For a team that made it to the NLCS, the St. Louis Cardinals have a surprising number of personnel questions to solve. Yeah, we got issues: seven of ’em.
The St. Louis Cardinals have issues too, Julia. A surprising number, given how prodigiously successful they were in 2019. At the beginning of the year, the team looked like a number of really pretty jigsaw pieces that didn’t fit together. But manager Mike Shildt somehow crammed them down to a division-winning pattern.
But now with 2020 looming, the Cardinals look like even more of a puzzle. Let us take a look at these seven issues. And taking a cue from Julia Michaels, let’s look at them musically.
“How Many Friends?” – The Who
"When I first signed a contract It was more than a handshake then I know it still is ~ The Who"
Contracts for Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, and Paul Goldschmidt are something of an albatross for the Cardinals because of the streaky performances of these players. If trading Carpenter (who has at least two more years) or Fowler (who has two more years and a no-trade clause) is not possible (or not permitted), the Cardinals would probably like to at least find roles for them that minimize their “Streaky Behavior.”
Goldschmidt will be at first base, regardless. But if the Cardinals have any ambitions of advancing beyond the NLDS, they will have to have a Paul Goldschmidt that shows up. Or get a companion slugger who can take “The Weight” off Paul.
If the Cardinals could have managed to squeeze by the Nationals, I can’t imagine what it would have been like trying to take on the Yankees and Astros with a Goldschmidt continuing to slug .063 with a 56% strikeout rate. An in-game forfeit might have been in the offing!
What we don’t want to happen is for these contracts to become motivators for management to engage in the sunk cost fallacy by over-relying on these players, which will cause heartburn with the fans and block the development of some of the superb prospects coming up in the Cardinals system (such as we saw with Tommy Edman).
This of course will not be a near-term issue with Goldschmidt. But he will be 37 years old when his Cardinals contract expires, and if there is a true age-related decline in his hitting, it could become an issue in later years.