Monday Morning GM: Rain, Rain Go Away…

The first full week of games and we get 2 rainouts. Both games have already been rescheduled though. There were questions as to why the team cancelled the Monday game hours before it was scheduled to start; since it’s early in the season, it’s easier to add those games at later dates. When you get to late July/August, you start running into a tighter schedule and the less ability to squeeze games in; in those cases, they would have only cancelled the games that early if there was excessive rain and/or lightning.

The team went 3-2 over the last week: 1-0 vs the Royals (due to a rainout), 2-2 vs the Brewers. The general rule of thumb is 2 out of 3 at home and split on the road, and the Cardinals are following that right now.

The 6-5 win over the Royals looks close on paper, but the game was pretty much in hand the whole time. If you remove Salvador Perez and his 2 solo homers from the lineup, it changes to a 6-3 game. Plus the team was up 6-3 after 4, allowing a run in the 7th and the 8th.

The Brewers series was more important, as they will be the main competition in the division. The first game was rough, with Adam Wainwright struggling to get through 5 innings; he allowed 4 runs and 8 hits in 4.1 innings. The bright spot for him was the 7 strikeouts. The team also faced one of the Brewer’s aces; while he wasn’t in mid-season form, he was good enough to shut the team down. Games 2 and 3 were much better on all fronts, with 10-1 and 2-1 victories. Game 4 was the rough one; the Cardinals had bases loaded twice in the game. In the first, both Albert Pujols and Tommy Edman struck out with bases loaded. In the eighth, Corey Dickerson walked in a run in the first chance, while Dylan Carlson grounded out to end the inning. These are opportunities that have to be capitalized on.

This week, the team is off Monday, followed by 3-games series on the road against the Marlins (4-5) and the Reds (2-8, 6 game losing streak).

After a week and a half of the season, the Cardinals sit in first, barely.

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I expect the Pirates to drop off; they won’t be Cincinnati bad, but they’ll be sub-.500 before the end of the month.

Pythagorean Record
With the exception of Friday night, most of the Cardinals games have been close. The team has scored 43 while allowing 29, good for a differential of +14; that would give them an expected record of 5-3. They are on pace for a 109-53 record, down from last week’s 121-41; this should continue to move closer to 90 wins as more games are played.

Rumor Mill
The Cardinals and Tyler O’Neill are still tentatively headed to arbitration, with a hearing scheduled for early May. But the team is talking with the left fielder on an extension, according to Derrick Goold. I could see the team wanting to lock him up for at least what Harrison Bader got (2 yrs, $10.4M), but I also think it could be a little longer – like 3-4 years. O’Neill has really come along the last 2 seasons, so he seems like a safe pick for an extension; much more so then Paul DeJong did when he got his extension.

The System
Here’s a quick look at how the minor league system is doing.

