What is it Going to Take?

From the World According to Joe Mammy


Who is going to be Will Clark?  In 2000 Mark McGwire was hobbled by a knee injury that would ultimately end his career a year later and the Cardinals needed help at first base. Walt Jocketty made a great deadline trade that brought in Clark—a savvy veteran who was languishing with the perennially underachieving Orioles.  Suddenly Clark was a man possessed, and quickly endeared himself to the St Louis faithful with glove, bat and attitude.


The 2005 Cardinals seem to be in a similar position.  This time it's Scott Rolen who is hampered with injury on the infield and Larry Walker battling a neck injury that is all but guaranteed to hamper him for the rest of the season.  But unlike 2000, the trade deadline has come and gone and now any outside help has to wander the hazardous waters of waivers.  In other words, I'm not expecting anything huge.


I like Abraham Nunez and So Taguchi as much as anyone, but having both as regulars in the lineup doesn't sit well with me.  Both have been invaluable substituting for injured regulars, but one of those slots needs to be filled by one of the regulars.  While it's hard to argue with either Taguchi's or Nunez's offensive production (especially Taguchi lately) they are both light-hitting contact hitters.  What the lineup needs is some power hitting guys with the ability to make contact—guys like a healthy Walker or Rolen.  This need is exacerbated by Edmonds' fall off from his career season last year.


While getting Molina back is a great boost for his defense and for hopefully a little consistency with his bat.  Reggie Sanders will also help, but he strikes out too much and has well-known holes in swing to be relied on for good contact.  The long and the short of the issue is that the Cardinals seem to lack the reliable #4 cleanup hitter that Rolen and Edmonds provided in previous years.


The irony is, just like at the trade deadline, it looks like a hole that may not have a ready solution.  Walker has shown flashes of brilliance at the plate this season, but the herniated disc in his neck seems to be unpredictable and counting on it from September through the end of October seems to be wishful thinking.  So, as we in Cardinal Nation start to scratch our heads and wonder if we have what it takes to be on the right side of things in October.  Rex Duncan has already weighed in, so I'll take my shot.


#1—Someone needs to be the cleanup hitter.  Edmonds has shown he can do it, as has Walker, but neither seems to have established themselves as "The Guy" in my mind.


#2—Carpenter needs to stay healthy.  He's got to be about the scariest guy to opposing lineups right now because he's lights out and can go deep into games.


#3—Same as #2 except substitute Pujols.  Pitchers don't like facing him, managers like to walk him and even without a killer cleanup hitter he's still leading the league in runs.


#4—3M (Marquis, Mulder and Morris) need to step up and prove that they're each worth the collective hype from opening months of the season.  Only Mulder seems to be improving while Morris is starting to give up long balls again and Marquis can't buy a win.  All three have shown themselves to have great command in the past, but watching 3 of the 5 starters stumble into the postseason doesn't do well for my blood pressure.


#5—Keep the bench fresh.  This is especially hard since about half our bench is starting daily.  With Rolen likely out for the remainder of the season, it's even more pressing since it would appear Nunez will become an official starter instead of a bench player.  In fairness he's earned it, but it also means that he needs to start being treated like a starter (regular days off as the season winds down, etc…)


#6—The Bullpen.  I'm not as sold on the bullpen as many.  They've oscillated wildly from unhittable to looking like they were throwing BP.  Izzy has looked the best, with Al Reyes and Cal Eldred coming in a close second.  Beyond that our southpaws have looked vulnerable and it's hard to tell which Thompson and Tavarez are going to show up on a day to day basis.  I don't know what the problem is or what the solution could be, but October isn't the time to try and find out.


Of course, leave it to Walt for some sort of GM X-factor but I'm starting to think that we're looking at something pretty close to the '05 post season lineup.


You can yell at Joe at Joe@Joe-Mammy.com

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