a blowout loss. It’s not like he’s seeing a ton of action.

With all that said, there really isn’t a solution in house for the Cardinals to go to right now. Their best option will be to try to pick someone up off the trade market and that won’t really materialize for at least another month.

It’s okay though. The season isn’t even halfway over. There is a lot more baseball to play and a decision to add a bench player (or not) in June won’t be the reason a season is lost. The Cardinals are the best team in baseball and will be for at least another 5 days. If 90 wins gets you into the playoffs, and historically that is an automatic, the Cardinals only need to go 47-49 to secure a playoff spot.

When October does roll around, the Cardinals should be in better position. Matt Holliday and Matt Adams are both expected back. There’s also some rumblings that Adam Wainwright expects to be able to pitch as soon as October, so maybe an outside shot of having him in some fashion too.

Like it or not, we’re all along for the ride at this point. It’s going to be bumpy and not a lot of fun, but the Cardinals need to stay the course for right now. They’ll get healthier as the season goes, because let’s be honest that there is nowhere to go in that department but up. As long as they can continue to grind out wins, we’ll still be in this thing when October rolls around.

But if Lance Lynn isn’t off the DL by June 25th, you can help me mash the panic button.

Those dirty Cardinals, right?

So by now everyone has heard the big news, right? Donald Trump is running for President! Oh, not that? Uh, Dale Earnhardt Jr got engaged? Not that either, eh? Oh, you mean that the Cardinals “hacked” the Astros. Okay, so let’s talk about that a bit based on what we know.

Many major media sources are advertising this as the Cardinals’ organization hacking into the Astros’ system. That’s what the FBI is investigating, but there hasn’t been anything reported to that effect. Right now we have the actions of a couple employees. Given that they were employees that shared a residence, odds are that they are lower level ones.

Let’s also get something clear from the very beginning. There was no “hacking” going on. Unless these employees somehow got a list of passwords used by other GMs in baseball, they didn’t hack your team’s computers. The word hacking creates images of guys trying to access a system by forcing their way in without a username and password. That isn’t what happened.

These employees had a list of passwords that Jeff Luhnow and other former Cardinals employees who had left the organization for Houston used. Guess what? Someone re-used a password.

It’s like failing to re-key your locks after breaking up with a girlfriend who has a key to your apartment. Her using it to enter your apartment and dig through your stuff is still illegal, but she’s hardly a master burglar.

Even the Ground Control system the Astros have was easily found. Until the leak of a lot of information from the Astros internal system last summer, Ground Control was easily accessible via groundcontrol.astros.com. That link is now down, but the web.archive.org system has a few copies of the login page that it archived at different times through 2013.

That’s the situation based on the information that has been released and available so far. That is all we know. Anything else is wild conjecture at this point and while the results of the FBI investigation could run the gamut from the organization being criminally culpable to just a couple employees getting fired, we really don’t know and really lack enough information to generate even an educated guess at what really went down right now.

But there are a few things in the information that lead me to believe that this was just a handful of employees doing this on their own and not a sanctioned corporate decision to strike at the Astros or steal information from them.

First, this was done from the comfort of their own home. The New York Times report says that the access traced back to a home shared by Cardinals’ employees. Don’t they know that stuff like this is what your neighbor’s unsecured wifi network is for? It seems like a very amateur mistake. Anyone who has watched virtually any crime drama on TV over the last decade should know that what you do on the Internet can be traced back to you and your computer.

Knowing the intentional way that John Mozeliak goes about his business, weighing his options and ensuring that all the angles are covered, this doesn’t seem like a mistake the organization would make. They’d have researched how to do it so it couldn’t be traced or even hire a few guys in Ukraine to do it on the cheap.

This is a team that is reluctant to gamble on international signings because they don’t have enough data to provide a good projection yet. They don’t do things without thinking them through.

Perhaps these guys thought that nobody would notice a valid login attempt. After all, they were stupid enough to think they could get away with this.

Second, whoever logged into Ground Control leaked data. If the Cardinals were doing something to gain an advantage, why would they have basically waved a flag and told the world that there was a leak in the Astros computer system. This is counter-intuitive to the claim that the Cardinals were doing it to receive a competitive advantage. If you’re getting a competitive advantage, you keep it as long as you can.

So why is the FBI investigating the Cardinals? Considering the guys that their investigation led them to work for one of 29 competitors to the Astros, they need to determine whether it was just the employees acting alone or whether they were directed by higher level employees to do what they did for whatever reason. If the Cardinals did direct these employees to do it, then I think we can all agree that this is a very big deal and there will be a hefty price to pay for whoever had anything to do with it and rightfully so.

But based on the information that’s been revealed so far, we have nothing to indicate that the Cardinals sanctioned this. In my own wild conjecture, I imagine something like this happening while a couple employees kicked back watching TV with a couple beers, maybe even watching an Astros game…

Employee #1: “Man, that Luhnow guy was an idiot.”
Employee #2: “Yeah he was. Hey, I’ve got this list of passwords he used, want to see if he’s dumb enough to not change them?”
Employee #1: “Dude, it worked! He is an idiot!”
Employee #2: “LMAO, he thinks Bud Norris is worth that? Is he going to pitch against us every night or something?”

