I’m going to come right out and say it: This is the worst Cardinals team I have
Yeah, I know, it sounds crazy. They’ve had worse records at this time of year lots
of times in my life. They’re in second place, after all. If they could find some way
to right the ship, they could still win the wild card and make the playoffs.
Yeah, they could. But they’re not going to. And it’s becoming increasingly obvious
why as the Redbirds go down in flames to the Pirates, Brewers, Cubs, Nationals and
Astros: With a precious few exceptions, this team quit.
No one on the planet will convince me that this club is playing its best baseball.
So David Freese is hurt. So Brad Penny is hurt. Get over it. The Cardinals still have
very good starting pitching and a solid bullpen, so they should always be in the
game. If the hitters bothered to get on base and move the runners over, they could
score enough to win. But too many guys on this team are content to try to hit a
homer or strike out trying.
They don’t play well as a team, which makes individual flaws that much more
I remember watching the Cardinals come in last place in the National League East
in 1990. It was the first time the club finished last in anything since World War I —
and it was still more exciting to watch than this team. Youngsters like Ray Lankford
and Bernard Gilkey may have been somewhat overmatched. But at least they
didn’t get outworked.
The 2010 Cardinals remind me a lot of the St. Louis Blues of the early 1990s. They
had a lot of star power — Brett Hull, Al MacInnis, Brendan Shanahan and Curtis
Joseph. But the supporting cast was a bunch of has-beens and never-will-bes.
The Redbirds need only look at their own history to see that one superstar can’t be
the whole show. Stan Musial didn’t make it back to the post-season from 1947
through the end of his career in 1963 because he didn’t have a decent supporting
cast. Why would the Cardinals think Albert Pujols could do it?
I’m thrilled the club spent the money on Matt Holliday. But 3.5 million fans
spinning the turnstiles justifies more than a $93 million payroll. There is no reason
this team should have to try to get by on castoffs and bench players forced into
starting roles. We were told the Cardinals planned to fill their holes through the
draft. But they draft players who can’t catch the ball and they don’t teach them
how before they make it to The Show.
A Cardinals’ hallmark has always been strong defense. And, with the exception of
gold glove catcher Yadier Molina, this club stinks up the middle. Skip Schumaker
is a fourth or fifth outfielder, not a second baseman. Brendan Ryan is brilliant with
the glove on occasion — and often erratic with his throwing. Colby Rasmus takes poor
routes to the ball, throws terribly even though he has a strong arm and refuses to
adapt at the plate. Pitchers long ago figured out that he won’t take outside deliveries
to the opposite field. Instead, he tries to pull everything and either swings and
misses or pops up anything on the outside half. You can’t make a major league living
Rasmus had a great April, then pitchers figured him out. Since the All-Star Game,
he’s hitting .213 with three homers.
I thought at the beginning of the season that the Cardinals were set up for years to
come with a wealth of young players complementing the veterans. But now I’m afraid
these head cases and prima donnas will shove manager Tony La Russa toward
retirement and the inmates will be running the asylum.