Josh G.

Family Business

Drafted for a second time by the Cardinals, Parker Kelly already knows plenty about the organization. All he has to do is ask his brother Carson.

Day three of the MLB Draft just hit Round 20, and St. Louis has mainly focused on pitchers such as Kelly.

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Filling the Roster Puzzle

Last night was a huge first step in setting the stage for the summer season. Three teams begin play later this month with most of the pieces directly coming from activities of the next two days.

At this point the baseline has been established with how the 2018 Draft will play out. The Cardinals went all power with the first three selections and now must finish all the hard work and long hours by the St. Louis scouting department.

Look for a wide array of player types taken throughout today and check back for updates with every selection.

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Luken Baker will not be confused with any other draft pick the Cardinals make the next two days. And with the third selection on Day 1, St. Louis has improved another area sorely lacking throughout the Minors.

The burly 1B from TCU has dealt with his fair share of injuries but has very few contemporaries as imposing. Baker hits to all fields and will have every opportunity to use his right-handed power to slug his way up the ranks.

Rarely in over ten years of covering the draft has every first day pick made as much sense for the Birds on the Bat. This is only the start, however, as tomorrow quite frankly ranks just as importantly.

St. Louis has to fit rounds 3-10 within the same budget and fill out both State College and Johnson City in addition to the Gulf Coast squad. They are well on the way with a trio of new Cardinals who may very well see their names right up there with the best players already established.

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Welcome to the Party

After adding a potential number one type of prospect to the organization at #19, the Cardinals opted for a much different type of player with #43. Griffin Roberts won’t get the publicity of many other college hurlers drafted before him, but that doesn’t mean they will see the majors first.

Roberts is a former closer for Wake Forest who made the transition to starting look easy this year with a three-pitch mix. He throws a slider that is especially nasty and could be his ticket to St. Louis in the very near future.

It also is worth noting that no reports show that Roberts will be a tough player to sign although anything can happen before a contract becomes final. How fast the Birds on the Bat push him will also be interesting to watch this summer as relievers always come in handy down the stretch.

St. Louis has a good shot of making it a perfect 3-for-3 evening with one final selection left this evening. Check back later for the initial look at the newest member to the Cards’ family.

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With the First Pick

Gotta admit as the time for the Cardinals to pick got closer, it was crazy to see two names still on the board. The Royals took all the drama out of the equation, however, and St. Louis scored the steal of the night.

Kansas City snagged Brady Singer who somehow fell to 18th, and that left the Cards to miraculously take the top power hitter in Arizona high school 3B Nolan Gorman.

There was no question that the Birds on the Bat would get an impact player this year, but this was an absolute stunner. Gorman was not projected to fall out of the top 10 and routinely was in discussion as the first HS bat to hear his name called.

Simply put his game is power from the left side and a whole lot of it. Don’t be shocked to see him move rapidly up the system as a guy that St. Louis can build around for a long time. Gorman will remind many under the Arch of Scott Rolen patrolling the hot corner, so the only question is what it takes to sign him.

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Cards Acquire Ozuna

Various reports have confirmed St. Louis finally landed the weapon it needed. Marcell Ozuna will be wearing the Birds on the Bat but appears multiple pieces going back to the Marlins in the move.

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As the clock gets closer to welcoming Wednesday on the East Coast, very little movement surrounding St. Louis can lead to only two conclusions at the Winter Meetings. It would be unwise to count out the top brass for the Cardinals but at the same time, the trade market can be unforgiving once the dust clears.

It remains very likely that a shiny new offensive weapon is acquired, but possibly not in the next 48 hours as trades take much longer to complete. Rumors are still the only thing anyone can use at this point, however, and that makes for some frustrating keyboard refreshing.

Have no fear though fellow Birds on the Bat faithful, because there is always something to be thankful for while waiting for the other shoe to drop.

As interesting as the last week has been, it will be nice to not wake up and wonder which potential trade target has been flipped elsewhere or have to see the latest addition to the Baby Bears. Free agency was always going to pricey and seen as the weaker fit for the Cards due to the stockpile of prospects primed to play somewhere.

The best news for St. Louis at this point has been the lack of much movement, so that allows for the right deal on both sides. The options are plentiful but so are the risks anytime you must bring change into an organization. Baseball just happens to be the one business where not everyone has the same goal at the end of the day, and the time is right to take full advantage of those looking to sell.

We have been much too fortunate that going on nearly two decades now the team we root for has never felt the need to use the dreaded rebuild term or anything even remotely close to that. Now it is time to see how the future will look under the Arch and just what presents the front office has up their sleeves.

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Woke up from my writing hibernation to see well…not much has changed for the Birds on the Bat. It is early, however, so the time for panic can’t even be discussed until all the pieces are off the board. The Cardinals have sent the big guns down to Orlando in what quite possibly could be considered the most important week in a decade.

