Competition could do the St. Louis Cardinals a lot of good

Posted by Scott Wuerz on May 12, 2014 

Hopefully the impending return of pitcher Jason Motte and Jaime Garcia as well as the eventual promotion of top prospect Oscar Taveras and the return of deposed second baseman Kolten Wong will do more than add talent to the St. Louis Cardinals roster.

With the way this team is playing, I think the current roster could benefit greatly from a competition for playing time.

The Cardinals inexplicably aren't living up to their considerable talent. The position players, for the most part, aren't hitting up to their career standards. Meanwhile, the pitchers seem to bounce between disinterested and distracted.

They're 38 games into the season. This is getting beyond being explained away as a fluke. At spring training I thought the Redbirds seemed to be playing quite casually. There were few roster questions, the playing time pecking order was set and the result was a complete lack of urgency.

Manager Mike Matheny's long overdue trip to the mound Sunday night when he shouted at prized young pitcher Shelby Miller "you're better than this" ought to serve as a wake-up call not only to Miller but to the rest of the young players on the team who are underperforming.

These guys need to understand that their jobs aren't guaranteed and neither is their playing time. If they don't do the job, the Cardinals need to find someone else who will.

I'm a big fan of Trevor Rosenthal. He's got the ability, as we saw last season, to be absolutely dominant as a closer.

So why does he have an earned run average near 5.00? How could he give up three hits and a walk Sunday night while nursing a two-run lead? That's not the kind of results one would expect from a pitcher who can throw 100 mph.

He was so good last year that Matheny announced this spring that Rosenthal would keep his job as closer even when Motte returned from Tommy John surgery. But with Rosenthal allowing 10 bases on balls in 16 1/3 innings, might the skipper reconsider?

Maybe if Miller, Lance Lynn, Rosenthal, Peter Bourjos, Jon Jay and Matt Adams have to fight to keep their positions they'll be a little more focused and motivated to do their jobs the way we thought they could do them. And, if not, maybe other guys will play better than the original starters.

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