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Making Sense Of The Cardinals Roster Drama

Detroit Tigers v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

I think I speak for everybody when I say, I don’t get it.

What reason do the Cardinals have to pull Willson Contreras from the catcher position and use him as the full-time designated hitter? It’s nice to have his bat still in the lineup, yes. But it also means that Andrew Knizner, who has struggled at the plate, is going to be seeing some everyday action behind the plate and in the starting lineup.

John Denton said that the Cardinals want the pitchers to have somebody they’re more familiar with for a little bit. Fine. But now it’s going to cause a logjam at the designated hitter spot, and Nolan Gorman is going to lose playing time as a result of this. Tommy Edman and Brendan Donovan also might lose some time. Make it make sense.

And speaking of logjams, the Cardinals sent Jordan Walker down to clear the logjam in the outfield, even though he was the best hitting outfielder. Now, they also plan to use Contreras in the outfield, which adds to the logjam that was already there.

Early on Saturday, the Cardinals activated Adam Wainwright and sent down Guillermo Zuniga.

They also called up Tres Barrera and designated Taylor Motter for assignment, again.

“One thing I want to make super clear: We’re not losing ballgames because Willson Contreras is catching,” said Oli Marmol.

So if taken literally, Contreras is not the cause of the problem, yet he’s the one being thrown under the bus. The issue is clearly the pitching, and it all starts up top. John Mozeliak refused to add any pitching over the winter and preached confidence in his “six starters.” Only Jordan Montgomery has an ERA under four. He pitched very well on Friday and was ultimately rewarded with a no-decision.

Everybody else has been subpar at best. It sure seems to me like they’re trying to make Contreras the scapegoat here. Yes, change was, and still is needed. But this wasn’t the change that needed to be made. Contreras is not the problem. The pitching is. The front office being so hesitant to add pitching also is an issue.

Meanwhile, hitters who are producing, such as Edman, Donovan, and Gorman, are going to lose at-bats because of this experiment. Knizner will be in the lineup more frequently and will likely continue to struggle at the plate. So not only is Contreras taking some unwarranted heat, but other players on the roster are as well.

The real change that needs to occur is for there to be some pitching reinforcements added. That could be via a trade or even a simple roster move. Heading into his start yesterday at Triple-A Memphis, Matthew Liberatore had an ERA of 2.14. Andre Pallante could also be called up to fill a spot. Yet Steven Matz and his 6.39 ERA are still in the rotation.

Also, Alec Burleson continues to struggle at the plate, while Walker is down in Triple-A. As previously mentioned, Walker was the only outfielder producing for the Cardinals in April. Yet Mozeliak decided that he needed to work on some things while Burleson continued to struggle.

It’s clear that the entire organization is in disarray right now. I understand that they need to try new things in an effort to get things going, and I agree that changes need to be made. This however, was not what needed to happen, and it’s safe to say that the organization is currently an incoherent mess.

This decision ultimately creates more problems than it solves and makes it even more evident that the Cardinals are crashing and burning at a crucial time.