Monday Afternoon GM: No Low Hanging Fruit This Time

This is a jumbo column after missing last week; I would have been in trouble writing during a vacation. It was at least a baseball vacation, where we caught games in Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. But on to the Cardinals.

I’m not going to even do a brief recap of the games (here’s the Cardinals schedule from, where the game stories for each day are posted), but that first week of games was amazing; the Cards having back to back sweeps of the Cubs and Yankees was huge for the team. Too bad they followed up with only a win in their trip to Colorado; granted the pitching got beat up pretty good in the thin air (although teams have traveled there enough to try to figure out how to combat the environment). They rebounded by taking 2 of 3 against Milwaukee; it should have been 3 of 3, but Adam Wainwright‘s 9-inning gem was blown in extra innings.

Up Next
The Cardinals face the Rockies for 3 more, this time at home, and 3 at the Diamondbacks. As already stated, the Cardinals are 1-2 against the Rockies this season, being outscored 29-20. The Cardinals are 2-2 this season against Arizona.

NL Central

WLPctGBLast 10Streak
St. Louis Cardinals6351.5537-3W1
Milwaukee Brewers6152.5401.54-6L1
Chicago Cubs4766.41615.56-4L1
Cincinnati Reds4568.39817.53-7W1
Pittsburgh Pirates4570.39118.52-8L4

Hopefully the Cardinals can continue their roll and stay above the Brewers; with Milwaukee trading Josh Hader and not really addressing their issues at the deadline, they might handed the division to the Cardinals. The Cardinals are on pace for a 90-72 record, which should put them at the top of the division and definitely in the Wild Card picture if the Brewers pull it together.

Wild Card

Atlanta Braves70460.603
San Diego Padres65520.556
Philadelphia Phillies63510.553
Milwaukee Brewers61520.5401.5
San Francisco Giants57570.5006.0

The Brewers are just outside looking in. They still have a shot though and the Padres haven’t started well since acquiring Soto, Hader, and all the other players. I’m expecting this race to go down to the wire.

Run Differential
The Cardinals have scored 536 runs and allowed 457, good for a differential of +79; that gives the team an expected record of 65-49, or 2 wins better then they currently have. They are on pace for a 93-69 record. Their run differential is 4th in the NL and 6th in baseball.

Cardinal News
The trade deadline was pretty intense for Cardinals fans. Leading the Juan Soto sweepstakes, then being out, then being in. While that was the big deal that didn’t get done, they did add Jose Quintana, Jordan Montgomery, and Chris Stratton; it cost Johan Oviedo, Malcom Nunez, and Harrison Bader. The Montgomery for Bader swap was the more surprising of the 2; neither had been mentioned in rumors prior to the deal, and both were thought of as being important players to the team. Bader became expendable when Dylan Carlson started playing a solid centerfield.

We also need to address the conditional part of the Montgomery/Bader deal; if Bader doesn’t play a game for the Yankees this season, the Cardinals will send a minor leaguer to New York. The teams have agreed upon a list of players already. The Yankees will not be sending Bader back, nor will the deal be voided; I’ve heard a lot of people communicating both of these statements and they are wrong.

While I was gone, the Cardinals activated Yadier Molina and designated Austin Romine for assignment. While Yadi isn’t the player he once was, he’s still the field general and calls a good game for the pitchers. Romine was sold to the Reds after the DFA as a deadline deal.

The Cardinals also reinforced their minor league catching depth; they acquired Austin Allen from the A’s for RHP Carlos Guarate. Allen is just another Ali Sanchez or Romine; someone for depth and, in extreme emergency, a body to fill in pending an injury.

Dakota Hudson is being skipped in the rotation this week; the team is having him work on facing lefties, which has been a struggling point this season. In fact, 3 of the 4 walks he issued in his last start were against lefties and he has more walks (32) then strikeouts (28) against lefties for the season.

Jack Flaherty believes his mechanics were the cause of his most recent trip to the IL. He’s ramping up his throwing program and should be ready for a rehab assignment soon. I believe he’s still got shoulder issues and he adjusted his mechanics to compensate; I also believe he’s going to get surgery at some point in the near future. Just my gut feeling.

T.J. McFarland is done with the team; he was designated for assignment on August 10 after struggling most of the season and released 2 days later. He was a key contributor down the stretch last summer, so it’s disappointing to him fall off this year.

Drew VerHagen is done for the season. He had season ending hip surgery and was moved to the 60-day IL so Kramer Robertson could be added to the 40-man (see below). No big loss for the team, as he’s been unreliable before joining the IL.

Not Cardinal related directly, but Dinelson Lamet was claimed off waivers by the Rockies. The Brewers designated him for assignment right after acquiring him at the deadline. He would have been a good fit for the Cardinals, but it was pretty clear a worse team would claim him before the Cardinals had a chance.

Cardinal Rumors
None. We need a break from the rumors.

