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Inbox: What's Cardinals' next step for offense?

Beat reporter Jenifer Langosch answers questions from fans
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

The Cardinals must find a player to take Dexter Fowler's spot. Do they have any plans of trading for a big bat?
-- Kevin B. (@jungmh323)

Ah, that impact bat. It's the topic that never seems to go away around here. The Cardinals had hoped that they had found that big bat two years ago in signing Fowler. Then they were sure they'd found the answer last offseason with Marcell Ozuna. Yet here we are, just past the season's halfway point, and the Cards still don't have a middle-of-the-order anchor.

The Cardinals must find a player to take Dexter Fowler's spot. Do they have any plans of trading for a big bat?
-- Kevin B. (@jungmh323)

Ah, that impact bat. It's the topic that never seems to go away around here. The Cardinals had hoped that they had found that big bat two years ago in signing Fowler. Then they were sure they'd found the answer last offseason with Marcell Ozuna. Yet here we are, just past the season's halfway point, and the Cards still don't have a middle-of-the-order anchor.

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Will they add another impact bat at the non-waiver Trade Deadline? I doubt it. I don't buy the outside hype about Manny Machado being a fit, and landing someone like Nolan Arenado appears to be a dream at this point. Without question, the Cardinals need more production out of right field. But if Fowler can't offer it, look for the Cards to prioritize playing time for Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez.

I'd like to see the Cardinals give Fowler a solid two weeks straight of playing time, perhaps right after the All-Star break, only to make sure that this isn't a fluke first half. Do they have a choice?
-- Jeff D. (@OpenDoerrPolicy)

Well, they do have a choice -- especially with Bader and Martinez as options to play in right field. But your point is well taken. The Cardinals find themselves in the uncomfortable spot of wanting to get Fowler going again while also putting the club's best players on the field each night. With the latter as the threshold, Fowler hasn't been deserving of opportunities.

But it's hard to imagine that Fowler has stepped into a career decline so steep that he can't contribute again. The Cards need to evaluate how he'll fit for the remaining 3 1/2 years of his contract, and to do so, they're going to have to find opportunities for him to play. Ultimately, manager Mike Matheny will make this call.

Assuming an 80- to 83-win season and another playoff miss, what organizational changes do you see being made, especially with the Phillies, Braves and other rebuilds being much shorter than expected?
-- @PhoenixRizin23

Changes are coming. How radical they'll be will come down not only to how the Cardinals finish, but also the way they look coming down the stretch. Patience is wearing thin surrounding a team that doesn't play enough crisp or clean baseball. The Cards are at risk of missing the playoffs in three consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1990s, and there's a good chance that would cost Matheny his job.

If the Cardinals choose to make more incremental changes, hitting coach John Mabry is likely in jeopardy. But St. Louis' deficiencies spanning the past three years aren't entirely on the coaching staff. There's also a personnel issue. The roster lacks enough complete players and an overall identity. While fans may be transfixed on a potential shuffle within the staff, the Cards must determine who will make up their next group of core players and where they'll find the missing pieces.

What's the outlook for Adam Wainwright? Will he retire this season, and will Cardinal Nation be able to honor his stellar career with a day set aside (probably in September) to thank him for all the great memories?
-- James F.

Before we set a date on the calendar to enshrine Waino into the Cardinals' Hall of Fame, he would like to pitch -- and pitch well -- again. He was to begin a throwing program last week in an effort to start rebuilding arm strength, which means that, best-case scenario, it'd likely be late July or early August before the Cards consider him a ready option. The club has also refrained from projecting what role Wainwright would fill if he does return.

Wainwright has said that he doesn't want to address the topic of retirement in-season. But with his contract about to end and the difficulty he's had staying healthy in recent years, this may be it. Certainly, the Cardinals would love the opportunity to give Wainwright a proper sendoff, but it could also be that we won't know Wainwright's plans until after the year is over.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals