The second half of the baseball season is about to begin and the trade deadline is right around the corner. Already newspapers, blogs, message boards, and twitter feeds are rife with trade rumors as everyone has a keen eye on watching how their teams will perform in the second half. So where are the Cardinals and what could they be looking to add to shore up the team as they drive towards another playoff berth?
I think a good way to get an idea of where the team’s weaknesses lay can be found by a quick glance at the team statistics. With 462 runs scored in 93 games, the offense is currently ranked third in the majors and first in the National League. On the opposite side of the ball, the starting rotation finds themselves with a 3.33 ERA which is good for second in baseball behind division rival Pittsburgh. Their bullpen, on the other hand, has a 3.56 ERA and is only good for 16th.
So a quick glance points you towards the bullpen which has rebounded nicely from an atrocious start with thanks to Edward Mujica‘s step into the closer’s role which he has taken and held onto. Trevor Rosenthal settled into the 8th inning and has once again in the discussion for best relief pitcher in baseball. However, the rest of the bullpen has been a big question mark with most of the rebound behind fueled by great performances by rookie pitchers fresh out of Memphis. Continue reading
Early Wednesday morning the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers. In doing so, the knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs and clinched the second Wild Card for the St. Louis Cardinals. What that meant is that tonight’s game because the first meaningless game that the Cardinals have played since the 2010 season finale.
Adam Wainwright was supposed to start this game, however, with it being a meaningless game he was held out. Instead, he is penciled in to start Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Washington Nationals.
In his place, the organization’s #1 prospect Shelby Miller got the nod and the opportunity to make an impact out of the rotation.
Last night Mike Matheny was left with a choice. Do you leave in Daniel Descalso to face Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan? Or do you pinch hit using Skip Schumaker.
We all know the outcome. With Carlos Beltran on first with two outs, Matheny elected to leave Descalso out there and he hit a line drive to center field to end the Cardinals’ 21st loss in 1-run games.
Normally things like this may not make much news. However, when you have Skip Schumaker on the bench, hitting .314 on the season and finally playing slightly plus defense at second base, why aren’t you playing him? Why is Descalso out there? There are many reasons why Schumaker would have been the better choice over Descalso. Continue reading
For the third time this season Lance Berkman is headed to the disabled list. The move was made this afternoon as the team recalled outfielder Shane Robinson from Memphis to take his spot on the roster.
Berkman, 36, had just returned from the disabled list two weeks ago after having knee surgery. He was continuing to have inflammation in the knee that gave him trouble in the game last night. On July 24th against Los Angeles, Berkman took a line drive off his knee near where the cut was, which may or may not be related. He had hit .182/.341/.333 since his return from the disabled list.
In his place, Shane Robinson gets the call. Robinson started the season with the Cardinals and in 64 games is hitting .256/.304/.344 with 2 home runs. He was optioned to Memphis in July to make room for Berkman. He has hit .300/.388/.414 in 18 games for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate.
There were also some injury concerns around Rafael Furcal and Yadier Molina who were examined by team doctors today. However, both are still in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Brewers.
It was a busy day for the St. Louis Cardinals on a transaction front. The team announced that they have released LHP J.C. Romero and recalled RHP Eduardo Sanchez. In an unrelated move, the team released minor league outfielder Amaury Cazana.
Romero, 35, signed a $750,000 deal with the Cardinals as the second left handed reliever out of the bullpen. He spent time with four different organizations in 2011 and likely was hoping for some security where he could settle in and rebuild his value. For the first month of the season, he looked to be well on his way to doing just that. Over 8 appearances he pitched 4 2/3 innings allowing 4 hits and no runs. However it all went downhill from there. In his last 3 appearances, totaling 3 1/3 innings he allowed 10 hits and 9 runs, all earned.
In his place, the Cardinals will call up reliever Eduardo Sanchez. Sanchez, 23, impressed in 2011, posting a 1.80 ERA over 30 innings. He even got a chance to close for the Cardinals before he began struggling with control issues. The Cardinals cut him during Spring Training to give him an opportunity to work on his mechanics and control, now he’s back with improvements made, says the organization.
Who will stay and who will go is probably the question on a few players’ minds right now. The St. Louis Cardinals are due to activate Lance Berkman before tonight’s game against the Atlanta Braves, which means that they need to open up a spot on the 25 man roster. Any of the team’s bench players could find themselves on the block. Even pitchers may not be safe according to a few things I’ve read that claim the team is considering going with 11 pitchers for a little bit.
To lead off, I think going with 11 pitchers would be a really bad idea. The way Mike Matheny has utilized the pitching staff, we could probably exist that way for awhile. However, one or two bad starts by the rotation in a row, or a long extra innings game, and you’ll find yourself chasing your tail making roster moves for the next couple weeks (as once you demote a player he has to stay in the minors for at least 10 days).
The Cardinals are hitting the meat of their schedule with a 3 game set against the Braves (my preseason pick for World Series Champions) and then next week with the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers. All three teams are quality opponents who will provide the Cardinals tough challenges. Going undermanned in the pitching staff could end up being a costly mistake.