Minor Leagues

Rehab Assignments

  • Jack Flaherty (RHP, Memphis) – 1 G, 0-1, 1.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 27.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP
  • Dakota Hudson (RHP, Memphis) – Hudson is listed on the Memphis page, but is not on a rehab assignment.
  • Steven Matz (RHP, Memphis) – None yet
  • Juan Yepez (OF, Memphis) – 4 G, 13 AB, 1 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K, .231/.286/.231

Former Cardinals

  • Matt Carpenter (IF/DH, Yankees) fractured his foot last week after fouling a ball off it. He’s expect to miss 6-8 weeks.
  • Jesus Cruz (RHP, Braves) was designated for assignment after a few rough appearances in Atlanta.
  • Jose Godoy (C, Twins) was designated for assignment…again. He was claimed this time by the Pittsburgh Pirates and added to the active roster.
  • Jason Heyward (OF, Cubs) will be released at the end of the season; he’s under contract for next season and the Cubs plan on eating his salary of $22M. He picked the Cubs over the Cardinals because of their young core that would be contenders for a longer period then the Cardinals aging core.
  • Mike Mayers (RHP, Angels) has been added back to the 40-man roster; he was DFAed earlier in the season, but is getting a second chance.
  • Tommy Pham (OF, Reds) was traded to the Red Sox prior to the deadline.
  • Kramer Robertson (SS, Mets) has been DFAed for the 3rd time this season; he’s been reclaimed by the Cardinals and assigned to Memphis.
  • Angel Rondon (RHP, Giants) was not claimed on waivers this time, so he’ll remain with the team. It’s kind of surprising because he’s a quality arm with little MLB time.
  • Trevor Rosenthal (RHP, Giants) never saw a game with San Francisco before he was traded at the deadline to the Brewers. He is expecting to go on a rehab assignment this week.
  • Ryan Sherriff (LHP, Phillies) was also DFAed and released; he’s been working back from a shoulder strain and hasn’t pitched in the majors this year.
  • Ildemaro Vargas (IF, Nationals) has been added to the 40-man roster and activated by the team.
  • Luke Voit (DH, Padres) was traded to the Nationals in the big Juan Soto deal; he actually replaced Eric Hosmer in the deal after Hosmer exercised his no trade clause.
  • Michael Wacha (RHP, Red Sox) returned from the IL on Sunday, where he’s been for the last month plus with shoulder problems.
  • Luke Weaver (RHP, Diamondbacks) was traded to the Royals at the deadline in a minor deal.
  • T.J. Zeuch (RHP, Reds) was added to Cincinnati’s 40-man roster. He was released from Memphis earlier in the season.

The Deadline Breakdown
As mentioned above, the Cardinals did alright for not getting Soto.

The deal with the Pirates was pretty much the standard Cardinals trade deadline acquisition; they went after a rental or 2 that would fill a need for the season. Since the deadline:


Quintana has been very good in his 2 starts; his 13:4 K/BB ratio is outstanding and both ERA and FIP are good. His ERA+ shows he’s 75% better then the average pitcher. There is a little difference between his ERA and FIP, but not enough to be a red flag.

Stratton on the other hand, has struggled. The issue isn’t runs or homers; he’s just allowing way too many hits. Prior to joining the team, his H/9 was 11.1; since joining the team, it’s 23.1 (small sample size alert). Once he limits the hits, things should be better. The giant gap between his FIP and ERA show that he’s pitching better then the numbers are showing; this should normalize with more innings. He’s not a 1.40 pitcher, nor a 7.71 pitcher; I’m expecting more of a 4.50-5.00 once the season is over. Granted, the team might not have the time or patience to allow him to straighten things out.

The prize of the deadline was Montgomery. The lefty is under team control for another season and has proven to be effective for pretty much his whole career. Since the deadline:


He’s averaging just over 5 1/2 innings per start, but he’s not allowed a run in both starts. There is a small difference between FIP and ERA, but even a 2.30 ERA would be excellent. He doesn’t have an ERA+ at this point, but it was 105 prior to the trade. He’s going to see a minor benefit in ballpark; according to Baseball Savant, Yankee Stadium’s overall park factor is 99 over the last 3 years while Busch Stadium’s park factor is 94. Ballpark factors are basically normalized statistics to show the effect of different ballparks; over 100 favors the hitter while under 100 favors the pitcher.

Yankee Stadium99989896939268117101104
Busch Stadium948896971019398819594

Someone switching from Yankee Stadium to Busch might see more hits, but they’ll see fewer homers and walks with more strikeouts. None of this is reflecting so far, but it’s 2 starts; by the end of the season, we’ll have a better idea of how the park impacts his pitching. Really, the biggest impact we’ll see is in the homers; that’s a 36% swing from the move, or almost 7 homers less then he allowed last season (19, which shows the impact over a full season rather then a partial one this season).

The real impact of both pitchers will be who they replace. Adding these 2 with Wainwright and Miles Mikolas give you a solid 1-4 for the playoffs; for the rest of the season, you also have Flaherty and Matz coming back from injury. At this point, I would use Matz in the rotation and allow Flaherty to get right in the bullpen with the plan of him starting next year; it limits the damage to the shoulder this year and still allows him to pitch, but he’ll probably be upset about it and see it as a demotion. Hudson would move to the bullpen and gives you a better option then Stratton; you can then limit his exposure to lefties and monitor his workload after missing most of last season. The other options would be a 6 man rotation using both Matz and Flaherty; it’ll limit the innings for the injury prone pitchers, but your best pitchers are pitching less and no team has ever really committed to a 6-man rotation.

Whatever the Cardinals do, they’ll be in a better spot with rotation depth then they were 3 weeks ago.

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