A stream of consciousness on local and national sports headlines…
…with the Cards? And how did we get here? Sunday night was a prime example. Stephen Piscotty hits a three-run homer to give the Cards a 3-1 lead, which they push to 4-1 after their half of the fourth. Finally some offense. Then Miguel Montero walks. No big deal, because there’s still two outs. Then Addison Russell reaches on an infield single to second. This game is going to be tied by the end of the inning, isn’t it? Cardinal fans wish. Piscotty error, Ian Happ home run, and now it’s 6-4 Cubs. This is what average baseball does to a fan base. This past weekend was a comedy of misplays and errors for a Cardinals team that has cloaked itself in misplays and errors for a season and two months now…Swept in Chicago for the first time in 11 years. When the Cards started this stretch of 21 games against the Cubs, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers and Rockies, we were supposed to learn what this team is about. We did. They went 7-14 during that stretch. The pitching is good, but not good enough to overcome poor defense, lack of fundamentals, and punchless offense. This club’s margin of error is razor thin.
…reminds me of Jeff Fisher’s offense. Fisher wanted to run the ball down opponents’ throats because in theory, a strong running game protected his defense and shortened games…In theory. The problem, and I’m preaching to the choir here, is the Rams lacked a home run threat. The running game didn’t open up the passing game, which forced the Rams to be one-dimensional, which made them predictable, which caused them to lose a bunch of games. In theory, John Mozeliak built a lineup with hitters that would get on base, keep the line moving, and rack up runs in gnat-like fashion…In theory. In reality, the Cards don’t get on base consistently and when they do, they either run into outs on the base paths or fail to come up with that clutch hit. They’re missing that middle-of-the-order presence that’s going to strike fear into opposing pitchers. They’re missing that element that will make everyone else more dangerous. If Mozeliak’s vision for this offense comes to fruition (i.e. Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, Aledmys Diaz and/or Piscotty catch fire), maybe this team finds some footing. If it doesn’t, then the question becomes: How do you find that missing piece? And who is it?
…is to acquire it at the trade deadline. That said, there are some hurdles. For starters, Johnny Cueto, David Robertson, Jeremy Hellickson, Brad Ziegler, Trevor Cahill, Marco Estrada, Sonny Gray and Jose Quintana could be available at the deadline. That’s nice, but the Cards don’t need pitching. Outside of Matt Holliday in 2009, Mo often stays away from rentals, which eliminates Eric Hosmer and Jay Bruce (not that the Cards would be interested anyway). Thus, the hope becomes that a team like the Marlins are willing to part with Marcell Ozuna or Christian Yelich, two young players that are under contract beyond this year. Even if they are available, would Mo part with the prospect package it would take to acquire either player? We all agree the Cards are missing that thump in the middle of the lineup, but finding that piece will be a challenge.
…was unfortunate. I’ll keep this short because everyone is over the Robert news, but again, acquiring that middle-of-the-order thump is going to be challenging. You either trade for it and give up half the farm, you pay for it in free agency (and more times than not you’re paying for a players’ past production, not what he’s going to do), or you draft and develop that player, which takes time. The Cards’ farm system isn’t bare, but it also isn’t ripe with mashers either. Signing Robert for over $50 million would have been a risk. Then again, so is parting with multiple prospects on the trade market, or millions of dollars on the open market. Okay, so Robert is a White Sox. Let’s move on. But move on to whom? The help the Cardinals need for their offense isn’t readily available.
…Warriors is this: LeBron James had a triple-double by the third quarter last night and they still lost by 19 points. LeBron, for as great as he is, can’t play one-on-four, which is basically the advantage the Warriors have right now. The only hope Cleveland has to win a game (forget winning the series), is to slow the tempo way down. Why the Cavs opened Game 2 pressing the pace is beyond me. The Cavs can go up-tempo against 28 teams, but not against the Warriors. There were too many possessions in the first two games where the Cavs threw up a quick shot and whether they made it or missed it, were out of position on defense. You’re not going to out-Golden State Golden State, even when LeBron is shooting the lights out. The Cavs better hope Kyrie Irving comes alive like he did a year ago, and even then it might not be enough.
…in this exact spot a year ago, down 2-0 in the Finals. That said, this year is different. Let’s start with the obvious: The Warriors didn’t have Kevin Durant last year. After months of hearing how cowardly it was for him to sign with Golden State, KD is playing like a man possessed. The entire Golden State team is for that matter. After dealing with a knee injury last year, Steph Curry is also healthy. He looked shaky on Sunday night when the Warriors’ offense ran through him in the first half. But once he got into a flow, he lead an unstoppable offense late in the second. Perhaps the most surprising difference about this year’s version of Cavs-Warriors? Golden State has been the more physical team, both defensively and on the offensive glass. So while many people thought the Warriors were headed for a sweep of the Cavs a year ago and were proven wrong, this year has a much different feel.