It happened early this time. As usual, the Cardinals have a preposterously rickety outfield carousel that keeps spinning, breaking down, and causing problems.

Tommy Edman’s left wrist isn’t cooperating, so he’s been categorized as doubtful for the regular-season opener. There’s no way to know, with certainty, the return date for the Cardinals’ center fielder. And when Edman is cleared to play … will he really be ready to play? This is what happened when you let a guy play for the final two months of a lost season instead of having wrist surgery earlier to get 100 percent prepared for 2024.

Another starting outfielder, Lars Nootbaar, is hurt again. In the news relayed by president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, Nootbaar has been diagnosed with two non-displaced fractures in his ribs. This doesn’t sound like a quick-heal deal. Nootbaar will likely be down for a while.

That leaves only one designated starter, right fielder Jordan Walker, who is spending time on the field and in the batter’s box instead of hanging out with doctors and having a Gatorade around an MRI machine. Please be careful, JW.

I’d be happy to talk about what this outfield will look like three weeks from now, but that leaves too much time for a new injury-related accident. But Dylan Carson will have a spot. He hasn’t homered in a real game since June 20, 2023. Through Thursday, Carlson was batting .111 in exhibition play with five strikeouts in 18 at-bats. I’m excited. How about you?

With this new wave of outfield trauma, Alec Burleson can’t be commissioned to Triple A Memphis just yet. And the big Carolinian was making a case for himself by going 7 for 18 in exhibition at-bats through Thursday.

“He’s had a very impressive camp, for sure, and we’re happy for him,” Cardinals president of baseball ops John Mozeliak told reporters in Jupiter. “He’s probably going to get more of an opportunity now given the injuries that we have.”

Can the Cardinals call Boston and get Tyler O’Neill back? No, that wouldn’t work. The weightlifter isn’t available right now because he’s been sidelined with “left calf tightness.” But of course he is.

Center field prospect Victor Scott II? Probably too soon. But he’s certainly getting a chance to showcase his talent.

Brendan Donovan? The Cardinals seemingly are reluctant to put him out in left field to make throws that could stress his surgically repaired throwing elbow. Donovan says it isn’t a problem. We’ll see.

Who would have guessed that we’d be talking about Michael Siani as an outfield contributor?

Y’all can try to figure this out. Trying to solve the annual outfield puzzle can cause headaches that require medical attention, and I don’t want to go on my own IL.

Since the start of the 2018 season the Cardinals have lost outfielders for a total of 927 in-season days. That number would be higher if we included Justin Williams, who missed 199 days in 2019. Though Williams was on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster, he hadn’t graduated to the major-league club.

Since the start of the 2021 season St. Louis outfielders have lost 840 in-season days to injury. The Injured List All-Stars include O’Neill, Harrison Bader, Nootbaar and Carlson. The four combined for 414 in-season days missed over the three seasons.

Make no mistake about it, O’Neill is still the champion of the trainer’s room. The medics may have a monument to him in there. But he’s with the Red Sox and will have to give up the title belt. Unfortunately, it appears that Nootbaar is trying to move up in the rankings. He missed 49 days in 2023 … and now this. But Carlson – 118 days missed over the past three seasons – is currently ranked No. 1.

The Cardinals lost 91 games last season.

It isn’t supposed to be easy to recover from that. But why does it always have to be so difficult with the Cardinals’ attempts to come up with a good – and available – outfield set? The 2024 opening day lineup will not include Nootbaar or Edman.

“Not ideal,” Mozeliak told reporters. “The level of concern is real. But you always have to remind yourself that (opening day) isn’t the entire season.”

The early-season look: Burleson in left, Carlson in center, Walker in right and Siani as the fourth outfielder.

Here are the potential alignments cited by STLtoday’s Derrick Goold:

Carlson-Scott II-Walker
Donovan-Scott II-Walker
Burleson-Scott II-Walker


Pavel Buchnevich is still a Blue. That’s good because he’s their best all-around player. That could be bad, because he can leave after next season to find his free-agent treasure. Or he could be traded before then. But not now. That immediate opportunity has passed. Or hopefully, “Booch” and the Blues will agree on a contract extension, but I don’t know how to handicap that.

And so it continues.

The Blues’ status is fuzzy. Their identity is blurry. They aren’t a horrible team. They aren’t a good team. They are not a contender for the Stanley Cup. They are not a contender for the No. 1 overall draft choice.

