Cheap Seats

Cardinals still lead the league in excuses

The Cardinals may have a pretty good team on the disabled list. But that's no excuse for the way the guys on the field are playing right now.

Lance Berkman, Chris Carpenter and Jon Jay are pretty good players. But aren't Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, Rafael Furcal, David Freese and Carlos Beltran also pretty good players? There are a lot of teams in baseball that would trade their starting line-ups for the guys the Cardinals are trotting out there every night. But, somehow, all that offensive firepower added up to one run in the last three games?

It just seems like this team isn't very tough.

A pattern has emerged lately in which the Redbirds allow a run or two early and then seem to pack things in and concede the loss. On the rate occasions that the offense can muster a few hits and get back into the game, the bullpen pulls the rug out from under the hitters. And the result is that every game lately has a "here we go again" moment.

Further adding to the image of the Birds' lack of mental toughness is the fact that they're one of the worst teams in baseball in one run games. If they can pound the other club into submission they coast. If it's going to be a close ballgame, they lose. And that has to stop.

I wondered if the Cardinals were basically conceding the 2012 season when they decided to name a guy who had never managed a professional game before as their new manager. While it seemed early on like that might not be an issue, as the Cardinals have faded back to the pack it has become the big elephant in the room.

When you're losing one-run games left and right, the manager is unavoidably going to take some heat. It's also unfortunate that the controversy surrounding the extreme shifts the Cardinals are playing cropped up right about the time the Birds started to go bad. But the most important job of the manager is to keep his team on an even keel. And right now the Cardinals are undeniably in the morale dumpster.

This club needs to try to salvage a win today in New York. It then heads to Houston to play a weak Astros club before coming home for a nine-game home stand.

It's time to stop making excuses and to get this ship righted because the Cardinals are still within reasonable distance of first place right now. But two more weeks of this sort of play and they aren't going to be.

Coming back from 10 1/2 games out in the last two months of the season is a great story. But it's a once in a lifetime event. So try not to put yourselves in that spot again, OK Cardinals?