* Earlier today I looked at the injury accounting that Spotrac does so well so I could provide an update on outfielder Tyler O’Neill’s injury history:
2018: missed 22 days (groin.)
2019: missed 41 days (wrist, elbow.)
2021: missed 24 days (groin, finger.)
2022: missed 53 days (hamstring, shoulder.)
2023: has missed 28 days so far with an injured back.
If you add it all up, O’Neill has missed 178 in-season days during his St. Louis career. And according to Spotrac, O’Neill has been paid a total of $2.18 million while on the IL with injuries … and that particular meter is still running.
* Getting closer? When will the Cardinals make the call? Outfielder Jordan Walker homered for Triple A Memphis on Wednesday. In his last 15 games the team’s No. 1 prospect has three homers, five doubles, 13 RBI – and is batting .312 with a .403 OBP and .541 slug for a .944 OPS.
* Since making “mechanical changes” to his swing – hat tip Daniel Guerrero of STLtoday – Walker has shown progress at Triple A Memphis in areas that he needed to address. His ground-ball rate is still on the high side (44.5%) but represents an improvement on his GB problem (60.4%) during his initial experience in the majors. His fly-ball and line-drive rates have increased during his learning time in Triple A.
* A number of Cardinals were slumping in the stretch of games that ended Tuesday. Nolan Gorman went 1 for 18; Paul DeJong was 0 for 21; Willson Contreras went 1 for 28, and Tommy Edman went 4 for 26. Cold spells are inevitable. Gorman still rates among the best overall hitters in the majors, DeJong’s OPS+ is down to 28 percent above league average but still a terrific surprise, Contreras will come around because that’s what his history tells us, and the constantly energized Edman should benefit from two consecutive days off.
* The intriguing power-source outfielder Moises Gomez slammed two homers for Memphis in Wednesday’s game and now has 13 HR, nine doubles and 30 RBI in 200 at-bats for Memphis.
* Here’s Jim Bowden of The Athletic, writing about the Cardinals after the Memorial Day weekend: “The Cardinals are one of the most disappointing teams this year. Their rotation, which ranks 23rd in collective ERA, has been their biggest Achilles’ Heel. Their offense has been solid thanks to the trio of Nolan Gorman, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. Although their outfield production has been much less than expected, the Cardinals have the position players and depth to remain in the postseason race if their starting pitching improves.
* As for the Cardinals and the trade deadline, Bowden wrote: “Their trade deadlines are always about precision moves, and this year it has to be all about addressing the rotation. They must get better in that department.”
* The Cardinals will resume play with three games at Pittsburgh and another three at Texas. This season Redbirds have a plus 7 run differential at home but are a minus 11 on the road.
* Here’s Anthony Franco of MLB Trade Rumors, assessing the situation between the Cardinals and shortstop Paul DeJong. The Cardinals have a team option on DeJong for 2024 at a salary of $12.5 million. If the Cards decline to pick it up, they’ll owe DeJong a $2 million buyout.
“Six weeks ago, this looked like a no-brainer for the Cardinals to buy out,” Franco wrote. The Cards continued to resist calls to move on from DeJong entirely, however. The front office has held out hope he could recapture the productive offensive form he showed through his first few seasons. They’ve been rewarded for their patience to this point in 2023. DeJong has had a surprising resurgence, popping eight home runs in 31 games. His bat has faded a bit in May after a scorching April, but the overall .234/.311/.495 line is 21 percentage points above league average by measure of wRC+. DeJong’s defense has always been above-average, and the offensive bounceback has gotten him back in the starting lineup at shortstop.
“DeJong will need to maintain this form over an extended stretch before the Cards get to a point where it’s worthwhile to trigger the option,” Franco continued. Tommy Edman and top prospect Masyn Winn are in the organization as potential (shortstop) replacements. Yet DeJong is performing better than any of the impending free agents in a weak shortstop class. That there’s a chance the front office might have to think about this one is a testament to his strong start.”
* Barring a collapse over the next few weeks, I don’t see why Nolan Gormam would be excluded from the National League All-Star team.
* Keep an eye on those pesky Cincinnati Reds. They’re better than expected — at least so far.
* More trade-possibility talk from Jon Heyman of the New York Post: “Most figure the slow-starting Cardinals will stay in it and probably win it,” Heyman opined. “If they continue to confound, however, starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery is a free-agent-to-be, and though the Cardinals have expressed interest in keeping him, there’s no evidence they are negotiating. Wouldn’t it be something if he were traded back to the Yankees?”
* In case you missed it, and I’ve been tardy in passing it along. Here’s part of what Cardinals president of baseball ops John Mozeliak told Jim Hayes of Bally Sports Midwest. First Mozeliak said he didn’t anticipate the Cardinals being “sellers” between now and the trading deadline and added: “Where our division is headed, it’s going to remain very competitive. We’re going to be looking at ways that can really help this club once we identify what exactly that looks like.”
* Speaking to The Athletic, A major-league scout offered this positive report on top St. Louis pitching prospect Tink Hence.
“He has very good stuff across the board. Most young guys will show you arm strength but no secondary pitches, or they’ll be wild. That’s typical youth. But Hence had the whole package going. He showed very good arm strength and threw tons of strikes, including with his offspeed. It was very refreshing to see that type of player at a young age. And he had poise. He’s lean and wiry. He’s got a whippy arm and he’s very athletic. He repeats his delivery. He does a lot of things you look for.
“The arsenal is a four-seam, curve, slider and changeup, and he was sitting 94-98 mph with the fastball. He didn’t use a lot of curves, but they were average. His slider was electric. He threw some hard ones that he’ll be able to use against lefties and righties. And he’s got a pretty good feel for his changeup. He’s 20 years old and throws four pitches, all of which are average or above, and he’s a strike-thrower with command. I saw him in the past when he first signed as a second-rounder in 2020, and he was interesting then. Now, he looks like he’s got a chance to be on the fast track.”
Thanks for reading …
Pardon my typos …
Bernie invites you to listen to his sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS-AM. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at 590thefan.com or the 590 app.
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All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Bill James Online and Baseball Prospectus.
For the last 35 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. 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.