Yes, I know that the All-Star break isn’t technically the middle of the schedule. Yes, I realize it’s been 14 years since I posted, and you probably thought I was dead. Yes, I am going to proceed with this post nonetheless.
The first half of the season hasn’t so much been up and down and up and down as it has been up and then down. Still, the Cardinals resume play Thursday with a four game lead in the Central, and they are nine games over .500. Not too shabby really.
If I find the time I’ll do a more thorough job by breaking down each aspect of the game (starters, bullpen, defense, etc.). However, right now it’s hard enough for me to find time to watch the game–forget writing about it. Again, the answer is yes, I am aware that there are no violins playing for me. I didn’t expect any anyway.
For now I choose to believe that the worst days of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals are behind them. I’m not convinced that the best days will ever get here, but I’m not ready to write the season off by any means.
Honestly, the starting staff could do anything this half and completely fail to surprise me. I can believe the person who tells me they are going to be horrible as easy as I can believe the person who thinks they’re ready to get back to their old, reliable ways. I will say that, no matter what Jeff Weaver ends up contributing, I’m not sorry to see Sidney Ponson go. It’s not that he was horrible, although he sometimes was, it’s just that he lied to me and to everyone else. He said he was ready to change, ready to dedicate himself to baseball and then he proceeded to take his opportunity for granted, get fat, and pitch horrible enough to lose his spot in the rotation. His two good starts mean little to me in the big picture because his job and career were on the line, and that seems to be the only time he is capable of pitching well. I hate that–really hate that. Weaver has a great opportunity to be successful. He was apparently already starting to pitcher better in Anaheim and, let’s face it, we gave up nothing for him. I wish the guy we traded luck, but his career ceiling isn’t as valuable as a Jeff Weaver pitching good to great.
I still think the Cards need a bat, and Walt Jocketty does, too. The problem is finding someone available. (Some nights I dream of Alfonso Soriano without ceasing, from the moment my head hits the pillow until my alarm clock sounds. Then I wake up and realize it was all just a dream–an impossible dream…) Everyone’s saying it, but Jim Edmonds’ bat will be a strong enough pick up (meaning he is able to consistently hit well for the rest of the season) for St. Louis to win the Central. But for the Cardinals to win the World Series, they will have to have another legitimate, every day bat in the lineup. LaRussa mix-and-match is successful in the regular season because of his genius, but it doesn’t win championships–especially when a lineup requires as much mix-and-match as his currently does.
A more obvious statement has probably never been typed, but…if the Cardinals want to be around when the season ends they need to play better. They have to play better. Period. Jocketty, LaRussa, and team management can do all they want, but the men on the roster are going to have to start playing better baseball–St. Louis Cardinal baseball! When the team began their downward spiral against the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, I wasn’t concerned. The starting pitching was horrible (with the exception of Anthony Reyes), but the starting pitching was clearly the problem. I figured they could and would remedy the situation before many more games had passed. Even the best staffs had slumps, right?
Right. And then the entire team starting playing sub par. One night the bullpen was awful. The next night it was the defense that lost the game. After that it would be the offense’s fault and after that it was a starter who imploded. This is when I started to lose my cool and say things like, “I don’t understand, last night the bullpen was fine and two nights ago they could hit the ball. Tonight they can’t do either.” And then the next day they would score 12 runs and lose because Jason Marquis had a negative bi-polar pitching performance.
Sure, they won their last three games against Houston before the break, but this is still not a team firing on all their proverbial cylinders. For the first time in a while, though, they looked liked they had a chance to get there. I hope this is the case.
I’d like to watch some Cardinal Baseball.