Memphis North brings excitement by Bob Ryan

The Cardinals had their troops in training….mastering the basics, acquiring the “DO’s” and “DON’Ts” for the next level of battle, fine tuning the elevated skills required to succeed at skirmishes and battles in the upper level…then it happened….Cardinals called up many of the Memphis team to the actual MLB battlefield..so many….in fact..that some may have referred to them as the Memphis North squad…then…while in battle….the newest battlers on the “front” began to win small…then larger ….Battles in the MLB….they were adding excitement !!  How?

….using Harrison Bader & Tyler O’Neill specifically on a regular bases…without  the notion that it was on a “trial” basis….THEY had really been promoted……every day status was now on the table….btw….one has to wonder how long Dex can still be sent out there with his .179 average….

….New Mgr Mike Shildt has transformed this stodgy, binge-HR hitting team into a unit that puts runners in motion on the bases….both as they attempt to steal a base &  a hit & run.  For me… this is MUCH MORE EXCITING than the HR bomb because the HR bomb has become the norm.  Yes…it was exciting years ago when a player hit a HR …it was exciting because it wasn’t as common as it is now in the game. Currently there are so many 1-run home runs …that…while nice…usually don’t change the outlook of the game. However, when Bader reaches 1B…the crowd’s attention elevates…on many occasions….he’ll be trying to steal….we know it, the defense knows it, the pitcher knows it…but….he’ll do it anyway….the excitement of the battle between the runner & the defense. We had that feeling with Vince Coleman and to lesser degrees with Willie McGee, Ozzie Smith and others. While at Wednesday night’s marathon (4 hours)…you could easily detect the excitement in the crowd when the Cardinals “ran” on the bases….w/o the prompting of the organist attempting to stimulate “fake” noise

….Shildt’s other changes of using relief hurlers longer than 1 or 2 batters seems to be a healthy improvement for the Cards in the long run.

….The actual scores of the games—2-1,3-2, 6-3, 3-6, 5-4 (10 inn), 2-5, 6-2, 5-2  in the battles seem more like traditional baseball scores. The recent double digit scores that we’ve seen belong to football or Little League.

….somehow the entire squadron seemed more relaxed…..and they were adding excitement during the battles and after all the victories one-day battles..

….now we aren’t ready to declare that this team will win the overall battle and capture the MLB flag or even qualify for any post season…there are still many obstacles to climb, long prairies to run as W’s are piled up but.. for the 1st time this year…. the Cards have won three consecutive series….it’s the excitement that the fan base has been seeking for a few years!

But…….the Cardinals HAVE MODIFIED their approach…..look at the different approaches given by Mozeliak…the Cards John Mozeliak said this on Aug 1,” “I feel like what we were trying to do was to put ourselves in a position to get a peek at the future,” Mozeliak says. “And as we stated, we were going to give some of our younger arms a chance and in the last week or two I’ve said that if we can find a way to clean up some of the outfield we would do that too.  Well……the Cards now have 10 rookies on the team…and not ONE Major league player was added at the deadline! They don’t want to call it “rebuilding” because that term smacks of losing with young, cheap players…. fans don’t to pay for that….at least not 3+mil of them…..sooooo…we’re “peeking” into the future….is that double-talk for rebuilding?  8 months ago…it sounded differently…..Mo’s Aug 1 statement is substantially different from his statement on Dec 8, 2017.. on that Dec date, GM Mozeliak said “I think our expectations are the same every year,” said Mozeliak, the club’s president of baseball operations, when asked if Ozuna’s deal defines a two-year “window” to win. “It’s never been one of those (clubs) where you’ve seen the massive reset or rebuild. We’re trying to reload. And as we enter into how we start about 2018 there is just a lot to be excited about how this club looks today. “Under my time with the Cardinals, I don’t know if we’ve ever not had the pedal down. It all comes down to the acquisition costs. Do you go all-in just because you have a one-year opportunity?”

HOTTEST TEAM in MLB?  Easily the Oakland Athletics…the A’s have won 12 of the last 15 and since June 24 have compiled a stunning 27-7 record. They now have passed up the Seattle Mariners…who I thought was a lock 6 weeks ago…for the 2nd wildcard spot in the American League. Go ahead…give me 2 every-day players from the A’s.

REAL CONCERN?….the MLB is concerned about the number of field players being utilized to pitch in “blow out” games….are you kidding me…with the games dragging on and on with the “real” pitchers unable to get outs..why concern yourself with such a trivial item…doesn’t every pro/college team  in EVERY sport…..replace their starters once the outcome has been determined?

TRADING DEADLINE…..As always, the trend at the deadline is for the contenders to bolster their weaker aspects of their team…This year several teams focused on the bullpen, often the middle relief ….look at the MLB leaders….

