Gm John Mozeliak and manager Tony LaRussa must be feeling desperate. They need to turn their ship known as the St. Louis Cardinals around and they need to do it now. The question is, with a string of injuries and just pure bad luck, how do they do it? Better yet, can they do it? Let’s prioritize the needs for a team that has fallen apart before our eyes in a mere two weeks.
1) The pitching, both starting staff and bullpen, needs to get back on track pronto. That’s a lot easier said than done. I mean, it’s not like the guys aren’t putting forth their best effort. As far as the rotation goes, every one of the starters have proven they have the stuff, but, for whatever reason, they are just not clicking right now.
So how does this get fixed?
I wish the answer was easy. If it was easy they’d be winning ballgames. So, if I was Mo, this is what I would do.
A) Speak with TLR and Dave Duncan about studying video of the players in their rotation (which I’d bet they already do) and look for tiny mechanical flaws that can be quickly fixed/give the pitcher more confidence. I’d even be willing to go as far as to tell the pitcher they’ve been tipping pitches and how to fix it so maybe mentally the pitcher will, again, have more confidence. Managers have admitted they’ve done this before. Anyway, that’s the first thing I’d do.
B) I know Tony is loyal to his players, which is a rare commodity and one of the reasons why TLR is so respected. However, his loyalty to Ryan Franklin has become a liability. Franklin hardly ever pitches and I can’t remember the last time he was brought in at Busch Stadium because of the boos. I don’t care what he is getting paid…he needs to go. Since he doesn’t pitch anyway, it seems meaningless to keep him on the 25-man roster. He needs to be optioned to AAA Memphis or be let go completely, asap. All he is doing is taking up a roster spot, which leads us to…
C) Fill up Franklin’s roster spot by biting the bullet, gamble and give up some prospects for a major reliever. I’m talking about someone like Heath Bell, J.J. Putz, or Joel Hanrahan (though I doubt Pittsburgh would part with the latter). This move would shake up the bullpen, raise morale and more importantly, give the struggling ‘pen some much needed depth and someone to depend on.
D) Throw in a spot starter this week (Lance Lynn?) and keep them in for eight innings no matter how hard they get rocked. It will probably result in another loss, but it will give everyone on the rotation an extra day of rest, which I believe is a major reason why the rotation has been struggling in recent weeks. It will also give the bullpen a day off as well.
Again, all of these things need to happen now. I don’t think the Cardinals have the luxury of waiting until the trade deadline if they want to stay in the division race. What do you think? Does this sound like a good plan?
Tune in tomorrow for other needs and priorities the team needs to focus on after they improve the performance of their pitchers.