The St. Louis Cardinals have a record of 58-76 going into September. In comparison, many deserve blame, who is receiving too much criticism for the club's failings in 2023.
This has been the St. Louis Cardinals' worst season ever. Many fans can not comprehend how bad this season is because they have never had such a dramatic collapse from their favorite team.
Last season, they won the NL Central. They are in last place this season, 16.5 games back at the start of September. Hopes were high for this season. Adam Wainwright is set to retire at the end of this season, and many of his teammates were primed to help him go out on top and get over 200 wins for his career. Instead, he's stuck at 198 wins. During his last start, he pitched so well but couldn't get run support from his team.
While the team is stacked with Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Willson Contreras, the team has had to rely on Taylor Motter and a scrappy bunch of minor leaguers to get them through games because of injuries.
Over the years, the injury bug is nothing new for this team, and it should have been considered closer when building this team last offseason. For several years now, the Cardinals have relied on hope and a prayer that the starting rotation will perform as expected and then some. Every starter has had an ailment, which has caused the team to tax their bullpen. John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals president of baseball operations, has often said that to do the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results is insanity. Yet, for the past three seasons, Mozeliak has gone into each new season hoping for different results from the rotation without making a single change.
He was hoping for big things from Wainwright in his final year. He hoped Miles Mikolas would have a bounce-back season, even earning himself a two-year extension. Steven Matz was another oft-injured pitcher Mozeliak hoped to see improve. Prospect Matthew Liberatore has gotten some starts as well. And then Jack Flaherty and Jordan Montgomery were each supposed to have tremendous seasons and impress as they were going into free agency at the end of the season. Flaherty and Montgomery parlayed their struggles into getting traded at the deadline to the Orioles and Rangers, respectively.
Last offseason, the Cardinals' main goal was to get a replacement for legendary catcher Yadier Molina. They did that quickly when they could sign Willson Contreras to a 5-year $87.5 million contract. They could have attempted to sign a couple of pitchers. They could have gotten a veteran arm or even a veteran outfielder, considering the consistent ailments of Tyler O'Neill and Dylan Carlson. But they did nothing else.
Close to the trade deadline, Mozeliak finally acknowledged those failures and vowed to use the deadline to improve the team for 2024 and beyond. The team was able to net several pitchers, including Tekoah Roby and Adam Kloffenstein. John King has already helped out of the bullpen, and Drew Rom has made his major league debut with a couple of starts, giving him something to build on for next season. The Cardinals did acquire infielders Cesar Prieto and Thomas Saggese, who are making huge impacts at the AA Springfield affiliate.
Next season could also bring more pitching prospects from the Cardinals system in Michael McGreevy and Gordon Graceffo.
Mozeliak, unfortunately, wasn't able to make moves to impact this season. Instead, the team is mixing and matching and trying different things in hopes of something good coming along. Playing a spoiler to those contending teams down the stretch would be nice. And maybe they can.
This season is far from what anyone could have expected for the Cardinals. And there is much blame to go around. Let's discuss who has been taking too much of that criticism.