Cheap Seats

Time for St. Louis Cardinals to shed some veterans and give prospects a chance

While the St. Louis Cardinals continued to be victimized by their bullpen, losing a vital weekend series to the Chicago Cubs, it’s nice to see some of the youngsters in Class AAA Memphis get a chance.

Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber have been penciled in to start the for the Redbirds Monday and Tuesday in Cincinnati. And that’s a good thing to see because there is literally no way they can be worse than some of the options available in the bullpen at this point. Brett Cecil dealt St. Louis a self-inflicted death blow with three runs allowed on four hits in one-third of an inning late Sunday in Chicago. Greg Holland, after a brief romance with competency, has allowed five runs -- three of them earned -- in his last three appearances which totaled 2 1/3 innings and included a blown save. Also terrible is Tyler Lyons who is sporting an 8.82 earned run average this season. Luke Gregerson, when his healthy, probably wishes he wasn’t with a 6.17 ERA.

While Poncedeleon and Gomber are in a starting role now, couldn’t they do a better job than the cast of usual suspects when Carlos Martinez comes back from his current oblique injury and the Birds recover from playing five games in four days in Chicago? They might not help a team that has won but one series in the month of July to turn things around and make the playoffs. But they certainly couldn’t make things any worse. And they might as well get some experience in the major leagues and show what they can do at the highest level of baseball. It could help St. Louis plan its roster construction for 2017.

And let’s not forget about Dakota Hudson who has been giving Class AAA batters fits this season in Memphis. It seems like a waste to leave talent that appears to have maxed out the Memphis experience in the minors while things aren’t exactly going swell with the parent club.

While the Cardinals are at it, I’d like to see some of the position players be called up to the big leagues for the rest of the season.

Slugging outfielder Tyler O’Neal had a monster day Sunday with Memphis, pounding out three hits and driving in four runs against Colorado Springs. He’s hitting .303 with 23 home runs so far this season. There is a power shortage in St. Louis and here is the biggest power prospect in the system tearing up pitching. Why not bring him up and see if he can make the jump to the big leagues? If the Cardinals are going to fall short of the playoffs again — and judging from their one game over .500 record and their decision to hire an interim manager for the rest of the season, I’d say they are — why not let the kid work out the kinks when their is less pressure to succeed?

While they’re at it, why don’t the Cardinals give third baseman Patrick Wisdom a chance? I know they’re not very high on the kid, as indicated by the fact that exposed him to the Rule 5 draft last off-season. But he’s hitting .300 with 13 homers. Doesn’t that deserve a look? Yeah, he has 96 strikeouts in a little more than half a season. But who doesn’t these days? If he comes up and is one of those odd ducks who hits major league pitching better than minor league stuff, awesome. If he’s no good and can’t cut it, at least we know. Let the guy tell his grand kids that he was a major league player at one time.

About all the Redbirds have left to hope for at this point is that the youngsters come up and catch lightning in a bottle. There is going to be no trade deadline mega deal to infuse this roster with a huge talent upgrade. If the franchise is so enthusiastic about building from within, let’s see what it has to show for its efforts up to know.

Where will the kids play? Well, it’s fairly obvious with the way he’s completely disappeared since the Mike Matheny firing that Jose Martinez doesn’t have a regular job with this club. As far as the pitchers go, I don’t think Redbirds rooters are going to riot in the streets if the team designated Holland, Lyons or Gregerson for assignment. Unfortunately, Gregerson isn’t going anywhere because he has another year left on his contract. Lyons was very good just last year, so maybe he gets a second chance, too. But it doesn’t appear there is any way Holland can rebuild his stock at this point of the season to work his way up to being the closer — or even the primary set-up man — to justify his $14 million a year salary. So what’s the point of keeping him around to be the mop-up man?

Holland surely has absolutely no trade value. The only way I could even see ANY value in keeping him would be if the Cardinals decided to be sellers at the deadline and deal Bud Norris to a contender for a prospect. Then they could keep Holland to at least fill some innings and serve as a mentor to rookie Jordan Hicks without the need for Norris to be Matheny’s bullpen snitch.

There doesn’t seem to be much to hope for the rest of this season. But watching these kids get a chance might at least give us something to look forward to in 2019.