Welcome back to The Perch, where Arch City Writers tackle the hot topics of Cardinal Nation. If you want your questions answered by our panel, please leave them in the comments!
1) With Stephen Piscotty on the DL, and Dexter Fowler possibly missing time as well, what outfielders would you most like to see get opportunities in their absence? (This question was written before the weekend injury to Jose Martinez, so writers have adjusted their answers accordingly)
Katie Schoeck: I think this one goes without saying, but I was so excited to see Jose Martinez get a few more starts. However, with him now on the DL, I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Tommy Pham. This is a guy who, I firmly believe, deserves a more permanent spot in the outfield. I wish there was room to keep him up permanently, but with a healthy Fowler and a healthy Piscotty, this outfield is more than full. Pham has been tearing it up in the Atlanta series, so I would love to see as much of him as I can before Fowler and Piscotty come back.
Andy Cockerill: After this weekend it’s been great to see Tommy Pham get some playing time. That being said- Pham probably isn’t going to keep this up. Mike [Matheny] needs to mix and match to keep hot bats in the lineup. If Fowler is functional then the Cardinals will be okay with Grichuk, Fowler, and Pham. Mix in the young kid Sierra and let it ride. Carpenter could always play a game in the OF if needed.
Stephen Ground: The Cardinals just have a TON of outfielders in the pipeline at the moment, enough that another whole article could be written about that (and I think I may do so). With Piscotty and Fowler set as fixtures, that leaves a lot of bats competing for one spot (plus a fourth outfielder on the bench). For the time being, Pham, Grichuk, and the soon to return Fowler should be fine, but this is an interesting question for the long term.
Allan Best: Has to be Tommy Pham. The way he was swinging the bat in Memphis and it seems to have spilled over to his time so far in the bigs. As long as his bat stays respectable, give him the chance to prove that he is more than just a minor league ball player.
2) What things could the Cardinals do in the rest of May to make you feel most confident about their chances for the season?
Katie Shoeck: I think pitching is still an issue for the team. The bullpen is still struggling a bit, though their combined ERA is going down, which will be an improvement. Batting could also be more consistent, there are games where the team wins by a lot of runs and then there are games where they lose by one run. Consistency needs to occur all around for them to stand any chance at making it to October.
Allan Best: Keep winning, plain and simple. The defense has to improve and the bullpen needs to be more consistent for them to continue winning games. As long as they keep getting the starting pitching they have been getting and the offense stays heading in this direction, what more do you need to be confident about a successful season?
Andy Cockerill: Pitching is the name of the game. If the Cardinals pitching can consistently keep them in games, while winning a few for the inconsistent offense, everything will fall into place.
Stephen Ground: If I have to limit it to one thing, for me, no question, it’s defense. The Cardinals defense is limited in what it can accomplish, especially in the infield. However, they should be able to eliminate sloppy mistakes. Cutting down on errors will convert directly to more wins than they had last season.
3) What Cardinals’ young player or prospect are you most excited about going forward?
Stephen Ground: Delvin Perez. Without hesitation. Here’s a guy who the Cardinals absolutely stole towards the end of the first round. Yes, he had a PED issue, but that mistake dropped him from a no doubt top ten selection right into the Cardinals’ beaks. He’s projected as a very strong fielder, has elite speed, and is expected to develop some big league pop, too. He will fill the longtime void at Shortstop before too long.
Andy Cockerill: Jack Flaherty at AA Springfield seems to be locked in to start the season. He is 5-0 with a 0.69 ERA with around a K per inning. He will be in Memphis sooner than later. Reyes is the jewel of the system, but there are lots of other young pitchers who will play roles in the coming seasons (possibly even in 2017).
Allan Best: Flaherty- how could this kid not excite you? I would like to see if he can continue this in AAA and if he does, could he be a late season bullpen helper this year?
Katie Schoeck: Spring training made me excited to see Harrison Bader, I was hoping to see him debut this season. However, with how full the outfield is currently, I’m not sure whether he will come up from Memphis.
4) MLB Grab Bag: What do you make of the situation between the Red Sox and the Orioles, revolving around Manny Machado?
Allan Best: The Red Sox are in the wrong and should get reprimanded by the league office. You tried, you missed, get over it!
Andy Cockerill: Personally I like seeing the animosity amongst MLB teams. There’s way too much hugging/chatting in sports during the game. They’re the enemy at game time- save all the pleasantries for postgame.
Stephen Ground: This has just been a mess. Hopefully it’s over now, but if there is a hint of trouble the next time these two get together, the League will have to step in and do something. I think among other things, we need to get over guys pimping home runs. Sale ought to have received a suspension for his “miss.” Pitchers that good don’t miss behind the back of a batter on the opposite side of the plate.
Katie Schoeck: Honestly, I think the Red Sox and Orioles situation just became too much. I love to see teammates standing up for one another, but that situation got way out of hand. People can get hurt when stuff like that goes too far. Pitchers can stand up for their teammates, but enough is enough.