John Mozeliak, talking to the bloggers on Wednesday, reiterated that he felt like the team was “in a good spot” and were doing all they could, even as they hold their breath and hope to come out unscathed.
Little did he know that, as he was speaking, the wheels were in the process of coming off.
This morning, as you know by now, the afternoon game against the Brewers was called off because two of the tests the Cardinals took before the game in Minnesota, likely shortly before Mo’s talk, came back positive for COVID-19. Currently, the plan is to hunker down for today, hope for negative tests tomorrow, and play tomorrow night with a doubleheader–now shortened to seven innings to better reflect this funhouse mirror of a season–on Sunday.
If Mark Saxon is right, that the two players that tested positive are pitchers, then maybe that will work. The problem is, of course, that everyone was in pretty close proximity on the bus ride to the airport, the flight from Minnesota to Milwaukee, and the bus ride to the hotel. During a game, the pitchers (assuming they weren’t pitchers used, especially Daniel Ponce de Leon) would have been socially distanced from the rest of the team. If the positive tests had come from players, you might worry about interactions (often you will see things like Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong talking about what has just happened while standing close to each other) and closeness during the game.
The other problem–and this is the entire reason that COVID-19 has become a pandemic, I believe–is the fact that you can be contagious before you test positive, contagious before you show any symptoms. Assuming that someone got infected on the plane ride, it might be Monday before the positive test would come back. Which then would throw Milwaukee’s season into a bit of a tailspin as well.
I will say, however, that if there are no more positive tests from testing done today, the team is probably OK. It feels like someone would show up positive if this was going to be an issue. If you’ll remember, the Marlins started with one positive test, but then it continued to grow. But it was just a day or two later that the next batch came back positive. If 30-plus folks get tested today and are fine tomorrow, I think there’s a decent chance things will be OK.
No guarantees, of course, and it raises the issue of just how serious do they want to take the risks versus trying to get games in. There does come a point when you start questioning whether things are worth it or if the season is going to have any integrity. If every week you are cancelling multiple games, does it make sense to keep going? We’ve only been at this a week and MLB has already cancelled 15 games, I believe. That’s roughly 10% of what was scheduled, I’d think, maybe a little less. I know there is time to make things up–though, as we’ve seen, it’ll probably be the minor league doubleheader option that does it–but another week like this and you have to give serious consideration to the costs and the disruption.
The Cardinals have seemed to be proactive about all of this and Mo told us that he though perhaps part of the problem in Miami was inadequate contact tracing. They’ve been planning for this sort of thing and hopefully they’ll show that being proactive can have better benefits than what we saw from the Marlins. I’m still not quite convinced playing tomorrow is a smart plan, especially since it’ll likely be a shortened roster, but I can understand why they would feel it was safe.
Now, if positive tests come back tomorrow, all bets are off. Obviously Saturday’s game will be called and probably Sunday’s doubleheader will be taken care of as well. That’s for the future, though. There’s no need to worry much about that when there are so many unknowns.
What is known is that it is tough to have two games in Minnesota that were so depressing, follow it up with an off day, and then have another off day forced upon us. Wednesday’s game was not really worth discussing, of course. The Cardinals got all of three hits off of Rich Hill and his relievers and none of them went for extra bases. The Cardinals didn’t even take an at bat with a runner in scoring position. The Hero was a coin flip between Kodi Whitley and Ryan Helsley. Both went 1.2 innings and allowed no runs while striking out two. Helsley came in with runners on and stranded them, however, so we’ll go with him.
As for the Goat, there were plenty to choose from. We’ll choose Paul DeJong, though, because he stranded two men on the night, more than anyone else, as he was fashioning his 0-3. Tommy Edman was a strong runner up, though, striking out three times in his 0-4.
Daniel Ponce de Leon did a pretty solid job, though throwing 30 pitches in the first inning meant his night was going to be short. He got out of a jam in that inning allowing just one run, allowed a solo homer on a pretty good inside pitch, and had a runner of his score when Tyler Webb allowed a flare after Ponce should have struck out the batter before the end the inning. (Seriously, it was a terrible call by the home plate ump.) I would say that Ponce will be in the rotation for a bit longer, though he’ll need to be a little more efficient when he goes against….well, I’d say Detroit but I guess that depends on the weekend, huh?
Allen and I will be talking more about Minnesota and COVID tonight on Meet Me at Musial, so we hope you’ll give it a listen!