The Blues don’t spend to the max … but don’t have much cap space. Flexibility is limited because their underachieving roster is knotted and tangled and loaded down with seven full no-trade contracts and three modified no-trade agreements. According to The Athletic, STL’s seven full no-trade agreements are the most of any NHL team.

Why did the front office hand out no-trade contracts like styrofoam cups of locker-room coffee? What was the value of locking down the services of multiple mediocre players?

Blues ownership-management likes to declare how they refuse to put the fans through a painful ordeal of a rebuild. OK, so where are the Blues right now? What the heck is this?

A busy-bee trade deadline just passed — with teams going into whirlwind mode to  making a storm of aggressive moves — but none of the other 31 NHL clubs wanted to give up anything for a Blues player. (Other than Buchnevich.) What does that say about the quality of your roster?

Since the start of last season the Blues rank 24th in the NHL in points-earned percentage and are 25th in the share (47.6%) of even-strength goals.

The Blues are on the way to missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season. I don’t know about next season, but a failure to make the postseason for the third straight year is certainly a possibility. This franchise has won a single playoff series – one – since seizing the Stanley Cup in 2019. I’m not sure why the people who run the team seem to believe that sustained mediocrity is acceptable. Call it what you want — retool, soft rebuild, rebuild, blah blah blah. But this hockey team went into reverse and is lurching into neutral.


Kevin has come a long way since 2009, when Rams president John Shaw hired Demoff as a personal favor to a friend. Not only does Demoff continue to survive – he’s thriving. This is what can happen if you are (1) have mastered the art of smooching the right hind quarters, (2) can effectively tell fibs and con the media to create a phony nice-guy image, and (3) assist owner Stan Kroenke in facilitating the Rams’ move to Los Angeles in a corrupt relocation process that eventually cost the NFL (and Rams) nearly $1 billion to make a lawsuit go away.

In case you missed it, Demoff was promoted to president of team and media operations at Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE). Demoff will supervise operations of the Rams (NFL), NBA Denver Nuggets, NHL Colorado Avalanche, MLS Colorado Rapids and the NLL Colorado Mammoth. (NLL is a lacrosse league.)

Demoff, 47, has served as Kroenke’s bag carrier for 15 years. He will report to Josh Kroenke, Stan’s son and the former Mizzou basketball player. Demoff will also oversee KSE Media properties including Altitude Sports and Entertainment, KSE Radio, and Outdoor Sportsman Group.

“Everybody on our leadership team, they are ready to handle more workload,” Demoff told reporters on a video call this week. “It’s our job to grow them as well. I’m excited to see them take a step up and really understand how we can make this happen. From my perspective, as a good leader this is a great opportunity for our bench to come alive. If we do this right, our entire organization gets stronger. Nothing gets weaker. All of the teams will benefit.”

This is like an NFL-style Godfather movie.

But in this instance, Fredo was a big winner.


First of all, a big hat tip to the fine Fansided baseball writer Thomas Gauvain for making us aware of this. I’m just following up on his work. I couldn’t resist because this is interesting, humorous and weird.

What’s old is new again … if not necessarily young again.

Or something like that.

In 2015 the Cardinals won 100 games and the NL Central title. Two of their key players that season were starting pitcher Lance Lynn (age 28) and third baseman Matt Carpenter (29.)

Some of baseball’s emerging stars could be found in Arizona (Paul Goldschmidt), San Francisco (Brandon Crawford), Colorado (Nolan Arenado) and Oakland (Sonny Gray.)

That season Goldschmidt finished second in the National League MVP voting. Gray, 25, was third in the American League Cy Young balloting.

Arenado and Carpenter also received votes for NL MVP. Four of the guys — Crawford, Goldschmidt, Arenado and Gray – were chosen for the All-Star Game. There were other awards which we’ll get to in a few.

Lynn didn’t receive any honors, but the 2015 Cardinals won 17 of his starts. He gave them 175 innings and a 3.03 ERA. And with the Cardinals trying to hold off the Pirates (98 wins) and Cubs (97 wins) in the NL Central, Lynn stepped up in his final three starts to allow only one run in 16 innings.

That season the six players collectively produced 31 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for their teams.

Think about the infield you could have put together in 2015: Goldschmidt at first Carpenter at second base, Arenado at third, and Crawford at shortstop. Carpenter mostly played third base for the Cardinals that year, but for our purposes here he’s a second baseman.

