photo: Ted Simmons (St. Louis Cardinals)
The St. Louis Cardinals went 3-2 for the week, with two days off. The club acquired veteran left-handed pitchers J.A. Happ and Jon Lester for the stretch run, but the major news over the weekend was the unveiling of Ted Simmons’ statue and the retirement of his number 23.
Cardinals add two pitchers at the deadline
It was a busy day for all 30 MLB teams on Friday before 3 pm CT, as the deadline loomed to consummate any final adds to the rosters for the remainder of the regular season and postseason. Friday’s deadline came and went in a frenetic pace of deals, a day declared to be one of the busiest trade deadline days in recent memory.
The St. Louis Cardinals took the opportunity to add two veteran starting pitchers to the roster for the stretch run. Left hander J.A Happ of the Twins was acquired and had to do no more than walk across the field to the other dugout, as the Twins were in town for a weekend series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals gave up reliever John Gant, and minor league left hander Evan Sisk to Minnesota in exchange for Happ. The Cardinals received cash from the Twins in the deal as well.
The 28-year-old Gant (soon to be 29 on August 6) was acquired by the Cardinals in 2017 from the Braves in the Jaime Garcia trade. Gant was a mainstay in the St. Louis bullpen, with periods of time as a starter. The right hander struggled in 2021, leading baseball in total walks.
Sisk was drafted by the Cardinals in the 16th round in 2018. The left hander was on the roster of the Peoria Chiefs at the time of the trade, used primarily as a reliever. Sisk had an ERA of 2.84 in 10 games this season.
Happ, 38, has enjoyed a 15-year major league career with seven teams, including a half season with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015. The left hander posted a record of 5-6 with an ERA of 6.77 in 19 starts for the Twins in 2021. He was a 20-game winner with Toronto in 2016.
In addition to Happ, the Cardinals acquired former Cubs starter Jon Lester, who had signed with the Washington Nationals as a free agent this January. The 37-year-old left hander posted a record of 3-5 with an ERA of 5.02 in 16 starts with the Nationals. Lester’s 16-year major league career included nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox during which he contributed to two World Series titles – in 2007 and 2013 (against the Cardinals). He was with the Cubs when they won their World Series title in 2016. He threw a no-hitter on May 19, 2008, against the Kansas City Royals. Lester is a cancer survivor.
The Cardinals sent outfielder Lane Thomas to the Nationals for Lester. Thomas, 25, was the fifth-round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014. The Cardinals acquired him in a July 2017 transaction for international bonus pool money. Thomas had early success at the major league level but has a significant injury history. He was one of the players who came down with Covid-19 in 2020 and missed time. Thomas struggled at the major league level in 2021 and spent a good deal of time riding the Memphis Redbirds shuttle.
Both Happ and Lester are scheduled to start in the Braves series that begins on Tuesday.
Ted Simmons statue unveiled and number retired
Catcher Ted Simmons, a Cardinals Hall of Famer and soon to be Baseball Hall of Famer, was the guest of honor at two ceremonies on Saturday prior to the game with the Twins.
One ceremony was the unveiling of a statue of Simmons, the first to be erected outside of Busch Stadium III and the 12th statue to be erected overall. It was the first since Ozzie Smith was celebrated with bronze outside Busch Stadium II in 2002.
In an emotional speech on Saturday, Simmons told the ceremonial crowd that every boy dreams of having a statue in his honor, and that he was no exception. The statue that stands outside Gate 4 of Busch Stadium shows the switch-hitting catcher batting right-handed.
The second ceremony was on the field at Busch Stadium to retire Simmons’ number 23. That number has been worn by 35 Cardinals including 18 since Simmons last donned it, including 2011 World Series hero David Freese. The number retirement is the first since Tony La Russa’s number 10 was retired in May 2012. The number hangs below the scoreboard in right center field, and on the mural on the left field wall. Simmons threw out the ceremonial first pitch as part of the festivities on Saturday.
Falling off the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot after his first year eligible in 1994, Simmons was finally given his due in 2020. He was voted into Cooperstown by the Veteran’s Committee and will be inducted there in a September ceremony that was delayed from last year by the pandemic.
Simba’s dreams have finally come true.
Monday, July 26 – Off day
The Cardinals defeated the Indians in the first game of a two-game series at Progressive Field. Starter Adam Wainwright threw seven innings and gave up two runs on four hits, fanned eight and walked two. Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes each tossed a scoreless inning of relief. Wainwright earned his eighth win and Reyes earned his 24th save.
