Dear Mr. Wainwright,
Please accept my apology. You were right when you said you’d work things out, that you were getting closer to a solution with every misfire of a start. I was wrong when I said that you were too old and that you’d suffered too many injuries over the past decade to be an effective pitcher any longer.
I was wrong. And I couldn’t be any happier about it.
It pained me to watch one of my all-time favorite players struggle to a 2-3 record with a 6.12 earned run average through the month of April. To watch opponents hit .361 against you over that span when you allowed 12 extra-base hits and a .546 slugging percentage against was torture.
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Part of the reason I thought you were done for is because I respect your dedication to your craft. You’re a student of your own mechanics. So, if you couldn’t fix your problems over a month worth of starts, frankly, it didn’t seem like they were fixable.
Yet here we sit in the beginning of June and you’ve somehow pitched four exceptional turns through the rotation in a row. In May, you logged a 3-0 record with a 2.64 ERA while holding enemy batsmen to a .232 average against you. And, if that wasn’t enough, you started the month of June with a scoreless outing in which you provided all the offense you would need by hitting a two-run homer.
You’ve kept it up far too long for this to be a fluke. Congratulations on your turn around. If only I could be wrong about Jhonny Peralta being washed up, too!
Your biggest fan.
While Wainwright earned the right to figure things out with more than a decade of excellence for the St. Louis Cardinals, the team has run out of patience with some other guys who were expected to play important roles this year. So, we’re finally starting to see some reworking of the roster that should have happened over the winter.
The first player to go was relief pitcher Miguel Socolovich who probably made the team out of spring training largely because he was out of options so he got the benefit of the doubt. This week, former closer Jonathan Broxton joined Socolovich in the unemployment line. Broxton used to be a star. But he and Socolovich deteriorated to the point that they couldn’t be trusted in anything other than a mop up situation. That doesn’t help anyone.
The Cardinals opted to bring back Tyler Lyons from the disabled list to replace Solocovich. John Gant, who might have beaten either Broxton or Socolovich out for a job in Grapefruit League play had he not been shelved with a groin pull, came back to take Broxton’s spot on the roster.
The problem is, while the Redbirds can delete underperforming players from their roster, it’s not as easy to add talent as it would have been if the team would have worked to fill its obvious holes when there were free agents for the taking. I still can’t believe the Cardinals front office thought signing Dexter Fowler, Brett Cecil and bringing back Eric Fryer was all that needed to be done to a team that had a lousy bullpen, awful defense and a one-dimensional, strike-out prone offense in 2016. Especially when it chose not to bring back slugging outfielder Matt Holliday, creating a need for a middle of the order slugger.
So, St. Louis is left with the option of bringing up players like Paul DeJong in hopes that they can make an immediate impact. I hope they can. But it’s an awful lot to ask a youngster to figure out major league pitchers and get over the intense emotional rollercoaster that is making it to the big leagues in a weekend or so.
I’ve heard a few trade rumors floating around on the breeze. But I don’t know how willing the Cardinals will be to give up some of their prized minor leaguers for expensive, seasoned major league players. And I would hate to see the team give up prized prospects for a rental player on an expiring contract.
The most prominent rumor I have been hearing is that opposing teams are interested in Redbirds starter Lance Lynn who is enjoying a rebound season after losing 2016 to Tommy John surgery. Lynn voiced hope at the end of spring training that the Cardinals would extend his contract and he could remain with the only organization he has ever known. But it seems, after the team didn’t take him up on his overture that the contract extension ship has sailed. With his performance this season, Lynn’s price has surely skyrocketed.
The only thing that is certain is that this club can’t stand pat. Until it fixes the defense and the bullpen, it doesn’t have a chance to beat the best teams in baseball in important games.