If you’ve covered a Major League Baseball team for more than 40 years, you realize early on that airing dirty laundry is anathema to GMs and managers.
I bring this up because one of the most respected teams in the game – the St. Louis Cardinals – went public not once, but twice about player issues in manager Oliver Marmol’s second season. in charge.
This week, I’m spotlighting the Cardinals, clearly one of the most confusing teams in all of Major League Baseball. If you recall I had them above most pre-season rankings at No. 6. They were one of the most disappointing teams in the game and fell down my rankings all the way to No. 28 , ahead of only the modest Royals and Athletics. , who have combined to win just 24 games at this point.
At his April 5 postgame press conference, Marmol said outfielder Tyler O’Neill’s effort around third base to try to score was unacceptable. Watching the replay, one can understand why Marmol was upset at the lack of urgency in O’Neill’s effort. But Marmol also said he spoke to O’Neill in the dugout right after the player was ejected at home plate. The Cardinals were 2-4 after that game.
From that game, they went 8-20 down to 10-24 for the season. It was before one game, a second straight loss to the Tigers, that Marmol opted to publicly discuss why the team recently pulled wide receiver Willson Contreras (five-year-old, $87.5 million) from behind the marble. The club were very unhappy with how they called games, and the implication was that Marmol and his bosses blamed much of the Cardinals’ struggles on Contreras.
It was May 6, when the club announced he would be right fielder and DH from then on.
A few days later, a reporter asked Marmol, “What does Contreras have to show you to prove he can play on the right pitch for you?” Marmol’s response was incredibly awkward, saying the question the reporter should ask was what Contreras should do to prove he could catch for the team.
This led the writer to speak to the president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak, who went into detail about how the club felt about preparing Contreras with the staff. For many observers, it seemed that Marmol would not survive much longer, that he was losing his club.
Since May 6 and that low point of being 10-24, all the Cardinals have done is go 11-3 and right the ship just in time to salvage their season and possibly get back into the playoff picture. playoffs. Contreras resumed capture duties on 15 May.
Given that the sport is an arena that lends itself to cries of “copycat” in terms of how teams conduct their affairs, one has to wonder how long it will take for the next team to go public in detail about the issues that she meets with a player on her list.
Without further ado, here are my power rankings. You will notice that the cards have gone from #26 to #20 this week.
1. Tampa Bay Rays (34-14, No. 1 last week): It’s no surprise the Rays, who are just 6-7 the past two weeks, have come down to earth a bit. They really need Taj Bradley to step up and claim his place in the rotation, or better yet, Tyler Glasnow back to full fitness. Glasnow got off to a great start in six rounds at Durham on May 21.
2. Baltimore Orioles (31-16, #3): In 2017, the Orioles got off to a 22-10 start and climbed all the way to No. 3 in my power rankings… only to go from 0-6 down to No. 10. There’s no need to count the exact number weeks since they’ve been in this rarefied air. They deserve it. This week’s competition — three against the Yankees in the Bronx and three against the Rangers at home — continues to go on.
3. New York Yankees (29-20, No. 6): Three or four weeks ago, I thought this team might fold. But instead, they’ve gone 11-3 over the past two weeks. Coincidentally, this corresponds to the return of Captain Judge. Their determination marks them as dangerous – especially if they can ever get Carlos Rodón to a mound… but that will still take some time.
4. Atlanta Braves (29-17, No. 5): The Braves have been lucky so far, as neither the Mets nor the Phillies have been able to get in shape. However, both teams seem to be in better health now. Atlanta’s group of inexperienced starters (Kyle Wright, Dylan Dodd and Jared Shuster) were unable to gain traction. With Max Fried for quite a while, that shortcoming kept the Braves from running away with the division. The Marlins are also improving.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers (29-19, No. 4): I was very tough on the Dodgers all through spring training. I gave a mea culpa, but the Dodgers are having all sorts of pitching issues with their starting team. It looks like Dustin May could be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a pulled forearm. On top of that, Julio Urías is on the 15-day injured list with left hamstring strain. And so far they haven’t had the Clayton Kershaw injury. They’re looking to two of their top pitching prospects — Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller — to take those two rotation spots. Ask the Braves how it’s going. While there’s still time for the Padres to turn things around in San Diego, don’t be surprised if the Diamondbacks prove to be a bigger problem down the road.
6. Texas Rangers (29-17, No. 7): It’s still early days, but the Rangers really are the most serious threat the Astros have had in the AL West in many moons. And they have that 29-17 record with Corey Seager playing in just 15 of 46 games. Adolis García is poised to hit in over 170 runs. Manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Mike Maddux appear to have the staff in good shape… with the exception of Jacob deGrom, who is once again inactive.
7. Houston Astros (27-19, No. 10): Two weeks ago, I felt the Astros had really slipped to the point where a top-10 spot was no longer automatic. But they hit a low point in their schedule and beat the Angels, White Sox, Cubs and Athletics to a 10-2 record. The Astros travel to Milwaukee for three games before heading to Oakland. They should have an automatic 4-2 week, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go 5-1.
8. Boston Red Sox (26-21, No. 12): The Sox seem to have their roster fixed. They are quite strong offensively. They seem to have fixed Chris Sale, but I’m not sure they can really do much with two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (2-6, 6.26 ERA). However, they recently picked up veteran southpaw James Paxton and his early appearances have been very positive. They hope to get Garrett Whitlock back next weekend. They cut the bait with Ryan Brasier, the bullpen hero of the 2018 championship run.
9. New York Mets (25-23, No. 11): This spot might seem a little optimistic, but not a second too late, the Mets seem to have aging aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both pitching like aging isn’t so bad. They need stars Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte and Brandon Nimmo to show more. Six games on the road – three at Wrigley and three at Coors – give them a chance to build on a 7-3 mark in their last 10 games when it looked like the skies were falling.
10. Minnesota Twins (25-22, No. 8): The good news is that no one in the AL Central seems likely to threaten them, as they are only one team above .500. The bullpen has been very solid and the starting staff has been more than adequate. However, the offense spat even though Byron Buxton was able to stay in the lineup as the designated hitter. The Twins return home after a dismal 2-4 trip to Los Angeles. Carlos Correa must do better. It would help if they could turn Jose Miranda up at Triple-A. Alex Kirilloff is healthy and looks like the real deal.
11. Toronto Blue Jays (25-22, No. 2)
12. Milwaukee Brewers (25-21, No. 9)
13. Arizona Diamondbacks (27-20, No. 18)
14. San Diego Padres (21-26, No. 13)
15. Los Angeles Angels (25-23, #14)
16. Pittsburgh Pirates (24-22, No. 15)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (22-24, No. 16)
18. Seattle Mariners (22-24, No. 17)
19. Cleveland Guardians (20-26, No. 19)
20. St. Louis Cardinals (21-27, No. 26)
21. Miami Marlins (24-23, No. 21)
22. Chicago White Sox (19-29, No. 27)
23. San Francisco Giants (22-24, No. 24)
24. Chicago Cubs (20-26, No. 20)
25. Detroit Tigers (20-24, #22)
26. Washington Nationals (20-27, No. 25)
27. Cincinnati Reds (19-27, No. 23)
28. Colorado Rockies (19-28, #28)
29. Kansas City Royals (14-34, No. 29)
30. Oakland Athletics (10-38, No. 30)