The Redbirds offense got on the board first with one run in the third inning on a solo home run by Harrison Bader. The Indians took the lead 2-1 in the home half of the fourth off Wainwright.
The score remained 2-1 in favor of Cleveland until the seventh inning, when Paul DeJong blasted a two-run home run to give the Cardinals the 3-2 lead. St. Louis added an insurance run in the ninth. Bader doubled and Jose Rondon drew a walk. Bader stole third base, then DeJong walked to load the base. Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Bader scored.
Bader was 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. He was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.
Bader stole his sixth base of the season and Jose Rondon stole his second base.
The Cardinals split the two-game series with the Indians with a 7-2 Wednesday loss at Progressive Field. The offense was unable to get traction against Cleveland starter Zach Plesac.
St. Louis put the first run on the board in the first inning. Dylan Carlson and Nolan Arenado singled, and Carlson scored on a single by Yadier Molina. The Indians tied it up 1-1 in the second.
The Cardinals briefly regained the lead in the third inning on a solo home run by Carlson. In the home half of the third Cleveland tallied four runs against starter Kwang-Hyun Kim and two more in the fourth off Justin Miller, who relieved Kim. The Redbirds offense was shut down for the remainder of the game.
Carlson was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Molina was also 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Kim only lasted 2 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on five hits. The left hander walked one. Justin Miller surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings pitched. John Gant tossed a scoreless fifth. Luis Garcia threw two scoreless innings, and Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless eighth. Kim took the loss, his sixth of the season.
Kim picked a runner off first base.
Thursday, July 29 – Off day
The Cardinals returned to St. Louis to begin a nine game homestand starting with a weekend series against the visiting Minnesota Twins. The Cardinals took home a win in the opener.
Wade LeBlanc made the start for the Redbirds and pitched 5 2/3 innings. The left hander gave up one run on six hits, struck out three and walked two. Ryan Helsley tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to earn his sixth win of the season. Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes each threw a scoreless inning.
The Twins took the 1-0 lead in the second inning, but the Redbirds tied it up two innings later. Tyler O’Neill led off with a single and then stole second base. He advanced to third on a lineout by Yadier Molina and scored on a sac fly by Harrison Bader.
In the sixth the Cardinals added three runs. Paul Goldschmidt singled and O’Neill drew a walk. Bader singled to load the bases. Tommy Edman followed with a bases clearing double to right field and the Redbirds led 4-1.
In the seventh St. Louis added and insurance run on a Goldschmidt double followed by a single by Nolan Arenado to plate Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt was 2-for-3 on the night with two runs scored. Arenado was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Edman had three RBI.
On the base paths, Edman stole his 18th base of the season and O’Neill stole his ninth base.
The Cardinals faltered in Game 2 of the series, on both offense and defense. The Twins blew past the Redbirds with an 8-1 blistering on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis fell behind 7-0 early before the offense could put up their first and only run, in the fourth inning. Nolan Arenado and Yadier Molina singled, then Harrison Bader singled to left to score Arenado from third. The Twins added one more score in the fifth to make it 8-1.
The Cardinals offense managed only five hits. Arenado and Molina had two each and Bader had the one RBI single.
Starter Jake Woodford struggled through three innings and seven runs given up on seven hits. Five of the runs were earned. Woodford struck out three and walked one and was sent down to Memphis after the game. T.J. McFarland surrendered the eighth run to the Twins in 1 2/3 innings of relief. Andrew Miller tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings, followed by two scoreless frames from Luis Garcia and a scoreless ninth from Justin Miller. Woodford took the loss, his third of the season.
Arenado, and Paul DeJong both made fielding errors.
The Cardinals recovered from the brutal loss on Saturday to take Game 3 and the series on Sunday by the score of 7-3.
Adam Wainwright got the start, and it was vintage Wainwright. The right hander threw seven innings and gave up three runs on six hits, fanned five and walked one. Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Wainwright earned his ninth win of the season.
The Cardinals fell behind 2-0 in the second inning but came back to tie it in the third. Edmundo Sosa led off with a single and Wainwright sac bunted him to second. Dylan Carlson followed with a double that scored Sosa. Paul Goldschmidt then singled to plate Carlson.
The Redbirds added on to their tally in the fourth with one run that featured a memorable at bat by Wainwright. Tommy Edman doubled, and Sosa was intentionally walked. Wainwright came to the plate and battled with Twins starter Michael Pineda in a 10 pitch at-bat that ended with the right hander blistering a ball to the third baseman, who made a bad throw to first base. Wainwright was safe and Edman scored.
