Between and Beyond the Lines by Bob Ryan

The trading deadline and other actions caused several ideas/issues to bubble up and reach the surface recently. Some were inferences between the lines….others were extrapolations beyond the lines.

Many had to do with the Cards @ the deadline as many fans seemed incensed by the Cardinals inaction at deadline time. ….

….one reason Mo cited about his abstinence from the trade market was that the other teams all kept coming back to his top 2 prospects (Nolan Gorman &  Dylan Carlson) to be included in the trade… sooooo….that means…to me…. the other teams don’t want our aging, declining veterans already on the Card roster and don’t give two hoots about all these other “hot prospects” touted so highly by the Cards & Cards TV. Basically….going further… the Cards..it seems….REALLY have ONLY 2 premium prospects that others covet….all the others are basically at a level that other teams don’t consider them to be “high MLB players at any time of their career”…they could be put into a fish pond drawing by another team….and drawn out blindly….with the result being about the same despite which name(fish) you drew

….the “story line” by MO was that “there just wasn’t the type of trade that we wanted”….between the lines….we wanted to protect and keep the players that other teams wanted in trades. Trades CAN ALWAYS be made….but….you must trade something of value to get something of value. Trades are NOT expected to be one-sided deals but fill needs for each team…maybe short term needs..maybe long term needs. The supportive StL fans were generally livid with the Cardinals management team that seemed paralyzed by the thoughts of trading decent players away to other teams. You aren’t always ..or maybe ever…..going to get the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio type trade again.    

….When the Mets wanted Harrison Bader or Tyler O’Neill for Zack Wheeler, the Cards were apprehensive that Wheeler would walk away when his contract expires at the end of the year AND that Bader or O’Neill would become stars. I would have accepted that deal instantly. When trading, one must do what’s good for YOUR team…not concern yourself with the results on the other team. Funny though….why are we so protective of these 2 outfielders? Yes….each is a tremendous athlete, but can they play baseball at the highest level? Bader was just sent down because of his batting. He was batting .195, 221 AB, 73 strikeouts(just about once every 3 AB). Will he EVER hit? He’s 25 now so he should be in the prime of his career. His superior defense, speed, hustle may …or may not… ever be seen again @ the MLB level. O’Neill acquired in a trade of July 2017 for Marco Gonzalez is 24 years of age.  He has 36 hits, 46 strikeouts while hitting  a respectable .279. His defensive skills do not reach that of Bader but they are far from the weakest on the team. I suppose that isn’t an overwhelming endorsement J  He is putting the ball in play much more often of late, does have very good speed (beat out an infield grounder to the 3B last week), will hit 25-30 HR if he played daily. YOU had to make that trade!!!

…the thought is that in order to win as a pitcher in the MLB , pitchers MUST throw fastballs in the high 90’s. MLB scouts & GM’s REALLY believe that a pitcher can’t win w/o that velocity……yet….watching Adam Wainwright  in the sunset of his career and Kyle Hendricks of Cubs who throws an 86mph fastball…sharp CONTROL with good breaking balls will also win games.  Sure the blazing Fastball lights up the speed gun but MLB players can hit fastballs …even those in the high 90’s if they cross over the central part of the plate. You must have movement and pinpoint control.  Remember John Tudor?

…the thought was that the Cubs had built a dynasty a couple years ago….well…their big 3 of Baez, Rizzo and Bryant really are good but only Heyward is a strong 2-way OF(boy, would he have solved many of the Cards OF issues if he had been resigned), catching continues to face the injury problems and the starting staff seem to be old, off-speed style pitchers AND the owner indicated early this year that he (the Cubs) had topped out on the salary scale…btw….why DON’T batters bunt on Jon Lester who has some type of mental block about throwing to bases?  Ego?

…..while the Cardinals publicly talk about the return of Yadi Molina, there may be whispers  in the background heard about his return. First of all, I don’t remember Yadi actually ever playing rehab games in Memphis. Was this to delay his return? Are the Cards not breathing breathlessly to have him back?  At this point of his career, the Cards MAY be better with Yadi hurt and Wieters behind the plate. Wieters certainly has more pop in his bat, is a switch hitter, has belted 10 HR,  handles pitchers and has thrown out some runners attempting to steal. Btw…the Cards are 20-14 in his starts. In the other games without Wieters behind the plate, the Cards are 38-38. Btw…this IS the type of backup that the Cards should have on their roster. A veteran who knows his role…not a young up & coming player on the way up who sees sparse playing time and has his development stunted by the inactivity. Carson Kelly for example.

…the idea that major league fans just want to see only home runs is rubbish. Many …like myself…want to see some emotion in professional sports on occasion. EVERY other professional sport does it. Happy celebrations after scores, frustration about officials calls, disappointment. I rather enjoyed the baseball brawl between the Reds & Pirates. Look….both of these teams were still “in the race” 10 days ago, then both were dropped from the tails of the front runners (Pirates are 1-9 in last 10 games).  They were frustrated, angry and disappointed.  Soooo….anger erupted quickly. Both teams fully indulged in the fight…even the managers went head to head in wrestling. It was a Royal Rumble on the Diamond. Where was Vince McMahon? Would I want to see it every week…nope….but I DO enjoy seeing some emotion in a baseball game. another example missing of late….angry managerial arguments with umps

….the idea for decades in the MLB has been pitching wins….well…maybe and maybe not. If one checks out the top 7 teams of the team OPS batting category….look what you find  1) Minnesota (1st place)  2) Boston (3rd place 59-50 record) 3) Houston (1st place)  4) NY Yankees (1st place) 5th LA Dodgers (1st place)  6th Atlanta (1st place)  7th place Cubs (1st place—on this date)—all 6 leaders in top 7 spots! Our Cards are in the 23rd (of 30) spot.

….as NCAA-F begins, Mizzou…who should have a very strong team this year…is left out of the polls due to its NCAA violations. Many fans seem angry about the ruling. Mizzou DID turn themselves in…AFTER a whistle-blower (an academic) went public about giving answers to student-athletes. It was undeniable that Mizzou had broken regulations to assist athletes. This service wasn’t done for all students…only athletes. The NCAA …in my opinion, rightly…imposed restrictions on the program. I’ve heard some fans complain that N.Carolina was left untouched after it was disclosed that students could register for a class…I can’t remember what mickey-mouse class it was…students just signed it, no real class,  and received a good grade. After investigation, the NCAA discovered that this procedure was available to ALL students…not just the athletes. As the NCAA responded, they indicated that there was no special treatment of athletes, the school sanctioned the class for ALL students.  Gee..beyond the lines…if you knew of ANY N. Carolina student, wouldn’t you be wondering? The NCAA can only sanction schools that treat athletes in “special” ways…which they all do in many ways….but at least (hopefully) not inside the classroom. Btw….it strikes me that the KC Star newspaper went in great detail about the disclosure by the Mizzou “counselor” while the StL Post publishes only the Athletic Dept side of the story…hmmmm?

…the 5 year, $100m signing of Michael Thomas of the Saints set a new standard. Obviously, New Orleans expects huge returns on their investment. I don’t doubt the abilities of Thomas for one minute. Thomas is only 26 years of age, has demonstrated in 3 years that he’s a very high level receiver. But….what about on the other end? It takes great receivers AND a great QB to pile up the numbers. I have admired Drew Brees for years. He looks like an ol’ time NFL gunslinger. But, he just turned 40 years old. Last year,he had a stunningly low interception number of 5 on 489 throws. On the other hand, he only had 6 long TD throws(over 40 yards). Check out the record of some the 15 other well known NFL QB’s who started games as a 40 year old: Tom Brady 13-3, Matt Hesselbeck 5-3, Brett Favre 13-12, Vinny Testaverde 8-17, Warren Moon 11-14, Doug Flutie 3-3, Len Dawson 1-4, Johnny Unitas 1-3. The others only played 1-2-or 3 games. That record seems to make it a steep hill for Brees. Can he and Thomas thrive at the top?

…the supposition at the start of the year was that the Cardinals were competing in a tough division. Between the lines….sure, some one HAS to be in 1st place AND it is a 3 way battle in the NL Central so it must be good. However, the Cubs are 60-51 while the Cards are 58-52 just 1.5 games behind. With that record,the Cards  would be 8.5 games behind Atlanta, 13 behind the Dodgers, 14.5 behind the Yankees, 10.5 behind the Twins, 135 behind the Astros. Not one team in the NL Central is even .500 on the road…..beyond the lines….this clearly is the weakest division of the MLB. Please don’t play the parity card, it isn’t like the Central plays only other Central division teams….every team faces teams from across the NL.

…many seemed surprised that Kyler Murray chose the NFL over the MLB. Part of the answer came this week….Murray was names starting QB for the Arizona Cardinals THIS year. In our instant society, it’s not appealing to ride around a bus in the minors for a couple years, make little money and be “just another guy”. Current athletes want their reward (big contracts) now and want to play on the biggest stage right now.

…the thought was that Matt Carpenter would be sent to Memphis and find regain his batting touch. Carp spent 9 days in minor league competition. He was 2 for 26, 1 double, 7 walks, 8 strikeouts….. He returns as the lead-off man?! But…between the lines….how can they justify to the OTHER bubble players on the roster that he belongs in the lineup?  I DO believe that the MLB should have their own corp of physicians that could verify and evaluate these “injuries” with their own judgments and THEY should establish the expected IL time. From my view, some teams are manipulating the IL by confusing injuries with performance.

…..the story has reached end…between the lines….hoping to read responses from you. Either on FB are prepcasts.com beneath the story….not your cup on tea….just click “like” so I know that you read it.

Comments

  1. Kevin Niewoehner says:

    Bob,
    Love your column.
    To improve now, Cards need to:
    1) promote Arozarema from AAA,
    2) bench Carp until he can prove that he can still hit MLB pitching, stretch out one or more of our brilliant relievers and turn them into starters and
    3) tell Molina that he no longer calls the shots on when he can play.

