That's not exactly the way we hoped the Cards would start the second half.
Facing a team ahead of them in the standings, a team they really needed to do well against, the Cards are swept due to, mainly, a sputtering offense. And some old friends did the biggest damage for the Reds. Let's recap:
Hero: Skip Schumaker. Two for two with two walks. If some of the others in the lineup could have had production similar to that, it would have been a much different game.
Goat: Victor Marte. Losing a game in extras is tough enough, but when you have an 0-2 pitch on the first batter you are facing and he hits it out for a game-winning homer, well, that'll do it. The only consolation was that it was Ryan Ludwick, but even as fond as we are of the guy, we'd prefer he didn't beat St. Louis.
Notes: Another solid outing by Kyle Lohse, who deserved a better fate. He worked around eight hits and a walk, giving up just two runs in six innings. The rest of the bullpen--Barret Browning, Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, even Marc Rzepczynski--did their job and did it well. Just not enough hits at key times, the song we've heard these Cardinals sing for a while now, perhaps the last two+ years off and on.
Hero: Yadier Molina. If everyone hit like Yadi did, this team would be up by 10 games. It always seems he can come through in a big situation and he did it this weekend. Three hits last night, including the game-tying home run.
Goat: Jon Jay. Rafael Furcal in front of him had a hit. Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran behind him had two hits. If Jay could have done better than 0-4, things might have looked different going into the eighth last night. Jay is hitting around .220 since he came off the disabled list and the glue that I thought he'd be to this offense has been lacking. It would seem a lineup shuffle could be coming.
Notes: Jake Westbrook kept the Cards in the game all night before tiring in the eighth. The plunk of Brandon Phillips may have been the turning point--getting him out, and he had two strikes at the time--probably means you go after Ludwick more in the eighth instead of walking him to get to Scott Rolen.
Rolen's one of my favorites, and even though it is starting to look like his career is winding down, I still like to see him succeed. Just not then. However, you have to know he's always dangerous, even if his average is in the .200 level, if the game is on the line.
As cool and impartial bloggers (sarcasm implied, of course), we tend to make rash decisions and demand action, pushing the panic button well before the front office is inclined to do so. At least usually that's the case.
However, word is from BJ Rains on Twitter that the Cardinals are calling up Trevor Rosenthal from Springfield to help out in the Cardinal bullpen. So far, I've not seen where the reciprocal move has been suggested, though I'd guest Maikel Cleto gets sent down. This is a move that pretty much no one saw coming and it does have a slight hint of desperation, unless you repeat the "In Mo We Trust" mantra.
Rosenthal is, of course, one of the top prospects in the Cardinal system and the "ease them into the bigs via bullpen" method is one that I've suggested often for Shelby Miller. Still, with Miller at Memphis (and coming off of a one-hit, five-inning outing), it may say something that he was skipped over twice this season (by Joe Kelly and Rosenthal) for promotion.
What it may say is that Miller isn't as high on the organization's keep list as he used to be. It may say that they still like him, just know he needs to work at Memphis. It may say nothing more than Rosenthal was available and they don't plan to have him stay up for very long. Only Mozeliak knows for sure, and he's not saying.
Another side effect to this move could be that Mozeliak is getting close to making a deal. After the sweep this weekend, it seems to be the timetable for making a move has just been stepped up. I'm not sure you can afford to wait until July 29th to work a deal when you are facing teams this week that you really need to beat to be competitive. Can they beat these teams without a deal? Sure. However, I'm not sure you want to take any chances if you can help it.
If a deal is made quickly, it may be done with San Diego. The Padres' scouts have been seen in Springfield and in St. Louis, so they may have already gotten all the information that they need. So far, rumors have focused on Edinson Volquez and Clayton Richard. My main concern with receiving a Padres pitcher is that Petco hides a lot of sins. In fact, Volquez has a 4.37 ERA on the road compared to a 3.22 ERA at home, with people hitting .250 off of him away from San Diego vs. .212 in the pitcher-friendly Petco. Richard, on the other hand, has been a little more consistent. (ERA home and away: 3.61 vs. 3.98, BBA home and away: .246 vs. .252) Given Volquez's struggles before reaching San Diego, if they are going one of those directs, I think I'd rather it be Richard. (Still, Francisco Liriano would make me happier.)
Cards head up to Milwaukee today with young Trevor in tow. A guy who knows a little bit about that method of breaking into the bigs, Lance Lynn, takes the hill for the Cardinals. In very limited action, Lynn has been killer on the Brew Crew.
Save for Corey Hart, this isn't a lineup that's done much against Lynn. As we saw this weekend, though, that doesn't necessarily mean much.
Brewers send out a guy names Mike Fiers. Cards have never faced him, but he's 3-3 with a 2.31 ERA on the season, so he has some talent. It could be another tough road to hoe for the squad tonight. I'll predict Jay drops down in the lineup, which is about as much shuffling as we can expect out of this bunch.
Couple of links for you. In case you missed it, since it went up very late Saturday night, I got the chance to talk with Mark Tomasik of RetroSimba as part of Episode 22 of Conversations With C70. Mark and I had a real nice talk and I suggest you check that out. However, you may want to skip the last five minutes or so of the post-talk chatter by me if you don't care for audio versions of a blog post.
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball