The Monday Musial – July 9th

For some reason the post didn’t post as scheduled on Monday. However, here it is! Read everything like it happened on Monday.

Yeah, it’s been awhile. A little over a month since the last post here. I’ll be honest. Life gets busy and there’s just not enough time to watch Cardinals’ games as I would like. Especially since I found a job and writing for Redbird Dugout cannot be considered my full-time job anymore. So what’s this “Monday Musial” thing? It’s something inspired (read stolen) from ESPN’s NASCAR writer Marty Smith.

He does a column entitled “The Six” every week where he talks about items of interest to people who message him. While I may not have the time to write nearly daily as I have in the past, I need to make an effort to keep the blog alive or let it die a quiet death. So I decided that this is a format that I like, so I gave it a little Cardinals’ flavor, and hopefully once a week I’ll opine about what’s going on in Cardinals’ Nation that interests me and makes me want to share my opinion.

#FreesePlease

At least we were polite about it right? I’m sure everyone has and is going to have posts up complaining about the justification of who is on the All Star team. It’s really more the MLB Most Popular Game with All Star reserves, for the most part. But beyond that, just a few interesting things.

I thought it really interesting that David Freese got 8.4 million votes while Yu Darvish likely had the whole country of Japan behind him and only got 7.3 million votes. I think it’s now safe to say that Cardinal Nation > Japan.

The team has also had some interesting roster moves for injury and for Yadier Molina’s wife’s grandfather’s death. Basically now Tony La Russa is left with 2 catchers, 2 short stops, 2 third basemen, and 10 outfielders. He really only has 1 guy who has been consistently starting in center field too in Andrew McCutcheon. The others have been playing primarily corner outfield this season. Definitely going to create some interesting moves for the Evil Genius on Tuesday night.

Six (All Stars) is a Serious Number.

Carlos Beltran, Rafael Furcal, Yadier Molina (will not play), David Freese, Matt Holliday, and Lance Lynn.

How can a team that’s just six games over .500 and in third place in their division have six All Stars, pondered Joe Strauss the other day. It’s really easy. Five of those All Stars are on offense, and the Cardinals offense leads the National League.

The Rangers offense has five of their own representatives going for the American League. Is that unfair? Nope, they’ve got the best offensive in the AL.

It’s easy to look at the team and not take into account the different dynamics. Offense and Pitching are two sides of team performance. Cards are pretty good in both, but their offense is #1 for a reason. You could even make a very good case of Allen Craig being All Star caliber. As good as Carlos Beltran has been, Allen Craig has been the team’s best player this season.

And honestly, Kyle Lohse ought to have been the pitching representative from the Cardinals over Lance Lynn. Lynn had the win numbers, but only three pitchers baseball have posted two months of at least 4 starts and a sub-2.00 ERA. R.A. Dickey is one. The other two aren’t going to the All Star Game. Can you guess who?

Johnny Cueto and Kyle Lohse.

Got any Aces? Go Fish.

I’ve heard from a few places that the Cardinals are considering the starting rotation their primary target as the trade deadline. I don’t understand that. Yeah, Chris Carpenter is going to miss the rest of the season. And yes, I doubt we can depend on Jaime Garcia to return to the rotation this season.

But here’s some stats for thought. The Cardinals’ rotation since Garcia’s injury has been better than it was before Garcia’s injury.

Cards rotation this season: 3.82 ERA, 6.12 innings per start.
Cards rotation since Garcia’s DL trip: 3.59 ERA, 6.29 innings per start.

The Cardinals are #3 in the majors in offense (#1 in NL), #6 in starting pitching (#6 in NL), and #24 in the bullpen (#10 in NL).

It seems to be pretty glaring to me where the target should be. Firmly on the bullpen, and even then I’m not so sure if that’s become less dire.

No bull(pen).

Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs have basically carried this bullpen the majority of the season and don’t get enough credit for it. Especially Boggs whose 1.93 ERA leads the bullpen by over a full run.

Beyond that the bullpen is starting to look like it might come around.

Barret Browning continues to prove himself as capable. Fernando Salas looks to be getting back on track after his kidney stone issues. You also have Kyle McClellan looking to return to the pen by the end of the month.

Unfortunately, Victor Marte is starting to look a bit overexposed. Marc Rzepczysnki still needs to figure things out. Eduardo Sanchez needs to get his head in the game and get some control back. Sanchez is second in walks in the bullpen, despite having just half the innings of the key contributors this season.

I think the Cardinals could still use one more solid pickup in the bullpen. However, the options are few and far between. I think the Cardinals will be forced into overbuying if they want to cure one of their issues.

And many wanted the Cardinals to pursue Heath Bell in free agency. Whew, aren’t you glad we dodged that bullet?

To know where you’re headed, you gotta know where you’ve been.

Last year the Cardinals were 46-40 when they completed 86 games. This year, they’re 46-40. The only difference is they were 1 game up last year and are 2 1/2 back this year.

Last year they came back from the All Star break, losing 4 of their first 5 out of the gate. The team will definitely be hoping to do better than that this year as they open up the second half of the season in Cincinnati.

The Cards wrapped up the season going 44-32 (.579) over the final 76 games of the season last year on their way to the NL Wild Card.

The Pirates called, they want our booty.

The Pirates are looking increasingly like the class of the NL Central. It’s something I saw coming last year and I’m glad to see happening. Don’t get me wrong, I still hope they lose painfully to the Cardinals, but it’s good to see the franchise playing for wins rather than draft picks. Somehow they are 15th of 16 teams in attendance, trailing Houston, so basically they are the worst attended team in the NL.

Get to it Pirates fans, I mean really. Your team is something you ought to be excited about. It’s young and talented, with some of it’s biggest talents yet to come. The real key for Pittsburgh management will be to not sacrifice that future in the hopes of striking lightning earlier. Sustained development will be far better for the franchise over the long haul. Too many teams lose sight of long term success for a short term gain in attendace or wins.

They could use a big boost on the offense. Fortunately for them, their real plus offensive performers are at the tough positions. They have Walker at second, McCutchen in center, and Alvarez at third base. The regular spots you’re supposed to have your big offensive pieces, first base and the corner outfield spots, are pretty much wide open for an upgrade. It should be easy for them to find some help.

And can I say how wrong I was on Clint Barmes. Good non-sign by the Cards. I’d be frustrated with that .199 at shortstop. Of course, Furcal is hitting .179/.261/.198 over the last month so maybe Barmes would be a bit of an improvement? Yet Furcal is still our leadoff hitter. Wonder why our offense is struggling?

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