There are far too many thoughts on this one to try to share on Twitter, so this minor set of transactions have become the proverbial straw that got the camel up to dust off the covers of this derelict blog, if you don’t mind the string of mixed metaphors. I am a little bit out of practice.
Let’s start with the givens as we have little control over these transactions.
Kevin Siegrist has gone on the disabled list with a back injury. That does not sound terribly promising, but does explain some of what we have seen of late. Let’s hope this is not a chronic condition that impacts the career of the Cardinals young left-hander.
While reading comments today on Twitter, it became apparent that some people out there that don’t know basic human anatomy. The cervical portion of the spine is at the top, the thoracic portion is in the middle and the lumbar at the bottom. A cervix is a completely different part of the anatomy, and not to be found anywhere on Mr. Siegrist unless you are speaking metaphorically. And not terribly nice.
Dexter Fowler will be joining Siegrist with a recurrence of a right heel spur. If you have not experienced that particular injury, you have no idea how painful that can be. As with Mr. Siegrist, let’s hope the rest will help that area settle down and that this does not become more serious.
Calm Down Already
Given those two holes in the roster, what does Cardinals General Manager, John Mozeliak, do to fill them. Let’s be reasonable here. Mo is not going to trade Greg Garcia for Giancarlo Stanton, so please limit the discussion to things Mo can do before, say, game time ?
To backfill Fowler, the answer is obvious. Randal Grichuk is the next guy on the depth chart, is already on the 40 man roster, and has played in St. Louis. Since being sent to Palm Beach to clear his head and work on his batting approach, Randal Grichuk has played like, well, Randal Grichuk. In 14 games with Memphis, Grichuk has slashed a .270 / .313 / .603 line, thanks to some recent power and a couple of good days at the plate. His strikeout rate is still 30% and he rarely walks. Let’s not pretend that Grichuk has turned anything around and earned this promotion back to St. Louis. At the same time, let’s not pretend that the Cardinals front office has any better choices, other than Magneuris Sierra – but that is a topic for another blog post.
With Grichuk in St. Louis, where is manager Mike Matheny going to bat him ? IT DOESN’T MATTER. With Matt Carpenter cemented in the leadoff spot and at first base, Tommy Pham occupying the second or third spot and Stephen Piscotty in right field, your only good choice to hit cleanup, Jose Martinez, will be on the bench. So Grichuk is your cleanup hitter. It is not a good choice, but Mike Matheny is rather void of better ones.
Complaining about this latest Grichuk situation seems rather silly. Should Mo do something about the gaping holes in the roster ? Yes. Has he done the best he could to field a 25 man active roster for a 7pm game. Yes.
That brings us to the subject of Mike Mayers, who will replace the injured Kevin Siegrist. Oh, this one has gone over well on Twitter 🙂 Once again, take a step back and see how the pieces all come together and see if you have any better ideas.
First, Brett Cecil has already taken the spot we think of as Kevin Siegrist’s. Few probably saw the turnaround happening this quickly, but Cecil has been one of the best out of the bullpen of late. In the last two weeks, Cecil has been a rock. Opponents are hitting just .136 against him and slugging, if you can call it that, a mere .182. At the UCB Blogger event a few weeks ago, Mo said that he believed Cecil’s issues were mechanical and very minor. Recent observations say Mo might have been right.
Tyler Lyons will step up to fill the other lefty spot in the bullpen. Expect to see him getting more playing time which will make Daniel Shoptaw happy.
The real hole in the bullpen once the shifting around is complete, is for a long man. That is the role Lyons had been performing. When you look down in Memphis for likely candidates, the list becomes rather short. Sorting the pitchers by WHiP (Walks and Hits per inning Pitched), you get Sam Tuivailala and John Brebbia, who are already on the active roster. Next is Mark Montgomery, who we should keep an eye on for the next time an arm is needed in the Cardinals bullpen. Then comes Luke Weaver who will likely be called up soon to replace Michael Wacha in the rotation. Jack Flaherty is next, not on the 40 man roster. Neither are Artie Reyes or Ryan Sherriff, who probably deserves a consideration at some point this summer. Marco Gonzales needs innings more than the Cardinals need him in the bullpen. Trey Nielsen and Josh Lucas are not on the 40 man roster. We’ve seen John Gant and were less than impressed. Rowan Wick is injured. The next name is Mike Mayers.
Hmmm, so yes, he is the 14th guy on the WHIP list, but the ones ahead are either not on the 40 man, injured, or recovering from injury. If you only remember Mayers from getting shelled by the Dodgers last season, that is not the Mike Mayers that has been throwing a ton of quality innings for Memphis. His 3.74 ERA doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but remember that the Pacific Coast League is one the most hitter friendly in the minors. Mayers is throwing strikes and not getting himself into trouble with walks.
Considering the role of long relief, likely in a mop up situation, Mike Mayers is the right guy to be called up. Let Tui and Brebbia handle the higher leverage innings, Mayers is the innings eater for the next time Lance Lynn or Michael Wacha can’t get out of the fourth inning. Can we all calm down about this now ?
Welcome Luke Voit !
That brings us to the final roster move made today. Chad Huffman has been optioned to Memphis and the Cardinals have purchased the contract of right handed slugging first baseman, Luke Voit.
Is this really a question here ? Is there anybody that would rather see Chad Huffman come in to pinch hit in a game situation than Luke Voit (.322 / .406 / .561, 12 home runs, 48 RBI) ?
Once again, we need to be realistic here. The Cardinals offense has been anemic and rendered nearly inert when it faces good teams. Luke Voit is basically a right handed Matt Adams without the goofy nicknames and social media baggage and won’t cure the Cardinals offensive woes, but he does give Mike Matheny a bat that might put the ball in play.
For those of you that will still complain that this is just a lateral move, continue to dream on about Mo signing Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or somehow cobbling together enough of a package to get Marcell Ozuna away from the Marlins (like every other team is trying to do). None of those were going to happen today. More important, nothing Mo did today keeps those unlikely deals from happening, save the unlikeliness of them actually happening.
What John Mozeliak has done is improve the roster, albeit marginally, with the talent he had at his disposal. Instead of complaining about all of the things Mo hasn’t done since the beginning of time, most of which are not realistic in the first place, how about acknowledging an effort to patch some holes in a very leaky battleship. It is a step, a tiny one. With the trade deadline quickly approaching, perhaps there will be more. And some big ones would be very welcome.
Thanks for taking the time to read. Please share any ideas in the comments. Go Cardinals.