Expectations weigh heavy as Cardinals search for spark - KMOV.com

Expectations weigh heavy as Cardinals search for spark

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- Baseball is a lifelong lesson in humility.

That lesson, if not already learned, is being taught again with ruthless efficiency to the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Just about 30 games into the season, half the club is humming along as always and half have a wheel in the sand. And so the moves began, not in desperation but in acknowledgement that it’s getting pretty late to say it’s still early.

Kolten Wong has been shipped back to the minors, presumably to recover his swing and his confidence, if it is possible to regain confidence after a demotion.

Shane Robinson also is in Memphis, likely never to return to the big club. Robinson has no predictable spot with four outfielders already on the big team and a Triple A outfield better than half those in the majors. He will likely be gone in a minor trade or an outright release.

Wong was supposed to be a top of the order guy who could hit with occasional power and be the wheels for the big men to drive in. He showed a little of each but not enough of either.

The options for his future both carried risks. Leave him up and let him work through it and you risk destroying his confidence forever if he doesn’t turn it around. The list of can’t-miss major leaguers who washed out early is far longer than the ones who lived up to their potential.

Preferable, at least to the front office, was to allow Wong to rediscover his ability and regain confidence. But his inability to perform at the expected level is and should be concerning.

That move alone does nothing to resolve a wheezing offense that hits solo homers but seldom puts together impressive innings. And it’s not likely to get better in a hurry.

The starting lineup in Tuesday night’s Brewers game featured five players hitting less than .200. It should not be surprising they struck out 17 times, an embarrassing night’s work for a professional baseball team.

Until Tuesday night, the Cards scored three runs or less in every game they’d lost. How important is that fourth run? They’d be 20-5 (3 ties) if they had scored at least four runs in every game. 

Wong is not the reason the Birds are struggling, although his futility focused more pressure on others to perform. He was sent down because the Cardinals could. They can’t demote Allen Craig, whose struggles are becoming uncomfortable to watch, or Johnny Peralta, who, if he can’t hit has little value as a shortstop. 

Someone has to ignite what should be a potent offense and take some of the mounting pressure off Craig and Peralta. Rallies seldom start or continue with sub-.200 hitters.  

So where is the Cardinals’ Yasiel Puig, the firestarter, the straw that stirs the drink? It may be the long-awaited Oscar Taveras, who like Wong, bears the uncomfortable burden of potential.

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