Is The Cardinals’ Future Coming?

We could talk about yesterday’s game between the Cardinals and the Reds, and we probably will in a bit, but it was another dreary loss in a year that has seen a lot of dreary losses.  (After winning the first nine against the Reds, St. Louis is now 2-5 in its last seven against Cincinnati.)  More interesting was the fact that, after one inning in the Memphis game last night, Dakota Hudson was pulled from the game and #hugwatch was on.  Plenty of handshakes and hugs, with reports that even the bullpen came in to take part in it.

All of that is pretty good circumstantial evidence that Hudson is on his way to St. Louis, but nothing has been reported or confirmed yet.  If Hudson is coming up, it would seem to be to work out of the bullpen.  The projected starters for this weekend haven’t changed and if they wanted Hudson to be ready in case Carlos Martinez wasn’t able to go on Monday, they could have let him pitch last night instead of taking him out of the game since Monday would be his next scheduled start anyway.  He could possibly start Sunday if the Cardinals use John Gant, the scheduled starter, out of the ‘pen like they did on Wednesday during the Cubs series.

Insurance would seem to explain pulling him out of the game, but it wouldn’t explain all of his teammates congratulating him.  There were tweets from former Mississippi State teammates also congratulating him on the promotion.  It may be that they were reading the same reports that we were, but it’s at least possible that they heard it directly from him as well.  So it seems like he’s going to St. Louis and will be available out of the bullpen as well as be a possible starter depending how the series goes.

(Of course, there’s also the possibility that he’s included in a trade, but I don’t know that you’d have seen the same reaction from his teammates on a deal, unless it was a deal to someone that was going to put him directly in the big leagues.  Hudson was reported as grinning broadly, which would also seem to go against leaving friends and the only organization you’ve known.)

Even with this promotion, if that’s what it is, there are some interesting points.  One, how does Hudson get on the 40-man roster?  The easiest move, if it’s allowed, is shifting Ryan Sherriff to the 60-day DL.  Sherriff currently is on the minor league DL so there’s some dispute about whether he can then be shifted to a major league one like that, but at worst the Cards waive Sherriff, assume he’ll clear waivers in his condition, then keep him in the organization.  While I think many folks would like to see a more dramatic move, this feels like what’s going to happen here.

The 25-man, though, is a different story.  In theory, you could just send down John Brebbia to make room, even though Brebbia’s one of the more effective guys out there.  As Rusty talked about recently, there’s not a lot of flexibility for a bullpen that was supposed to be flexible.  Brebbia’s one of the few that has options, so he might get the short straw.

However, as was pointed out in our Conclave group chat by Adam (I believe), the club still has to get Luke Weaver on the roster for his start tomorrow.  That means you’ll need to free up two spots if Hudson is coming.  Austin Gomber has options but I believe the club is going to want to have his left arm to go up against the Cubs in certain matchups.  Mike Mayers has turned into one of the more reliable options.  As noted, Gant is supposed to start Sunday, and I’m pretty sure Jordan Hicks isn’t going anywhere.

Put all that together and you have a stronger case that someone is going to get traded or released in the next couple of days.  While I always expected they’d do it directly after another bad outing, they could have decided to waive Greg Holland.  Less likely but they could have given up on Brett Cecil.  Perhaps they’ve got a deal in place to send out Bud Norris or someone else.  This is the part of the whole thing that is probably the most intriguing.  (And, of course, a move like this would make moot how to get Hudson on the 40-man.)

John Mozeliak is supposed to be on the radio this morning.  Maybe we’ll get a little more clarity around then.

To cover the game, Yadier Molina get the Hero tag because of his three-hit day, including a home run, though he was unable to come through with the bases loaded in the eighth and the Cardinals down by two.  A base hit there would have made for an interesting finish.  Nobody else had more than one hit as the offense was again sputtering.  These things don’t correct themselves immediately, but it is disappointing to see after a fairly good offensive series in Wrigley.

Our Goat has to be Harrison Bader.  I know he’s not played as much as of late, but he was three for eight since the All-Star Break coming into this one, but he didn’t have it at all at the plate.  He did run down a great grab that saved a run, but he went 0-4 with four strikeouts, two of them with a runner on third and less than two outs.  If he’s able to get that run in either time, the later innings might have taken on a different complexion.

Jack Flaherty got bit by the home run ball, which happens in Cincinnati, but struck out eight in five innings.  Mike Shildt again was aggressive, pinch-hitting for him in the top of the sixth with two outs and a runner on third, but Tommy Pham couldn’t get the run in.  Gant came in to throw an inning, gave up two runs, and then Luke Gregerson finished off the game allowing two runs of his own.  Brebbia threw a scoreless inning in between, even though he did allow a hit and a walk.  Two strikeouts helped him get out of that mess.

It wasn’t the worst game the Cardinals have played, given that they had some opportunities, but it was frustrating to see them not capitalize time after time and fall to .500 on the season.  There’s a strong possibility they’ll be underwater after this weekend, which doesn’t make anyone happy.

Maybe there will be some roster changes to at least make us a bit more interested again, though!

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