In the fifth, the offense faced their former teammate John Gant, who was traded to the Twins on Friday. Tyler O’Neill and Yadier Molina singled. Molina stole second base and O’Neill scored on a wild pitch by Gant.
The Redbirds added on again in the sixth. Edman doubled and scored on a single by Sosa. In the eighth, Sosa hit a solo home run. Pinch hitter Matt Carpenter walked, and Carlson hit a ground rule double. Goldschmidt flew out to right field and the right fielder threw to third base to get Carlson out while allowing Carpenter to score. The Cardinals went into the ninth leading 7-3. Alex Reyes retired all three batters he faced, and the Redbirds took home the series win.
Carlson went 3-for-5 at the plate with an RBI. Sosa was 3-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. Molina and Edman were both 2-for-4.
Carlson stole his first base of the season. Goldschmidt swiped his seventh bag and Molina his third. In the field, Wainwright made an error on a pickoff attempt at second base.
The Big Picture
In a week shortened by two off days, the Cardinals logged a record of 3-2, splitting a two-game series in Cleveland, and taking 2 of 3 from the Twins at Busch Stadium. The team remains mired in third place with a record hovering around the .500 mark as the first place Brewers and second place Reds continue to play well. The Cardinals now stand 9.5 games back of the Brewers and 2.5 games back of the Reds. St. Louis is 6.5 games back of the second wild card spot.
The Redbirds seem to take a step forward and then two steps back. All the season-long issues with pitching and offense continue. The Cardinals acquired two grizzled, veteran left-handed starters at the Friday trade deadline, 38-year-old J.A. Happ and 37-year-old Jon Lester. Happ and Lester came from the Twins and the Nationals, respectively. The hope, according to President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, is that the two pitchers will stabilize an injured and shaky rotation and provide much needed innings. Whether that hope proves true remains to be seen.
Adam Wainwright has been the one-man stabilizer of the rotation, with Kwang-Hyun Kim hanging in there as well before his clunker this past week. The two injured rotation members, Jack Flaherty and Miles Mikolas, are rehabbing but not likely to be back in the rotation until the second half of August. A series of replacements failed to gel for the team, with Jake Woodford and Johan Oviedo returned to Memphis for more seasoning. Happ and Lester will both start in the Braves series that begins on Tuesday.
As for the offense, it hasn’t yet proven to be consistent enough to overcome the pitching limitations. The offense has been better since the All-Star break, but the pitching has kept the team from going on an extended run. Top offensive performers for the week are Tommy Edman (.915 OPS), Dylan Carlson (.914 OPS) and Nolan Arenado (.807 OPS). Harrison Bader, who had gone gangbusters at the plate since the All-Star break, slowed down a little, coming in fourth with an OPS of .776. Two off days this past week may have contributed to a slowing of the momentum for the center fielder. Edmundo Sosa and Jose Rondon contributed at the plate in limited playing time this past week.
The Cardinals proceed to play a series of under .500 teams over the next two weeks, including the Twins, whose series with the Cardinals just concluded. We have heard this song before, just a different verse, that the Cardinals should make up ground with these teams. It has not proven to be the case in the recent past. Starting on Tuesday, the Cardinals will play three with the Braves, then six with the Royals in both stadiums, and three with the Pirates. The Braves have hovered around the .500 mark in the NL East just like the Cardinals, while the Pirates are a last place team, and the Royals sit just above the last place Twins. It cannot be emphasized enough that the Redbirds must win these series. All of them if they want to make a run in the standings.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 7/25 The Cardinals acquired RHP T.J. Zeuch from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash and optioned him to Memphis.
- 7/26 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/27 The Cardinals sent RHP Jack Flaherty on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/27 The Cardinals recalled CF Lane Thomas from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/30 The Cardinals traded RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk to the Minnesota Twins for LHP J.A. Happ.
- 7/30 The Cardinals traded CF Lane Thomas to the Washington Nationals for LHP Jon Lester.
- 7/30 The Cardinals recalled LF Lars Nootbaar from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 8/1 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jake Woodford to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 8/1 The Cardinals activated LHP Jon Lester.
- RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness), remains on the 60-day injured list. Mikolas has made two rehab starts at Memphis and has performed well with no setbacks. He is slated for 3 to 4 rehab starts before activation, which could come in mid-August. His next outing will be in Springfield on Tuesday.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (right elbow inflammation) remains on the 60-day injured list and the team seems less optimistic that he can return to pitch sometime before the end of the season.
