Apr 19, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) bats in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Cardinals defeated the Nationals 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
After watching the St. Louis Cardinals take a serious beating against the Chicago Cubs Monday night, then squeaking by Tuesday, I was ready for any positive news in the Cardinals system. Then I happened to check some of the numbers our minor leaguers are putting up with the Memphis Redbirds.
It is no wonder the Cardinals recalled Kolten Wong. Since going to Memphis he has batted .344 in 15 games with 3 doubles, 2 homers, 10 RBI, and he also stole 5 bases on 5 attempts. Similarly, after being sent down May 9, Randal Grichuk has batted .458 with 4 homers, 7 RBI, and 10 runs scored. On top of those two performances, Oscar Taveras is still putting up solid numbers with the Memphis Redbirds. He is currently batting .303 with 6 homers and 31 RBI through 37 games. Just for comparison, those 6 HRs Taveras has would rank him second on the big league club behind Jhonny Peralta. More importantly, it would put him ahead of the Cardinals “power hitters” Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, and the still struggling Allen Craig.
Now, I realize this idea is very far fetched, but maybe the Cardinals should send a struggling hitter down to Memphis for a week or so to regain his swing and confidence. Maybe that could give the big league club the offensive kick in the rear it needs. If the Cardinals were to send Craig down, for example, the hot hitting Grichuk could take his place on the big league roster. Or, maybe it would finally be time for the much anticipated call up of Mr. Taveras. While Matt Adams is hitting at a good average (.299), his power numbers are down. The Cardinals could send him to Memphis, switch Craig to first, and have either Grichuk or Taveras take over in right field. What about Holliday? I am not even going to go there because we all know that certainly won’t happen. He is traditionally a slow starter, but he is still putting up good numbers this season, just not his typical power numbers.
Again, I realize none of this will likely happen, but perhaps bringing up some of that hot hitting young talent could give the Cardinals the spark they need. This could also get the regulars going if they can finally get their confidence up at the minor league level.
Maybe there is something in the water down there in Memphis (besides all the pollution flowing down the Mississippi) that is sparking these bats. Or, most likely, guys like Wong and Grichuk are stuck in that in between zone where they are great in the minors, yet still struggle against major league pitching. Then again it could just be May, and some bats are finally starting to heat up. Either way, this is at least some food for thought.
Another possible answer coming out of Memphis could be seen this weekend. Jaime Garcia will likely be making a start this Sunday. I am very anxious to see how he performs. I am also anxious to see if he can stay healthy and be a contributor on this pitching staff. As of late, the big league club starting pitching has been a bit shaky. That starting pitching carried the team for the first month of the season, but has faltered somewhat lately by not eating up as many innings as desired. This has led to an increase in bullpen use, which has thus led to some tired arms in the ‘pen. If Garcia can come back and be healthy, and if the rest of the rotation (Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller specifically) can sort some issues out, a lot of pressure will be taken off the bullpen.
Despite the St. Louis Cardinals hovering around the .500 mark (good for most clubs), this season thus far has felt like a major disappointment. This is due to the fact that the Cardinals have so much potential to be runaways with the division, and even the league. Expectations were set high for this club, and as of yet, they have under performed. Perhaps the answers are in Memphis, perhaps they aren’t. Either way, if some of those bats can get swinging like we know they can, and if this pitching staff can get back on track, these Cardinals will get out of this slump and be a post season contender yet again. I just wish it would happen sooner rather than later.