Welcome To The Redbird Review

Warning: I’m gonna get a little silly today.

Let’s go.

IT IS A CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE: Sigh. I come here to write about your St. Louis Cardinals each weekday, and by now I have to be bumming you out by pointing to all that is afflicting the Cards. I feel like president Jimmy Carter, delivering his famous “Malaise” speech in 1979 — a depressing piece of writing that damaged his presidency. People hated the thing. Carter’s gloomy national talk addressed the energy crisis, and no, I don’t think Jimmy was looking into the future and seeing the 2021 Cardinals. 

 “It’s clear that the true problems of our nation are much deeper — deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages, deeper even than inflation or recession,” Carter said. “It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.”


So cheery! And you have a nice day too Mr. President. 

This was not Happy Talk. 

But you’ll be pleased to know that Cards manager Mike Shildt said this after his team got mowed down 8-2 by the Tigers in Motown on Tuesday night: 

“The guys fought their tail off.” 

Yes. He did. Shildty really said that after a heiny-kicking by a Tigers team that came in with a 30-42 record. There might have been another scratching and clawing reference in there, but by now I fear that I am imagining things — because no manager does this, right? 

Because I am bonkers, just imagine a General Shildt after losing the Battle of Gettysburg in the devastating turning point of the Civil War:

 “I mean, c’mon,” pretend Gen. Shildt said. “All due respect, we beat the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville. Why doesn’t the media talk about that? I understand your question. I appreciate your question. But what about Chancellorsville?” 

With all due respect General Shildt, that battle took place two months ago. This is different, sir, because you may have lost this war with an ill-advised Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg. Sir, Pickett’s Charge did not end well. Can you please explain your thought process? And would you do it again if given a similar situation? 

Gen Shildt: “I’m not saying the charge was the right decision, but I’m not saying it was the wrong decision either. I’m not going to alibi it. Would I do it again? I don’t rule it out — but I don’t rule it in, either.”

General Shildt, follow-up question …

Gen. Shildt: “If I may, please. Thank you. But did you all see these guys at Devil’s Den? Did you see them at the Peach Orchard? Our guys fought their tails off, man. You should see them right now, back there lifting weights, getting ready for the next one. These guys play hard, man. They leave their hearts out there.” We’re about to get hot, I promise you that.” 

General Shildt: given the enormity of this defeat, do you have a heightened sense of urgency, sir? 

Gen. Shildt: “What do you want me to do, go back there and turn over the clubhouse spread? Take their cornmeal away? Tell the clubby to remove the few rashers of bacon we have left? You want me to pour  all of the molasses out, and smash the peas? Take away their coffee? Candidly, it isn’t real coffee, anyway. General Grant’s men have real coffee. My boys have watered-down coffee. And candidly, hardtack. Should I put on a show for y’all and take away their hardtack? Candidly, that’s about all that I can give these men. Candidly, that hardtack is pretty awful. But they keep fighting their tails off, man. Candidly, I’m amazed by these guys, man. Give them some watered-down coffee and hardtack, and candidly they’re ready to go.”

(OK, enough of that goofy stuff from me.)

STANDINGS WATCH: The Cubs, Brewers and Reds won their games Tuesday. That left the Cardinals (36-37) 4.5 games behind co-leaders Chicago and Milwaukee and a half-game behind the third-place Reds. 

THE TRENDS: The Cardinals are 13-22 since May 14, and 6-15 since May 30. Only one NL team has a worse record that the Cards’ 6-15 over that time; Arizona is 3-19. 

PROJECTIONS: I haven’t looked at this for a while, but FanGraphs projects a final record of 79-83 for St. Louis and gives the Cardinals a 5.6 percent chance to win the NL Central, and a 7.1% shot to make the playoffs. 

THE OFFENSE. MORE OF THE SAME: In losing to the Tigers the Cardinals had six hits, all singles. They went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position. But the Cards did walk four times, so there you go — a positive. With this quiet showing, the Cardinals have now scored two or fewer runs eight times in their last 10 games. Since May 30 they’re averaging 3.0 runs per game, batting .215 and getting onbase only 28 percent of the time. 

The Cardinals have scored two runs or fewer in 29 of their 73 games. That’s two-or-less runs in just under 40% percent of their games. Only one MLB team (Pittsburgh, with 30) has scored two or fewer runs more times than the Cardinals this season.

The Cardinals have scored three or fewer runs in 53.4 percent of their games. And they’ve scored no more than four runs in 66% of their games. (The MLB average per team is 4.4 runs per game.) In the majors only Baltimore has been held to four or fewer runs more times (40) than St. Louis (39.) 

The Cardinals have scored 21 runs in their last 89 innings. They are batting .188 and averaging 2.1 runs in in their last 10 games. 

ANOTHER PLEA: NEED RUNS. DON’T NEED WALKS: If the Cardinals can jump on the Tigers for an early lead Wednesday, Shildt can rely on his best arms in the bullpen. Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes are fresh. But that plan would turn more difficult if (A) the offense doesn’t fire out, and (B) Cards starter has another walking-club meeting. Throw strikes. Please.

HERE’S ONE OF THEM FANCY NUMBERS: Using wRC+ — park-and-league adjusted runs created — the Cardinals are 29 percent below league average offensively in June. 

PITCHING PROBLEMS CONTINUE: Rookie Johan Oviedo couldn’t hold it together against the Tigers on Tuesday night, and his throwing error was the beginning of the end. Shildt displayed no urgency whatsoever in letting the kid melt on the mound to let the game get away from the Cardinals. 

