With the St. Louis Cardinals in need of a few pieces to turn the season around and rumors swirling around faster than a whirlpool in the Bermuda Triangle, it’s easy to be discouraged that none came to pass. But not all is lost. Here’s what the team can do now to turn things around.
The St. Louis Cardinals have never been a team that hard sells for a rebuild, nor are they a team that is willing to invest the kind of top-tier money that some elite players are expecting and being currently paid. So while the lack of moves as the deadline passed was frustrating, you cannot tell me it was all too surprising.
As a team struggling for a playoff spot in an uncharacteristically mediocre NL-Central, there is no big shake-up or moral booster coming in to bring an offensive epiphany or to glue the roughshod bullpen together.
Now we have a middle-of-the-road team with a dysfunctional bullpen, struggling hitters, a questionable manager, and a locker room that’s as tense as ever. Pitchers don’t have any clear use or role to develop rhythm, hitters are completely out of their comfort zones, and upper management hasn’t done much to alleviate the tension.
That being said, the Cardinals are still very much in the playoff race. The defending champs and projected overlords of the division Cubs have struggled as well, and are only ahead of the Cardinals for the division lead by 4.5 games, and still very much have a chance to make the playoffs. But in order to do that, things need to change.
I am not just saying that for the immediate future and the 2017 playoffs. There are also ramifications of the struggles this year that could go beyond this season if not rectified. Baseball is about rhythm and developing said rhythm, and a whole season’s worth of difficulty can make it hard to return to previous success.
Having this kind of down season signifies the transition that the Cardinals have been going through since Albert Pujols departed following the 2011 World Series win. While there are always down years for franchises, its holding even a down year to a high standard that separates the dynasties from the flashes in the frying pan.
For a team with as much pedigree as the Cardinals, a playoff berth has been something almost expected over the years. For this year’s team, it should be the goal to make a playoff berth the floor of the Cardinals. Setting that kind of high standard is important in teaching the young players the quality, the effort, and the toughness that is expected.
Things will not be easy. There is a great deal of discord and a negative culture that has built up over the course of the season. Here are some of the things the Cardinals need to do in order to get away from that and work back towards winning.