- 2B Max Moroff (left shoulder subluxation) is on the 60-day injured list after suffering a shoulder injury in a batting practice session. Moroff had surgery on the shoulder and is out for the rest of the season.
- RHP Jack Flaherty (left oblique strain) remains on the 60-day IL. Flaherty made his first rehab start with Memphis on Tuesday, July 27 and his second on Sunday, August 1. The right hander is built up to 45 pitches and will likely make at least one more rehab start after Sunday. Assuming no setbacks, Flaherty is expected to return to the roster in the second half of August.
- RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) is expected to be out all the 2021 season. Hudson is tracking well toward an Opening Day 2022 return, though a late 2021 season return is not impossible, but unlikely.
- RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (right shoulder inflammation) remains on the 10-day injured list. The right hander made three rehab appearances at Memphis and is built up to 50 pitches. He will take his rehab to Springfield on Tuesday.
- RHP Carlos Martinez (right thumb ligament sprain) had surgery on July 16 to repair his thumb ligament. The surgery makes it less likely the right hander will return to pitch this season. If that is the case, Martinez may have thrown his last pitch as a Cardinal. Martinez is on the final year of his contract, and though the team holds options for 2022 and 2023, they are not expected to pick them up.
- C Yadier Molina (neck stiffness) did not appear in the weekend series in Cincinnati. He returned to the roster for the Indians series on Tuesday.
- 3B Nolan Arenado was hit by a pitch on his right forearm in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game in Cleveland. The diagnosis was right forearm contusion. After the off day on Thursday, Arenado returned to the lineup on Friday against the Twins at Busch Stadium.
At the conclusion of the Twins series on Sunday, the team has an off day on Monday. The Cardinals continue the homestand with a three-game series with the Braves beginning on Tuesday. Jon Lester will get the start on Tuesday, followed by J.A. Happ on Wednesday, and Wade LeBlanc on Thursday.
The homestand continues Friday, August 6 with a weekend series with the Royals. The next road trip begins with a Monday, August 9 travel day to Pittsburgh to begin a three-day series with the Pirates on Tuesday, August 10.
The team travels to Kansas City to play the Royals in a weekend series beginning Friday, August 13. After a Monday, August 16 off day, the Cardinals begin a homestand that starts with a three-game series with the Brewers beginning Tuesday, August 17.
The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
Blast from the Past for the month of July is notable events month, as we describe one or more notable events from each day of the week the report covers. As everyone knows, July is trade month, so some of the notable events will be trades that are either notable for the players or notable for something unique about them.
July 26, 2009 – The Cardinals trade Jess Todd and Chris Perez to the Cleveland Indians for Mark DeRosa.
July 27, 1950 – Stan Musial’s 30-game hit streak comes to an end when he went hitless in a 13-3 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Musial’s hit streak was the longest in the majors at the time.
July 27, 2011 – The Cardinals trade Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, and Brian Tallet to the Toronto Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski.
July 28, 1963 – Stan Musial struck out three times for the only time in his 22-year career. He did so in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the first game of a doubleheader.
July 28, 1969 – Stan Musial was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
July 29, 2002 – The Cardinals trade Placido Polanco, Bud Smith, and Mike Timlin to the Phillies for Scott Rolen and Doug Nickle.
July 29, 2018 – The Cardinals trade Luke Voit and international slot money to the New York Yankees for Giovanny Gallegos and Chasen Shreve.
July 30, 1959 – Bob Gibson gets his first major league win in 1-0 shutout of the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field.
July 31, 1997 – The Cardinals acquire Mark McGwire from the Oakland A’s in exchange for Eric Ludwick, T.J. Mathews, and Blake Stein.
July 31, 1998 – The Cardinals trade Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre to the Texas Rangers for Mark Little, Darren Oliver, and Fernando Tatis.
July 31, 2010 – In a three-team trade, the Cleveland Indians acquire Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres, the Cardinals acquire Nick Greenwood from the Padres, the Cardinals acquire Jake Westbrook from the Indians, and the Padres acquire Ryan Ludwick from the Cardinals.
July 31, 2014 – The Cardinals trade Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to the Boston Red Sox for John Lackey, Corey Littrell, and cash.
July 31, 2011 – The Cardinals trade Alex Castellanos to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Rafael Furcal and cash.
July 31, 2018 – The Cardinals trade Tommy Pham and international bonus slot money to the Tampa Bay Rays for Genesis Cabrera, Roel Ramirez, and Justin Williams.
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