There are no words to describe the disappointment of the Cardinals' series loss to the Pirates. But somehow they turned in another lackluster performance and lost 5-2, never really competing after falling behind early.
I could rehash that mess. But, truthfully, I don't even want to allow thoughts of that disgusting mess to creep into my skull. Instead, I think it's time we start to look to next season. It's time to admit, once and for all, that the 2010 edition of the club isn't snakebitten, unlucky or unfortunate. It just plain stinks. And it's easy to see why it stinks: Beyond a core of a few key players, the Redbirds are a lousy defensive team. they don't know how to run the bases and they are terrible at the plate in the clutch.
Albert Pujols may win the triple crown this season and Adam Wainwright could win the Cy Young Award -- and the team will STILL miss the playoffs. What kind of embarrassment is that?
A team that, supposedly, was built to impress Pujols as he nears free agency that the Cardinals were intent on being competitive went into the season with a reserve outfielder as its starting second baseman. Skip Schumaker was named last week by baseball columnist Joe Posnanski as one of the worst 10 starting players in the major leagues. The Birds counted on David Freeze to play third base and be and important RBI bat after his rookie season was a complete bust thanks to ankle and foot problems. Surprise! He missed more than half of this season with foot and ankle problems. But that's okay, because we've got the esteemed Felipe Lopez to play third base.
Lopez became an ex-Cardinal in 2008 because of his high opinion of himself. He demanded a three-year contract and the Redbirds passed. And then so did everyone else. He's played on one-year deals ever since as GMs around baseball were suspect of his abilities. Now we know why. Lopez folded like a cheap shirt when the Cardinals leaned on him. Here's to hoping he's soon again an ex-Cardinal.
The Birds need to get stronger up the middle if they're going to be competitive in 2011. If they want to save money by continuing to play Ryan in a starting role, that's fine. But they need to find a legitimate lead-off hitter who can play second or shortstop and plug Ryan into the other spot. Then they need to find a bat to replace Ryan Ludwick either at third base or in right field.
I like Jon Jay and Allen Craig shows some potential. But those are the two spots available for a power bat.
It's time to get over the penny pinching and come up with realistic budget for a team that draws 3 million fans a year. If the Cubs, Phillies and Tigerts can afford $140-million payrolls, the Cardinals sure as heck can afford $120 million. That's $28 million more than they're spending this year (not even including deferments.) So I just don't buy the garbage that the club can't afford to re-sign Albert Pujols at a reasonable cost AND fill some other holes with a competent pitching staff.