Lineup shuffles continue as Cards search for right formula -

Lineup shuffles continue as Cards search for right formula

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By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) — For the second straight day, Allen Craig is not in the lineup. It’s the latest installment of the juggling act that Mike Matheny has had to perform in search of runs, and another indication any sort of consistency will earn a player a shot. 

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Matheny said Friday the lineup is now done on a day-by-day basis, taking into consideration match ups and scheduling as well as giving struggling hitters a chance to find steady ground. 

“Trying to get a guy two days in a row can be more beneficial than just that one,” he said. “Sometimes taking an extra day can be that open door to do some extra work that you normally wouldn’t otherwise and get that extra click.”

In the case of Craig, the Cardinal manager believes he’s close to finding his rhythm, but not there yet. For the players dealing with forced PTO, it can be a grating experience. It’s certainly jarring to find oneself out of the lineup when just a season ago it felt like victory would always come easy. 

“It’s been tough with all of them. None of them like it,” Matheny said. “That’s just where we’re at. But this is the team we have and we have to try to figure out how to get something on a good roll here and maximize everybody.”

With the trade deadline approaching, there is always a chance status quo could change. However, as GM John Mozeliak explained Friday, the idea of a club-sparking trade is a complicated task, and one that may not be necessary. 

“I still feel good, and still believe in these guys, but certainly things need to change.They way it’s been going, it’s hard to imagine having great success with this type of run production,” he said. “When you look at the overall lineup itself, it’s hard to actually pin down where if you need to go get help what that would look like.”

Oscar Taveras has been tapped as one possible source of muscle, and the likely return of Kolten Wong this weekend could be another. Both players are dynamic on the offensive side, and could increase the potency of the offensive mixture. 

Still, if the offensive malaise persists through the All Star break, outside stimulus could become a necessity. Mozeliak would have a series of tough decisions on his hands at that point. Despite the rough first half, the club is still six games over .500, and is ripe with young talent at multiple levels. To change course at this point could solve 2014’s issues, but create dozens of new ones in the seasons to come.

“Even when you think about the deadline, it’s like where do you put that player or talent? Do you want to block or change the trajectory of some of these young players in the future? There’s no perfect answer,” he said. “I think sort of the drastic approach is tough to do in-season. I think you can sort of reshape your roster in the off season much easier.”

In the interim, a few days out of the lineup may provide a different sort of jolt for certain Cardinals. 

“Guys are mad, there’s a spark. It could bring a different personality. You know, our job around here is not to make everybody happy,” Matheny said. “It’s not easy when you’re that guy that gets time taken away, but no one said it was going to be easy for any of us.”

It certainly hasn’t been easy on the pitchers. The Cardinals are 28th in the MLB in run production with just 316. Their staff is seventh in ERA at 3.26. Without a steady offense, the young St. Louis staff will have to be nearly perfect in the second half if the club is to remain in contention


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