Trade rumors are swirling around Colby Rasmus like nothing else. Then comes the bombshell earlier in the week that Tony LaRussa will be going by performance to determine who gets playing time. What that means is that Rasmus is sitting more often and Jon Jayis getting more opportunities.
I supported that idea. I thought it was a good idea. I’d wondered aloud if maybe making Rasmus earn his starting job back would be the catalyst to get him focused.
Rasmus has just one hit since the All Star break and his hitting .133 in July. That follows up a .213 June and a .253 May. It’s been a slow decline for the former first round pick. One that has the rumor mills considering a change of scenery for the 24 year old center fielder.
His counterpart, Jon Jay, on the other hand is hitting .368 since the All Star break and an even .300 in July. Combine that with Jay providing more sound defense than Rasmus has been and you have yourself the makings of a mid-season starter swap, though LaRussa has been hesitant to call Jay the team’s new starting center fielder.
However, I was fine with everything until tonight’s game against the Pirates. It’s the top of the 9th inning and there are two out. Jason Motte came in to get the final two outs of the bottom of the 8th and the pitcher’s spot came up in the Cardinals’ half of the 9th. Up goes Motte to the plate for his fourth major league at bat. Before tonight, he was 0-for-3 with 3 strikeouts. After tonight, he is 0-for-4 with 4 strikeouts. Motte comes out to pitch the 9th, right? Wrong. Continue reading
The big rumor out of St. Louis right now has nothing to do with potential trades, but rather retaining one of our own. No, not Albert Pujols. It seems that reports are circulating that the Cardinals and 25 year old left handed starter Jaime Garcia are closing on an four year extension.
Garcia was drafted in 2005 by the Cardinals and won the fifth starter’s role in spring training in 2010 after coming back from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 2.70 ERA over 28 starts and 163 innings. He also finished third in rookie of the year voting.
With Garcia being a potential “Super Two” during the offseason, one of a handful of players with more than two but less than three years of MLB service time who become arbitration eligible a year earlier. The four year deal would buy out his four years of arbitration and offer him two option years, according to the rumor. Something I’ve expected to happen this offseason, and very similar to the deal proposed to Adam Wainwright when he hit his arbitration years.
The rumored cost of the contract is a 4 year, $27.5 million deal with two option years. That puts the average annual value of the contract at $6.875 million per year. With the type of pitcher Garcia seems to be evolving into, this looks like a stellar deal for both the Cardinals and Garcia. The Cardinals lock up one of the top young pitchers in the game through the 2015 seasons and Garcia doesn’t have to worry about pitching for his next contract. Continue reading
It was an ugly, ugly sweeping at the hands of the new front runner in the NL Central. Over the 3 games the Brewers outscored the Cardinals 17-6, with 13 of those 17 runs being scored against the Cardinals starting rotation. That leads me to my first note.
- The starting pitcher has struggled so far in June. In 11 games in June, the Cardinals pitching staff sports a 4.63 ERA (compared to a 3.28 in April and 3.91 in May). In June they are the 24th best pitching staff in the league by ERA. While the injuries to Matt Holliday and other members of the offense are taking the headlines, behind the scenes the pitching has cost us games.
- Speaking of the offense, the team that scored the most runs in April, the sixth most runs in May, has currently scored just the 12th most runs in June. While Holliday hitting the DL has gotten the most attention, the lack of depth after the injury to Allen Craig is really what is hurting the Cardinals right now. Craig has filled in admirably in games where Holliday has been injured. In games where Craig has played and Holliday has not, Craig has a .298 batting average with a .359 OBP. He’s added 2 HR and 9 RBI.
- Should the sweep by the Brewers concern Cardinals fans? Yes and no. Yes, in that, it is the Brewers and I expect that they are the team we will be fighting in September for a playoff spot. No, in that the Brewers are finally at 100% after some early injuries and are really hot right now while the Cardinals are thin with Holliday, Craig, and McClellan on the shelf.
- Andrew Brown became the sixth (if my memory is right) Memphis Redbird to make his major league debut for the Cardinals this season. His was relatively forgettable as he struck out in a pinch hitting appearance. The 26 year old has done nothing but hit for power through his minor league career. He had 21 home runs in 2008, 22 last year in Springfield, and already had 11 for Memphis this year along with a career high .357 batting average. With Holliday hoping to return Thursday and Craig on the DL for at least another week and a half, it would be nice to see Brown get a start or two for the Cardinals to show what he’s got as he makes in game adjustments.
- Also, you can catch me with Dathan Brooks on the UCB Radio Hour this Wednesday night. Realignment was something we were kicking around on his blog the last couple weeks and now the news comes out that this is something that’s really being considered by Major League Baseball. We will cover that topic and more on Wednesday night at 10:30 eastern (9:30 Cardinals time). You can listen and check out more information on the show here.
Some of my more recent notes since I took the hiatus in the time leading up to, during, and after my wedding. I am now back with regular contributions. Big thanks to Jerry for hitting the draft hard. Lots of good stuff in the last few days.
- First note goes to Albert Pujols. Since I got married, Pujols is hitting .438 with 4 HR in the 4 games since Saturday. My personal water mark for declaring a player officially over a slump is to see them perform at their regular level against three consecutive opponents. Pujols has done that. Over the last 9 games, he has hit .400 with 6 HR and 11 RBI. His slugging percentage if 1.000. He added on 5 walks. On the positive side he’s had just 2 strikeouts and just one GIDP. To me, that signals a big turnaround for him this season. Hopefully there is no turning back at this point and that this is more like the Albert Pujols we’re going to see this year. I’d rather that than the situation of the Pujols of the first two months of the season being the norm and this just be him on a hot streak. Only time will tell.
- Listening to last night’s UCB Radio Hour and there was a discussion on Allen Craig and what happens to him once Holliday is back and healthy. Craig is the one player that has truly benefitted from the injuries. Last year it was said that he is a player that needs regular playing time to be consistent and the injuries have allowed him to get it. So far this season he’s hitting .336 with 4 HR in just two less plate appearances than last season where he hit just .246 with 4 HR. His OPS+ has jumped 70 points and while he posted a -0.1 WAR last year, he is currently sporting a 1.7 WAR so far this season. The question is whether Craig at second base is a truly viable option for the Cards. In a small sample size, the defensive metrics contradict each other, so those results are inconclusive in my mind.
- I was disappointed that I missed the callup of Matt Carpenter. Unfortunately he has just 1 hit, that came in his debut, and has been unable to be as successful as he was in spring training. He has the chance to take command of the position until David Freese returns and could pretty much set himself up to battle for the starting position in 2012. If he’s successful, Carpenter could convince the Cards to use Freese as a trade chip in the offseason and let Carpenter and Zack Cox battle it out for the starting role. It’s an option, but only one if Carpenter turns it on and adjust back to major league pitching.
- Lance Lynn had a solid start in his debut. He found a bit of trouble, but reports were generally positive. He gets another start tonight against Houston. Hopefully I will get a chance to watch it and he’ll turn in a solid start so that the Cards can win the series.