In case you haven’t noticed, the St. Louis Cardinals have suddenly fallen on hard times. For the first time since August in 2013(thank you Rob Rains), they have lost four in a row at home. The lowly Chicago White Sox and San Diego Padres did the trick, outdueling the Birds in late inning battles.
What’s wrong? Who is the main suspect? Well, during those three losses, the Cards have scored just five runs. Five runs over 31 innings isn’t going to win any tea that many games, so the culprit is clear as day. The struggling offense has been shoved out into the light and right now, any spark would help. While he isn’t going to carry the team, Xavier Scruggs deserves to start a lot of games before the All Star Break.
The reason? Mark Reynolds isn’t doing much. Reynolds has lived up to most of his preseason billing. Lots of strikeouts(72 in 204 at bats), streaky hitting and an ability to play multiple positions. The one part of his billing he hasn’t produced yet is power. He has a measly five home runs and none since June 15th. It’d be one thing if he had 10 homers to go with the whiffs but not even close. Since taking over for Matt Adams in late May, Reynolds has SEVEN extra base hits. That’s pitiful. His power is gone and his swing and miss rate has sky rocketed. Reynolds hit .218 for June and his slugging percentage was a Tony Cruz like .345. Marching Reynolds out there is as illogical as letting Jon Jay take swings with a sore wrist. It has to stop.
Scruggs has collected some big hits since he showed up on June 19th, going 10-27 with 6 RBI and a pair of doubles. Pinch hitting Thursday night, Scruggs came up with a key base hit that gave the Cards a chance to win in the 8th inning. Scruggs is finally getting the resemblance of an opportunity and making the best of it. Why not give him more with a struggling offense a completely missing person in Reynolds at the plate? Scruggs can’t do any worse than Reynolds and deserves to get more starts against San Diego, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
You never know what could happen. Maybe Scruggs collects more hits and other teams take notice of a journeyman first baseman finally getting a chance at age 27 to show his worth. Maybe they remember his name when trade talks open. Maybe not. The options for the Cards to improve with what they have are minimal. Matt Carpenter is struggling but has no real backup at third outside of Reynolds. Matt Holliday is on his way back but won’t help a weak hitting Reynolds improve. Mike Matheny and John Mozeliak can’t lose a thing by showcasing Scruggs. Let him start for 4-5 games in a row. If he whiffs and goes 1-20 than you know what is needed at the deadline. They must find out the whole answer.
What choices are there? The Cards trade chips took a hit with Matt Adams going down and Jay hitting the disabled list. Stephen Piscotty won’t be called up because he needs to start every day. Tommy Pham doesn’t have a clear spot to start. Scruggs does have a spot and is blocked by a 2 million dollar journeyman slugger who isn’t slugging much. Time to make the move. Insert the X-Man and see if he can help spark the offense. If not, this could be a sad weekend before a vital eight game stretch against The Cubs and Pirates heats up a previously quiet NL Central race.
Before a trade can formulate, the Cards must try everything. The one thing they haven’t tried is running wild with Xavier Scruggs at first base. Together with Holliday’s return, one can hope the lineup gives a little more support to an MLB best pitching staff.
Since a trade isn’t as easy with the double wildcard and lack of trade chips, the Cards will have to rely on guys in their own lineup to solve the problem. Starting Scruggs for an extended period of time is a good start.