Before we break down the three categories to watch from now until my favorite December event, the Rule 5 Draft, it would be a mistake to not give my two cents on the moves St. Louis has already made. Miles Mikolas and Luke Gregerson are not the game-changing names fans want to see across the bottom of the screen, but they are winning hurlers that make the entire staff better.

Mikolas can slot into the middle of the rotation or keep a seat warm for Alex Reyes, something that truly could make the difference down the stretch. My take on this could be a six-man rotation to help keep everyone healthy, and in that case the former Japanese starter has the leg up on just about anyone else on preparing for that.

If having multiple starting options is important, don’t underestimate a veteran presence that can throw in any situation out of a relatively young bullpen. Gregerson has done it all over a successful career and is the right piece for the price before the rest of the relievers start getting goofy amounts of money. Bringing back a guy to where it all started is a nice story, but the reality has to be in the results.

Gregerson can be the missing piece to bridge to the closer-to-be-acquired or he can be the first man out to put out the fire. He has been a durable cog that makes others better around him, and those glue guys are worth the cost and roster spot any day of the week. And now for the main event, here’s where things stand heading into Day 1.

What We Know

The two additions to the pitching staff filled needs but also completed the current available spots on the 40-man roster. Any deals made going forward to the major league squad will require a corresponding move that frees up a home for a new Redbird. This shouldn’t be a huge obstacle given the two redundant parts of the roster happen to be the biggest needs across the game today.

If you need an outfielder, just look for a member of the Cardinals’ entourage. To say the roster is stacked with options is similar to knowing where Daniel will be for a certain movie coming out this weekend. Call this one a slam-dunk, but at least two outfielders currently on the 40-man will be dealt at some point in the near future.

Given that impact bat hasn’t made its way to the Arch just yet, the other area where St. Louis can hang with any other club happens to be on the prospect side from the mound. Memphis, Springfield, and Palm Beach all were well represented on the map when it comes to finding a possible game-changer. Those same options will be even more important this week in trying to make the NL Central a real race again.

Who You Got

The Stanton Sweepstakes has finally ended, letting everyone catch their breath and wonder what’s next. Depending on who you choose to follow, the names being brought up as potential options can be categorized in one word – plentiful.

There honestly are too many names to list so really it is all about opportunity and cost that will drive this train to the station. The free agent market for bats just isn’t that strong this off-season, so that hopefully is Plan B if things don’t work in the trade game. Now the decision needs to come down to basically one question and that is where to upgrade – pick an outfielder to swap or do you fill a hole somewhere in the infield?

Where There is Smoke

Try to enjoy this week as much as possible, especially if you are like me and can turn on the MLB Network for actual reporting instead of rumors. We all know Twitter dominates things now, but the misinformation truly has made it hard to get excited unless multiple sources are in agreement. Even then the truth normally resides somewhere in the middle, so prepare to ride the highs and lows right up until the eventual shocking conclusion.

Unfortunately at this time, the only ‘news’ that can be thrown out there before publication really is that Monday typically doesn’t lead to much this early. 24 hours can make all the difference, though, so keep those phones charged and expect the jaw-dropping moves at any moment!

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For a few weeks now, the goal has been trying to decide when to start the postseason previews for Memphis, Springfield, and the rest of the squads gearing up for September. At the same time, however, the Cardinals have been doing their best to keep the drama and suspense alive and well just about every day since the calendar flipped to August.

And I don’t know about you, but this week just give us a good comedy instead of a cliffhanger.

San Diego and Tampa Bay should be just the cure St. Louis needs for the dog days but wouldn’t you know nothing has gone to plan this season. Beginning tonight the rotation has Luke Weaver, Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha in nearly permanent marker before the real fun begins. With the bullpen already running on fumes, another move is expected today just to get to the weekend when nobody knows what to think.

Memphis and Springfield both have possible answers to the Mike Leake riddle, but every option comes with post-credit questions and a laundry list of contingencies. Instead of waving the white flag, everyone knows the front office will continue to battle but at just what cost? It would make more sense at this point to trade for an established major league starter (even a rental) just to keep the minor league rotations intact.

Since it is a safe bet that at least a pair of moves will be made by Saturday, let’s break it down a few different ways. Check out these stats in case you were wondering why the easy answer has suddenly become a huge question mark.

Short-term

Unless an injury allows Mike Mayers a return trip (unlikely he would get the call), John Gant appears to be the latest Memphis recall winner for multiple reasons. Fully stretched out now, Gant can cover any innings limit and also happens to be on the 40-man roster.

