Matheny says the organization is excited about Munoz
The St. Louis Cardinals ought to look to Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman to help them back to their winning ways of April.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t see the Cardinals making a major roster overhaul because they don’t have a lot of blue chip trade pieces — and the ones they do have are guys they really can’t afford to let to. They’re going to have to win with the pieces they have. We’ll be lucky if they’re able to swing one big deal for a difference making starting pitcher. They’re not going to do that AND find a major boost to their sagging offense.
Now, I’m not saying that Munoz and Edman are the best players on the roster, although Munoz has proved to be quite effective in a utility role and Edman can play any defensive position with skill while offering leadoff man potential to the offense with his line drive bat and foot speed. So how do the Cardinals count on them to be difference makers when they work in the supporting cast? Because it appears that the underachieving starters have become too comfortable. If they find themselves in a battle to keep their playing time from a couple of hungry youngsters, maybe it will cause the starters to finally bear down and start producing like they’re supposed to.
Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter, Harrison Bader and Dexter Fowler could all lose playing time to the versatile kids. It’s a tremendous asset that both Munoz and Edman can play anyplace but pitcher or catcher. Plus, a slow Sunday for Edman not withstanding, they’re two of the hotter hitters on the team right now. Nothing should be a given, playing time is to be earned, so go with the hot hand and make the starters prove they should remain the starters.
Wong especially seems to need a kick in the pants to get him going every once in a while. He looks great at times and totally hopeless at others. Results have been tougher to squeeze out of the outfielders. After a hot start, Fowler has faded and Bader hasn’t hit in the majors like he used to in the minors. In the absence of Marcel Ozuna, who appears to be out for an extended period of time because he broke his fingers diving into a base, the Cardinals can’t afford just to throw two under performers out there with the confidence that they’re going to play, no matter what they do. Hopefully, Tyler O’Neill will also add some heat to the mix.
The country club atmosphere is likely fed by the fact that St. Louis was too generous in passing out long-term contracts to some of its players. Wong got an extension well before he earned it because then general manager John Mozeliak was trying to soothe the jangled nerves of the shaky second baseman. It didn’t work and Wong found his way into Mike Matheny’s dog house time and time again. Then the Cardinals handed Carpenter, who had a monumentally bad start to the 2018 season, a multi-year extension when they didn’t have to because he had a team option on his current pact.
The Cardinals can’t take away Wong, Carpenter or Fowler’s money. But they can take away their playing time. At least part of it. A little bit of internal competition can be a really good thing. The Cardinals don’t have a cast of star players to count on, as evidenced by the fact that they only have one player in the All-Star Game because every team is required to have one, so they got a roster spot by default. (Congratulations, Paul DeJong, for winning the golden ticket.) So, they’ll have to use that fabled roster depth we keep hearing about to try to win with quantity instead of quality. At the very least, the switch-hitting bench players could be valuable over the long haul as platoon players.