June 9, 2009

Cards to fish their way out of 4-game funk

The Cards will go fishing for a win on the east coast today, starting a three-game set with the Florida Marlins.

A split with the Reds wasn't bad, but things fell apart versus the Rockies, the offense falling flat and the starting pitching doing everything they could to keep the Cards in the game, waiting for a couple extra runs that would never come.

Today Chris Carpenter takes the hill, the Cards hoping to end a five-game losing streak. Out of the next 16 games, 13 are on the road; Florida, Cleveland, Kansas City, New York Mets. A short three-game set against the Tigers is the sandwich. After the 16 games, the rest of June belongs to Busch Stadium.

The obvious is that the squad is pressing for offense, which can have a cumulative effect on the team. When trailing by even a couple runs, the opponent's lead feels insurmountable, but a few big-inning breakthroughs can help boost morale and bring the team out of the slump just as fast.

It's the waiting for a rally that's a killer.

When slumps occur, even the defense seems out of kilter, every mistake amplified, adding to the frustration.

In reality, a few defensive boners wouldn't get much spotlight if the team was leading for a change. Any leathery mishaps get little more than a mention when things are going well.

In a post-game, Jack Clark mentioned the Cards are doing the best with what that have, meaning the AAA-help, but although the words can be taken as a slight, they should not be taken out of context. I speculate that Clark knows full well how much the AAA-kids, so to speak, have contributed, and while the "burn while you learn" experience doesn't help the Cards too much in the win column, the experience is invaluable to nearly a half-dozen Memphis callups, and could well help the Cardinals down the road.

For now, however, the talk that's getting bigger and bigger is whether the ownership will go after an impact bat, which seems the most needed item on the Cards' priority list for staying competitive after the All-Star Break.

If Cardinals' ownership plays it as usual, they will make what I consider a mistake in waiting until the bus has left the station before seriously going after the necessary player. The optimum fill right now is third base, though Glaus is expected to come back eventually.

I like Al Hraboskey's choice of Mark De Rosa, to play the hot corner until Glaus returns, then use his experience at no less than six different positions to assist in La Russa's perpetual tuning of the lineup, not to mention, in-game strategies. There are others to consider, but the money aspect of De Rosa is the closest to fitting the right (by choice or necessity) budget of the Cardinals' organization.

If you wait until after the ASG, however, you are making things terribly difficult in the acquisition department, as any other teams in contention will be shopping just as hard for the best deal-to-player ratio. De Rosa fits that for many teams. I say the Cards should go after him right away, because even with the current slump and the pitching staff having its yearly woes, the Cards are only a few games out and stand to remain in contention with the likes of the Brewers, Cubs and Reds.

photo by Barbara Moore