Mike Shildt- Special Guest
Courtesy of Bengie Molina, Mike Shildt joined the podcast as a special guest last week. Unfortunately, I misplaced my notes I took during the interview and since it has been several days, I don’t think I would do the best job of recapping the episode. However, if you have not yet had the chance to listen, you should definitely take the time to do so. You can find it here
In a wide ranging interview, Mr.Shildt shows why he is such a likable person. He talked most about how fortunate he feels to be the manager of the St.Louis Cardinals, how he deals with the tougher parts of the job, and his special relationship with Yadier Molina.
“Sorry, but Someone Needs a Break”
In this episode, Jim and Bengie reflect upon the team’s recent struggles and their frustration mirrors that of Cardinal Nation at the current moment. Bengie started by pointing out that often teams can be more prone to streakiness in what is still the earlier parts of the season before they really gain their full identity as a team. He also pointed to other situations around the league where streaks, good or bad, can completely transform the way you look at a team in a short time frame. The most prominent example was that of Milwaukee, who started out hot and were world beaters, then faltered for a full two weeks, but have now recovered from that bad stretch to put themselves right back in the mix for the division. The guys then spent time discussing their major worries and negative trends they are seeing with the club right now. They weren’t so disturbed about being 3 1/2 games back at the quarter mark, but more about the way the team has looked recently to reach that point.
Kolten Wong was a topic where Jim and Bengie spent time wondering if, at this point, if he just is what he is, a .240-250 hitter with a little bit of pop, not great OBP skills, and a great glove at 2B. His early season play gave Jim, and all of Cardinal fandom, the hope that he had arrived as an impact player, an All-Star. Yet, it seems he has taken up some of the same approach issues that have held him back somewhat in the past.
There were other topics of concern touched on, the rotation was one, especially Dakota Hudson and how it may be time to move him out, give someone else a shot and strengthen the bullpen with his presence. There were some clear opinions about the presence on the roster of guys like Tyler Webb and Luke Gregerson, and wondering why the Cardinals insist on playing with their less than best 25. Yairo Munoz and his recent play was a topic. However, the largest and most prevalent topic of conversation was Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter was examined in a number of different ways. His current approach, what the manager should consider doing to get him right, his track record as a leadoff hitter, his lack of dangerous base running ability when he does reach, and much more. Bengie and Jim were clear several times in stating they are not out to bash Matt Carpenter, but rather trying to take an objective look at his play and how it may be affecting the lineup as a whole. Bengie wondered why Carpenter is anchored to the leadoff spot when he actually profiles as more of a middle of the order bat and he does not possess any dangerous baserunning skills at the top of the order. Jim was in favor of setting Carpenter down for a full series or even a full week, and he noted how in the past this has been something the club has done. Jim also felt it was time to reinstall Dexter Fowler at leadoff to try something new and to put your best current lineup out there.
This Blogger’s Take:
I agree with the guys about Wong. I hope I am still wrong but I think he has, at this point, probably shown us and the league the player he is. The question will be, is that good enough to remain the Cards 2B for the next several years or do you pivot and try something else with perhaps a bit more of an offensive upside this offseason? I also think that it is time to try something else with Matt Carpenter. I think he should probably be sat down for a series or at least two consecutive games and gain some perspective and release some pressure. I also think that while he sits and then when he returns he should be moved down to the 6th or 7th hole in the order while Fowler is inserted at the top. Carpenter’s career numbers are much better at the leadoff spot than anywhere else he has it, but he has also amassed more at bats at leadoff than anywhere else by a wide margin, so the notion that he can’t hit anywhere else has never been fully explored or given a chance. Plus, he isn’t hitting as a leadoff man right now anyway so why not try something else. I disagree with the whole baserunning issue, though. Yes, it would be ideal to have a leadoff man that gets on base and can steal bases and put pressure on teams with his legs. But if Matt Carpenter was putting up his usual .375 OBP with the power mixed in, he profiles as one of the best leadoff men in MLB. You can’t steal first base. Alas, so far this year he’s not doing that so that is my issue, I could care less whether he can steal a base.
Finally, and Jim has mentioned to me through tweets that he doesn’t mind if I dissent from opinions on the podcast, but I found myself becoming a bit upset with one of the issues touched upon during the tail end of the podcast. The topic was stadiums and Busch Stadium not profiling as an offensive park and what some Cardinal players might do in Miller Park or Wrigley or Cincinnati, etc. I felt some similar feeling when the pitching issues kind of kept being blamed on Miller Park at the front end of the season. To me, you play where you play. You’re in the big leagues, you have a home park that plays a certain way for both teams, and it’s up to you as a team to build an identity in your home park that makes you successful. It’s also your job as an organization to be able to go into places like Miller Park and Wrigley field and compete and win some games in those stadiums while playing on the same field and same conditions as your opponent. I could care a less and I think it’s irrelevant that some balls hit in Busch Stadium might be homeruns in other ballparks. It wasn’t a homerun in that ballpark at that moment and that’s all that matters. Sorry, seems like we’re all just a bit salty right now about the state of the team!
Thanks for reading