The 2018 St. Louis Cardinals were often times a big tease. They showed the life and excitement fans wanted at times, but fell flat in the end. What should the team leave behind as we move toward the 2019 season?
The St. Louis Cardinals seem to be fed up with not making the playoffs. They have made significant strides to get better this offseason. In 2018, the club sputtered the final week and ended up 2.5 games out of the second wild card spot after being in a postseason spot at the beginning of that final week.
This last breath of hope being quickly squished out of the team in the final week seemed to have somehow been a perfect fit for how the season went as a whole. The team did feature the emergence of Harrison Bader, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks, but also featured a lot of things that should be looked at like dead fat.
So let’s look at how this team can trim the fat and see which demons to move on from as they move towards the 2019 season.
I am not here to beat a dead horse. Site experts here and at many other publications have bagged on Mike Matheny, praised him, and everything in between. It is time to move on. Mike Matheny and his career 591-474 record as manager with the Cardinals is all in the past and it’s time for Mike Schildt to have his chance.
Mike Matheny’s tenure with the team was often times tumultuous, even while having a career .555 wining percentage. This is one instance where numbers on a paper don’t mean everything as bullpen management and clubhouse culture (at the end of his tenure) became an issue for the former manager.
All of this shouldn’t necessarily be forgotten, but there is no more reason for the drama, no more wishing he was gone, just a fresh start. In my opinion this should be refreshing for a fanbase that has been split for a while on the manager and should be a weight off Schildt’s as well because he has his first season that he can call wholly his own. Let’s all enjoy the ride.
Worrying about Carson Kelly’s role
I may be in a minor group of extreme worriers in this issue, but for a long time, I was worried that the Cardinals were wasting the value of Carson Kelly. As a former #1 catching prospect in the league, both being relegated to a bench role behind Yadier Molina and starting at AAA just seemed like a waste.
Thankfully for both Kelly and the Cardinals, they were able to find Kelly a place to play when they traded him to Arizona as part of the Paul Goldschmidt deal. This gives the Cardinals value back and gives Kelly an opportunity to potentially start for the Diamondbacks.
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Yadi, who just finished the first year of a three year extension, isn’t going anywhere. That security behind the plate, at least for the next couple years, should be a relief for fans and the Cardinals’ pitching staff alike. Yadi is blocking Andrew Knizner to a certain extent but Knizner isn’t quite the prospect Kelly was. Let’s wish Carson Kelly the best in Arizona and continue enjoying the career of Yadier Molina in 2019.
Dexter Fowler’s career year
‘Career year’ is used extremely facetiously here. In 2018, Dexter Fowler was just plain bad. With a -1.4 WAR and just a .180 batting average while dealing with injuries, the only place for Fowler to go is up. As has surfaced this offseason, there were more issues off the field for Fowler and it seemed he was caught in his own head’s downward spiral. Some of these issues involved Matheny, so a fresh start to the year under Mike Schildt will be good for him.
The front office has backed Fowler and still owe him $49.5M over the next three years, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to root for the guy to return to his 2017 level of production. Part of being able to root for him, for some fans, is going to have to include forgiving the guy for his 2018 season. Give Fowler another chance to prove that he is worth the money he is owed.
Give everyone on the St. Louis Cardinals a clean slate in 2019. Every team has a chance and nobody knows how it’s all gonna shake out until it does.
There are more things to be left in 2018 for sure, but these three were the most prevalent in my mind. Trimming the mental fat off the team is the healthiest way forward culture and fanbase-wise. Happy New Year and let’s look forward to the 2019 edition of your St. Louis Cardinals.