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.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.