How things can change inside a week in the game of baseball. If someone ever tries to convince you that this isn’t an emotional game played by mortal souls, please reference them towards the latest 15 game stretch.
Baseball is so tricky, demands so much attention but gives back the most reward. For example…
Let’s take a sample and look at the last couple of weeks in Cardinal Nation. After winning two of three from the Colorado Rockies, the Cards lost three of four to the Los Angeles Dodgers. They then went on to beat the San Francisco Giants on the road before winning the first of a three game set against Miami. Then, they lost two straight to the Marlins and looked bad. Suddenly, the Cards take back to back home games against Pittsburgh and win each game on walk off home runs.
In review. 15 games. 8-7 record. 2 series won. 2 series lost. One guaranteed split. Hello, 2014 St. Louis Cardinals. The Zig Zag Kings.
After you catch your breath and take a few tums, keep on reading as I break down some topics. Take 5 here. Everybody likes lists so lets stick to it.
1.) Jake Peavy poker table session. I have wrestled with this for the past 24 hours and here is my latest take on a deal that probably won’t happen. Put aside the theory of what it would cost to bring the aging right hander to the Cardinals and just ask yourself this question. Where does he pitch? The Cardinals will get Joe Kelly back Friday in Milwaukee and this isn’t some call up or emergency fill in. This isn’t Marco Gonzales or Tyler Lyons. This is Kelly, a guy who went 10-2 from July to September in 2013. Kelly was 5-0 in August last year. He wasn’t shut down reliable but he was money in the bank. There’s your rotation pick me up. Carlos Martinez is getting better and better. Tuesday’s start was impressive. The only way a Peavy deal makes complete sense is if Shelby Miller is heading to the DL. It’s not bad to have veteran depth in your rotation and Peavy could use a scenery and league change. I just wonder what the actual framework of a deal would be. Derrick Goold is reporting it to be false so it may not occur but with the moving parts network of Major League front office dealing, you never can tell.
Sidenote-I am completely fine with a 6 man rotation but it would throw a ton of arms off their pitching clocks. The rest would be nice but I don’t see the team going there.
2.) How about Kolten Wong’s power stroke? He has 3 home runs in 168 at bats and when he hits a bomb, they are no doubters. It’s easy to see Matt Adams swing that country gravy stick and win a game but when Wong does it, there is a bit of a surprise. Wong brings something unique to the mix of the Cardinals. A potential lethal #2 hitter. Wong has speed and power with an ability to hit multiple spots in the lineup but I see him doing the most damage in the 2nd spot. There’s no question that Wong should start every single game from here on out unless he gives the team a reason to sit him. Sorry Mark Ellis.
3.) Matt Holliday may be struggling and his slugging percentage is way down, but people forget the man can hit with runners in scoring position. When he smokes a line drive into the gap, there isn’t a prettier sight in the game. He doesn’t hit well with runners on first base because he tends to pulverize grounders that make for easy double plays. With runners on second or third though, the man is raking at a .349 clip this season. After Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates ahead last night with a two run home run, Holliday tied it up by hitting a 104 mph laser to left center for a 2 run double. His home runs are down but he is still on pace for 40 doubles. The big man may be down but he can still produce the clutch hits.
4.) The back to back wins can’t overcome or cover up the hitting woes facing this team but the Cards have made up ground with their dramatics. Coming into the Pittsburgh series a loss would have dropped the Birds to 4th place in the Central. Now, they have picked up two full games on the Brewers(3 games back) and pushed the Pirates back a bit. This is vital because Friday the Cards take on Milwaukee in a first half closer that could set up a thrilling second half. In baseball, timing is everything and the last time the Cards won back to back games on walk off home runs it was June, 2011 and they won the World Series. Just saying.
5.) Allen Craig doesn’t need a new home but a new lower sport in the order. Craig didn’t play Tuesday and was on deck to pinch hit when Wong hit his walk off. With the Peavy trade rumors surrounding the team, Craig is still trying to get his season together. It’s a win/win for the Cards. If Craig figures out his issues, the Cards offense benefits and starts to run. If he hits, the trade prospects improve for the team to potentially make a different deal. You can’t take away two solid seasons from a guy and deem him worthless which makes me hold some level of faith in Craig’s comeback. First thing, please get him out of the cleanup spot. His slugging percentage of .327 there ranks among the worst in baseball. Bat Craig 6th or 7th and let him climb back into reliability. I wouldn’t give Craig away because he is struggling. If that is the mentality, Mozeliak could package the majority of the team into a trade today based off their season so far.
Remember this. I trust John Mozeliak like I trust my Espresso Maker to give me a bold cup of coffee every frigging morning. He isn’t going to make a move unless it benefits the team and their 2014 season.
That’s all I got. Make sure to stay tuned for more Cardinals Nerve Center updates and more content from the talented staff here at the Conclave. Cole Claybourn, Daniel Shoptaw, Tara Wellman, Wes Keene and the many others are here swinging theories and breaking down baseball.
So long for just a little while,