Now that the MLB season is about a week and a half in, we thought there’s no time better than to give an overreaction to the first ten-ish games for the Birds on the Bat.
That being said, here are 10 overreactions for the first 10 games of the season:
Paul Goldschmidt might have taken the “Fan Favorite” crown from Yadier Molina already
There’s no doubt how important Molina has been to the Cardinals franchise for the past fifteen years and rightfully so, Cardinals fans have treated him like a king. It doesn’t matter if they’re losing or winning by 10, when Molina comes up to the plate, Cardinal Nation always gives him the biggest ovation on the team. Ten games into the season however, it seems like that honor belongs to Paul Goldschmidt. Now while I have been an advocate that the trade for Goldschmidt was a home run for the Cardinals (and then locking him up with an extension was AMAZING), I think we aren’t seeing the real Paul Goldschmidt. His power numbers are up, but his average is way down. As a fantasy baseball player and having kept an eye on him for the past 4-5 years, I have zero doubt that Goldschmidt will up his average to somewhere near his career .297 and end the year with about 30-35 home runs, which is something the Cardinals have been craving since Albert Pujols left.
This is the Kolten Wong we’ve been waiting to see
Whatever Kolten Wong did over the offseason needs to be what every player on the team does next year. Simply put, Wong looks amazing. The one comment on Wong has always been that if he ever could hit consistently, he’d be the best two-way second baseman in the league. While that honor currently belongs to Javy Baez, Kolten Wong might give him run for his money with the start he’s had. Now yes, he will regress because he has to. Nobody is going to hit .400+ ever again, but is it completely out of the realm of possibility to believe that Wong can hit over .300? If Wong can continue playing this way, Mike Shildt cannot afford to keep hitting him at the bottom of the lineup.
Andrew Miller and Alex Reyes……(sigh)
For one time, can the Cardinals be rewarded when they try and fix their bullpen? For a team that’s invested so much time and money, I cannot think of anyone else that has had things go against them more than the Cardinals. Alex Reyes has just not looked sharp and Andrew Miller is off to the worst start of his career and he’s starting to look like he can’t control his pitches at the level that Trevor Rosenthal ended his Cardinal career with (and yes I did sneak in a Rosenthal appearance here to mention his ERA is INFINITY. THIS MAN HAS AN ERA OF INFINITY. HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN?!?!). The Cardinals did send Reyes back down to AAA over the weekend, and I’m sure things will be fine with both guys, but what would we do if we didn’t overreact to the first week of games?
Just when I was ready to give up on Adam Wainwright…
Let’s just say that Wainwright’s first start of the year against Pittsburgh was bad. Against the Pirates, Wainwright gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 4 innings. Luckily, the Cardinals came back and won that game in extras, but man, did Wainwright struggle in that game. He just simply looked like a guy who is gassed and running on empty, and that was his first game of the season. While Wainwright has been coy about his retirement status, his first start of the season worried me to the point I thought we might be seeing his final year in 2019. Then he comes out Sunday and throws an absolute gem and gets a quality start against the quick-start Padres. Wainwright’s famous “12-6” curveball looked like the pitch it used to be and he got the strikeouts that he’s used to getting. This is the Wainwright I hope we can see the rest of the year. We won’t get the complete game Wainwright we’ve had in the past, but hopefully we can get the 6 innings, 1 run guy we saw on Sunday.
St. Louis is around .500, players are not looking that great, other teams look phenomenal, but the Cardinals will be fine
That’s why they play 162 right? As my roommate mentioned to me the other day, the 2011 Red Sox started something like 2-10 and then finished 90-72. When Yankee legend Derek Jeter was asked for a comment on that Red Sox start, he said something along the lines of “It’s 12 games in, let’s slow down and see what happens”. That’s my thought process here. There’s a lot going on right now with the Cardinals, some good and some bad, maybe a little more bad right now. But we are very early in the season. Now if we do get to Memorial Day and some of these issues are still relevant, then it might be best to address them. But for now, let’s sit back, relax, and watch some baseball.
The Bullpen is actually good??
One thing that is encouraging about this year’s team makeup is that the bullpen is stronger than we have seen in years past. This is partially due to the fact that half of the ‘pen could start on most teams, but whatever. So far this season, the Cardinals’ bullpen is holding opponents to an average under .180, which is a mark that is close to the top of all baseball. According to FanGraphs, the Redbirds relievers own the third best rate of soft hit balls, showing that opponents are struggling to put solid contact on the ball. I’m optimistic that this area of focus will remain this season, giving the Cardinals and advantage that will help them go deep into the season and win some close games.
Starters have to be better
Last year, St. Louis struggled to keep a consistent starting rotation due to a plethora of injuries. This year, the starting staff returns at mostly (Carlos Martinez) full strength. So far things are lagging behind a bit from the front end pitchers. As of Monday’s game, the Cardinals starters owned the third worst ERA in the majors at 4.37.
Miles Mikolas was the anchor last year for this staff, earning 18 wins a season ago. So far this year he has gotten off to a slow start, but looks to turn that around in the coming weeks. Another guy I am always keeping an eye on in the rotation is Michael Wacha, who I forget frequently is only 27 years old. Through 11.2 innings, he has struck out 14 batters, but given up 12 (!?!) walks. He has been able to work out of jams so far, but that could easily begin to catch up to him.
Let Tyler O’Neill play every day
I fully understand why Mike Schildt and the powers that be are starting Dexter Fowler in right field. I really do get it. He is under a large contract and also has a ton of talent. If Fowler can start hitting, then that completely changes the complexion and make up of this Cardinal lineup. However, so far this season he is slashing .160/.323./200. Remind you of last year much? Tyler O’Neill may be a large strikeout risk, but when he does put the ball in play, it’s smashed. He has good range defensively too. It is a long season and I think we can give Fowler another month. But if we look up in July and are starting a right fielder who is batting under .200, I can pretty much guarantee we won’t be playing in October.
I want to throw this in here just because it made me laugh.
The AAA ‘Birds are fun too
The Memphis Redbirds’ season is underway and they are looking to win their third PCL championship in as many years. Last season, the Cardinals pulled up a bunch of young talent from their AAA affiliate and now those guys are regular players –Dakota Hudson being a prime example. I live in Memphis so a trip to the ballpark is more than just a casual and fun evening. It is a study session to scout out the future of our franchise. More to come on that front as the season moves along.
The Cardinals are going to keep us on the edge of our seats
Last season, St. Louis played in 16 extra-inning games and won half of them – plenty in walk-off fashion. So far this year, they have already participated in two such contests and half split them again. Baseball is nothing if not exciting and this year’s rendition of the team knows that the goal this year is playoffs or bust and this group of guys is willing to get their by working their tails off day in and day out.
*all stats as of Monday, April 8th