This infield alignment combined for 124 homers, 158 doubles, 419 RBI, 368 runs scored, three Gold Gloves, and three Silver Sluggers in 2015. Arenado led the league in homers (42) and RBI (130). Goldschmidt had a 1.005 OPS. Carpenter led the league with 44 doubles. The four infielders accrued 21.3 WAR.

President of baseball operations John Mozeliak has put the 2015 band back together for 2023.

In 2015, the six players had an average age of 26.8 years.

And now the six are teammates in St. Louis for 2023 and have an average age of 35.6 years.

The Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed the 2023 Cardinals as favorites to win the 2015 NL Central.

Hey, Zack Greinke is still out there. He went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA for the Dodgers in 2015. Give him a call, Mo!


Imagine that. OK, let’s gain some actual knowledge from Baseball Prospectus: “We’ve shown that while pitchers get hurt more often than hitters, they also get hurt worse. Hitters spent 13,142 days on the injured list last year. Pitchers lost 32,107 days. Pitchers got hurt 41% more often but spent 144% more days rehabbing. To put it another way, pitchers accounted for 59% of injured list stints but 71% of days spent on the IL.”

But what about the Age Factor?

Baseball Prospectus had other helpful, research-based notes. The simple conclusion: “The slope of the trendline is downward—the older the pitching staff, the fewer injuries. Why should older pitchers fare better? Among the nine teams with pitchers missing 700 or fewer games in 2023 were Blue Jays (third-oldest pitching staff), Giants (fifth), Phillies (eighth), Cardinals (ninth oldest), and White Sox and Astros (tied for 13th).”

The Cardinals had one of MLB’s oldest pitching groups in 2023. But 21 teams had more pitcher days lost to injury than St. Louis. If you listen to Cardinals fans and some in the local baseball media, you will hear how this team’s older rotation is a reason to fear some kind of ungodly disaster for the second straight season. These old guys will be walking with crutches by June! (Not really. Kidding.)

Assuming the worst. Yeah. Just because of age. With nothing else to back it up. Hey, I’ve been guilty of doing this … but just a little. But I feared I was jumping to conclusions, so I’ve been looking for more information. Media-driven narratives can be unreliable.

From Baseball Prospectus:

“Of the 29 MLB pitchers to undergo Tommy John surgery last year, six were in their Age 25 or younger season. Another 16 were between 26 and 29. Only seven of the 29 were in their thirties. By the time a pitcher reaches 30, it stands to reason, he’s proved himself to be durable, already had major surgery, or has had his career ended by injury or ineffectiveness, it would seem. Older pitchers, we showed previously, may get hurt more often. But they don’t get hurt as badly.”


ESPN’s Buster Olney got some of the Best Fans In Baseball a little fired up this week. Speaking on the Michael Kay Show in New York, Olney said free-agent starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery has a preference to pitch in “smaller markets like Texas and like St. Louis.” This one comment, which was outdated and lacked context, led to the usual overreaction. Montgomery is back in play for St. Louis! Not so fast.

According to FanGraphs, the Cardinals currently have a 40-man competitive-balance tax payroll of $215.362 million – easily the largest in franchise history. The luxury-tax threshold for this season is $237 million. Unless Montgomery (or Blake Snell) are willing to pitch in St. Louis for really short money, making a deal would almost certainly take the Cardinals past the 40-man CBT boundary that this franchise won’t cross. There’s one thing I know for sure: chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. isn’t going to do that.

Just so we understand each other … of course I’d like to see Montgomery return to the Cardinals. Of course he would make the team’s starting pitching better and reinforce the rotation’s stability. But wanting it to happen … and believing it will happen … are two entirely different things.


Here at the Bits Desk, we like to make frequent check-ins on Boston’s star forward and native St. Louisan. Tatum is one of the best basketball players in the world. Since drafting Tatum with the third overall selection in 2017, the Celtics have the NBA’s second best winning percentage (.644) during the regular season and are tied with Golden State for the most postseason wins (52.) Tatum, who just turned 26, already is a five-time All-Star and a three-time All-NBA selection.

But NBA analysts have pointed to a serious flaw: clutch-time shooting. The topic came up again earlier this week when Tatum took (and missed) a low-percentage fadeaway shot instead of driving to the basket in the final seconds of a terrible loss at Cleveland. The Celtics blew a 22-point lead in the fourth quarter.

This season Tatum has made 15 of 47 shots from the floor in clutch-time situations. And his shooting percentage (31.9%) in the clutch ranks 26th among 27 NBA players that have attempted at least 45 shots. Unfortunately this isn’t a new trend; Tatum has the NBA’s lowest “clutch” shooting percentage over the last three seasons among players that have taken at least 100 shots.

