It will be interesting, should the St. Louis Cardinals fail to pull off a miraculous comeback in the National League Championship Series, to see what the front office's attitude is towards the club.
On one hand, the Redbirds have made it to the NLCS and unprecedented four times in a row. On the other, this is a team that underachieved all year long and seems incapable of winning the big games.
The Cardinals have a lot of pitching depth. But they've found themselves out-gunned in the post season at the top of the rotation and they have few reliable options in the bullpen with the game on the line. Slightly more than half of the runs the San Francisco Giants have scored in this series came directly from walks or errors.
It's tough to win when the other team can score runs without even being required to get hits.
It was advertised that the defense of this club was greatly improved over the 2013 Cardinals. But defensive miscues across the infield cost St. Louis dearly in all three of the NLCS games the club has lost so far.
It's also odd that this club had a high on-base percentage all year long but lacked the sort of power it was expected to produce. Now, in the playoffs, the only way the Cardinals seem capable of scoring is by hitting home runs. Leadoff man Matt Carpenter has hit half as many homers eight playoff games as he did all season. But his batting average has dropped to .235. That's not good enough for the table setter.
The middle of the order isn't doing much so well, either. Matt Holliday is hitting .222, Matt Adams is batting .200 while Jhonny Peralta is hitting .254.
Is the Cardinals fade a symptom of a young team? Or is it time to try to look in other directions to improve the hitting and fielding? Is the team's pipeline of young pitching enough, or should the Redbirds try to fish in a deep pond of starting pitching and acquire help through free agency?
This team has a lot of self examination to do this winter. The big question is was the 2014 playing to its potential and, if not, what can be done to get it to perform?