Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals Use Off Day To Contemplate Abyss

The Los Angeles Dodgers shut out the St. Louis Cardinals twice over the weekend, and the Cardinals scored one run in another loss. They got one win in the four game series, scoring a total of four runs. Usually stout workhorse Lance Lynn lasted two innings on Saturday. Shelby Miller, after a fine start on Sunday, wound up surrendering six earned runs in five innings, culminated by an Andre Ethier three-run homer.

The St. Louis Cardinals have an off-day today. They will use it to reflect on what’s occurred recently, and turn their eyes toward a club that’s often formidable at home, the San Francisco Giants. Two interesting notes: the Cincinnati Reds just swept a four game series in San Francisco. The Cardinals’ opponent on the mound Tuesday night, Tim Lincecum, is coming off a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on the 25th of June.

Should Matt Holliday and Allen Craig pop in to Ritual Roasters to get over-caffeinated on espresso? Will general manager John Mozeliak discuss bringing back Oscar Taveras with manager Mike Matheny? Can Marco Gonzalez, Tuesday night’s starter, make it through the crucible of AT&T Park? Has Daniel Descalso turned in his part-time shortstop card with the authorities?

The St. Louis Cardinals are tied with the Cincinnati Reds at six and a half games back of the Milwaukee Brewers. They are only a game and a half ahead of a resurgent Pittsburgh Pirates club. The offense has been a question mark all season. Now, the starting rotation appears very vulnerable, with Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia out indefinitely, a shaky Carlos Martinez, and a rookie making regular starts in Gonzalez. The club awaits the return of Joe Kelly from a torn hamstring.

What could change the dynamic for a team going nowhere? They could bring back Taveras for a platoon situation in right field with Allen Craig. Would Matheny go there? How much difference would it make? Is the club certain that Craig’s foot injury last September has not changed the biomechanics of his swing? He’s not the same hitter, as his ISO–Isolated Power–simply calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage, has been cut by more than half from his career number.

They could attempt to swing a deal with the Miami Marlins for Giancarlo Stanton. This would be a reversal of course for Mozeliak. It would involve possibly giving up Taveras, and much more. It might require a third partner to get the deal done, like the 2011 three-way deal sending Colby Rasmus to Toronto via exchanges of pitchers between the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Cardinals.

The season is unraveling. This unit can’t win the division playing as it is. The Cardinals have one month left to wait out the general offensive malaise, and keep this group together, or do something dramatic to change the calculus for 2014. What should be done about the St. Louis Cardinals, who are contemplating the abyss?

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