In the 1st 2 parts I looked at the pitching side of things. While adding a Starter or closer can provide help, looking at the stats, however that does not seem to be the number one problem. In terms of overall pitching for the Cardinals it really isn't really all that bad. At the All-Star break they are 11th overall and 4th in the NL with a 4.18ERA. In terms of starters we are 13th overall and 7th in the NL with a 4.37ERA and in terms of relievers we are 5th overall 2nd in the NL with a 3.87ERA. So if the pitching isn't the biggest reason for the Cardinals lackluster record? it would appear the biggest issue is hitting and scoring runs.
So far this year the Cardinals have played 88 games 25 of which we scored 2 or fewer runs including 7 shutouts! in those 25 games we are 3 and 22. In games decided by 1 run St Louis is 9-11(5-3 Mar/Apr, 1-6 May, 3-2 June, 0-1 July.
Currently the Cardinals are hitting (as of July 7) BA/OBP/SLG .244/.319/.401 Hitting with RISP (Runners In Scoring Position) They rank 20th in MLB 12th in the NL. .254/.348/.400. How does the rest of our division fair in that category?
Pittsburgh 6th/3rd NL .272/.348/.489
Cincinnati 9th/5th NL .270/.359/.449
Chicago 24th/13 NL .249/.355/.454
Milwaukee 29th/15 NL .237/.337/.427
RISP with 2 outs St Louis is a disappointing 24th MLB/13 NL .214/.321/.351,
In terms of individual performance here are some numbers for you with a minimum 200 AB
Avg YTD OBP SLG%
J. Martinez .285 Fowler .357 Ozuna .515
Molina .261 Goldschmidt .343 DeJong .442
Ozuna .259 DeJong .343 Fowler .429
DeJong .258 J. Martinez .343 Goldschmidt .426
Goldschmidt .254 Ozuna .331 J. Martinez .426
It is no secret that this year has been at best a roller coaster.
April saw the team hit .271/.353/.445
May crash team wise .232/.316/.373
June was worse .223/.286/.357
July resurgence .282/..328/.485
During this time frame there have been a few good performances.
Marcell Ozuna 16 HRs and 40 RBIs in April and May his Average has steadily climbed
Dexter Fowler OBP Apr. .425, May .341, July .440 Led the team with 14 RBIs in June
Jose Martinez April .400/.427/.515, July .320/..320/.773
Kolten Wong slow start in April .218/.367/.359 Then he slipped further in May .170/.237/.273 June he came alive .274/.326/.369 and he has continued in July .333/..375/.467
Disappointing however is
Paul Goldschmidt who's best month prior to July was May when he hit .293/.381/.364
Matt Carpenter who's best month was May .237/.339/.423
Paul DeJong who after a hot start in April .360/..423/.630 Has seen nothing resembling that since.
Harrison Bader After a luke warm April .243/.440/.432 his numbers have dropped and so has his playing time.
The call up of Tommy Edman has infused a spark to the line up .283/.309/.547 with 1 double, 2 Triples, 3 HRs and 9 RBIs in just 53 At Bats. inserted as the primary replacement for the injured Matt Carpenter.
Yario Munoz - April was not a good month ,200/.273/.300 since then he as gone .320/.329/.358
Matt Wieters THANK GOD for Matt Wieters Trough April and May he was a force off the bench .342/.368/.628
Tyler O'Neill .259/.300/.348 started to hit just before the All-Star break .300/.310/.350 (and has stepped it up in the three games since).
Now with Ozuna on the IL and Carp due to come back where does ST. Louis go from here?
If you look at the line up we are getting horrible production from the lead off spot,
.201/.299/.348 and bad production from the 8th spot .223/.314/.347
Carpenter (3B) has been the main Lead off option 250 AB .250/.320/.368 however his best spot in the order is 5th 19 AB .316/.381/.474
Both Wong and Bader have split time in the 8th slot
Wong (2B) 136 AB .221/.316/.316 his better spot is 6th 20 AB .350/.435/.450 or 7th 95 AB .274/.339/.453
Bader (CF) 98 AB .214/.342/.388 he does avg better from the 9 slot however 31 AB .323/.323/.419 mostly Pinch hitting and double switches.
The question is where to go from here.
To me it is obvious we need a lead off hitter, an infusion of power the two spots to look at adding in my opinion is 3B and or CF.
The issue at 3B is Carpenter Is signed thru 2023. Normally you would say not an issue However it is the18.5 million in base salary the next 3 years makes benching him or moving him an expensive option.