In their 35 games since May 14 the Cardinals rotation ERA (5.27) ranks 13th among the 15 teams. Since May 30 the rotation ERA (5.99) ranks 14th in the NL, ahead of only Arizona (6.70.) And since Jack Flaherty last pitched (May 31) before going on the IL with a torn oblique, the Cardinals have a 6.06 rotation ERA. Only one starter, Adam Wainwright, has more than one quality start this month. Waino has three. 

SORRY TO BE NEGATIVE, BUT: Wednesday morning I  was messing around with the historical ERA+ numbers at Baseball Reference/Stathead and came up with something that surprised me. 

First of all, ERA+ is nothing crazy. It simply is a park-adjusted measurement that puts all pitching staffs in a neutral ballpark that does not favor hitters or pitchers. 

Anyway …

The Cardinals have an 88 ERA+ on the season including Tuesday’s game at Detroit. For context, that’s 12 percent below the league average 100 ERA+. The Cards’ 88 ranks 13th in the NL, ahead of only Pittsburgh (86) and Arizona (78.) 

But here’s the thing that made me go “whoa.” There’s a long way to go in 20201 and all of that, but this adjusted ERA would be tied for the 11th worst by a Cardinals pitching staff in a season since 1900. 

Keeping in mind that 100 is average, here’s the Bottom Nine adjusted ERAs: 

  • 1909,  74 
  • 1913,  76
  • 1902,  78
  • 1910,  79
  • 1994,  81
  • 1905,  83
  • 1916,  84
  • 1901,  86
  • 1906,  86
  • 1922,  87

The 2021, 1936 and 1919 Cardinals are next, tied for the 11th worst in a season for the franchise since 1900. But this season isn’t over yet. And I really do believe that the 2021 adjusted ERA will improve. But it’s still surprising to see how this 88 ERA+ would fit in franchise history. 

What about the offense? For what it’s worth, the Cardinals’ current adjusted OPS (92) would be tied for 33rd worst in a season by a Cards team since 1900.


1) Welcome, Lars Nootbaar.  And congrats on the RBI sac fly in your first big-league game. Your reward is to bat 9th again, for Thursday’s game at Detroit. Let’s face it, Shildt would bat Wander Franco 9th. Just kidding, I think. All of my nonsense aside, there is nothing wrong with Nootbaar batting 9th. I’m just being frivilous. 

2) In his last 20 games Nolan Arenado is batting .205 with a .256 OBP, .342 slug and .599 OPS. He does have four doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs during this stretch. But to state the obvious, this offense has little chance of igniting if Nado is struggling. 

3) Is it a slump for Tyler O’Neill? Maybe. It depends on how long the current downturn lasts. O’Neill hasn’t homered since going deep twice in the win over Cleveland on June 9. In his 40 plate appearances since June 11, O’Neill is batting .206 with a .294 slugging percentage and .594 OPS. And he has a strikeout rate of 42.5% since June 11. According to Brooks Baseball, since June 11 O’Neill is batting .182 with six strikeouts in 11 at-bats that end with a four-seam fastball. And he’s struck out in six of nine at-bats (with no hits) when pitchers throw a curve or cutter to end the AB. But again, this is just a relatively brief stretch of games. A key to O’Neill’s success will be his ability to limit the length of the inevitable slumps that all hitters have. 

4) Through Tuesday’s games, the average performance by leadoff hitters includes a .336 onbase percentage and .770 OPS. Tommy Edman has a .237 OBP in June, a .297 OBP since May 1, and hasn’t drawn a walk since May 29. For the season Edman has a .310 OBP and .692 OPS as a leadoff hitter. The switch-hitting Edman has a .286 OBP in 252 plate appearances vs. RH pitching this season.

5) In his first 100 plate appearance for Class A Palm Beach, sky-rocketing Cardinals prospect Jordan Walker put up some eye-opening numbers: six homers, seven doubles, a triple, 18 RBIs, .359 batting average, .480 onbase percentage, .705 slug, 1.185 OPS. And his high walk rate (17%) is just as impressive as his low strikeout rate (17%). Mercy! 

6) Mr. Walker turned 19 years old on May 22. He’s 6-5 and 220 pounds. He’s listed as a third baseman. He was the Cardinals’ first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2020 draft out of Decatur (GA) High School. That’s the hometown of Michael Stipe of R.E.M. 

7) Interesting lineup twist for Wednesday at Detroit:  did the Cards weaken the defense by playing Matt Carpenter at 1B and having Paul Goldschmidt DH? I was surprised only because the Cards have had three days off in the last nine days. According to Fielding Bible, Goldschmidt is a +2 in defensive runs saved this season. Carpenter is minus 1 at first base. 

8) Related note that I’ve been meaning to get to: Carpenter is minus 6 in defensive runs saved at second base this season. When another player starts at 2B this season the Cards are plus 5 in defensive runs saved. That’s a swing of 11 runs, my friends. 

9) Entering Wednesday, Paul DeJong is 5 for 61 (.082) this season when facing pitchers with a 3.50 ERA or better. 

10) With Tuesday’s loss the Cardinals are 4-4 so far in their 20-game stretch against losing teams. Going into Wednesday the Cards had lost five of their last six games against teams under .500

I apologize for getting this piece online later than I’d planned to.

Statistics from Baseball Reference/Stathead, Bill James Online, FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball.

Thanks for reading … 


Check out Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com  … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

The weekly “Seeing Red” podcast with Bernie and Will Leitch is also available at 590thefan.com.

 Follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz

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.