Clearly the Cardinals are not pleased with their center field situation, cycling through Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, and now Randal Grichuk while getting terrible combined production from the position. So why haven’t they called up top prospect Oscar Taveras, who in addition to thriving at Triple-A right now also has quite a bit of center field experience in the minors?
General manager John Mozeliak explained to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
We’d still like him to play a lot more center field, but there’s no doubt he’s playing well. I know a lot’s being made out of Oscar … coming to St. Louis, but right now I don’t even think it’s a logical thing to do.
There are a lot of question marks going on in the outfield to begin with, and I think that would muddy it up. He needs to do what he’s doing and that obviously will make it a very difficult decision at some point. But when you look at some of the guys we have here playing center field, a couple of them are pretty good players.
So it could be partly that the Cardinals aren’t ready to give up on Jay or Bourjos, the latter of whom was just acquired from the Angels for David Freese this offseason. And it’s also possible that they have questions about whether Taveras is still capable of being an asset defensively in center field following ankle problems. He’s only played four games in center field at Triple-A, so the Cardinals don’t appear to be grooming him to take over anytime soon.
Combine those factors and keeping Taveras in the minors a bit more makes some sense, but at some point it’ll be tough to keep down a 22-year-old stud prospect hitting .312 with power at age 22.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.