I remember the first time I held a live hand grenade.
Not fully realizing how loud the blast was going to be after I threw it, I did realize that what I held in my hand needed to be let go, because the longer I held it, the more potential for danger there was.
Coincidentally, the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves in a similar situation right now.
After another disappointing series drop over the weekend to the Baltimore Orioles, or should I call them the Baltimore “Let’s hit everything out of the ballparks,” Cardinal nation is once again up in arms about the direction the St. Louis Cardinals are trending.
It’s downward, by the way.
Currently the team sits five and half games behind the Milwaukee Brewers (if you missed it, they handed us a couple of losses last week too), and are a whopping 12 games (!!!) out of the National League Wild Card chase.
The team once again looks lifeless, and despite the fact a few players are picking it up offensively and a few new faces on the coaching staff, it’s still not enough to gain any traction, both in the standings or with an unsettled fan base.
Seemingly, the product on the field is not up to the “St. Louis standard,” and general manager John Mozeliak stands waiting with the 2017 Cardinals, or his own version of a live hand grenade.
He can wait it out a few more weeks while holding this piece of explosive before he eventually is forced to drop it and blow himself up, or he can decide to chuck it early and let the blast take somewhere else, and start over.
Either way, the options don’t look like a lot of fun.
This is new territory for Mozeliak – he hasn’t been in this position much before, as he’s been able to dodge bullets with teams that were winning, and winning consistently.
This year is different however, and fans are waiting around like a horse wanting to be put out of it’s misery.
So what are we really looking at in terms of what is about to happen with the St. Louis Cardinals…
Pull the pin, chuck that grenade and watch it burn
So what does “blowing it up” actually mean for the Cardinals?
Well for starters, we as Cardinals fans would probably be saying goodbye to some previous fan-favorites.
Lance Lynn – gone. Seung Hwan-Oh – see ya later. Trevor Rosenthal – you won’t be far behind buddy, because your value doesn’t get much better than what it is now.
Oh yeah, then there is Kolten Wong (if he could ever get healthy), former big leaguer Randall Grichuk, and yes, even Matt Carpenter could be bought at the right price (although highly unlikely).
All of those assets would have to be considered for a team that is not very dynamic in terms of offensive output, not as athletic as previously stated, and with a bullpen that is slowly dying.
To be honest, unless the name on the back of your jersey reads Fowler, Wainwright, Molina, or Martinez (among a few others), or you’re a prospect by the name of Carson Kelly, Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes or Mags Sierra, you should be on alert right now.
With few options in the minor leagues (Mags Sierra cannot pitch, per sources), the Cards would look to add minor league depth, and more importantly, star potential talent at every position.
Outfield seems to be pretty stacked right now throughout the farm system, so if the team does decide to go in this direction – pitching, big bats, and infielders would probably be a big focus.
Does that mean they’d turn up their nose up at a guy like Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich? Absolutely not, but the core outfield group for this team’s future looks pretty bright.
Immediate needs are relief pitchers who get outs, starters who last into games, and a bat with some pop that doesn’t belong to Jedd Gyroko.
Yes, this would be the choice to throw the grenade and blow it up – a complete rebuild.
Just hold the grenade for a little while longer?
There is the other option, you know, just holding the grenade.
Seems like a good idea right? Well, John Mozeliak is weighing that option just as seriously as the aforementioned rebuild.
Sure the team has some talent, and a few bright spots are shining, but collectively the team is heading in the wrong direction.
The offense is anemic, the bullpen erratic and the once revered starting pitching staff is showing cracks in their wall.
It is no longer the first few weeks of 2017, the season is now two full months in.
The summer is starting to get hot, and sooner or later John Mozeliak has got to just realize this is who he’s got, and improvement/potential for individual players just goes out the window.
However, the longer you hold onto a grenade, the more potential there is to drop it, and blow your legs off.
That’s where John Mozeliak does NOT want to go – riding a team with it’s current assets into the ground and become the laughing stock of the baseball world.
Is there a middle ground?
When you hold a grenade, there really isn’t much middle ground. Either you blow up, or you throw it and someone else blows up.
In terms of baseball; however, of course there is a middle ground.
But if you’re the Cardinals, that middle ground still doesn’t provide much long-term hope, as you’d have to either give up young guys you really like, or fan favorites for new players.
The Cardinals have been pretty hesitant to deal big prospects for star potential, they’ve been an organization built on development.
In fact, the last time a big name prospect was dealt, we got Brandon Moss in return.
While he ended up being a great player for the Birds, Moss was never a star, and the team saw that, letting him walk and now completely suck for Kansas City. (cc: Rob Kaminsky)
Sure the Cardinals could add a few pieces and hope that they pan out in terms of making the playoffs this year, but the writing is already on the wall..
The Bottom Line
You look at an organization that didn’t make the playoffs last year, one that is projected to win no more than 80 games this year, and having to fire assistant coaches mid-season…yes I think it’s time for the St. Louis Cardinals to throw that grenade, blow it up and start over.
There is no need trade everyone, but you’re drunk if you think this team isn’t dire need of star potential talent.
You have pitchers who are ailing/aging, lack of a bat that will hit more than 30 homers in a season, and nobody besides Trevor Rosenthal that scares you in the bullpen.
This team isn’t built to win this year or next year either – so why not make moves to solidify your future as an organization instead of running on fumes?
John Mozeliak has quite the decision on his hands – hold the grenade and blow himself and the future of the organization up, or throw it so far so we all forget this season happened and start over.
Only time will tell.