As both the Cardinals and Mets head out for more ridiculous inter league road action in Baltimore and Detroit respectively, it would appear on the surface that one club is enjoying the denouement of a continued climb of road success while the other is feeling the effects of a deep “June Swoon”.
The New Yorkers fresh off a 2-1 series win over the defending American League Champion Rangers in Texas will open a three game set tonight in Detroit to face a solid line up that along with the stellar performances of Justin Verlander has seen the Tigers win 15 of 25 games in June while improving to 43-36 overall with a 1 game lead in the AL Central.
The remarkable success of the Mets thus far which sees them at 39-39 and just five games out of the final NL Wild Card playoff spot has been directly attributable to the production of the not so coincidental pending Free Agents to be Carlos Beltran and Jose Reyes. The club has seen some additional input from unlikely sources such as Justin Turner, Daniel Murphy and the unheralded starting pitching group of Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, RA Dickey and Chris Capuano.
The team will take their .500 record into the Motor City, followed by the Bronx half of the Annual Subway Series over the 4th of July weekend, with the knowledge that injured star third baseman David Wright may be only about a month away from returning.
While the Mets smoke, mirror and carrot dangling show seems to point to a Mets season which may exceed the expectations of many, here in St. Louis, the Cardinals have seen the loss of pending Free Agent first baseman, third baseman Albert Pujols to a broken bone in his arm bring about a “June Swoon” with the latest failure being a 1-5 homestand against the Phils and Toronto Blue Jays.
Since the Cardinals front office has been reluctant to make any major changes in an attempt to partially fill the gap left by the loss of the irreplaceable Pujols, it would appear that the team will attempt to keep its collective head above water while waiting for the superstar to return.
On the other hand should this “swoon” continue or even escalate to the point where the club falls out of contention by my birthday (July 22) it would not surprise me to see Redbirds GM John Mozeliak get together with Yanks GM Brian Cashman on a deal involving 2013 Free Agent to be, Cards “ace” righthander Chris Carpenter.
Carpenter, who has been remarkably consistent despite receiving little run support thus far in 2011, seems to still be a “bulldog” type starter but, his demeanor sometimes exhibits signs of a disgruntled, “entitled” superstar, who has been known to publicly disparage teammates.
St. Louis management has a history of stockpiling prospects although not usually at the expense of fan base favorites and the moving of Carpenter to the Yankees or even another contending club such as the Angels would create a major local sports talk and fan uproar.
In addition to the club’s $15 million option on Carpenter for 2012 and the massive contract ($250 million / 10 years??) expected to be offered Pujols at the end of the season, the Cards also will be faced with the challenge of keeping injured co-ace Adam Wainwright at a club option cost of $9 million for 2012 and $12 million for 2013. The team will also be hard pressed not to pick up the option of Yadier Molina at $7.5 million for 2012.
In a market such as St. Louis, those types of numbers ($60 million for 4 players plus the $17.2 million owed Matt Holliday and $8.5 million due Jake Westbrook for 2012) the possibility of a trade of the still productive and potentially still ace Carpenter in exchange for some of the Yanks prospects in addition to maybe a big league starter such as Phil Hughes is not out of the realm of possibility for a St. Louis franchise which may or may not be able to keep all of the above listed players, especially the first baseman, for the foreseeable future.
Listening to New York sports talk on a daily basis compared to that of St. Louis shows the difference of the two markets in that Mets talk is of trading Jason Bay for Adam Dunn or some serviceable starter while in St. Louis there is little discussion of player movement from the Busch crew and a generally accepted feeling that management will as has been the case in the past be able to salvage the season and keep a competitive team on the field to enjoy the appreciation of a devoted wide range fan base,
Hoping that the Mets can continue the “Surge” through the difficult environs of Detroit and as the late great Art Rust used to call it the new “Big Ball yard in the Bronx” and the Redbirds can get back on solid ground with fewer bullpen implosions and some wins against the pesky Orioles and the always competitive Rays in Tampa as they await Pujols' mid to late August return,
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