As more members of the St. Louis Cardinals test positive for COVID-19, this leaves the organization and MLB in a tough spot. It seems, however, MLB executives already have a course of action planned regardless of test results.
With a number of personnel in the Cardinals organization testing positive for COVID-19, what does this mean for the team moving forward?
After playing a quick two-game series against the Minnesota Twins on July 28-29, news broke that some Cardinals tested positive for COVID-19. At the time, it was thought that only a few members contracted the virus, but as news continued to trickle out, it became clear the Cardinals had a full-blown outbreak in the clubhouse, with 13 players and staff testing positive.
Rumors spread as to how the Cardinals got the coronavirus. Did someone contract the virus in St. Louis and spread it during the road trip, or were the Cardinals in a casino? It appears the former is the case, according to John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball operations. As more questions arose about the situation, one prevalent question remained: Which players tested positive?
On Aug. 4, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Twitter account revealed some of the players who contracted COVID-19.
We are aware that Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong, Junior Fernández, Rangel Ravelo, Edmundo Sosa and Kodi Whitley have tested positive for COVID-19.— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 4, 2020
All six individuals made the decision to grant permission in order to release this information. pic.twitter.com/tqjcG6SNx0
Now that six main contributors have tested positive, this somewhat renders the Cardinals non-competitive. Molina and DeJong are the Cardinals’ starting catcher and shortstop, Fernandez and Whitley are bullpen arms, and Ravelo and Sosa are bench pieces. With those six out of action for an undetermined amount of time, the Cardinals are in a deep hole.
The Miami Marlins were the first team hit by COVID-19. More than half of the team tested positive for COVID-19, and all of Miami's games were postponed. However, the Marlins were able to get 30 players on the squad to resume play on Aug. 4.
Also, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred also told Tony Clark — the executive director of the MLBPA — the players need “to be better” regarding following MLB protocol. In an effort to better control the situation, MLB and the players union are discussing ways to keep contact to a minimum, including having a compliance officer.
That said, it seems as if no amount of positive COVID-19 tests will derail this season. Initially, Manfred argued the only way for the season to be canceled or postponed was if a team was rendered completely “non-competitive.” However, Manfred seemingly walked back that statement and said the season was going to continue, regardless of what happens.
In all, playoff positioning doesn’t matter now. Additionally, with Manfred determined to keep the season going at any cost, the Cardinals have no choice but to push forward and hope no other personnel contracted the virus. Should the players be more careful? Absolutely. But having teams fly from area to area amid a pandemic was never the smartest decision in the first place.
Considering how quickly the virus spread among the two clubhouses, some players have opted out of the season. As such, Milwaukee Brewers star OF Lorenzo Cain opted out of the season when news broke of the outbreak in St. Louis’ clubhouse. As more outbreaks and more cases of COVID-19 among teams rise, there will be more players choosing to opt out.
If MLB followed theKorea Baseball Organization's example regarding COVID-19, this season might go smoother. In the KBO, if a player tests positive, the league is shut down for 14 days. With so many games in such a short time frame, a policy like that is almost impossible to enact in MLB. Nevertheless, this is the situation the Cardinals find themselves in, and the only thing to do now is move forward.