…Cubs acquired Cole Hamels as a starter (won his 1st game) and added Jesse Chavez & Brandon Kintzler to pull them through the middle innings.  The Cubbies await the return of closer Brandon Morrow. Meanwhile Jon Lester seems to be fading..he was 10-2 with a 2.18 ERA on June 26…since then in his 7 starts he holds a 6.81 ERA..he is 34 years old, is in his 13th MLB season and has piled up over2300+MLB innings

…NYY- snatched a strong closer with the acquisition of Zach Britton from the Orioles. In addition, the Yanks added starters JA Happ from Toronto and also added our friend Lance Lynn, who threw 4+ innings in this 1st appearance which was in relief. He now has been elevated to the starting rotation.

…Boston bucked the trend…they bolstered their bench as they brought in Steven Pierce in late June…when he arrived, he went on a batting tear… and Ian Kinsler at the deadline to help offset injuries to the starting 8 players.

…Dodgers made the biggest move by collecting slugger Manny Machado from Baltimore while Brian Dozier was picked up from Minnesota to help soothe the injury problems of the infield

…Pittsburgh startled the baseball world by adding Chris Archer from Tampa Bay to their rotation. A better signing… at least to my eyes…. was the attaining relief hurler, Keona Kela, from Texas.  It has seems to me that Archer is one of those pitchers that everyone raves about….but he can’t win.  I’ve heard that he is reluctant to pitch inside to batters…..that won’t “make it” in the MLB…you MUST pitch to both sides of the plate.

SWEEPING OUT THE COMPETITION:

The Boston Red Sox just completed a 4 game sweep of the Yankees. After Sunday’s win, Boston owns a 9.5 game lead over the Bronx Bombers. There are 50ish games remaining so NYY…who owns the highest wild card spot… needs to realign items in the pen to keep that Wild Card dream alive….Aroldis Chapman just suffered through his 2nd horrible outing in 2 weeks….if he was wearing a Cardinal uniform, he’d be on the DL soon.

BARGAIN BASEMENT SHOPPING:

The Cards just signed Tyler Ross….San Diego just “left him go”….didn’t ask for compensation….just dropped him like a bag of trash on the way out to the dumpster….do we expect this guy to “turn us around”?  Yes….every so often a gem is found as a player feels renewed but …for the most part….you get what you pay for…come on MO….take us off the best sale of the month to the finding the best available player of the month mantra. Now…watch …he’ll probably win 5 straight games.

THE FORGOTTEN MAN:  Another one of MO’s off season acquisitions for the bullpen was Luke Gregerson.  Take a look at this season for Gregerson…. March 28-put on 10 day DL; April 8-sent to Palm Beach for rehab; April 16 reinstated; May 16-placed on 10 day DL; July 2 sent to Memphis-rehab;  July 7 sent to Springfield (TL); July 13 reinstated him to roster; July 31—put on 10day-DL–   (49 days on MLB roster THIS ENTIRE SEASON)…Guess he’s working on his 87mph fastball, heh? The St. Louis Cardinals have placed right-hander Luke Gregerson on the 10-day disabled list for the third time in 2018, and his season may be over. Gregerson hit the DL this time with a right shoulder impingement. He missed 52 games with the same injury from May 16 through July 13.  Manager Mike Shildt said Gregerson might return late in the regular season but that he didn’t have a “great feel” that it would happen. Gregerson has a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings pitched this season. He signed a two-year contract with the Cardinals in the offseason. He’s been the forgotten man!

That’s enough excitement for now….THANKS for reading….your comments are always appreciated and enjoyed…send them to me and I’ll get them published….

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Thanks, Bob. Spot on with the Birds! Thank God, Jose Martinez is out of the infield, he was killing them defensively. Please put him in the AL as a DH. Cards! VD

  2. Cards are rebuilding, nobody wants to say that! Carp sure is hot right now… We shall see how the season ends. KL

  3. Good stuff as always Bob!
    “ a peek into the future” is the fancy word for looking towards next year. As you stated, the word “ rebuild “ doesn’t sell tickets to StL fans.
    With Fowler out at least a month and Pham gone, Bader & O’Neil have the door open to show they deserve full time status..not the bench or Memphis shuttle.
    I really like the youthful pitching staff/bullpen. I’m sure mgmt is choking on starting the clock on these young guys, but failure to act sooner probably wrote the story for this disappointing season.
    Lots of tough off season decisions to make re status of dimes vets as well as kids.
    How bout Rick Ankiel? Wants to return as bullpen pitcher. 39 yrs old… wants his kids to see him play. Says he’s figured out the “yips”. Wants to erase memories of his control issue I suppose. Wish him luck! JP

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