Here’s the first edition of The Delivery, the weekly mailbag that I’ll be running going forth here at The Intrepid STL. If you have any questions throughout the week–sports or otherwise–feel free to drop into my DMs on Twitter. You can find me @bschaeffer12.
Mostly sports questions this week, but I’m willing to answer questions on any topics, so feel free to get weird in the future. Let’s jump in:
Q: Hey, I’d really like to know what you think about Peralta and what the Cardinals should do with him. Does he have any trade value for some relief pitching? -Ernest
I don’t see how the Cardinals can justify Peralta’s place on the roster if he is the player he appeared to be during his brief stint in April. If the upper respiratory issues were truly behind his sluggish play, then it’s reasonable to expect he could be better–remember, even if you or I didn’t anticipate Peralta grabbing hold of the 3B job to begin the season, the Cardinals, at least publicly, did.
For that reason, I would be stunned if the team were to cut him before he gets a chance to return to the active roster, unless his health situation is in worse shape than we realized. More than likely, Peralta will play again for the Cardinals. But in what role?
Jedd Gyorko is your third baseman, and apparently, your trusted cleanup man. He’s been great. Peralta should be relegated to the Matt Adams role upon his return, basically pinch hitting. The scenario that interests me: what happens if Peralta performs well in limited duty? Will Matheny look to expand his opportunities. If the decision came down to one or the other (DFA/trading Peralta vs. trading Adams, in both cases to clear a roster spot at some point), I’d value Adams over Peralta, and paying Peralta to basically do nothing doesn’t really bother me if nothing is essentially what he would be doing if he remained on the team. For a guy who has certainly built up equity with the team as a veteran player, it’s going to be interesting to see how his return is handled.
Going back-to-back, Ernest had one other question, and it’s one I feel most Cardinals fans are wondering about, too:
Q: Why do you think Matheny has gone to Cecil more than any other pitcher? He is struggling hard. Would sending him on an assignment to the minors be a likely option? He’s always been more of a second half pitcher. -Ernest
Cecil’s is probably only roster spot under more scrutiny from fans beyond Jhonny Peralta’s impending return. Since 2014, Cecil hasn’t enjoyed an April with an ERA below 5.00. Typically, however, he has rebounded shortly thereafter. In Since transitioning to a reliever full-time for 2013, Cecil’s career ERA in the month of May was 2.14 entering this season.
The concern for Cardinals fans: his first May as a Cardinal hasn’t followed that same blueprint, as he’s surrendered an earned run in three straight appearances, and has been permitting inherited runners to score like it’s his job. I’ll cut to the chase to point out the obvious–that Cecil isn’t going anywhere, because the Cardinals owe him $30 million over four years. I won’t bother to look up whether he has any minor league options remaining, because for a player of his status to be sent down–short of fabricating a DL stint to give him time to work things out–just isn’t a reasonable expectation.
As for why Matheny continues to ride him hard, and in some cases, for high-leverage situations, it probably traces back to the fact that Cecil was supposed to be a weapon for the manager–that’s why the team signed him. It could be some stubbornness on Matheny’s part to say ‘Hey, this guy was supposed to be good for me. We’re kind of screwed anyway if he’s not, so I’m going to try like hell to extract the talent out of him.’
All I know if that Cecil better start getting some guys out–especially lefties–or this could turn into the ugliest acquisition of John Mozeliak’s tenure in St. Louis (for what it’s worth, I think Cecil figures it out soon).
Q: Is Mags Sierra going to stay in the bigs if he keeps producing? Or is he gone when Piscotty comes back? -Jordan
If you’ve followed me on Twitter, you’ve seen the following phrase become my rallying cry over the past few days: The kid stays.
Sierra’s injection of youth, speed, and excitement has been a key during the Cardinals current six-game winning streak. His .353/.421/.353 batting line with seven runs scored in four games says all I need to hear. If he keeps producing like this, he stays. For some reason this is controversial for people to hear–I think it’s because they’re trying to inject things into my words that aren’t actually being said.
It’s pretty simple: If Sierra continues to get on base every game he plays, score a run in every game he plays, and give you defense that has been described by some as the best on the roster… you’re not going to pitch a fit if that guy gets sent down? Give me a break.