In theory Sean Gilmartin or Rowan Wick also could be in play or both may simply be DFA candidates depending on how the needs are met the next 24 hours. Josh Lucas threw two more innings last night and his cup of coffee now empty, he would figure first in any demotion plan barring news on Trevor Rosenthal.

2018

One of the many things that has always fascinated me about the game of baseball doesn’t even occur while games are being played. Teams have a very small window after the season to determine who gets protected before the Rule 5 draft in December. One of the game’s best reporters has a must-read piece here, but the Cards have some decisions to make now. Two rotation options included in Goold’s story are on my list of potential call-ups that need a hard look simply because other teams won’t pass up the chance to grab either one this winter.

Austin Gomber and Matt Pearce have more positives than negatives but they both can help St. Louis in different ways and since they were drafted out of college in 2014, the pair needs 40-man protection this offseason. Gomber has been on fire as of late and surely would be in Memphis if not for anchoring a Springfield staff primed to go deep into the postseason. The southpaw also has plenty of innings left in the tank, currently sitting at 130 for the season after hurling 160 a year ago.

Pearce will be the most under-the-radar option but also has the best major league quality given he doesn’t walk batters. In 37 innings at Memphis, the RHP has given up the same number of home runs as he has issued free passes (7). Across the three highest levels of the minors last year, Pearce gave up only 26 walks in 160 frames, something every bullpen could use. He was promoted to AAA following the Marco Gonzales trade but could be the next one in line wondering his next stop if the Cards run out of 40-man spots.

Long-term

This is where things get tricky not only for the rest of this season but also why the DFA question has to be brought up with any other move. With the 40-man roster again full and no apparent move to the 60-day DL happening yet, an option such as Jack Flaherty remains a long shot in my opinion. While Gomber and Pearce face some bit of uncertainty for the next campaign, only a trade takes Flaherty out of the St. Louis system. He was selected out of high school in the same 2014 draft and doesn’t need 40-man protection this winter.

Two completely different schools of thought will determine what actually happens, though, since the Cardinals promoted Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong earlier this season looking for a spark. They were both position players who could impact the roster daily but neither needed to be added until after next year. That isn’t the main reason to take things slow with Flaherty even though many are hoping to see him start under the arch as soon as Saturday.

He has already reached a career-high for innings thrown and hasn’t worked out of the bullpen, something that may give the advantage to Dakota Hudson in case a limit has been ordered for either important piece of the future. It is extremely easy to say just call him up and go start-by-start but all that does is put yet another hole in the rotation at Memphis, which has been breaking long-time marks all year.

With this many moving pieces, the only thing anyone knows for sure has to be make sure your seat belt is fastened and tray table is stowed in the upright position. The Memphis merry-go-round has just begun the matinee portion of the show with the encore a must-see event!

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Today’s offering has been percolating for quite awhile now, as it is time to come clean on a few matters. The lack of moves at the trade deadline caused things to take a sinister tone via social media. It was time to unplug from Twitter as well as breaking my sleep schedule in hopes of catching the turnaround. A seemingly lost series in Cincy made all the difference and now everyone hopes the tank can be refilled.

No one who follows the Birds on the Bat can argue that not losing for over a week is anything but a blessing. With the 2017 Cardinals, however, it could very well count as a miracle.

Yes, not losing has to be more fun but are we just getting our hopes up for an eventual September stumble to remember? Initially, the calendar seemed to smile on St. Louis after the grueling August schedule although that could merely be a mirage on the horizon. Any West Coast swing proves daunting, especially when you are facing a pair of teams with nothing to lose.

The Cardinals will need a San Francisco treat in order to take that series before jetting down the coast to Petco Park for a Labor Day matinee that I had previously marked as a do-or-die spot around the trade deadline. San Diego offers much more than just nice weather, but that four game stretch offers the final chance to make up any ground outside the National League Central.

Twenty-three straight divisional games fill out the remainder of the schedule, with four teams fighting for the postseason and the Reds playing the spoiler role. Any timeline allowing for wiggle room between now and September has been outdated with the standings proving just how crucial even a two-game swing can make a difference this week.

The pit-stop in Boston is fun for the fans and even more vital given how well the Red Sox have been playing. One nice break for St. Louis will be no Chris Sale and also no chance of playing short-handed. The front office has enough weapons stashed away in Memphis to field another team, so that 10-day disabled list surely will come into play if Jedd or anyone else needs a breather before the calendar flips.

Most of the attention has been on the two NL Central front runners this summer and for good reason. Chicago and Milwaukee are going to be solid competition for years to come with their youthful rosters and smart GM’s calling the shots. That’s why everyone has all but written off the Pirates, and they are the team that everyone should not discount. Including the all-important four game set this weekend, Pittsburgh only sees the Dodgers next week outside of the division for the next month.

