The Cardinals’s record dropped to 24-32 after today’s loss to the Royals, but unsurprisingly, St. Louis president of baseball operations John Mozeliak isn’t giving up on the season as the calendar approaches June. In an interview with Jim Hayes of Bally Sports (video link) today, Mozeliak said his team is preparing to make additions at the trade deadline, and “I don’t anticipate us [selling] at all. I think…where our division is headed, it’s going to remain very competitive. So really we’re going to be looking at ways that can really help this club.”
Despite their lackluster record, the Cards are still only 5.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, with the Brewers holding the top spot with a modest 28-25 record. Also, the National League as a whole is still very compact, so the Cardinals are only five games out of a wild card berth.
It’s therefore far too early for a team with World Series aspirations like the Cardinals to reload for 2024, especially considering that St. Louis has made a habit of second-half surges in recent years. It’s possible the Cards have already bounced back in some fashion from their brutal start, as St. Louis is 14-8 in its last 22 games and can clinch a winning record in May with a victory over the Royals on Tuesday.
Mozeliak also provided an update of sorts on Tyler O’Neill, though not positive news for a player who has already been out since May 5 due to a lower back strain. O’Neill is still “feeling discomfort” in his back, so Mozeliak noted that “until he’s cleared to do more baseball activity, it’s hard to push him through that.” As a result, Mozeliak said “we’re doing to do a little bit of a pause” on O’Neill’s rehab work, and “do a few additional tests, and then decide what those next steps look like.”
Dylan Carlson has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the last two weeks but Mozeliak mentioned he could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as this week. That would provide some help for a Cardinals outfield that looks like it’ll be missing O’Neill for the foreseeable future, and another injury concern emerged today when Lars Nootbaar left the game due to back spasms.
In the second inning, Nootbaar collided with the wall while making a catch, leaving the outfielder visibly sore. Nootbaar tried to stay in the game but in the next inning, he dropped to his knees while in pursuit of a Nick Pratto fly ball, and had to be removed. In postgame interviews with Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other reporters, Nootbaar didn’t seem too worried about the injury, but it would seem likely that the Cardinals will keep him out of at least tomorrow’s lineup for precautionary reasons. The Cards have a rare two-day schedule break on May 31 and June 1, so if Nootbaar could get three full days off to heal up before a potential return to action.