St. Louis Cardinals: The road ahead for the Cardinals

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 16: Yadier Molina
PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 16: Yadier Molina /

A mental lapse from Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game against the New York Mets once again has fans questioning what is wrong with this year’s St. Louis Cardinals.

Throw out the fact the St. Louis Cardinals have an awful bullpen, dreadful base running, and a lack of leadership, the Cardinals are a playoff team ready to take over the Central, right?

As much as I want that to happen, it’s hard to say with a straight face. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts about the state of the Cardinals since the All-Star break.

In the seven games since the break, the St. Louis Cardinals have seen three games go by the wayside after ninth inning meltdowns by Seung-hwan Oh, Brett Cecil and Trevor Rosenthal. No lead is safe with this bullpen. They constantly end any momentum the Cardinals are trying to gain in the second half of the season.

With both J.D. Martinez and Jose Quintana coming over to the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals still haven’t shown their hand in the trade market, even though Lance Lynn talks with the Royals have supposedly heated up.

Of course as I write this, the Cardinals traded for Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Tyler O’Neill. O’Neill adds another young outfielder to the Cardinals’ organization, which suggests the Cardinals may be willing to part ways with an outfielder from any level.

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From trade talks to minor league assignments, the Cardinals seem to be calling up a new prospect every other week.

This time it is long-awaited top catching prospect Carson Kelly. Coming to St. Louis with him will be Zach Duke, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, and Randal Grichuk off the DL.

Unfortunately, a Major League roster can only hold twenty-five guys. That meant Magneuris Sierra got the short end of the stick, and was demoted to triple-A Memphis. It was an unpopular move according to Twitter, but I think it’s the right move.

The speedy Mags is sporting a .365 batting average in fifty-two at-bats, but I think it’s best for him to continue to hone his game, which is hard to do at the Major League level.

St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 13: Jose Martinez /

Remember, Jose Martinez has been no slouch at the plate this year. Martinez carries an OPS of .771, and has proven he is a tough out while also playing a fine right field.

What it really comes down to is making sure young guys get at-bats, whereas Martinez is able to stay polished while getting minimal at-bats.

This is the same issue with guys like Paul DeJong, Luke Voit, Luke Weaver and now Carson Kelly. Yes, they may be Major League ready, but it’s hard to call them up if they can’t get everyday at-bats. DeJong solved that problem on his own by racking up extra base hits and taking over shortstop full-time.

Now the question is how will the playing time be divided between Voit, Kelly, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina?

Related Story: Kelly gets the call

Carpenter will get the most ABs out of that group because he is a staple at the top of the lineup. After Carp it’s up to manager Mike Matheny to push the right buttons. My guess is that Wong will sit against lefties, which slots Carpenter to second base on those days.

Voit or Kelly would play first base with Molina still manning most games behind the plate. That’s how I see it playing out, but with Matheny at the helm it’s hard to predict a consistent lineup.

Although the St. Louis Cardinals may be the laughing-stock of the NL Central, they are still only four games out of first place.

With what I think is the best 25-man roster put together so far this season, the Cardinals are a series win, over the division rival Chicago Cubs, from getting into striking distance to take over the top spot in the Central. (Notice how I completely ignored the Milwaukee Brewers who are bound to cough up division lead in a couple of days).

Not mentioned was the St. Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff, which has been very good outside of Mike Leake. Michael Wacha threw a gem against the Mets while Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright have pitched well lately, too.

Also not mentioned was the electrifying Tommy Pham who has delivered big hit after big hit. Pham has proven to be the anchor of the Cardinals’ offense. If the Cardinals, as a team, can play better, cleaner baseball, they may have a chance to get over .500 and make a run for October.

Next: Letter to Mike Matheny

Let me know your take on the St. Louis Cardinals since the All-Star break in the comments or on Twitter. Thanks for reading!