Finally Some Cardinal Baseball: It’s now mid June, basketball season is over, and our Cards can draw all of our attention as they are starting to heat up. The Redbirds have benefitted from a light week with only 5 games and did great in those taking 4 and improving their overall record to 37-32. It would appear that the Birds have worked out some of their problems at the plate as they are starting to finally bring more guys home and send a few souvenirs over the walls. The moundwork has been terrific having only given up 9 runs in our last 7 games. Over half of those games have been shutouts with two against the Blue Jays, one against the Rays, and one in Washington against the Nationals. The starting pitching has been what has carried the Birds to all seven of their wins this month with only 6 ER by the starters in those seven wins. The great pitching was needed because in the wins the offense only averaged 3.7 runs. The offense has begun to pick up the pace as of late with the added energy of having Matt Adams back in the lineup after a short stint on the DL. In each of his first three games back Adams has sent a pitch into the bleachers and leads the team in Batting Average, sitting at .327. This is a recipe for success if the pitching keeps its momentum and we can continue our upward trend at the plate.
Do or Die Time: The next four series will be crucial for the Cards as they will finish the month with series against the Mets, Phillies, Rockies, and Dodgers. The Birds currently sit 3.5 games back of the Brewers in the Division and need to work on closing that gap before the all-star break. The stretch kicks off with a short homestand tonight against the struggling Mets and then a four-game series against the down Phillies, before taking the road against the red-hot Rockies and finishing off in LA against the Dodgers for a four-game finale. For the Cards to get where they need to be, they will need to win at least 5 of 7 at home and 4 of 7 on the road. Any worse than this and it may be time to start getting a little worried, as the Brewers show no sign of slowing down. I think this team is capable of much more and we have the talent to be much better than .536. With 10 or 11 wins in this stretch the Cards should make up some much-needed ground on Milwaukee and put themselves in position to go into the all-star break hot. With a measly 7 wins or less on this stretch, it will be time to start seriously talking trades and other possible changes to correct the underperformance of our team. I predict that we will win at least 9 and probably 10 as the bats should continue warming up and I hope that by the time we play the Brewers again near the beginning of July, we will be playing for the lead in the Central.
Right Move on Taveras: Many people are questioning Mike Matheny’s decision to send rookie Oscar Taveras back down to AAA Memphis with the return of first basemen Matt Adams but I am not one of them. This was a good decision because although Cards fans saw the vast potential that Taveras brings to the club, he still has a few things he needs to work out before becoming an everyday player. At this stage in Taveras’ young career he needs to be playing ball every single day and that is just not possible yet at the big league level. Even during his short stint here, Matheny showed that he is more comfortable playing John Jay against lefties than Taveras and at this point Jay is the better player. While he hasn’t gotten the start consistently, Jay has been one of the most consistent players on this club all season and is showing it with the second best batting average at .300. If Taveras had stayed in St. Louis he would only have seen limited playing time and he has such a tall ceiling that Matheny made the right call in not limiting his growth now. Sorry Cards fans if you loved watching Oscar play, but I would much rather watch him next year as a potential all-star than to see his development stunted now. That is all for this week and I will catch all of you next week here on CardsBlog with our Monday Morning Managers.