St. Louis Cardinals: The difference a change in coaching makes

michaeldavidmiles
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 1: Starting pitcher Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by teammates as he come off the field after pitching seven innings of game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on September 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 1: Starting pitcher Mike Leake #8 of the Seattle Mariners is congratulated by teammates as he come off the field after pitching seven innings of game against the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field on September 1, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals have a larger problem than not making the postseason in 2017– they have a fundamentally flawed coaching staff.

The 2017 St. Louis Cardinals are less and less likely to play baseball in October. This fact becomes more evidenced with each passing game whether they are won or lost (certainly the losses push the inevitable closer). These facts aside, the organization must face up to one glaring problem: the disappointing coaching staff.

Yes, I have written often about the disappointing staff in St. Louis. I have compared the staff in the arch city to the staff in the bluff city (Memphis, TN). In this regard, can’t we all agree that the Memphis Redbirds- lead into the postseason and franchise season record wins- are coached better than Mike Matheny and his crew?

I have even taken time to look at potential replacements for Matheny. But all of that is for naught unless we carefully examine two cases that- to me at least- illustrate the depravity of the St. Louis Cardinals coaching staff.

First up, I’ll revisit the Matt Adams case. Adams could have been and should have been an outstanding player for the St. Louis Cardinals. I will admit that I was not a Matt Adams fan but I certainly could have been had he been coached in a different or better way.

During his time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Adams posted a batting average ranging from a low of .240 to a high of .288 across six seasons wearing the Birds on the Bat. His best season in regard to batting average- 2014- also came packed with his greatest number of strikeouts; in 2014, Adams posted a .288 BA with 114 Ks.

He was shipped away immediately even when he encountered problems with his health nor when his numbers dipped dramatically. He was, as the Twittersphere has termed, entrenched in #ClubMatheny.

As his tenure with #ClubMatheny continued, his numbers decreased and he was ultimately shipped off to the Atlanta Braves earlier this season in return for a bag of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.

This was when Adams showed that his poor performance(s) for the St. Louis Cardinals- including the ridiculous experiment in left field- was partially not of his own making. After a rough April with his batting average in the .100s, Adams moved to Atlanta in May and watched his average, hits, and power climb to as high as .318 (BA).

While he has fluctuated some, Adams is playing so much better for Atlanta than he did for the St. Louis Cardinals. Is this because of the coaches? That’s where I place my money.

Fast-forward then to this week’s news of the trade of Mike Leake (again for peanuts and Cracker Jacks). Leake never really took off with the Cardinals (see what I did there with that bird pun?). In fact, Leake was often a leaky dam for the Cards.

For his time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Leake posted a 4.46 ERA across two seasons. These were the worst in his career. His best? 3.87 with Cincinnati across six seasons.

Enter the news that broke this week wherein the St. Louis Cardinals sent Leake (eating a portion of his cash over the remaining seasons on his contract) to Seattle. And, AND, in his first game there, Leake pitched seven innings of two-run baseball.

Leake pitched seven innings only six times with the Cardinals in 2017. In fact, he bested this number only three times lasting eight innings this season. In fact, Leake’s St. Louis Cardinals average appearance length in 2017 was a mere 5.92 innings.

True, one game (in Seattle) doesn’t prove anything nor make any statement. But I argue that the numbers alone aren’t the important things to watch. Rather, I argue that the demeanor of the departed players- Adams and Leake- speak louder volumes than their numbers.

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I must admit that I did not watch Leake’s game entirely, but I have seen clips of it and he simply seems much more relaxed and at ease in this appearance than he did in St. Louis. Likewise, I haven’t watched any appearances by Adams for Atlanta (save for the games he played against the Cardinals) but I would argue that he is happier too.

In fact, we have Adams’ own words to show us that he is enjoying baseball (again). See my previous post on Adams for this quote.

With Kevin Siegrist getting claimed off waivers mid-day on Saturday (as I write this piece) by the Phillies, we should have yet another example of the defunctitude (I just made up that word) of the St. Louis Cardinals coaching should Siegrist rebound in Philadelphia thanks to better coaching. Stay tuned for this!

Next: Replacements for Mike Matheny

Whether the 2017 Cardinals are finished or if they find some miraculous hot streaks to push them back into the mix, the organization would be wise to examine their coaching staff during the offseason. Please make changes here, please!

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