St. Louis Cardinals: The state of the organization

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John Mozeliak (L) and Bill DeWitt, Jr. managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals talk in the dugout prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
John Mozeliak (L) and Bill DeWitt, Jr. managing partner and chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals talk in the dugout prior to a game against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium on September 29, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 4-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images) /
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The St. Louis Cardinals have recently come under fire from Sahadev Sharma, a writer at The Athletic.

As it turns out, he is not too far off. This is not the same St. Louis Cardinals franchise that I grew up watching. It does not mean that I love this team any less, or that they are even on a downward slope. But what it does mean is that there is something different. It is not Dexter Fowler.

The reason the Cardinals even signed Fowler is what spoke to me when reading the article by Sharma. It is a good read, and if you haven’t read it, here it is.

The Difference

For years, the Cardinals had the ability to grow from within. Look at the last World Series roster from 2011. Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, Jon Jay, Colby Rasmus, and that is just to name a few, all were grown by the organization. The core part of that roster, including the superstar was homegrown.

The supplemental pieces, which were just as important, came from the outside. Guys like Lance Berkman, Rafael Furcal, and Jake Westbrook all were huge in bringing that World Series back to St. Louis.

Fast forward to 2018. Yes, Yadier Molina is still a star. But Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, Miles Mikolas all came from the outside. There are still plenty of homegrown guys on the roster, in fact there are a lot. However, the Cardinals also tried to buy some big names for big money.

The bad contracts have backfired on guys like Brett Cecil, Fowler, and even Greg Holland. This team did not buy the stars, they bought the veterans on a short term basis, and squeezed the talent out of them as needed. They were supplemental.

This is not saying that a guy like Ozuna was a bad move. In fact, I love that move. But the other outside players make things more difficult.

What Does This Mean?

It means the issue is not Dexter Fowler. The issue is that recent years have brought the business of buying big names, and it is not working out. The St. Louis Cardinals are now stuck in a few bad contracts. Now, guys like Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader are being blocked by these contracts.

The issue lies in the fact that the team tried to pay with the big boys, but it did not work. And it did not work because Fowler is not the kind of player to dump big money into. His attitude aside, it was kind of an odd deal from the start.

Why Did It Happen?

The St. Louis Cardinals were hancuffed into trying something. The prospects that they were banking on assuming the winning tradition did not live up to expectation.

In 2011 Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, and Matt Adams were all in the top ten prospects. The year after, Kolten Wong and Michael Wacha joined them. Randal Grichuk was number 11 in 2013. These guys, added in with the guys that did not make it, fell flat under what the organization hoped for.

Because of all of that, there was a need to bring in higher level talent from the outside. The reaction makes sense, and we all would probably have done the same thing.

Next: Fireworks In The Making

That is what I took from Sharma’s article. This team is not who they used to be, but it is not in a terrible place. The St. Louis Cardinals were all but forced into the situation they are in now. However, the ship can be righted. This years prospect pool is VERY strong. So, this does not look like a long downward spiral.

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