The reality is that Sierra *will* cool off. And when he does, you can send him down–right away if you want. Maybe you pull the plug after his first hitless game–maybe you give him two games to see if he can keep this momentum going. I’m fine with either of those ideas. But to say you’re going to send him down based solely on when Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Piscotty–both of whom, albeit on vastly differing levels, have lagged in their performance this season–is ready to return? Even if he keeps producing? I don’t buy it.
Maybe that’s what the team ends up doing, but trust that I’ll be there to debate that choice until I’m blue in the face if they do.
Q: If they could get their middle relief straightened out, how good could this team be? Oh & Rosenthal looks like they will shut down the 8th and 9th on a regular basis. -Rick
It’s definitely a key for this team going forward. The Cardinals seem to have the latter innings locked down–Oh has allowed perhaps a concerning number of base runners, but he hasn’t cracked. Rosenthal looks electric and is once again the best reliever in the ‘pen–he should probably be the closer, unless Matheny would prefer to employ him in the most high-leverage situations, as the Indians have done with Andrew Miller.
The rest of the bullpen, though, is kind of hard to project.
I mentioned Cecil above. Bowman crashed for a while, but seems to be back on track after a couple scoreless outings. Siegrist–are we back to trusting him yet? Socolovich has struggled, while Broxton has actually looked… pretty good lately? It’s true, go check his game logs. Tuivailala has looked good, but he’s probably the first one heading back to Memphis since some of the other relievers are out of options, and he isn’t.
To answer Rick’s question, this team could be really good if the middle relief gets straightened out, especially if the starters and offense keep this up. How do I propose the Cardinals actually proceed toward straightening out the middle relief? I have no idea. Patience, I guess, and perhaps another Mo’ special later in the year, a la Edward Mujica or Zach Duke.
Q: Besides Alcantara, is there any other minor league pitcher that could make an impact in the majors this year? -Avid
Sandy Alcantara probably leads most lists for MiLB guys who could pose a legitimate threat out of the bullpen in St. Louis later this year. Flaherty reminds me of 2016 Luke Weaver–a solid prospect having otherworldly numbers in Springfield to potentially force the team’s hand and call him up in a pinch at some point for a spot start. Weaver is also in that mix, but of all of them, Alcantara is the one who could make the most impact as a reliever. He offers 100mph stuff that MLB hitters won’t be familiar with–it’s a good recipe for September.
If St. Louis needs a lefty for some reason, either Austin Gomber or Ryan Sherriff could get a look.
Q: What do you think of Wong as lead off? He’s hitting .160 since Fowler’s been down. -Rick
I didn’t bother to fact check Rick on Wong’s average, but I trust that it was true when he sent me this question a few days ago. I like what Wong has done batting leadoff, even if he hasn’t enjoyed a robust batting average. Game 2 in Miami, his 13 game hitting streak was snapped because he showed good plate discipline in his final at-bat, working a walk to help the Cardinals to a win. In Game 3, he had an RBI line-out to CF, scoring a run from third.
Fowler will likely head back to leadoff when he returns, but I hope Wong gets first crack at the two-hole when that happens–Grichuk has really struggled in that role lately, could be time to shake things up again.
Q: Is a hotdog a sandwich? -Mark
Shut up, Mark.
Blues question: What do you think the blues can do to improve? Any chance they can unload Lehtera and finally Find a playmaker to play with Tarasenko?
I love some good hockey roster speculation. In reality, Doug Armstrong signing guys like Berglund, Perron, Steen and Lehtera to their lengthier contracts has severely limited his ability to go out and make a splash for a true No. 1 center for Tarasenko. For me, I think the play for the Blues is to protect Ryan Reaves from the expansion draft as the seventh forward, and expose Perron in hopes that Vegas picks snatches him and his contract right up. Then, Armstrong could perhaps use that bit of wiggle room to go grab a center for #91.
My pro-Reaves bias may be clouding my vision, but that’s my call.
Thanks to all who submitted questions, and I would love for you to DM me throughout this week to be featured in next week’s mailbag. (Feel free to request anonymity or to have your twitter handle included in the questions. I elected not to include them this time, because I forgot to ask everyone. Sorry.)
Until next week!