It’s obviously way too early to come to any conclusions about the Andrew Miller signing, but the possibility that he struggles for the St. Louis Cardinals is still there.
Like I mentioned in a previous article, Andrew Miller’s spring should not be something that worries St. Louis Cardinals fans. Because preseason isn’t meant to show off an established player’s full capabilities, players use it for tuning up, working out kinks, trying new stuff, and getting back into a flow.
There is, of course, still the possibility that the struggles do carry over into the regular season. The St. Louis Cardinals simply cannot ignore the possibility that Miller’s performance last season could in fact carry into 2019.
This would obviously put a pretty big dent in the St. Louis Cardinals plans, as Miller is not only the veteran glue that is supposed to hold the bullpen together, but the only truly serviceable lefty that the Cardinals have at the moment.
So what happens if he struggles? Well, while the moment might be difficult, especially with the fan vitriol that is sure to come with a struggling Miller, I believe the St. Louis Cardinals will not overreact to the situation.
What do I mean by overreact? Well, I don’t want the Cardinals to try and make signings and roster changes to immediately compensate for this.
The St. Louis Cardinals mentality (hopefully) of the past would have seen the blow and found the need to compensate by looking for a left-handed reliever on the free agent market, or to speed one up from the minors.
The reason that I believe that the mentality is in the past is the decision to roster John Brebbia over Tyler Webb. This move is one that was uncharacteristic of the Cardinals in the past, as they always opted to take several lefties in the bullpen. Instead, they opted to simply take the better arm.
I hope this level of cooler thinking prevails if Andrew Miller begins to struggle. The St. Louis Cardinals have a very nice bullpen this year, and it is one that should be able to survive without Andrew Miller. It will certainly be impacted, but it should still be a serviceable MLB bullpen. This especially holds true if Carlos Martinez remains in the bullpen.
On top of that, the Cardinals have guys like Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce De Leon that have proven they can be effective at the major league level. While I am not saying these guys will be able to fill Andrew Miller’s shoes, but they will certainly be able to fit into a slot within the bullpen and keep it functioning.
There is also the possibility that prospects work their way up into the MLB as well. The Cardinals organization has some exciting prospects that will be waiting for their call in 2019.
Genesis Cabrera and Ryan Helsley are the two top pitching prospects in the Cardinals organization, but they haven’t reached past Double A, and still need some time to grow. I think being patient with these guys is key, and there are other less heralded names that could possibly make an impact.
One of those names comes from the much maligned Luke Voit trade: Giovanny Gallegos. Coming in from the Luke Voit trade last year, Gallegos is a right hander, but he has put up numbers that have earned some attention.
He put up a 2.64 ERA over 44.1 innings in Triple A in 2018, and while he isn’t on the Cardinals top 30 prospects list, he is someone who could perhaps make some noise if things come together. His fastball is a plus pitch averaging around 94 mph.
On the surface, grabbing just Chasen Shreve for Voit just because he was a lefty was a symptom of the St. Louis Cardinals old way of thinking, but I am hoping that Gallegos makes that bad trade just a little bit better
This year is important, but it is also important to not just make moves just to make moves. Mike Shildt has said he is choosing the best arms over ones that fill a role, and he has walked that walk so far. Shildt seems to understand that there has to be a true sense of purpose in making moves, and moves reactionary to struggles don’t usually have that.
Oh, and you get Brett Cecil.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a position to compete, even with some bumps in the road. If Andrew Miller’s struggles are one of them, the Cardinals reaction to it will hopefully be one that reflects a deserved confidence from the front office in this team’s talent.