As we move into the second half of the season, here are a few things the Cardinals need to work on if they're going to make the play-offs and try to defend their World Series title:
BULLPEN -- Although it's been a little bit better in the last couple of weeks, the relief corps lacks the ability to be a reliable shut down tool. It can use help from both the left and right side. It needs a go-to guy who can come in and strike out a hitter in the early innings or an eighth inning bridge to closer Jason Motte. Mitchell Boggs is capable of handling one of those roles. But he can't do both.
STARTING ROTATION -- The Cardinals are currently relying on rookie Joe Kelly and valuable bullpenner Lance Lynn as fill ins for injured southpaw Jaime Garcia and ace Chris Carpenter who is out for the season. In short, not only could the present arrangement use some improvement. But, with prospect Shelby Miller struggling in the minors, there is no more margin for error if there should be another injury. I would like to see the Cardinals go after a top of the rotation guy because, without Carpenter, suddenly potential play-off match-ups might seem a little bit lopsided in their opponent's favor. But that might be too much to ask without parting with top talent.
COACHING -- I'm not pointing an accusing finger at pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. But it's a pretty big coincidence that the wheels have fallen off Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski without Dave Duncan's mechanical expertise. Lilliquist did a great job of holding things together last season during Duncan's leave of absence to tend to his ill wife. But, whether it's mental or mechanical, it seems that the St. Louis bullpen could use some additional help. I wonder if Duncan, who remains on the Cardinals payroll on leave, could afford to visit with the struggling hurlers for a couple of days to see if he could turn things around. It would be nice if the answer to the bullpen woes could be found from within instead of trying to trade for new bodies.
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