Often times when a team enters the offseason, they take with them many different forms of baggage & expose their most prominent insecurities. This ‘baggage’, generally contains any mistakes or issues that tended to arise during the previous season. As for the St. Louis Cardinals, they drug an entire suitcase with them into the frigid winter.
Pitching Was Rocky in 2017
Quite possibly the biggest concern of the 2017 Season for the Cardinals, lied within the pitching. More specifically, the bullpen. As observed, the main issues grew out of either the setup man, or the vital closer’s role. From the very beginning, it was made clear by Mike Matheny: the spot for closer, was very much up in the air. As addressed, it was potentially up for grabs. Perceived by most as a very problematic issue, it proved a strong significance by mid-season. It was prominent that the bullpen of the Cardinals was in for a tough, tough ride.
Statistically, blown saves were a large concern for the BP in 2017. More specifically, for Brett Cecil. Cecil tied for 9th place in all of baseball with ‘6’ blown saves by the end of the season. A demoralizing issue as well, was the fact that Brett was only able to record 1 save throughout the entirety of the year. Nonetheless, Seung Hwan Oh was still able to step up & record 20 saves in 2017. Within the final months of the season, Matheny still yet found himself in a tough spot. At this point, 7 different players out of the bullpen had recorded at least one save or more. If this factor did not scream ‘unsure’, then it was evident that the true issue may never be recognized. Then, on September 6th the Cardinals acquired Juan Nicasio from the Phillies. While Nicasio has since moved onto the Mariners Organization, he still was able to provide a boost that the STL bullpen desperately needed. Within a short period of time, Nicasio was able to notch himself 4 saves for the Red Birds. Even more proving, was his ability to post the second highest WHIP on the entire team at an even ‘1.00.’
Finding that ‘Shut-Down’ Man
Clearly, the issue for the St. Louis Cardinals lies within finding a definitive ‘shut down-man’, to fill the Closer role in 2018. Recently, speculation has swirled around the possibility of the Cardinals trading for CP Alex Colome of the Tampa Bay Rays. In his past with the Rays, Colome has proved a very reliable & dominant factor. While hardly any news on such a scenario has been reported, it is still believed that it could be a likely occurrence to play out. Addison Reed as well, has begun to enter conversations as the Cardinals search for a closer. Currently with the Red Sox (& more formerly with the Mets), Reed would indeed provide a boost just as Nicasio did in ‘17.
Since the release of Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, & Seung Hwan Oh, the dire need of a Closer has since grown in significance for the Cardinals. Let this sink in: The top 3 save leaders in 2017 for the Cardinals, are no longer on the team. They have since been released. So what does this mean? This simply means that it is an absolute priority to fix & fill the spots left wide open. Clearly, the signing of Gregerson from the Astros is not enough to get the job done. Perhaps the focus will then be thrown toward the direction of Brebbia & Bowman to fill the holes left by the former relievers lost? Either way, the issue at hand should not be overlooked.
Greg Holland has been a name that has been pulled out of a hat multiple times more recently. It is perceived that Holland would not only be a good fit for the Cardinals for obvious reasons, but that he would also have what it takes to truly ‘hold down the fort.’
In a recent interview, Bill Dewitt III proclaimed: ‘I think that Mo feels like.. if we go to Opening Day with this team, we’re fine.’
I will be the first to say that it does not take an individual of authority to tell that we are far from “postseason caliber.” Whether this was simply a bluff move, or more of a personal ego protectant, the fact of the matter is that the pitching indeed needs continued work. Not only work, but attention.
So Now We Ask; Who Would Be a Better Option as far as a Closer is Concerned?
Reed has a career 125 saves in 7 MLB seasons. Over the last few years, his ERA has been better than average. Nearly below 3.00 every year. All in all, the amount of talent that the Cardinals would have to give to get him in return, is small compared to sacrifice that would have to be made to get Colome from TB. Reed would be a good benefactor in the quest for a playoff spot. Not only that aspect, but he has the potential to pick the entire bullpen up, & carry them on his back.
Contrary to belief, I believe that the Cardinals will also attempt to (& possibly), pick up Greg Holland. Although velocity is at a slight decline, Holland would be a wonderful addition to a malnourished St. Louis Bullpen.
Over the next few weeks, it will be very interesting to see the kind of activity & attention that the market surrounding pitching receives. It is extremely vital that the front office, Dewitt, & Mo keep a close eye on the closer market. It is a deadlocked decision that could literally make, or break the 2018 St. Louis Cardinals.
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