Smile Politely

Cardinals Fight Not Enough to Make It

The Redbirds season is becoming a lot like Debra Winger at the end of Terms of Endearment. You’re 99% sure they aren’t gong to make it, but you also can’t imagine a story ending so terribly and yet, there’s a part of you that really just wants the damned thing over with already.

It’s still hard to complain all that much, but it hurts even more because we’ve had our chances to make a dent and didn’t. The Brewers and Cubs appear to be falling apart faster than a Paris Hilton relationship and the Cards have had ample opportunity to take something away from either team’s lead and they just didn’t come through.

The sweep by Houston hurt the worst. I’m not sure if they simply overlooked the Astros or if they just didn’t play good ball, but either way, there was a great opportunity to gain ground that slipped through their fingers. For a team that was hanging on by a thread and still barely is, they just don’t seem to play with any sense of desperation.

This is probably a reflection of the Tony Larussa game plan. Teams under him seem to have a set kind of plan. Win every series if possible and don’t worry about the record or the standings so much as how many games the team is over .500. It usually works out fine, but this year we’re chasing two teams in our division and for the first time in a long time, 90 wins ain’t gonna do dick for them.

I was a skeptic, like most, at the beginning of the year, but they opened the door of hope and it was hard to discount them after that. The every changing lineup was far better than I thought. Pujols has been as good as ever though a bit more inconsistent than previous years. He should still be the MVP without a doubt, but I can’t see him getting it. He’s just too consistently good for some people to realize how phenomenal he actually is.

Molina and Glaus have been pretty damned good hitters this year, too. Molina’s average is a little hollow, but he almost never strikes out and he’s become valuable. Glaus is as streaky as they come, but he’s contributed and actually carried the team a couple of weeks here and there. The shortstops and second basemen haven’t contributed much offensively, but Aaron Miles is becoming a player, no matter which position they put him at.

The outfield is also sort of amazing. Ludwick has become a top notch ball player. He’s always had some promise and this may have been the year that he finally put it all together. Ankiel has some good numbers and his arm makes up for his inexperience in the field. The Schumaker, Barton, Lopez, Mather, Duncan, or whoever else happens to be standing around when Tony makes out the lineup card platoon was also a perfect fit for the fickle manager.

Young players have come up from AAA and actually contributed all year long. It the exact plan the Redbirds have been talking about, making the farm system viable again. This is why they didn’t make any big trades towards the deadline. It was probably a smart move in the long run.

There weren’t really any huge impact players out there that we could afford, either money or prospect wise. A lefty reliever would have been nice, but mortaging the future for a guy that probably wasn’t going to get us over the hump anyway would not have helped the long term plan.

I think the Cards management decided that if they were going to make an impact move, it would be over the winter with free agent signings. That’s probably fine. We keep most of the farm system in the meantime and we have a ton of money coming off the books next year. I think they also have a pretty good idea of what they can expect from the young players on the roster now.

I suppose I haven’t completely given up on this year. They could go on a torrid streak and at least apply some pressure to the wild card standings, but I just don’t look for it. We haven’t had a winning streak over five games all damned year. This was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and that’s exactly what it was. It just turned out far better than most other teams rebuilding years.

It’s still nice to be a Redbirds fan.

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