The Celtics (48-14) are having a fantastic season but go into the weekend having lost two consecutive games for the first time since early November.

It’s a championship-or-bust type of season for Boston. The Celtics have advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals five times since the 2016-17 season and are 1-4 in those big-test showdowns. In the 2021 NBA Finals, the Celtics had a 2-1 series lead before dropping three in a row to Golden State. In the three straight losses Tatum shot 39 percent from the floor and committed 15 turnovers.

How far can the Celtics go when the 2024 postseason gets underway?

“If they don’t win the championship this year, it would be a total gag job,” Charles Barkley said of Tatum’s team on TNT.


Jordan Kyrou = Colby Rasmus. Just a thought. At least for now.

The Cardinals are to outfielders what the Blues are to defensemen. Just can’t seem to get it right.

Someone please give Bradley Cooper an Oscar. He was exceptional in “Maestro.” He worked hard in his portrayal of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein. He’s worked even harder in the Oscar campaign.

The Bleachers have a new album out. It’s good. You have to appreciate a band that was inspired by the films of John Hughes.

Is anyone surprised to see the Blues’ TV ratings down by 18 percent this season, as Dan Caesar reported at STLtoday? Darren Pang leaving for Chicago was the biggest loss for the franchise since the Blues let Alex Pietrangelo walk to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Good luck in another Stanley Cup run for our town’s Pat Maroon, 35 years old but young at heart – especially at this time of year. The Boston Bruins acquired the Maroon from Minnesota on Friday. Does the good-luck charm still work? Maroon won the Stanley Cup in three consecutive seasons: the Blues in 2019, followed by back-to-back Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Maroon – bothered by a back injury – appeared in only 49 games for the Wild this season.

Acclaimed baseball analyst Clay Davenport’s projection model currently has the Cardinals and Cubs atop the NL Central with 85-77 records.

After scoring four goals over a five-game stretch in late January, Blues captain Brayden Schenn has gone 15 consecutive games without a goal … through Thursday Schenn had only seven 5-on-5 goals in 63 games this season …

Appearing on Thursday’s “Foul Territory” show on YouTube, Sonny Gray said he chose the Cardinals over the Reds and Diamondbacks. STL signed Gray to a three-year, $75 million deal …

Matt Carpenter was also a guest on Foul Territory. He was asked about his leadership role on the 2024 team. “You know what, I’m here for one to show these young guys what it’s like to be a Cardinal and how to be a professional and obviously win ball games,” Carpenter said. “But you know, still when I get my name called (then) be ready to compete and hopefully compete at a high level and bring some kind of value on the field as well.”


Will Leitch made his choice for the Cardinals most irreplaceable player for 2024: Nolan Arenado.

“Arenado had a down year by his standards last year, but he was still terrific compared to most third basemen,” Leitch wrote at “He is at a pivotal juncture of his Cardinals career, a veteran bridge to a generation of young players who look up to him, as a leader and a star. Without him, the Cardinals would feel like they have a big hole at their center.”

— ESPN’s David Schoenfield gave the Cardinals a C+ for their final offseason grade. “The Cardinals had a glaring area to fix and did it, more or less, in typical Cardinals fashion: by being responsible and not getting silly with the payroll. It’s also not super exciting, although we’ll see if Sonny Gray can match last year’s 184 innings after averaging 128 over 2021-22. (He’s already hurt this spring.) They didn’t do anything on the offensive side, however, despite finishing 10th in the NL in runs. That means along with the three 30-something pitchers they signed, the keys to a successful 2024 may be two more 30-somethings, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, hitting more like they did in 2022.”

— A prominent sportsbook has the 2024 Cardinals’ over/under win total at 84.5, and Jim Bowden (The Athletic), isn’t buying the over.

“Sometimes the sportsbooks give signings and trade additions more weight than they should, and I think the Cardinals’ odds are an example of that,” Bowden wrote. “Believing the Cardinals will go from 71 wins to NL Central champs largely because they signed a trio of veteran starters — Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson — doesn’t make sense. The Cardinals now have a starting rotation with an average age of 35, which normally doesn’t end well. I agree they’ll be improved but not enough for a 14-game differential from last year, which is what it will take to beat the over/under. I see 80 to 84 wins, maximum, for this team.”

Thanks for reading …

Pardon my typos …

And have a nice weekend.


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.