Leave it to the Cardinals to win two-thirds of their games and be troubling at the same time.
The talk radio air waves are full of fans waiting for this House of Cards to come tumbling down because the Redbirds' offense is too dependent on home runs for its scoring. Would we even be talking about this if mark McGwire wasn't the hitting coach?
The Cardinals aren't exactly a bunch of Rob Deers, struggling to hit .200 while popping just enough balls out of the yard to keep things interesting. The Birds' three primary sluggers are all hitting well over .300. (Albert Pujols .321, Matt Holliday .315, Ryan Ludwick .333.) It's not like the boys are closing their eyes and swinging as hard as they can. For the most part, they're getting good at bats but the ball isn't falling in.
Holliday's homer Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks was a clothes line, as was Ryan Ludwick's Sunday night against the Mets. I fail to see how it would have been better if those line drives would have bounced off the outfield wall instead of sailing over it.
The Cardinals' problem is a lack of consistency throughout the lineup. Colby Rasmus and Yadier Molina are showing signs of life now. But the fifth and sixth place hitters in the St. Louis lineup have struggled mightily in the first weeks of the season. It's not because they're trying to hit home runs. It's because being a professional hitter is a constant wave of ups and downs.
The amazing thing is that the Birds have built an early lead in the National League Central when they obviously aren't playing their best. One of these days, Pujols, Holliday, Ludwick and Rasmus are going to all get it going at the same time. But it's nice to know that the Cardinals can win when they don't have their A game.
I'm anxious to see how good this team can really be.