The St. Louis Cardinals currently have one of the worst records in all of baseball with a paltry 11 wins and 24 losses. That record begs a lot of questioning, but none more so than what's happening with Willson Contreras.
I'm not sure many baseball fans, especially Cardinals' fans, would have guessed that they would be ranked among the worst teams in the league, rummaging through the bottom of the rankings with the likes of the Oakland A's and Kansas City Royals, the only two teams with worse records. For one thing, just compare the rosters of the A's and Royals to the Cardinals. The Cardinals are head and shoulders above both teams with multi-Gold-Glover's, All-Stars, and future hall of famers. But the A's and Royals don't have Willson Contreras either.
The A's and Royals have plenty of headaches of their own without needing a Contreras to deal with. Heck, the A's don't even know what city they might be playing in soon. But the Cardinals are usually one of those teams that avoid situations like the current one with Contreras. And they could have.
Current Atlanta Braves catcher Sean Murphy could have been the answer. The Cardinals have been notorious traders in the past, typically coming out on the better side of trades with the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Holliday and Nolan Arenado. But for whatever reason, when their biggest rival, the Chicago Cubs seemed to want nothing to do with their catcher of seven seasons, the Cardinals passed on Sean Murphy and chose Contreras. The Braves, with Murphy, who holds a league-leading OPS, have one of the best records in the majors, while the Cardinals are trying to ask Contreras nicely to play left-field.
Was the asking price too large for the Cardinals you ask? Rosenthal reported that according to the St. Louis-Dispatch, the A's were asking for outfielder Lars Nootbaar, utility player Brendan Donovan and pitcher Gordon Graceffo in exchange for Sean Murphy. The Braves, in a three-way trade with the Brewers and A's, traded catcher William Contreras (Willson's brother) and pitcher Kyle Mueller as the only real standouts.
Contreras must be one of the best salesmen in the entire league. That's what Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic believes anyways. It only took Contreras 3 1/2 hours to convince the Cardinals that he was the right man to replace Yadier Molina. Molina was the conscience of the Cardinals, a player's player who stayed with the Cardinals organization for 18 seasons. Finding his replacement was never going to be easy as it was always going to be easier to say, “He's not Yadi,” but never did the Cardinals expect this.
Granted, it's not as if Contreras is hitting below the Mendoza-line. In 34 games this season, he's batting .273 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI, usually hitting somewhere in the middle of the lineup. But on Monday night, he continued making headlines.
Willson Contreras Comes Back To Chicago
As if he weren't in the headlines enough, Contreras made his triumphant return to Wrigley Field against the Cubs on Monday night. He'd finish the night going 2-4 with one run, two hits (one being a double) and two RBIs in a Cardinals win. What he'll be remembered for is bringing his arms to his sides, eyes closed, embracing the Wrigley crowd after each hit as they booed him. It was a great example of what makes the Cardinals/Cubs rivalry so great.
Willson Contreras now eggs on the Wrigley crowd after picking up a hit 😂 @Cardinals pic.twitter.com/TtVYD9v2iO
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) May 9, 2023
WILLSON IS FEELING IT! pic.twitter.com/imKj7tekie
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 9, 2023
As important to the Cardinals victory as Contreras was on Monday night, it still seems this situation is far from over between he and the Cardinals. It's likely to get weirder, especially with two more games against the Cubs in Chicago over the next couple days.