Still very illegal, but it is not the major corporate espionage that this is being made out to be by the media who are covering it and it certainly isn’t cheating. At least, not based on the information that the general public so far privy to.

The day may come where this story is worth that kind of attention, but the sad part is that if the Cardinals are found to be totally innocent in this situation, the stain of the cheating implication by the major media won’t wash out for quite some time.

Partly because nobody will cover it.

Lynn’s trip to the DL is concering

With the Cardinals’ history in the diagnosis of arm issues and the current state of their roster, Lance Lynn being placed on the 15 day DL by the Cardinals is extremely concerning. The official diagnosis was a forearm strain after having experienced some discomfort in his last couple starts. He had left the team and returned to St. Louis to undergo an MRI to help diagnose the issue.

In Lynn’s place, the Cardinals have recalled Tyler Lyons who will likely make both starts that Lynn will miss. Lyons was part of the bridge from Adam Wainwright to Jaime Garcia, making three starts for the Cardinals and somehow escaping any decisions with a 5.54 ERA over 13 innings. Since being demoted back to Memphis though, Lyons has pitched well going 3-1 over 4 starts with a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings.

In 12 starts this season, Lynn is 4-4 with a 3.07 ERA. He’d been enjoying a string of success while leaning heavily on his fastball. Last season, Lynn was the rock of the rotation as Wainwright and John Lackey dealt with bouts of dead arm and he was expected to anchor the rotation following Wainwright’s injury this year.

But by all accounts, the Cardinals being willing to park Lynn on the sidelines for 15 days raises concern. He will be eligible to come off the DL on June 23rd so that will probably be two starts that he will miss for the Cardinals. I believe his next turn in the rotation is June 25th against the Miami Marlins.

The good news is that John Mozeliak says that they are resting him purely for precautionary reasons and that he could probably have pitched through it. Lynn himself has said that he’s had this issue before and pitched through it.

I hope they’re right. It does make sense to take care of Lynn while you can right now while you have some breathing room in the standings, but it is a concerning situation. Especially as he becomes the tenth player to spend time on the Major League DL for the Cardinals this season.

You have to wonder how many hits the Cardinals can take. I don’t think it’s many more.

With Holliday out, what does the lineup look like?

So Matt Holliday is out with a quad strain. The good news for Cardinals fans is that it is only being advertised as a grade 2 strain, which is short of a complete tear as Matt Adams suffered. This means that the Cardinals can evaluate Holliday in a couple weeks and create a timetable to get him back on the field later this season. Optimistically, I believe that means in six to eight weeks the Cardinals could see him back in action.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for Mike Matheny between now and then will be to fill out the lineup card every night without Matt Holliday as the anchor point. Since Holliday’s early exit on Monday night, the offense has been flat, obviously missing the big bat. So how might Matheny fill out the lineup card?

The first thing that sticks out to me when I look at the options for the lineup is that there may never be a better time to utilize a speed and defense based lineup. The Cardinals have the personnel to do it, so why not? Why not take the opportunity to run wild and see what happens? It’s not like our current method of scoring runs is being very successful.

Normally, I’d argue that Matt Carpenter is the guy to keep building the lineup around as I did in April when I talked about optimizing the Cardinals’ lineup, but Carpenter hasn’t been himself lately. Since he left the May 3rd game early due to dehydration, he has hit .231/.346/.380 with only 8 of his 25 hits going for extra bases. Entering play today, he has gone hitless in the last five games he’s started, the longest such slump of his career.

As long as he slumps, I think because the margin of error is so slim for this offense, that you need to consider dropping him in the lineup.

Right now Jhonny Peralta is far and away the Cardinals’ best hitter. Over the past 28 days his line is a robust .341/.417/.615 with 6 home runs and 19 RBI, all team highs. He is also the only Cardinals hitter hitting over .300, getting on base better than .400, and slugging better than .500. But his bat is far more suited for third in the lineup than second in the lineup.

Kolten Wong is the guy that I would identify to slide into the #2 spot in the lineup right now. He is the second best hitter on the team right now, hitting .293/.358/.455 over the last 28 days.

As I said earlier, I would make a shift towards a speed and defense lineup in an effort to maximize the results of my pitching staff. That means that Peter Bourjos gets to start regular in center field and would be leading off for me.

CF Bourjos
2B Wong
SS Peralta
LF Grichuk
3B Carpenter
1B Reynolds
C Molina
RF Heyward
Pitcher

I’m not the biggest fan of Grichuk in the cleanup spot, but I think he is our biggest power threat beyond Peralta.

After Grichuk I take a flip flop approach. A guy who can get on base and then a guy who can drive him in. Carpenter and Mark Reynolds make this first pairing while Yadier Molina and Jason Heyward make the second.

Ideally, Carpenter or Molina gets on and Reynolds or Heyward hits a home run.

It’s not perfect, but the Cardinals’ lineup has many holes right now with the absence of Holliday and Adams. Holes that are almost impossible to patch in any meaningful way. But the lineup still features six or seven hitters who should be above average hitters, which would still be among the league’s deepest lineups.

Now the Cardinals and their fans hope and pray that Holliday heals well over the next two weeks to give them some positive news.