St. Louis Cardinals: No matter how you look at it, 2019 is pivotal
By Curtis Vance
The St. Louis Cardinals are under new management. With some big offseason moves, will the Redbirds fly high? Or will the Cardinals come out of the gate slow and grounded in 2019?
Whether it is within the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cardinals fan base, or people within our own lives, there is a certain breed of people that you come across that when you see them, you can tell they are born to lead.
When the St. Louis Cardinals said goodbye to one Mike Matheny and said hello to Mike Shildt, it was clear a 180 degree switch; a new direction for 2019.
St. Louis will welcome some new motivation, new blood at this level in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. They have shown their worth at the Triple-A level, but the Majors is a whole ‘nother ballgame. One of the biggest factors that will decide the trajectory of the season is Mike Shildt and co.’s ability to teach at the highest level.
Most of the young Cardinals have been involved with many of the present coaches, which should be a significant help in Shildt’s first full season at the helm.
After missing the playoffs for three consecutive years, the pressure on this Cardinals team is as high as it’s been in a long time. Even when the team had World Series expectations, the pressure wasn’t on to break a tough postseason drought like this.
With all of that in mind, the grind of a long season will be tougher than it has been in recent memory. We need some of the Cardinals past magic from a philosophy of the “White Rat” era, and some “La Russa” philosophy to create a new formula of winning.
This would give the St. Louis Cardinals a needed mental edge. Cardinals coaches would be enabled to pull off dynamic switches of varying aggression at almost every position, which then creates new options and new wrinkles to throw off opponents throughout games and the season as a whole
St. Louis Cardinals opponents would have to adjust to a dynamic team; a new and improved Cardinal way. Give your opponent a chance to react, then capitalize on the opportunity to create mistakes,. When teams become victims of the new Cardinals dynamics, mistakes will surely happen.
Becoming unpredictable to be consistent, sometimes becoming non-aggressive, but also allowing for the big inning to happen. In a way, it seems paradoxical, but that is exactly what the depth of this St. Louis Cardinals team should allow them to do.
The Cardinals can make adjustments with people on base on both sides of the ball to create certain dynamics that favor the St. Louis Cardinals. Then, a better game flow can happen with both offense and defense, and they will play off each other to create that special brand of Cardinal baseball.
Part of the reason that the pressure is so intense for the 2019 St. Louis Cardinals is the wild offseason the Cardinals have had.
The first thing I want to look into is arguably the most important: the state of Dexter Fowler. Will Fowler be expendable or can the Cardinals afford to keep him that may or may not have an effect on chemistry for the birds on the bat?
Fowler has demonstrated throughout his career that he can be a multi-tool talent, but whether or not the Cardinals will get anything back from that remains to be seen.
Making a move this winter seems unlikely given all of the information that came out of the Winter Warm-Up fiasco. After everything they have accomplished this offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals will more likely stay pat.
If Fowler can play up to the Cardinals expectations, and hopefully his own, a good first half would give the Redbirds leverage at the All-Star break.
With the signing of Andrew Miller, you can try and trade Fowler to complete the bullpen. You could find a flexible top second tier talent that can pitch in the 5th early, stay to the seventh, then the next night pitch in a spot in the sixth or seventh.
Jose Martinez could be on the chopping block after he lost his starting spot to Paul Goldschmidt, but when Harper was the talk, Fowler seemed exponentially more expendable than Martinez.
The reason is simple: Martinez is hot, Fowler is not. On top of that, Martinez has proven to work within the team’s chemistry as well, while providing production that is consistent and the ability to possibly carry the birds for a week or ten days. When compared with Fowler’s horrendous 2018, the choice seemed obvious.
Whether or not Fowler is on the team, Miller will contribute; the signing could help with the development of younger players like Jordan Hicks to help fill their roles effectively throughout a long season..
The 2x All Star and former ALCS MVP can bring some stability to a tired bullpen late in a season with playoffs looming near. After all, Miller is no stranger to long seasons and perform
This also affects what the Cardinals can do with Adam Wainwright. His role could end up being a filler 5th through 7th, a rubber arm that is able to be used over multiple innings and consecutive games. His days as a starter could be over, but spot starting instead of call ups could also be a help for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Miller and Wainwright in the bullpen will help stabilize the starters on the lower end of the rotation that may or may not labor in stretches.
Emerging bullpen stability should allow Fowler’s value to go up, seeing and waiting of a fluctuating trade market. Do they stay in the market to move Fowler, to push the market value up, when betting on a Fowler to have a marketable first half? Fowler has a no trade clause, and the St. Louis Cardinals must be willing to eat some of Fowler’s contract to find a suitor, making their options rather limited.
The St. Louis Cardinals made a splash with the Paul Goldschmidt trade. The St. Louis Cardinals front office, Cardinal nation, the St. Louis Cardinal players have they bought in, but actions speak louder than words.
Whether or not they succeed or struggle won’t change the fact that 2019 will be a pivotal year for the St. Louis Cardinals. Whether or not this team has the mental fortitude to make a deep playoff run remains to be seen, but we can at least hope that this season will be one of growth for the St. Louis Cardinals.