The St. Louis Cardinals are fighting to hand on to second place now as their sloppy and inconsistent play carries into May.
While the Redbirds have had serious problems bunching their hits, they have equally perplexing troubles preventing the other team from doing all their damage at once.
The Birds will shut down the other team for four or five innings -- but then allow a big, crooked number in one frame and the wheels just seem to come off. In the recent past this team seemed as if it was never out of games. But lately it seems as it is never safe, as two blow 3-0 leads this week can attest.
I don't know if the coaching staff gives these young players too much credit or what. But it seems like several of them don't have a really firm grasp on the fundamentals. They make bad throws, get in bad fielding position, don't situationally hit and they don't make the tough play when the game is on the line.
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Maybe it's just a team-wide sophomore slump. It's easy to forget because of the team's success in 2013 that there are a ton of guys on the club who aren't exactly graybeards. Maybe last year they played on adrenaline and this year the reality is settling in on them.
I have heard a lot of people blaming the coaching staff. But I find it really difficult to believe that Mike Matheny, a guy who was known during his playing career as an extremely hard worker, would stand for having his team slack off with the fundamentals.
It's tough to blame hitting coach John Mabry for the poor offense when he was the same guy who held the job last year when the Cardinals had one of their most productive seasons in franchise history.
The play of this team is certainly a head scratcher. The pieces all seem to be in place. But they just aren't fitting together correctly right now.