Playing 27 of your next 31 games against divisional opponents can turn the race upside down in a hurry, something the Pirates are no stranger to in recent memory. They would love nothing more than to catch the Brewers and then the Cardinals by Sunday and build up plenty of momentum before hosting LA. With the standings as close as ever, the only team St. Louis fans can actually root for are the Reds who can become everyone’s best friend very soon.

With the playoffs right around the corner for Memphis and Springfield, time will tell how the final chapter gets written for the Birds on the Bat. Oh, there are so many literary works that could be used so choose your favorite and keep both hands and feet inside the ride at all times – this roller coaster is just beginning!

 

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So this is going to be a great baseball day, right? The Cardinals can’t win or lose on the field, but 24 hours from now what makes the headlines in St. Louis? A better question may just end up being was it enough depending on how you look at the National League this silly summer.

The Cards technically have made a deal already, and it wouldn’t come as a shock to see very little done in the next six hours. It matters very little that the Baby Bears are gutting their farm system, since winning without dealing off your 25-man roster is how the Birds on the Bat stayed relevant a decade ago.

No, the only question that matters now and honestly for the next two months has to be this — can any deal help put St. Louis in position to make noise in October? Surely the optimist would argue that a move can always be found to help the team. This probably is true for the Cardinals as well, especially for that yearly bullpen arm or possibly a bench bat.

Now as I am not someone who is overly pessimistic, the past 18 months of following the club under the Arch have been anything but pleasant. There have been good moments of course with more to come but for the first time in recent memory, the only smart play is to sell. There won’t be a massive rebuild and does anyone really think there should be?

Alex Reyes will be a force next season and sets up for a more imposing rotation that should bring fear to anyone in the Central. Yes, that means a spot needs to be opened but look at the ready-made option already in place. Lance Lynn has always been a good soldier and deserves his payday, end of story. The money just won’t be coming from St. Louis as there are plenty of options and other needs.

Let other teams fight it out to lose to the Dodgers, Astros, or hot team to be determined. Lynn can make a difference down the stretch and has the playoff pedigree to help his future income even more. It makes too much sense for the Cards to capitalize and flip the starter before only getting back a second-round draft pick.

At the same time, there is a much more crucial position that needs clarity before things get put in Mike Matheny’s hands. Stephen Piscotty at last check was due back tomorrow, and Dexter Fowler in a couple weeks unless they are very cautious. While Harrison Bader can go back to Memphis for the playoff run, the elephant in the room goes by the initials of RG.

This situation has all the familiar tones of another deal that was also made to bring the needed ‘culture change’ that the front office has brought up on a few different occasions. When Craig and Kelly were moved at the deadline in 2014, it was to make room in the outfield. The same problem needs to be addressed today, and Matheny has proved to be incapable of making those calls.

Buckle up and stand by as the rumors will be flying in every direction this afternoon, as the dominoes fall into place. It is an exciting time for sure, but really we fans just hope to have something to cheer about other than what the Redbirds are doing in the PCL.

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Confused by the Cardinals

The days of having to check to make sure I got the Gonzales part right with Marco are officially over. In what can only be described as an interesting first deal this month, the Cardinals acquired the one thing they seemingly didn’t need. Tyler O’Neill represents yet another top-100 type prospect who provides power for a Memphis outfield that was already stacked.

In dealing Marco to the Mariners, however, it does free up a spot on the 40-man roster while returning Gonzales to a place he knows well. And after his last hurrah in St. Louis all but spelled the end of the line under the Arch, it was time for the former first round pick to get a real look. Injuries played a role in keeping the southpaw out of the rotation, but it really came down to other options taking away opportunities.

The Cardinals did well on paper with the return, since O’Neill has done nothing to hurt his reputation in the Seattle system. Rated as the #29 prospect by MLB heading into the 2017 campaign, the Canada native has put his slow start in the PCL behind him with a torrid stretch that caught the attention of the Birds on the Bat. While this deal opens up the ability to make other moves, it really just raises more question marks.

If the theory of more is better plays out for Memphis, scouts need to plot their GPS starting this weekend. Harrison Bader was already knocking on the door, but that creates more issues on the big league roster. At last count playing more than three outfielders seemed like an odd strategy so what’s next for the St. Louis front office?

By my quick count, there are already a pair of Redbirds outfielders and a trio in Springfield fighting for promotions. It seems to reason another move would be made sooner rather than later then to capitalize on one or more teams trying to get younger. The obvious target with plenty of unanswered questions shares a home every March with the Cardinals. But to be honest, no one has a clue what the Marlins are up to which makes for a tricky dance partner.

While I wish O’Neill well as with every new addition to the St. Louis family, it sure appears as if it could be a short stay. Look for another transaction or three as the craziness kicks into full gear as soon as the all-important series with the Baby Bears concludes Sunday night.

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