BIRD BYTES

1. ABOUT PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT: Each time Goldy sinks into the abyss offensively, I’m convinced that he’s old and suffering through a heavy decline phase. And then Goldy does something that makes us say, “Hold on, now. Not so fast.” Here’s what I’m talking about:

– First 19 games of the season: .169 average, one extra base hit, .483 OPS, 28 percent strikeout rate.

– Last 10 games of April: a .359 average, .931 OPS, three doubles and a homer, plus a .519 slug.

– First eight games of May: 1 for 32 with a 40 percent strikeout rate.

– Last four games: 6 for 18 (.333), 1.067 OPS, two homers, four RBIs.

The fluctuations are dramatic.

2. THE BRO RETURNS: Tyler O’Neill has 10 homers for Boston this season. It’s a longball barrage that has him tied for eighth in the majors. But in his last 15 games covering 63 plate appearances O’Neill has one homer, a .164 batting average, and a 46 percent strikeout rate. Can O’Neill reignite during his Busch Stadium homecoming? He would love to do that.

3. QUINN MATHEWS: Is he The Solution? A drafted and developed pitcher that will alter a disturbing trend of busts? Well, the lefty prospect just moved up to the High-A level at Peoria. He may be on a faster track now. And here’s what the MLB Pipeline says about him.

“The 23-year-old Stanford product wasn’t much challenged at Single-A Palm Beach (1.47 ERA, 52 strikeouts in 30 and ⅔ innings) before his recent promotion, but what’s most encouraging is that his stuff has taken a jump. His fastball – previously in the low 90s in school – averaged 94.8 mph in the Florida State League while his 79-82 mph changeup and mid-80s slider have both looked like above-average pitches. It’s looking like stuff that should play at any level in Mathews’ first full season.”

4. OH MY GOSH, LET’S RECYCLE SOME OLD STUFF! The BFIB were all in a tizzy when MLB insider Jon Heyman said that Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina were eyeing the Cardinals’ managing job for 2025. No kidding. I wrote about that on Feb. 22, and other media members wrote/discussed it as well. Both Cardinal legends have expressed a desire to manage in the big leagues. And managing the Cardinals would be extra special. So in other words, there isn’t anything new here. But if I may add a few things:

A) The first round of Pujols-Molina-manager speculation occurred before the Cardinals gave Oli Marmol a two-year contract extension. Not that this would stop management from making a move. But Marmol’s extension isn’t a minor thing, either. The owner and the president of baseball operations have praised Marmol extensively. And they also know that he’s stuck with a flawed roster put together by the front office. If John Mozeliak fires Marmol, the move will serve as a confession: another failure by the front office and ownership in hiring a manager. But chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and Mozeliak really like Marmol and aren’t looking for reasons to make a change. Not yet.

B) Where is Molina, anyway? On Dec. 6, 2023 the Cardinals announced Molina’s hiring as a special assistant to Mozeliak. OK, great, everybody cheer! Molina didn’t appear at spring training. The Cardinals have played 26.5 percent of their regular-season games, and Molina still hasn’t surfaced. If the Cardinals hired him as manager, will he actually report and do the job, or is it optional?

C) If the Cardinals move up the timeline and promote Chaim Bloom to the president of baseball ops post to succeed Mozeliak after the current season … shouldn’t Bloom be allowed to choose the next manager if the Cardinals are looking for one? Hell, they might as well make Adam Wainwright the manager. Or go with a “Manager of the Month” promotion, by rotating another fan favorite into the job, one at a time. This franchise is obsessed with marketing popular former Cardinals because it’s good for business. And these days the Cardinals don’t have much to sell except nostalgia.

Here are the St. Louis managers for each month in 2025:

First month: Wainwright.
Second month: Ozzie Smith.
Third month: Pujols.
Fourth month: Willie McGee.
Fifth month: Molina.
Sixth month: Mark McGwire.

This esteemed managerial rotation will include special guest coaching-staff appearances by Jim Edmonds, Dave Duncan, Scott Rolen, Chris Carpenter, David Freese, Jason Isringhausen, Tony La Russa, Matt Morris, Tommy Herr, Matt Holliday, Vince Coleman, Jose Oquendo, Mike Matheny, Ray Lankford, David Eckstein, So Taguchi, Jeff Suppan, Woody Williams, Lance Berkman and Jason Motte. And if they’re available, make some room for Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay.

(OK, I’ll stop now with the cheeseball stuff.) 

5) MORE BREAKING NEWS FROM NATIONAL INSIDERS: If the Cardinals keep losing a lot of games, they’ll make some players available for trades. That’s huge because we’ve never seen that before. Ever. Also, the Cardinals might check to see if Nolan Arenado wants to get a fresh start elsewhere, because at least 20 teams will line up to bid on a 33-year old third baseman with decreasing power who would count a total of $90 million against the luxury tax payroll through 2027. And of course the Redbirds will put Goldschmidt out there because at (soon to be) age 37, he would command an unbelievable treasure trove of talent in a trade.

(OK, I really will stop now. My apologies.) 

6. OUTSIDE VIEW OF THE ST. LOUIS FARM SYSTEM: Here’s an assessment from Eric Longenhagen and Travis Ice at FanGraphs:

“This is a below-average system that is light on high-upside players. It has slightly below-average overall depth and is very imbalanced, with many more pitching prospects than position players. Outside of (Tink) Hence and (Tekoah) Roby at the top end of this list, the Cardinals have an abundance of arms who fit the ‘high-floor/low-ceiling’ archetype. A common theme among a lot of the pitchers in this system is that they have deeper than usual arsenals along with a mix of feel and/or deception, and St. Louis also has a lot of soft-tossers who haven’t been able to find more velocity in pro ball.”

Also …

“While it’s still too soon to write off Chase Davis, the Cardinals’ 2023 first round pick, their last three top picks (Davis, Cooper Hjerpe, and Michael McGreevy) are all tracking to be (below average) players. Much of the depth in this system can be attributed to recent trade returns, solid finds in the middle-to-late rounds by their amateur scouting staff, and relatively low-cost signings in the international market. The Cardinals have tended to gravitate toward amateur pitchers who throw strikes rather than ones who are hard throwers, and many of their arms have fastball shapes that cause their heaters to play down. There are other teams (like the Mariners) that take athletic young strike-throwers and then get them to throw harder, but that hasn’t happened in St. Louis.”

6. NOLAN ARENADO, POWER UPDATE: He has three homers in 163 at-bats this season, an average of one HR each 54.3 ABs. His slugging percentage (.368) is the same as Brendan Donovan’s slug. Arenado is tied for 112th in slugging among the 166 MLB that have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title. Goldschmidt (.300 slug) is No. 157 among the 166.

7. ALEC BURLESON: His slugging percentage is up to .449, his batting average is up to .280, and his 118 OPS+ is 18 percent above league average and ranks second on the team to Willson Contreras.

8. DYLAN CARLSON: He has 13 total home runs in 213 major-league games since the start of the 2022 season. That ranks 233rd among 258 hitters with at least 700 plate appearances since 2022.

9. BOSTON RED SOX PITCHING: In just one offseason, their new front office headed by Craig Breslow assembled a comprehensive pitching program with a large staff to find ways to make every pitcher better. The result is the best team ERA (2.82) in the majors. The Red Sox have a starting-pitching ERA (2.62) that ranks first in the majors – despite having four starters on the IL.

Thanks for reading and have a swell weekend!

–Bernie

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. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com 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 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.