When The Going Gets Tough…

The tough get going.

Or at least that’s how it is for some players on the team.

Randal Grichuk was demoted to Palm Beach today. At first, before learning of the location, I was at peace with the decision because I thought he would be coached by Mark Budaska in Memphis. Learning of the decision to demote down to Palm Beach is still a concern for me. Last season, Grichuk showed noticeable progress after working with Buddha in Memphis. He returned to the majors and had a very successful run down the stretch of August and September, putting up some of the best numbers on the team.

I figured a two week stay or so under Budaska’s instruction would go a long way to return a rejuvenated Grich to a struggling lineup. Instant jolt. Palm Beach may need a longer time, but possibly help his career more in the long run with the greater number of at bats and the less developed pitching giving him a little more discipline with which pitches to swing at and which to lay off. I still fall on the side of attempting a Memphis reboot. I do see both sides of this coin though.

After returning in August of last season from Memphis, finding help with Budaska, Grichuk went on to slash 284 BA/294 OBP/731 SLG/1.025 OPS for the month. He followed up with a September slash of 269 BA/303 OBP/ 490 SLG/793 OPS. Either of these lines would boost our lineup immediately, especially when you sprinkle in the 12 home runs and 31 runs batted in during that time (171 at bats).

To refresh, as of yesterday, Grichuk was 4th on the team in hits with 37, tied for 3rd on the team with runs batted in with 19, and he had a team leading 14 doubles. I realize that he was leading the team in strikeouts and that needed attention. However, Carpenter is following closely behind with 43 strikeouts, Fowler with 42, Gyorko with 37. We then have a further 4 players with 20 or more. Grichuk’s walks might be on the low side, but he was tied with Gyorko at 12 (5th highest on team). That’s 3 more walks than Molina and Diaz. Finally, I realize that his average at .222 isn’t carrying the team, but when Fowler is also at .222, Carpenter is at .226, and Piscotty is at .224, he is clearly not the only cause for concern on this team. With only 2 people driving in more runs than he has, and only 3 people having more hits, one has to wonder if the production will be made up.

In the past week to two weeks, the team has allowed Carlos to pitch 9 innings of shutout ball, only to lose the game in extras. Starting pitching allowed 4-5 runs total during a stretch of a week and we lost all of the games. The offense is not bringing guys home when in scoring position, they’re swinging at first pitches and getting out, and they are hitting solo home runs (which can’t always be helped, I realize). There have been games where the guys left on base are well into the double digits. In a loss. Today they were letting Rich Hill take a no-no into the 5th.

To pretend that our offense is fine to have one’s head in the clouds. No one on the team is necessarily a threat. Pitchers aren’t intimidated when they know strikeouts are piling up and the words “1 pitch, 1 out” are flying out of Dan’s mouth. The team isn’t executing and they’ve forgotten the words “plate discipline” even exist. Sure, they’ve had glimpses or hitting streaks, weeks where they flash greatness. But when you look at the bottom line, the numbers totaled for the season, there’s reason to be concerned.

I don’t have the answers. Personally, I’d love to see Mark Budaska offered a job with the big club. I don’t know that he’d accept the offer. I do feel that new blood in the hitting coach department would go a long way. Pham didn’t start the season in the bigs…he was in Memphis with Buddha and continued a tear up here. Grichuk and Kolten have made huge strides after time spent under his instruction. Dex is new to our team…what happened to his numbers from last year? After two full months, things should have started to fall in place by now, at least a bit. Piscotty has looked completely lost all season save for a few games here and there, and we all know he was working with Mabry in the offseason to tweak his swing. One has to question why at this point. Carpenter is off at the plate as well. Shouldn’t their hitting coach be able to find ways to help all of them?

The team’s offense is in need of a boost in a big way. More guys have to hit with runners in scoring position. They need to be more patient at the plate. Walks need to go up and strikeouts need to go down. I don’t personally care if they all hit home runs…as long as they can bring runners home safely, singles, doubles and triples are fine. The hitting coach needs to help all of them find solutions to their problems. Sooner rather than later, as it’s never “just one game.”

I will at least leave you with a great song that can put a smile on anyone’s face. Enjoy. I know I always do. And yes that’s Danny DeVito and the cast of  “Romancing The Stone.” This is 80s goodness and I make no apologies. Good luck Grich! I’m still believing in you back here in St. Louis!

“When The Going Gets Tough” by Billy Ocean

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