The St. Louis Cardinals are just a boring baseball team
The St. Louis Cardinals have a problem. The team is just not very exciting to watch.
The St. Louis Cardinals are playing catch up. They are in the midst of a stretch including several doubleheaders in which they will try to even themselves with the pack in terms of games played for the season. Depth is key at this time, and the Cardinals have it. For a team currently two games under .500 on the season, the Cardinals can be relatively satisfied with that record considering the pace their revised schedule has set them at along with what they have had to go through this season to get to this point.
But the St. Louis Cardinals have some problems. The offense remains an issue. The starting rotation is wearing down. Daniel Ponce de Leon was unable to make it out of the first inning in a 14-2 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Indians on Saturday. That outing led to him getting optioned to the team’s alternate training site.
The big picture problem might be greater than all the other components. The Cardinals are just plain boring.
You can point to their track record.
You can argue that winning isn’t boring, and that wins are wins no matter how they come. I would agree. I’m not taking away any wins the Cardinals have achieved. The point is that the Cardinals are a flawed team. Not only that but a flawed team that fails to capture the excitement of the fanbase.
Maybe some fans are spoiled because of the success of the teams from 2000-2015. Those teams were regularly competing deep into the playoffs and had star players all over the roster. This current crop of redbirds, while coming off an NLCS appearance and a division title, missed the playoffs in three straight seasons prior to that.
Other than the blockbuster trade for Paul Goldschmidt, the front office has neglected to bring in any high profile players for years. Star players tend to put fans in the seats (well, whenever fans are able to return to the stadium, that is). Again, you can say that fans come to see winning baseball. That’s true, yes. Of course, the Cardinals are remarkably consistent.
The issue is that the Cardinals, while consistent and competitive, are always complacent. With the trade deadline approaching in a few days, all expectations are that the team will likely sit it out. Under the circumstances this season that is totally fair and justified.
But what about previous trade deadlines? The Cardinals have frustratingly punted at the trade deadline in each of the last several years. A bold move here and there would be great for capturing the imagination of the fan base and maybe even providing a jolt to the team.
The same goes for the offseason when the Winter Meetings dominate the headlines and teams make big and bold moves. The Cardinals are usually content to sit on the bench here as well. Big moves don’t always equal winning, but they do equal excitement. Fans being excited leads to jersey sales, ticket sales, and other forms of revenue.
The Cardinals have some issues. The offense needs some pieces, and they have some questions in the starting rotation. They have the depth to help them compete and all being said, they have a good chance to again participate in postseason play this season.
Assuming the Cardinals make the playoffs, will the team be satisfied? They could keep much of the current roster intact and run the majority of the team back out there in 2021. It is hard to guess how the pandemic will affect the business side of the sport, at least in the short term.
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Teams might not be looking to take on salary at this season’s trade deadline and that could carry over into the winter. It could be a deep freeze for free agents this winter. It is fair to keep that in mind. The Cardinals would be justified in not wanting to spend big in free agency in the upcoming offseason because of those reasons and the presumed loss of revenue that teams are facing because there are no fans at the ballparks this season.
The St. Louis Cardinals, regardless, should try to improve. The roster has some flaws and few stars to elevate or thrill the fan base. Even when the team wins, it is easy to zone out or find yourself slowly losing interest. Is that the product the team wants?
A win is a win and based on the past decade-plus, the Cardinals will likely find themselves with more wins than losses. The last losing season for the team was in 2007. For as critical as all of this seems to be of the front office and their team-building strategies, they deserve a lot of credit for building a winning team year after year. The Cardinals brand is embroidered with a winning tradition. Fans expect it and they usually get it.
However, the Cardinals, win or lose, just don’t bring the flair. They don’t have young superstars (hopes are high on Dylan Carlson but it might take time), or flashy players hitting home runs and following it up with a dramatic bat flip. I understand these things don’t make a winning club. But for a baseball team that tends to be short on excitement most of the time, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad thing.