The St. Louis Cardinals have a day off after yet another tough series. On their way to Detroit, they will have plenty to consider.
Let me first start by saying that the 2021 season is nowhere close to over for the St. Louis Cardinals. As I am writing this at 11:00 P.M. on Sunday night after the team lost another series they should’ve won, it can certainly feel that way.
I am not one to write doomsday posts, regardless of how many clicks they can get and how easy they are to agree with. The 162-game season is a roller coaster that anyone paying attention has to ride in at least some capacity.
It’s tough to deny reality though. The Cardinals are sitting in 4th place in the NL Central, tied with the Cincinnati Reds at 4.0 games back of both the Brewers and Cubs. Injuries have decimated the team’s rotation and offensive consistency has still been a problem.
At the end of the day, the Cardinals have the most talented roster they have had in at least the past four years but have struggled in more ways than ever.
It’s been said many times before, but it comes down to the teams’ stars leading the way. In games where Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt get involved in the scoring, the Cardinals have shown they can be a very difficult team to beat. However, when the two go a combined 1-8 like they did in the first game against the Braves, it’s tough to win games unless someone else steps up.
As much as it sucks to lose from the fan’s perspective, I’m sure that things in the Cardinals clubhouse are even gloomier. With the off-day on Monday, those feelings can sit and simmer… And don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things for the team to think about.
John Mozeliak has said that it might be time for a switch up when it comes to the roster because the team’s performance right now isn’t cutting it. The question then becomes where that change happens, and that is where things get interesting.
At the top of the lineup, Tommy Edman has been a gem defensively, but struggles have shown what the pitfalls of his batting profile are. It’s great that he doesn’t strike out, and it’s great that he works counts. The problem is, he also doesn’t strike out and for the most part this year, he hasn’t hit for much extra-base power. That is fine when Edman can steal bases and hit for average, but as soon as Edman’s average drops to where it is now (.264), there is nothing left to prop up his OPS. The result is his .688 OPS.
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However, is Edman a guy you are going to move on from? He’s just 26 years old and has been worth 2.1 bWAR this year because of his elite defense at second in spite of his 96 OPS+. Essentially, he’s been exactly what the team got from Kolten Wong for so many years.
The corner infield spots are locked down by Arenado and Goldschmidt, they aren’t going anywhere. In the outfield, Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill have earned their spots and Harrison Bader hasn’t been healthy, sort of discouraging any move in the outfield.
The only spot that makes logical sense for an upgrade is short stop. Paul DeJong has not been good this year on either side of the ball, but has also been hurt for much of the year and is also under contract for cheap for two more seasons.
For these reasons, if a change is made on the position player side of the ball, it will come at the expense of a player who has been a part of the team for at least a couple of years.
I really do not envy the job of John Mozeliak, but the message the team has sent with their performance is clear: you can’t just sit on your hands if you want to be competitive for the rest of the season. Something has to change for this to turn around, whether it is personnel or performance. More production, more consistency, and better play has to come from somewhere.
There have already been plenty of off-days this season where a bad loss just sits and stews. On Monday, the same thing will happen again.