So, last night stunk. And we found out that, like The Lone Ranger, we are getting zero Oscars this year.
But fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all Cardinals fans.
The word is that, absent a last minute twinge, Yadier Molina will be starting tonight's game. Also, Shane Robinson is supposed to join the team. But mostly, Yadi!
This is a nice boost for a team that has gone 6-7 so far in August. Yadi was projected to be worth 1.9 WAR at the start of his DL stint; now he's projected to be worth 1.4 WAR for the rest of the season. So, just in two weeks, we lost about a half a win. Rob Johnson and Tony Cruz have been more or less replacement value. It's impossible to say exactly what might have happened if we'd had him for the last couple weeks, but I wish he'd been there.
So, welcome back, Yadi. I hope that Tony Cruz fared well enough in your absence that Mike Matheny has enough confidence in him to give you days off with some regularity.
If I were a betting man, I'd assume the moves are Rob Johnson and Jermaine Curtis for Molina and Robinson, but I've been wrong before.
Molina will rejoin a team in the middle of a bona fide division race. The Pirates lead the division, the Cardinals trail by three games, and the Reds are a mere half-game behind. There is no tighter division in major league baseball.
The closest thing to a division that competitive is the AL East, where the Rays trail the Red Sox by 3 games, and the Orioles are 6 games out. Elsewhere, the competition has downgraded to two-way races (the A's and Rangers in the AL West, separated by 2 games); pseudo races (the Royals and Indians substantially trailing the Tigers, the Diamondbacks substantially trailing the Dodgers); and abject blowouts (the Braves, who could forfeit a week's worth of games and still hold a substantial lead in the NL West).
While I'd much rather that the Cardinals were walking away with their division, or at least leading it, I can't deny the excitement inherent in a good division race. It's nice to have something to care about. Even better, 14 of our remaining games (about one-third) are against one or the other of our division rivals.
We are only 16 days from September, so it is not too soon to think about who we might be seeing in call-ups. There's a certain number of familiar pitching names that will return: Blazek, Butler, Carlos Martinez, Tyler Lyons, and Fernando Salas seem like worthwhile call-ups.
On the position player side, there's not a lot of help coming: I continue to hope against hope that we'll see Ryan Jackson. We'll probably see Rob Johnson again, assuming he is sent back to Memphis in favor of Yadier Molina. Brock Peterson will probably rejoin the team.
I assume the team will make space for Kolten Wong, probably at the expense of one of several underperforming relievers: Victor Marte, Jorge Rondon, and Eric Fornataro have done nothing to distinguish themselves at Memphis. Assuming both he and Jackson are promoted, I don't really see enough playing time in the outfield to justify calling up Greg Garcia (who is not on the 40-man).
The roster could readily be tweaked to remove inessential players and add new ones. Is there someone you'd like to see in September?