The St. Louis Cardinals 2017 season has been disappointing in the extreme, and today the brass shook things up in an attempt to address it. The moves:
- Third-base coach Chris Maloney has been relieved of his duties and will be reassigned within the organization;
- Mike Shildt, previously the quality control coach, will take over as third base coach;
- Assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller will be replaced by Triple-A hitting coach Mark Budaska;
- Third baseman Jhonny Peralta has been designated for assignment.
This all comes as the Cardinals find themselves mired in a seven game losing streak, six games below .500 and fourth in the National League Central.
Only the Giants and Padres have a worse offense than the Cardinals in the National League. Peralta has contributed to that and has not gotten much if any playing time lately. Kolen Wong has been activated to take his spot. The coaching moves are no doubt aimed at addressing the club’s offensive woes as well. Really, though, the struggles have been a team effort, with most of their key players having a worse year at the plate this year than they did in 2016.
Deck chairs on the Titanic or the catalyst for a rebound? As is always the case in baseball, that will be determined later, with a backward view. But the Cards do need to turn things around quickly.
Athletics president Dave Kaval is ready to take full advantage of the interleague series between the Giants and A’s this season. While the two teams customarily play a few preseason “Battle of the Bay” games each year, they’re also scheduled to meet each other six times during the regular season; once for a three-game set in San Francisco, then for a three-game set in Oakland. On Saturday, Kaval announced that any Giants fans looking to park at the Coliseum this year will be charged $50 instead of the standard, general admission $30 — an additional “rivalry fee” that can be easily waived by shouting, “Go A’s!” at the gate.
This isn’t the first time that a major-league team has tried to keep rival fans at bay, though Kaval doesn’t seem all that intent on actually driving fans away from the ballpark. Back in 2012, the Nationals staged a “Take Back the Park” campaign after people began complaining that Phillies fans were overtaking Nationals Park during rivalry games. They limited a single-series presale of Nats-Phillies tickets to buyers within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia in hopes of filling the stands with a few more friendly faces. Washington COO Andy Feffer told the press that while he would treat all guests with “respect and courtesy,” he wanted Phillies fans to feel irked enough to pay attention to the Nationals. In the end, things went… well, a little south for all involved.
Whether the Giants are planning any retaliatory measures has yet to be seen, but it’s not as if this is going to be an enforceable rule. The real travesty here, if you’re an A’s fan or just pretending to be one, is that the parking fees have increased from $20 to $30 this season. Unless you’re a season ticket holder with a prepaid $10 parking permit, it’s far better to brave the crowds and take advantage of local public transportation. There are bound to be far fewer irate Giants fans on BART than at the gates — even if the gag only lasts a few days out of the year.