Cheap Seats

Midseason report card

With half of the season gone, it's hard to continue to think of the Cardinals poor clutch hitting and overall inability to score runs as a cold streak.

If the Birds are going to make the play-off, they're going to have to work out the bugs sooner rather than later because the Reds aren't going away and, the way things are going, it doesn't look like the wild card winner is going to come out of the Central Division unless things change drastically.

Overall, the Cardinals are playing well enough to sneak into the post season. But, presently, they don't seem to be playing well enough to hope for a much better fate than last season when they were a non-factor easily kicked out of the first round. Grade: C.

Starting pitching

While injuries have caused Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny to accomplish less than we hoped, Jaime Garcia has been a lifesaver, picking up the slack by pitching more like a seasoned veteran than a rookie. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright seem like they're going to be factors in the Cy Young voting for the second season in a row. Grade: A-.

Individual grades: Wainwright: A, Carpenter: A, Garcia: A, Penny: B, Lohse D-

Starting lineup

The Cardinals just aren't hitting the way they should. They don't take good at bats too much of the time, swinging at pitchers' pitches and hacking away early in the count. When runners are on base, it goes from bad to worse. Pop ups and strikeouts are far too common. The Birds need to stop trying to do too much and hit the ball where it is pitched. Their hitting is where the Cardinals will live or die. They have the talent and the tools. They just need to buckly down and make things happen. Grade: D+

Individual grades: Schumaker: C-, Lopez: C, Pujols: B-, Holliday: C-, Rasmus: C, Ludwick: B-, Freese: B, Molina: D, Ryan: D. (Note, these grades consider not just total production but how the player is performing in relation to their relative level of expectations.)

Bullpen: Expected, or at least feared, to be the Cardinals Achillies heal, the pen men have actually done a pretty good job. Jason Motte has ascended to a set up man role as he continues to develop a second pitch. Mitchell Boggs has been very good and Ryan Franklin has performed more like he did in the first half of 2009 than he did in the second half. Grade: B+

Individual Grades: Franklin: B+, Motte: B+, Boggs: A-, McClellan: B, Reyes: B-, Miller: B+, Hawksworth: B.

Bench: The Banch was a question mark at the start of the season, filled with unproven kids. Since then, it has gradually been overhauled with the addition of veterans Randy Winn and Aaron Miles. Meanwhile, it's best player, Felipe Lopez has been pressed into service as a starter first by the poor play of Brendan Ryan and later by the injury to David Freese. Grade: C.

Individual grades: Stavinoha: B, LaRue: C, Jay: B, Greene: B, Winn: B, Miles: D, Mather D-