The Cardinals have 2 upcoming 3rd basemen;
Nolan Gorman currently assigned to Palm Beach AdvA
Elehuris Montero currently at Springfield AA. But by most reports neither will be ready for at least 2-3 years.
That leaves the Cardinals 3 options
A. Try to trade Carpenter for a short term solution or for prospects and make an additional trade for a 3B option
B. Go with an internal option to fill in at the top of the order.
C. Roll the dice with Carpenter and try to make a deal in the off season
So what way will they go that is anyone's guess. If it were me Trading Carp can be difficult but not impossible. I think right now his value is low. However, Jon Mozeliak said that he did not consider Carpenter's contract to be blocking anyone and indicated performance will dictate not only his fate but others as well. Before the break I would have said a trade could happen, but with him currently on the IL That does seem less likely.
The internal options are Yario Munoz .295/.316/.368 at 3B300/.323/.400 batting lead off .316/.316/.526 or Tommy Edman .238/.262/.460 at 3B.179/.207/.357 batting lead off .182/.200/.295 Fielding wise at 3B in DRS Carpenter 0, Edman 0, Carpenter 1, and Munoz -1 in terms of Rtot(total zone fielding) Edman 0, Munoz -1, Carpenter -2 It would seem from a defensive standpoint that all are fairly equal at 3B. Hitting is where the gaps show up. As Munoz ls the best hitter overall, at 3B and at the lead off spot.
Going outside the organization this would indicate that the window on Carpenter as a Cardinal is closing. The question is what is out there that is available that would also give up an improvement in either power or lead off presence.
One player who fits the bill as a short term 3B option is Eduardo Escobar 30, 3B/SS/2B, Ariz, signed thru 2021 3 years 21 million FA in 2022 ,290/.345/.534 with pop 19HRs 70 RBIs, average to above average fielder. Mostly a 3rd place hitter .309/.345./577 could possibly see him in the 2 hole for St Louis and move DeJong down to the 5 spot. Arizona could use rotation and bench help. So Maybe something like say Munoz and Helsley or Woodford could be pieces to trade. Really that is about it in terms of short term 2-3 years. there are a number of young 3B options around with most approaching FA in 2024 or 2025. which could block the path of Gorman and Montero Names like Yoan Moncada 24 CHIW, 2B/3B, Brian Anderson 24 Mia, 3B/RF Hunter Dozier 27 KC 3B.
The other spot is CF I see St. Louis looking more internal here unless someone puts out an offer that they just can't refuse. With the surplus of OF we have and the emergence of Randy Arozarena and Dylan Carlson in the minor leagues. You also have Lane Thomas and Tyler O'Neill as well. With the contracts of Dexter Fowler FA 2022, and Jose Martinez FA 2023. and only Marcell Ozuna possibly leaving via FA. Is there something out there that will work out?
Room can be made by trading say Martinez to the American league where his defense would not be as exposed. Add to that if the Cardinals do not sign Ozuna then you would have two spots available. The prospect of moving Bader looks less likely given his youth and potential.
One possibility is Wit Merrifield 30 KC 2B/OF .316/.369/.511. Merrifield is primarily a lead off hitter, .311/.367/.511 with 11HRs and 43RBIs from the lead off spot. singed thru 2022, 4 yrs 16.25MIllion Free Agent in 2023. He could provide a much more stable lead off presence. He will come at a steep price. He would cost 2 or 3 MLB ready players If, OF and SP would be on the Royals want list Probably looking at Woodford or Helsley, Thomas or O'Neill and Wong or Edman. Are we willing to pay that price?
I don't see the Cardinals making a flurry of moves If we could get a solid closer in say Smith or Greene we may have only enough for Escobar or Merrifield without totally depleting the farm system.
With the recent explosion of Edman and O'Neill and a resurgence in the offense and the impending return of Ozuna. Then add in the up coming debuts of Arozarena and possibly Dylan Carlson. I don't see a lock down deal that can be made which will make a huge difference. I personally would like to have a guy like Merrifield at the top of the line up or Escobar hitting 2 in front of Goldy What we may be willing to give. Are we willing to part with Carlos Martinez, Tyler O'Neill, Kolten Wong, Jake Woodford, Daniel PoncedeLeone. or maybe a Giovanny Gallegous to get what we want. then if those deals don't produce where are we at?
I say look for St. Louis to look at a Closer and a solution to 3B before the deadline. The next two weeks will tell the tale.
Thanks for reading as always I am interested in your thoughts. Leave a comment or hit me on twitter @bortas2002
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