The Cincinnati Reds completed a three game sweep of the Cardinals today, winning 9-7. As usual, one of Dusty Baker’s players ran their mouth at the Cardinals. This time it was Francisco Cordero. Cordero claimed he only ran his mouth after Gerald Laird yelled at him from the dugout for hitting Albert Pujols, but it’s become evident that the Reds are just an extension of the manager, Dusty Baker. Baker has a history with his mouth, and using his players as an extension of him. In Cincinnati, he has Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto and now Cordero. In Chicago, his main man was Carlos Zambrano, along with catcher Michael Barrett.
There’s really only one way for the Cardinals to respond to Baker’s antics, and that is to send a message to the best player on their team, and if necessary, more than once. I know Tony LaRussa isn’t a fan of throwing at a player, but a message clearly has to be sent. The Cardinals can’t let the Reds antics continue to slide. That player to throw at would be Joey Votto. Hopefully that would induce Votto to have a talk with his teammates, and stop the madness. That’s really the only option I see for the Cardinals. I actually would have thought that Scott Rolen would have taken control of the clubhouse by now, but apparently he does not supersede Baker.
On to baseball, the Cardinals do have some pitching problems. The main problem with it in my opinion is that everything happening in the bullpen is magnified because of the early saves blown by Ryan Franklin. 1 for 5 in save opportunities, Franklin is still causing major problems just being a part of the Cardinals bullpen. There’s no time for the Cardinals to figure out if Franklin can get right. He’s 38, and on the downside of his career. Also, he was never as dominant as some people seem to think. Franklin has awful career SO/9, even when he was successful. If the Cardinals are going to allow someone to come in and get pounded every time out, as Franklin has, I would prefer it would be someone with some upside. I really don’t understand why they are waiting. It’s not as if Franklin is getting hit softly, he’s getting pounded. There’s just no room for the Cardinals to carry a pitch to contact pitcher that is 38 years old with a 9.88 ERA, a 2.12 WHIP with opponents slugging .738 against him. Let’s give someone in AAA a shot; can they really be worse than Franklin?
Because of Franklin’s blown saves, it appears that Mitchell Boggs and Eduardo Sanchez are in a rough patch. Well, not exactly. Boggs is 3 for 4 in save opportunities with a 3.66 ERA, and Sanchez is 4 for 5 with an ERA of 3.00. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal if the Cardinals hadn’t started 2 and 6, losing 4 games in the 9th because of Franklin. Because of Franklin’s troubles, however, every pitch is magnified. Boggs was pulled as the closer after blowing his first save, a little premature if you ask me. I’m glad Sanchez and Fernando Salas have gotten opportunities, and I still think it’s too soon to give up on them as a group. In no way do I blame Ryan Franklin for his poor performance. He’s going to go out and pitch when called upon. It’s up to John Mozeliak or LaRussa to make the decision to let him go.
The Cardinals did a lot of things wrong in the series against the Reds. Their defensive lapses were inexcusable. The Reds played with a fire the Cardinals didn’t seem to have for some reason. The Cardinals failed to pad the lead in the first and final game of the series. The series dropped the Cardinals to a game and a half back in the standings. However, it’s still early May, and there’s plenty of time to right the ship with a lot of the things that went wrong. It’s hard to imagine the Cardinals succeeding in the playoffs if they got that far without their stopper Adam Wainwright, but I’d sure like to be able to say I saw them try.