Second half checklist
With today being the day of the All Star Game it is now time to look ahead to the second half. The Cardinals first half did not go over as well as most people thought it would, they ended it with a mediocre 46-40 record and 2.5 games out of first place behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, and still behind the Cincinnati Reds. With a surplus of injuries and just things going wrong the Cardinals underwent a bad months of May and June after a red hot April. Good news is there is still plenty of time to get back to where we belong and here is a list of things that need to happen for the Cardinals to have another post season appearance.
1. Get Healthy and stay there
Chris Carpenter may be out all season but the Cardinals still have, Lance Berkman, Kyle McClellan, and Jaime Garcia all scheduled to return sometime after the All Star break. Those are all huge names and very important pieces to the Cardinals puzzle. Berkman is not only a catalyst as a club house personality but he can still hit as he proved last year. If he can get back to playing first everyday and manage to stay healthy, getting him back could be bigger than going and trading for a hitter like most clubs will be doing. As for Garcia and McClellan neither of them were really off to good starts before their injuries but there is still hope, I think if they can get back to pitching the club will be much better off, but then again who knows if and when Garcia will actually return. But the biggest part of this step is staying healthy, the Cardinals have several key players with severe injury histories, some of them have already spent time on the DL this season. Guys like Allen Craig, David Freese, Jon Jay, Adam Wainwright, Rafael Furcal, and Carlos Beltran are so important to this team we can not afford to lose them any longer and for some we can not afford to lose for the first time. If this team is healthy just imagine this:
Lohse, Lynn, Wainwright, Garcia, Westbrook
1B Berkman/ Craig
That lineup won’t lose much games and if that rotation can play like they are capable of neither will it. This team still has extreme potential and hope.
2. Trade for a starter
I am a firm believer that Jaime Garcia will not return this season, he just has not looked right all season and I just don’t see him coming back. So to prepare for that I think the Cardinals need to look into acquiring a starter. Now they don’t necessarily have to go out and get a top notch starter like Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels, but maybe get a guy like Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Wandy Rodriguez or possibly Francisco Liriano. I think any of the following would be vital chips to help the Cardinals win it all again. And in the chance that Garcia does come back, you could move Lance Lynn to the bullpen which will be a double whammy, imagine Lynn being a stable force in the bullpen and still having a reliable rotation. Then in the chance that someone else gets injured you could slide Lynn back into the starters role. Really this is a very important step for the Cardinals and it needs to happen in my opinion, and I think it will.
3. Trade for a left handed reliever
Though the addition of Barret Browning has been a good one so far, he is still not a very reliable major leaguer. Also the Cardinals other left handers Zeppo and Freeman have not been good at all. So I think Mozeliak needs to look for a left handed veteran reliever that can actually get left handers out, unlike the addition of Arthur Rhodes last season. There may not be many guys available but there are plenty of teams that will be sellers come the deadline and I think the Cardinals will be able to find a match. There has been recent mention of the team having interest in former Rockies, Angels, and currently Athletics pitcher Brian Fuentes. Though he has gotten off to a rough start this year, he has done better in the NL in his career and I think he could be a good fit. It wouldn’t cost much to acquire him maybe just cash considerations, so we will see what the Cardinals decide to do.
4. Trade for a veteran (RHP) reliever
The final piece of the puzzle for me as far as trades go, is acquiring a veteran right handed reliever. This person doesn’t necessarily need to be a closer, but just a guy that has experience and who has been around the league for a while. The Cardinals have been linked to Huston Street of the Padres who I think could be a perfect fit! He is a guy with experience setting up and closing, and is having an All Star campaign. It won’t be too hard for the Cardinals to get a guy like Street considering the Padres will want his salary off the books. There should be many guys like this up for grabs as the trade deadline looms, and teams fall out of contention. Other guys that could be possibilities are Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle, and many others.
5. Matheny needs to figure it all out
Mike Matheny is still a rookie manager and I think we have all noticed the signs of that. He struggles with the little things every now and then, but there is still plenty of time for him to figure it all out. Mainly he has struggled with leaving in pitchers and pitching changes in general, but another more recent problem has been the strange times to bunt. If Matheny can start making wiser decisions I think the Cardinals will be in a better position to win. I still have faith as Matheny being our manager for years to come, I haven’t given up on him like most people have.
This season is still winnable for the current third place Cardinals. They have a lot of potential, but they just need a few pieces to add to their puzzle. I truly believe the Cardinals can reach the post season with ease and repeat as World Champions, but it will take time and effort. There is still a lot of baseball to be played this season, many guys will get injured and many guys will get traded, let us just hope the Cardinals can make smart deals and stay healthy.