Hunter Pence’s career resurgence earns All-Star starting spot
As if we needed any other sort of confirmation, balloting for the All-Star game has borne out the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals don’t have a single player consistently performing at an elite level.
Well, not since wunderkind closer, Jordan Hicks blew out his elbow on an innocent looking pitch a few days ago.
It’s no wonder with the team currently fighting to stay out of fourth place while manager Mike Shildt makes regrettable impassioned speeches about how we should all be impressed the home team split a series with the woeful Miami Marlins despite the fact that we’ve all failed as fans to properly motivate the club. I wonder if he realizes that when one or two players are performing poorly, it’s plausible it’s their fault. But when the whole team is playing bad, a casual observer might begin to believe that the manager and coaching staff bear some responsibility in the results.
The fact of the matter is that not only are the Cardinals currently a collection of underachievers, but we can probably all just forget about the idea that a knight in shining armor is going to arrive via a trade to save the day. I believe team Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is growing impatient with doling out big bucks for players that haven’t panned out that, should the team not make the playoffs for a fourth-consecutive season, it’s architect, John Mozeliak will be looking for a job.
I don’t see the Cardinals have the sixth-highest payroll in baseball thanks to paying Dexter Fowler, Mike Leake, Brett Cecil and Andrew Miller handsomely to not cut the mustard, further committing themselves financially to add the help they need. There’s no way this team is going to take on the salary of the likes of Madison Bumgarner without offloading a similar amount of cash. But who would take any of the veteran players the Cardinals are stuck with now?
Besides Paul DeJong, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty, who are almost certainly off limits, who would another team want? Maybe the club could find a taker for Kolten Wong, Marcell Ozuna or John Gant. But I can’t imagine a scenario where shedding those players would result in making the sum of the team better. That’s because this team isn’t only compromised in one area. It’s got problems all over the place.
It looks like all we really have to hope for in 2019 is that the Cardinals learned something from the St. Louis Blues and they’ll somehow completely turn things around at the halfway point and ride their momentum to a championship. On the bright side, it certainly appears the Birds have enough talent to be competitive — if the players would only live up to their potential.
Paul Goldschmidt ought to have 50 additional points of batting average to give, not to mention a lot more consistent extra-base power. Flaherty and Hudson ought to keep getting better as they get some experience under their belts and the Cardinals are fortunate to have a dynamic, veteran pitcher in Carlos Martinez to take over the closer role. But why should we believe a team that just doesn’t seem to care is going to suddenly get a whole lot better?
At some point, competitive spirit and pride are going to have to enter the picture.