Baseball championships are meant to be decided on the field.
But I have a bad feeling that the Cardinals' pennant aspirations may have been decided in the training room.
First, Kyle Lohse was been allowed to go more than a year with a lingering forearm problem that eventually required surgery. He's struggling to get back to the big leagues from a rehab assignment in the minors. If he does make it back this year, how much impact Lohse will have is questionable. And that's a big deal when you're talking about a pitcher who is signed to a $40-million contract. He's supposed to be one of THE guys, and he's been unable to produce all season.
I can't help but imagine if the Cardinals' medical staff would have attacked the problem instead of waiting around and telling Lohse to rest that maybe Lohse would have pitched a full season and been productive enough that the team wouldn't have had to spend the last two months trying to get by with Jeff Suppan and Blake Hawksworth in the starting rotation...
If the Cardinals wouldn't have had to make a desperation move to get a pitcher, Ryan Ludwick might still be on the team to help the struggling offense...
The Redbirds thought they could afford to let go of Ludwick because they were certain David Freese would soon be back with his righty RBI Bat. Unfortunately, after sitting on the shelf for a month with what was described as a bruised ankle, Freese went on a rehab assignment and had a career threatening setback when his ankle tendon ripped from the bone as he was running the bases.
I talked with some people is the medical profession and they agree with my suspicion that the alleged bruise and the torn tendon are probably related.
My question is: Did the Cardinals send Freese, a player who had his ankles and feet damaged last year in a car accident, to have his ankle examined or just assume it was a bruise. A simple MRI would have revealed damage to the tendon before it blew out. Instead, he was sent out with what would seem to be a weakened body part that blew out the first time he tried to test it.
The loss of Freese's bat and glove is more than enough to make the difference between winning the NL Central and missing out on the playoffs. And a 2008 Kyle Lohse instead of a 2010 Jeff Suppan might have made a huge difference too.