  2. Multiple Comments says:

    As always enjoyed the read. I didn’t see the Red’s / Pirates brawl, but did hear about it. I do miss the Manager emotion with the umpires. Brings back memories of Earl Weaver, Tommy Lasorda and the old Yankees coach, Billy Martin. KL
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    I not only read it – I loved it!⚾️⚾️ . Very very interesting. Liked Wieters and injury and trade point especially . I send your articles to my sons also and they enjoy too. JB
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    Great extensive coverage on this topic. My two cents, MO Must Go, he’s a slug and a poor evaluator of MLB talent. RS
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    I really think it’s time for a different frame of mind in the front office. The reason we only have 2 hot prospects is due to talent evaluation…and all the money given to Matt Carpenter tells me that they aren’t willing to go out in Nov-Feb and actually spend money on the free agent market. Seems to be the way a lot of teams are going these days like the Astros and Cubs….adapt or die TH
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    Fun read, any stats for the top “pitching” teams as I am one of those who believe, mainly through “younger level” real life experience, that good pitching (fast or slow with control) beats good hitting. Thanks!! FB
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    Great read coach!! Would love the cardinals to re-evaluate there draft decision makers and player development personnel. Go hire the Rays front office. What they do with less of a budget than the Cards is incredible JM

  3. I always look forward to the annual MLB Trading Deadline. Long time fans remember Brock for Broglio. Cepeda for Torre, Sadecki for Cepeda, Templeton for Ozzie, etc There were also some not so good StL trades.
    The change from August to July deadline seemed to be a bust for the majority of teams. Simply too early to determine buyer vs seller strategy?
    Well, Jeff Luhnow in Houston , again ,was a winner!
    News is beginning to leek that both Bader & O’Neil were deemed untouchable, as the Mets were willing to send Zach Wheeler to StL. Atlanta also strengthened their club. The Cubs & Brewers made a move or two
    StL sent a message to the players & fans that Goldschmidt & Andrew Miller were their deals for ‘19, Extended Carpenter , Hicks would close , and we were overloaded with starting pitching. To-date, all have under performed.
    Cards have a real soldier in Mike Schildt, who preaches his support for the current roster.
    Cards could stumble into playoffs, which appear to be how ownership/ front office evaluate success.
    3 million fans keep showing up. May have worked in the early 2000’s, but other teams are taking risks and Cards continue to lag behind. I feel Cards have reputation as low pay, push home town discount talk.
    2019 storyline… 83 wins, miss playoffs, injuries & under performance by core group. Fans continue to grow impatient! JP1

  4. I find it comical…..That as of Aug 1, the Cardinals were in first place in their division. They were ahead of the Cubs. That is the goal for the season right? Yet the pulse of the “nation” is panic, anger, and doom and gloom.
    I find it comical….Where does it say you have had a bad season when you win your division but if you were in a different division you’d be 10-12 games out. You can pick any season and find that. The object is to win your division right? So who cares how good the Dodgers are? And, in 2019 the Central may be the worst. So what? Heck there have been years where it has been the best. That is sports. You deal with what you are given.
    I find it comical…The Cardinals were not at all the only team that didn’t make a deal for pitching at the deadline. Houston got an aging Greinke and his huge contract. (“Nation” and some bloggers would have been yelping taking that contract on). Were their really any other big deals that happened? Not to me… Who were the Cardinals going to send out? Who would anyone have wanted? It takes two to tango and while no one wanted to tango with our local nine, their were teams out there a lot better than ours, that didn’t/couldn’t find a trade partner. I saw that teams were very reluctant to give prospects.
    I find it comical…That Tommy Edman (the infielder) is starting a game in right field when we have a guy in Memphis hitting .375+ in the leadoff spot can’t be called up and see if he can hit better than anyone who has attempted to lead off on the big club.
    I find it comical….That Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez could still be on this club next year!
    I find it comical… That Carp, who tore up the minor leagues, was right back leading off. What Wong with Wong getting a week or two up there?
    I find it comical….That poor manager Mike II has to make excuses for his players (See the latest on Michael Wacha’s performance) to not single them out but is being called all kinds of things by fans who know better. Tough spot for the manager when his player don’t perform. Or the General Manager don’t perform.
    I don’t find it comical…On how I think the rest of this 2019 baseball season is going to go. I don’t think it is going to be pretty…..
    I find it comical…That when I see summer is coming to a close and Bob enters his first NFL observations I skip right past all of it. The funny part to me is I was such a fan and now, no more care about the NFL than who won the English Ruby title this year or how elephants are doing in Africa. (That’s on me).
    I almost find it comical… That you got me to type all this!
    But I am done now…. Thank goodness right? Hahahahahahaha (Comical)
    JP2

  5. Looking for a BIG Football season for Brees & Thomas
    Cards I am not a big fan, So I don’t really care about MO lol
    MIZ football should be solid with their weak schedule
    Have a good evening! MB

  6. Am watching Redbirds at Dodgers in series opener via MLB Network. Though it’s only *one* game, this one is embarrassing! Thanks for today’s column. EK

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