ESPN broadcaster Jon Sciambi spoke to Redbird Rants on Friday in advance of tonight’s game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates. Sciambi will handle the call for ESPN Radio with analyst Chris Singleton.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you?
Jon Sciambi: Doing alright. Sorry about that.
Daniel Solzman: It’s alright. This is your second of three St. Louis Cardinals games this month for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN Radio. Has it started to feel like you’re becoming a regular Cardinals broadcaster by now?
Jon Sciambi: (Laughs) We’ve had them a lot last year and the last couple of years. It’s definitely one of the teams that I have seen a lot the last couple years and I’m definitely used to being around the Cardinals—that’s for sure.
Daniel Solzman: A month and a half into the season, how much does the loss of a player like Carlos Beltran hurt the lineup?
Jon Sciambi: Look—it hurts the lineup. I think we always overstate the win value attached to a player. Then it gets people to their ability to kind of make up theories. Not only is it the loss of Beltran but how it affects Holliday, Yadi and all that stuff. So look, yeah, they miss him but last year, they led the league in on-base percentage but the free world is any (inaudible) position but because of that, they led the league in runs per game. This year, they aren’t doing any of that but it’s not just because Carlos Beltran isn’t there.
Daniel Solzman: What do you make of the offense in April, or lack thereof?
Jon Sciambi: I mean, I think there’s some randomness to it. If I look at their team, I like their team. I sit there—it was interesting how they went about it in signing Peralta because I thought they needed maybe a more athletic, defensive shortstop. I didn’t feel like they necessarily needed offense there because I thought they were gonna get offense.
You look at their positions. Carpenter should give them above-average offense at third and Holliday, the same in left. Craig—the same at right. Adams—the same at first. Molina, behind the plate. This should end up being a good offensive team but right now, it’s not happening. You got to be a little patient. I didn’t like that they sent Wong down. I thought that felt a little panicky. I don’t like that they keep messing with the lineup that much. Not that I think it matters that much but I just think you got to throw your guys out there and let them do their job. You got Peter Bourjos to catch the baseball, let him go catch the baseball. That’s my thought.
Jon Sciambi: I don’t know. Not to be a pain but six weeks into the season trying to predict who is going to win the Cy Young, I don’t know what to tell you. I also—I’m not that interested in awards. I’m interested at the end of the year in having a discussion over who pitched the best but not who is going to get the Cy Young.
Daniel Solzman: The first Sunday Night game in May featured the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs. This weekend, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and over Memorial Day weekend, the Cincinnati Reds. Which rivalry is more exciting right now?
Jon Sciambi: The Cubs and the Cardinals is not interesting because the Cubs are not interesting. That’s reality. I guess you still say, at the moment, the Cardinals and the Reds just because there is a little bit of that simmering underneath of the fight that happened a few years back. For the most part, they’ve both been good now for four years. I guess that’s the one I would go with.
Daniel Solzman: With the news that Randal Grichuk is being optioned to Memphis and Joey Butler bring promoted. Do you think that Mike Matheny is going to give Peter Bourjos a fair chance to get some starts in center field?
Jon Sciambi: I wish I could tell you. I don’t know the answer to that. I hope he does. I understand it from his perspective but again, let’s remember you started the year and you got Peter Bourjos because that’s a position you don’t need offense from. But then he doesn’t hit. By the way, a lot of times Peter Bourjos doesn’t hit and won’t hit and you take him out of the lineup. I think you kind of got to let Peter Bourjos play and it’s on everybody else to swing the bat. Peter Bourjos kind of just has to hold serve and really go catch it out there because he doesn’t have many equals in center field. My hope would be that he will.
Daniel Solzman: Is the Super 2 system unfair to top prospects who could be playing in the big leagues right now, such as Oscar Taveras?
Jon Sciambi: Yeah—that one is interesting. I don’t know much that system is really affecting his call-up. But with other guys, I do think there’s a bit of an issue. Look, it’s where we are. You’re trying to find value or exploit an efficiency, save money in some spots, and you’re measuring: is it worth it now or down the road? I do think that there’s a problem when the system inhibits putting your best players on the field so that there can be a cost-savings. I don’t particularly like that. I don’t know that it’s quite as unfair to the players as it may seem. I just think in the overall from a competitive standpoint. I don’t like it. If you think a guy should be at the big league level—he should be at the big league level.
Daniel Solzman: Thank you again for your time.
Jon Sciambi: Alright, you got it.