Let’s not hyperventilate just yet, everyone. Yes, we are in the midst of a 6 game losing streak and yes the dreaded Pirates (since when are they good??) have temporarily displaced us from our 1st place spot. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here though. With a frighteningly intense second half schedule ahead of us, there are plenty of reasons to feel a bit tense these days, but we can’t forget that we have come back from worse slumps, much later in the season on multiple occasions (for example, we had 2, count ’em, 2 8 game losing streaks in 2006). Let’s take a look at what’s on tap for our Birds, shall we?
Not a whole lot to report on here. GM John Mozeliak has been predictably conservative and tight lipped about any movement on the Cardinals’ end with the upcoming trade deadline. Rumors swirled around the potential to pick up Matt Garza from the Cardinals, however the price appeared to be too steep for the Cardinals, who (wisely) are hesitant to part with their prized pitching posessions such as Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez. Now that Garza has been signed by the Rangers, the rumor mills have turned to Jake Peavy and his impending departure from the White Sox. The asking price for Peavy seems be about the same as the Cubs’ request for Garza – top pitching prospects. As I write this, however, it appears that Peavy is headed to Boston in a 3 team deal. My opinion? Wacha and Co. will be more than ready to make their big move within the next year, I don’t want to see them traded for a likely short term solution. On the bright side, though, at least we did not actively pursue Cliff Lee. I may have had to write a protest letter to Mr. Mozeliak if that had happened. We have been rumored to be asking the Angels about Erick Aybar, who would possibly fill a need at SS for us, replacing the lackluster bat of Kozma, however once again we are not willing to part with a prized prospect for a short term solution. We did however relieve Marc Rzepczynski of his Cardinal duties, whose name I will not miss Googling to check spelling, sending him to the Indians for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.
Second half schedule.
I took a look at the rest of the season’s schedule earlier today. Let me just say, I think we had it easy pre-All Star break. After facing top division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati 5 and 9 times respectively, we now have a very demanding schedule coming up, facing Pittsburgh 11 more times and Cincinatti 10 before season end. With no breathing room left at the top of the division some attention needs to be paid to the quality starts coming from our starting pitching, the durability of our bullpen and the consistency of our hitting. Fortunately, the road trip we are currently on will be the longest of the second half, and we will get to face some of the more formidable teams at home. The stretch that makes me hold my breath though is from August 22-September 8 when our opponents are Atlanta, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. Talk about grueling! That close to post season, you can bet that those will be some hard fought battles.
Back to the pitching we go, as it seems we always do around this time of year. Our bullpen ERA has slipped a bit, down a decent amount of slots to 18th in MLB at 3.74, but our starters have still statistically held their own. The Cardinals starting pitching is ranked #2 behind Pittsburgh’s as far as ERA goes (3.29). Our number 5 spot in the rotation is still shaky, and a failure by veterans to go deep into a game has called on the bullpen to relieve earlier than some feel comfortable. A strong outing by Waino tonight, combined with some power, is all we need to get back on track and give our bullpen a rest. No pressure, Waino.
Yadier Molina left the 2nd game of the double header last night with a right knee strain and is expected to be placed on the 15-day DL. Not the news we all wanted to hear, but the only thing we can do right now is keep our fingers crossed that a short stint on the DL is all he will need. Chris Carpenter’s rehab has been put on an indefinite hold after he experienced more numbness in his hand. It’s hard not to root for the guy to pull off another comeback, but I see a pitching coach job in his near future.
As we slide into this grueling second half of the season, I look forward to seeing how well we pick up from this slump that we seem to be in now. It’s hard to watch now, I know, but you have to remember that we have come back from worse before, and we’ve come back to win it all. Let’s keep the fair weather fan tendencies to a minimum here, we’ve still got plenty of time to turn it around. Go Birds!