  • Memphis Redbirds: 6-6
    • Nolan Gorman started the season slow (hitless in his first 3 games), but he’s been on tear recently. He’s hitting .351 with 6 homers (1 in each of the last 4 games), 10 runs, and 6 RBIs. He needs to hit a little better with runners on base, but the power and average are nice.
    • Juan Yepez is in the same boat as Gorman; hitless in his first 2 games, he’s bounced back with 5 homers on the season (Gorman and Yepez are 1-2 in homers in the International League, and Alec Burleson is tied for 3rd with 4). He’s not hitting as well as Gorman, but at least the power is there.
    • Matthew Liberatore hasn’t been up there with the other top prospects; he’s sporting an ugly 6.28 ERA after 3 starts. He’s been hit pretty hard, but the encouraging signs are his strikeouts (18, tied 3rd in the International League), his WHIP and BAA have dropped with each start, and he’s going longer each time out. He’ll be up by the end of the year; hopefully he’ll start in the bullpen before joining the rotation next year.
  • Springfield Cardinals: 4-5
    • Moises Gomez is carrying the offense right now. He’s batting .381 with 6 homers, 9 runs, and 11 RBIs. Gomez was a minor league free agent from Tampa Bay’s system. While he’s never hit for average (.247 career average), he’s had a few double digit homer seasons. He’s only 23, so there’s a possibility he’s showing some progress.
    • Jordan Walker is right there with Gomez, and it’s pretty amazing considering he’s only 19. An aggressive promotion to Springfield out of spring training has led to a .355 average with a homer, 8 runs, and 6 RBIs. The power hasn’t shown yet this season, but it’ll come around. I recently heard a comp of Kris Bryant for Walker, while during the spring names like Pete Alonso and Austin Riley were thrown around. Any of the 3 would be good.
    • Connor Lunn has started out pretty strong in the rotation; while is record is 0-1, he’s sporting a 3.97 ERA and 0.97 WHIP while striking out 13.
  • Peoria Chiefs: 6-3
    • Right after the Cardinals took Walker, they selected prep SS/RHP Masyn Winn; they let him focus on shortstop to start his career, and it looks like a smart decision so far. Winn is batting .448 on the season. The down side is his limited power so far; he’s got a double and 2 triples out of his 13 hits.
    • Austin Love‘s last start was a good one for the young righty; after struggling in his first outing, Love struck out 10 in 5 scoreless innings. It’s a good sign seeing him rebound from 9 runs in 3.1 in his debut.
    • 2021 first rounder Michael McGreevy has started the season hot. He’s thrown 11.2 innings of scoreless ball this season with a 0.26 WHIP. Unfortunately, he’s not received a win yet and has only struck out 9. It’s really his first taste of pro ball (7.2 innings last season), so those numbers should come around.
  • Palm Beach Cardinals: 5-4
    • Osvaldo Tovalin has been the offense in Lo A; the third baseman, drafted in the 10th round in 2021, is hitting .382 with 5 runs and 8 RBIs. He’s also getting on base in half of his plate appearances. The power is lacking, but he’s still young.
    • The best pitcher so far has been Inohan Paniagua. The 22 year old Dominican product has a 1.80 ERA and 0.60 WHIP in 2 starts (10.0 IP) with 14 strikeouts. Unfortunately he’s a little old for the level, so let’s not move him up prospect lists yet.

Former Cardinals
Quick hits on players who have been in the Cardinals system.

  • John Brebbia (RHP, SF) placed on Bereavement List; returned 2 days later.
  • Daniel Castano (RHP, MIA) sent to minors. Castano was dealt to the Marlins in the Marcell Ozuna trade.
  • Joe Kelly (RHP, CHW) is expect to start a rehab assignment by the end of the month, with a mid-May return possible.
  • Stephen Piscotty (OF, OAK) placed on Covid-List.
  • Nick Plummer (OF, NYM) called up from minors. He hasn’t appeared in a game since his promotion Friday.

The DH Situation
Coming into the season, it was expected that Lars Nootbaar and Yepez would share DH duties; then the team surprised everyone by signing Dickerson and Pujols to fill the role. On paper, it was a good move. In actuality, it’s been halfway successful so far. Pujols is hitting well in limited duties; he’s only played in 4 games, but he’s hitting .333. Dickerson, on the other hand, is only hitting .182. Dickerson is only making $5M this season, so if he doesn’t get hitting, he could be cut loose; $5M is a small amount to eat in the game today and the Cardinals have done it in the past for more money.

That said, they need to be patient here. The team needs to let Yepez get going in Memphis before promoting him. He’s hitting for power, but he really needs to bring his average up. It’s better for him to get regular at bats right now.

That’s even more important for Gorman. He’s killing Triple A pitching right now, but he’s going to need to play every day. He’s too good to just DH, so you need to decide if DeJong and/or Edmundo Sosa is the option at shortstop; if not, you could move Edman to short so Gorman could play second every day. There are definitely options, but the team can afford to be patient right now.

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