St. Louis Cardinals Mailbag
The St. Louis Cardinals are the defending National League champions. They have a stocked farm system that makes many jealous of their future success. They have young talent at almost every position and veteran leadership at the others.
When you talk to the fanbase, however, you simply would not realize that is the case. Through May 18, the team sits in second place in the National League Central division. It trails the Milwaukee Brewers by a slim four-game margin. Its record sits at 23 wins and 21 losses. To the fans in and around St. Louis, it appears the season is a loss.
The United Cardinal Bloggers come together frequently to collaborate on content. This month, multiple sites exchanged questions in a mailbag format. The result is a snapshot of the feeling of fans around the country.
The questions are varied and tend to echo the general sentiment that the team is not what anyone expected it to be thus far in 2014. It is an interesting look at the atmosphere around the St. Louis Cardinals this season.
Five questions from the mailbag project are represented here. For more questions and answers from various sites around the Internet, visit the United Cardinal Bloggers' official website.
Statistics in the following article are current through May 18 and are sourced through Baseball-Reference unless otherwise noted.
Matt Carpenter or Allen Craig
Question 1: Who do you think will be the better more productive player in the long run? Matt Carpenter or Allen Craig? Both got long-term deals at a young age and have produce well for the team. Who produces the most long term? - Dan Buffa, Dose of Buffa
It is an interesting question when it comes to the future of the team. On one hand, you have a player like Allen Craig who produces runs by driving them in at a rapid rate. On the other, you have Matt Carpenter consistently getting on base in order to create those run-producing situations.
Which one is more productive? That is really hard to say.
It seems to be a symbiotic relationship. One does not exist or perform well without the other. The Cardinals need both players to continue to produce at the level that earned them their contract extensions in order for the franchise to be successful.
Which Pitcher Does John Mozeliak Trade?
Question 2: Which pitcher do you think John Mozeliak will trade first and why? - Daniel Shoptaw, C70 at the bat.
It is the worst-kept secret in baseball today: The St. Louis Cardinals have talented, young pitching and a lot of it. It leads to a very fair assumption: If the team is going to improve via trade, it will obviously be a young arm that is traded.
Pitching comes at a high value. Young, cost-controlled pitching comes at a premium. The Cardinals find themselves in a great position to be able to improve almost anywhere on the field if they are willing to sacrifice some of the young pitching they have.
It would not be terribly surprising if Lance Lynn was the first pitcher out the door. Lynn is an interesting case that has found success early on. At the same time, the Cardinals have not shown an interest in extending the right-hander and that may be somewhat telling. Michael Wacha, Adam Wainwright and Shelby Miller appear destined to anchor this rotation for years to come. The longer Lynn is successful, the higher his price tag goes and the more expendable he becomes.
Who Do the Cardinals Trade in July?
Question 3: Who do you see the Cardinals using as trade bait come July and what hole(s) would they try to fill via trade? - Mark Sherrard, Cards Fan in Cubs Land
The big bat in the lineup that may become a victim of the young talent in the minor league system is Matt Adams. With Allen Craig capable of playing first base and the future of talent in the outfield, Adams may be a player without a home fairly quickly.
Who the team tries to acquire may not be as easy to predict. It could use bullpen help, but Adams is worth more than that. If Adams is in fact moved, it would presumably be because Oscar Taveras has arrived in St. Louis to take over in the outfield and there is no need there.
Hopefully, the Cardinals could find a way to turn Adams into a reliever and a solid bench player that could help solidify things there. The team, despite the losing record, does not look like a team with a lot of holes to fill, which makes it hard to see what the return may be for a quality player like Adams.
Predicting Lance Lynn
Back to Lance Lynn, which is a good barometer of what Cardinal fans seem to be feeling. The guy finds a way to win ballgames, and his team finds a way to score runs when he is on the mound. That being said, pitching with runners on base will eventually get you burned and Lynn seems to do that quite often.
He is currently allowing 1.315 walks and hits per inning pitched. He averages just under nine hits and just over three walks per nine innings. That's simply playing with fire.
Lynn may continue to find success. I'm willing to bet he will not. Sooner or later, teams are going to cash in on the runners that he is giving them to work with and the result may be disastrous.
Lynn may find himself in another uniform before much longer, and that may signify the beginning of the end of Lance Lynn as a winning pitcher.
Concerns About 2014 so Far
Question 5: Just a few days ago, the sky was falling in Cardinal National. Then the Cardinals ran off four wins in a row. Specifically what or who most and truly concerns you about the team for the rest of the season? - Matthew Philip, Fungoes
The 2014 season was supposed to be a cake-walk for the St. Louis Cardinals the way everyone was talking. The team was poised to win a lot of ballgames and win so mightily with its offense and pitching.
The offense has yet to produce consistently the way everyone predicted. Run producers Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta were off to horrible starts and there was little hope the longer they struggled.
The coaching is concerning. When a team is built the way the Cardinals are, it is supposed to win. If the team is struggling, it is up to the coaching to find other ways to win. So far this season, that has yet to be the case. The team has struggled and the coaching has shown little ability to right the ship.
As Mike Matheny and John Mabry grow in their roles, this team will improve. If that growth is taking too long, a change may be in order.
Frustration Is Evident but Not Permanent
Frustrations surround the St. Louis Cardinals and rightfully so. At the same time, it is important to note that they are far from out of the running. The team is showing promise of climbing back into the race.
As 2014 continues on, fans will get a better idea of just who the Cardinals are as a team. They still may end up one of the best in the league. They may fall flat on their face. Time will tell.
If you would like your question answered in the Cardinal Mail Bag, send it my way: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.com