It hasn’t been the type of season the St. Louis Cardinals envisioned in spring training, even though they remain in the hunt for the playoffs in the final week.
The Cardinals have been plagued by poor baserunning, sloppy fielding and erratic pitching. Their longest winning streak has been five games, and they’ve never been more than nine games over the .500 mark. At home, they were 33-42 through Monday.
Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak addressed several topics Tuesday in a conversation with reporters. Mozeliak confirmed his confidence in manager Mike Matheny, expressed frustration with pitcher Jaime Garcia and talked about other topics.
Q: How discouraging was it Monday night to watch Jaime Garcia’s one-inning outing?
A: I would use the the word ‘frustrated.’ Clearly, we went into (Monday) night with the hope of a near-great homestand, and it was a rough night. There’s no getting around it. When you disect what happened, in a lot of ways there were multiple things that were disappointing. From a frustration level, we’ve got to turn the page. Baseball’s one of those games where (you have) a 1-0 loss or 15-2. In the end, it’s a loss.
Q: How do you look at Michael Wacha heading into next season?
A: I think the offseason and how he prepares for next year is going to really dictate that. When you look at him as a starter, there’s reasons to believe he can do that if he has the type of strength training and preparation to allow him to handle 30 starts. But if that doesn’t happen, then the likelihood of how you use someone like him would have to be out of the bullpen. I really think we’ll have a better feel for how that looks like come next spring.
Q: Has it been a season-long grind just to get some rhythm?
A: I do feel like it’s been an odd season. It’s been streaky in the sense of ups and downs, but never really a consistent winning pattern. You can look at various reasons why. Some nights we pitch, some nights we hit, some nights we do neither. That’s typically what happens when you’re dealing with inconsistencies. When you really look back at the year, there’s certainly things that will make for good offseason discussions, but I think our focus right now is what’s going to happen tonight and what’s going to happen the remainder of the week.
Q: How has Brandon Moss’ recent struggles at the plate affected your thoughts about whether he will be a part of the Cardinals’ future?
A: His agent and I decided that we would table (contract talks) until the offseason. In terms of reflecting on what we may or may not do at this point, I don’t think is all that productive to discuss. He’s been a very streaky player for us. Unfortunately, right now he’s struggling a little bit.
Q: Are you concerned about the state of the team’s offense?
A: Clearly, early on when you look at the season trends, that was one of the things that helped carry us. I would say right now, from an offensive standpoint, we have not been able to get it truly clicking in a consistent manner. Unfortunately, we don’t have a whole lot of time to fix this. For me to sit up here and tell you how it’s all going to be great ... We’ll all know what it looks like in the next week. You either do or you don’t. Hopefully, we get it going.
Q: If you get into the postseason, do you look differently at the regular season?
A: No, I don’t think you can do it that way. I think taking a clinical approach at how this team looks is the only fair way to do it this offseason.
Q: Are you satisfied with the team’s chemistry?
A: Whenever you’re dealing with struggles or ups and downs, the clubhouse chemistry is always sort of an interesting topic. But these guys get along. They’re good teammates. I don’t feel like there’s anything glaring coming out of that clubhouse that warrants discussion or concern.
Q: Can you appreciate the position the team is in despite its inconsistent play?
A: Sure. I think everybody is asking me to focus more on those inconsistencies, but I certainly am excited that the last week of September still matters. (For) a lot of teams, it doesn’t. To still be alive and be one game out (of the wild card), I think that’s a positive.
Q: To fix the defense, do you have to make substantial changes?
A: Any time you identify something that you want to address, whether it’s defense, power, pitching, a lot of times it’s, ‘At what cost?’ What I mean by that is to get better defense, that means we may have to take a step back offensively. In terms of internal analysis that we do upstairs, that’s certainly an exercise we’re going to do. We’re going to decide what makes us a better club. None of us are satisfied with 81 wins, I can tell you that. As we look to the offseason, we’ll certainly explore all the available options we feel can help us improve.
Q: What will it be like if the team doesn’t reach the playoffs?
A: I think if you don’t reach the playofs, you’re going to be disappointed. I think we should. We felt going into this year that we were going to be extremely competitive. It just hasn’t played out like we thought it would. You can point to whatever you want, whether it’s defense, baserunning, the rotation, injuries. All those factored in to where we are.
Q: Is manager Mike Matheny’s job safe?
A: Mike takes a lot of heat. I’ve defended him and will continue to. I really feel like some of the things we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager. I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here. There’s nobody excluded from that. Having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.
Cardinals 12, Reds 5
The Cardinals socked five home runs to avenge an unsightly loss to Cincinnati on Monday. Matt Carpenter’s home run in the third began the long-ball parade, which was joined by Aledmys Diaz with a grand slam in the fourth, Jhonny Peralta with a three-run shot in the fifth, Matt Adams with a two-run blast in the sixth and Randal Grichuk with a solo homer in the sixth. Adam Wainwright (13-9) was the winning pitcher.
By the numbers
Wainwright allowed five runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, with two walks and six strikeouts. ... Each of the Cardinals’ homers traveled further than the one before: 390 feet (Carpenter), 408 feet (Diaz), 418 feet (Peralta), 425 feet (Adams) and 443 feet (Grichuk). ... Adams’ homer came as a pinch-hitter and was the 16th pinch-hit homer by the Cardinals this season.
Mike Leake (9-11, 4.72 ERA) vs. Anthony DeSclafini (8-5, 3.38 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Wednesday