22 June, 2023
In Washington In an effort to publicize the game and potentially steal a couple of victories from their divisional opponents, they will awaken on Thursday morning more than 4,000 kilometers from their home.
Four days in London will undoubtedly shake up the routine of the St. Louis Cardinals’ major league season. If not for the disruptive schedule—three days off in between two games against the Chicago Cubs—and the five time zones travelers must cross just to get home, the change would be welcomed.
The Cardinals are off to their worst start since 1990, when they finished last, and are currently 31-44. They started June off by losing 11 of their first 13 games before a lineup with superstar power and an explosive youngster won five straight, igniting a flimsy glimmer of hope.
The Cardinals anticipate having a good time in London, just like many tourists. Additionally, they want to find their actual ID.
John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the Cardinals, asserts that “at some point, we’ve got to figure out who we are.”
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Is it the team that stumbled out to a 10-24 start with an 8-16 record in one-run games, combining bad play and bad luck?
Or one with first basemen Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, who have a combined 14 All-Star selections and 14 Gold Glove awards, the former off to a start close to his career average and the latter only marginally off pace?
the one where Steven Matz lost his job in the rotation after the Cardinals lost eight of his ten starts, and starting pitchers Jack Flaherty and Flaherty combined for a 1.62 WHIP?
Or the strategy that relies on dependable innings eaters Miles Mikolas and Jordan Montgomery, which is normally successful in the National League Central?
The Cardinals’ clubhouse has little doubt that they have, for the time being, received exactly what they have deserved.
Despite being 35 years old, Goldschmidt still has a.882 OPS and 13 home runs. “We’ve got to play better,” he says. “I’ve repeated it numerous times: We haven’t played well enough. Not only are we having a lot of poor luck, but also. We are making errors.
“I’m sure there’s some luck involved, but our goal has been to play better and correct the mistakes we’ve made,” the player said.
The club’s decision-makers must be perplexed because they signed slugging catcher Willson Contreras to a five-year, $87.5 million contract only to watch him lose his catching privileges 32 games into the season and go on an 8-for-78 (.103/.205/.218) run from May 19 to June 19.
Following an 11-day hiatus, Contreras returned to catching on Tuesday and hit a pair of doubles, his first two-baggers since May 16. Since being demoted three weeks into his major league career, prized rookie Jordan Walker has looked even more remarkable in his second big league stay, barreling the ball and displaying better plate discipline.
After missing three weeks due to a back ailment, outfielder Lars Nootbar made his comeback this week. There might soon be continuity. But they haven’t yet provided any evidence.
Mozeliak affirms, “I definitely feel like there’s still a lot of talent on this club. “The injuries in the outfield definitely contribute to this, the inconsistent rotation definitely contributes to this, and the inconsistent performance of our bullpen has contributed to this.
The truth is that there are several factors at play in our current situation. There are plenty other reasons why we can improve. We still have two thirds of the season left, which is the really fantastic news.
There is still time to start doing things correctly.
They are undoubtedly in the ideal position to do so.
In this century, the Cardinals have won 11 of the 22 Central championships. With skillful selection and development, as well as a tendency to sign foreign talents like Goldschmidt and Arenado, they frequently outperform lower-revenue clubs in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee, as well as the Cubs whenever the mood strikes.
But this season, geography might be the Cardinals’ savior.
The Cardinals are still only nine games out of first place despite their difficulties. Three teams have held the top slot in the last week, with the Reds most recently doing so because to their 11-game winning run, which is the longest since 1957.
It won’t help the Cardinals if they have a successful track record—even though they have made the playoffs nine times in the last 12 years. With losses to the Pirates and Reds in five of their last seven divisional games each, they are just 10-13 overall. Heck, perhaps St. Louis will benefit from the more evenly distributed schedule this season with fewer intra-division games.
According to Goldschmidt, the other teams in our category are really strong. All of those that we’ve played, they’ve defeated us. We’ve won a small victory over them, but they’ve actually outperformed us.
“Playing better is more important than planning too far in advance. attempting to accept responsibility for our collective and individual errors.
Perhaps the club is still deciding how to fight and who to follow during those tumultuous times. Catcher Yadier Molina, a Cardinal for 19 seasons, and Albert Pujols, whose 22-year career ended with a victory lap in St. Louis, both played their final seasons in 2022.
We’re a pretty young club, says Goldschmidt, compared to previous seasons. Just two people with 40 years of MLB experience retired last year.
The youth infusion starts with Walker, who made his professional debut in March as a 20-year-old with a 12-game hitting streak. Walker’s 6-foot-6, 245-pound size implies he will have 30- or 40-home run seasons in the future, but he quickly developed terrible habits.
After just 20 games, he was optioned to Class AAA Memphis on April 23. The causes were clear: 78 plate appearances, a 3.9% walk rate, and a 25.6% strikeout rate.
Walker, however, showed in Memphis that he was a quick student and returned to St. Louis on June 2. Since then, in 67 bat appearances, he has virtually tripled his walk rate (10.5%) and reduced his strikeout rate (18%).
Oh, and he’ll travel to London with a 13-game hitting streak.
“Sometimes people don’t give enough credit to the big difference between here and Triple-A,” claims manager Oliver Marmol. “It takes a little while for guys to get comfortable and slow the game down. He can say, “Man, it’s starting to get a little slower,” when he talks to Jordan. Which indicates that it was extremely quick. But for him, things are beginning to slack off.
His initial walk rate was less than 4%. Now that you start to look at him, there is a noticeable difference. He will eventually need to walk. He will have to continue to strike the ball as he is doing so. He will need to strike out more frequently than we are currently observing.
“Jordan at the moment is a really good version of himself.”
Mozeliak has questioned if the retirements of Molina and Pujols had an impact on the team, but he also mentions the 18 Cardinals that competed in the World Baseball Classic, which may have prevented a resurgence of cohesion.
Tommy Edman, the center fielder, adds, “Overall, we still have a lot of the same players, but obviously they’re two major, very significant people in the clubhouse. “In that sense, you do occasionally realize their absence.
“At the same time, there are many guys who have achieved great success in the past.”
After losing to the Washington Nationals 3-0, the Cardinals prepared for their journey to London by donning matching sweatsuits for maximum comfort. Mozeliak and other team members wore business casual attire.
Miles Mikolas, the starting pitcher noted for his eccentric fashion choices, will have to reserve them for London. He might have been joking when he said that he would watch “Braveheart” on the flight to “get all fired up” for his Irish Scottish ancestry.
Other than picking up a win or two against the Cubs and keeping an eye on the Astros and Yankees, ready to face them in St. Louis after coming from the other side of the pond, Marmol probably won’t have any scores to settle.
You never know what is going to happen next. Marmol thinks that it can’t be any worse than what they recently went through.
“I’m not just sitting here wishing I could press the restart (button). I believe that our team is truly in a great position. They were in a decent place mentally even a few weeks ago, when things weren’t going well.
“There are moments when you just need to be confident for things to start to go your way. This organization has been attempting that for some time, and they have shown no signs of giving up.