National media tends to like the Cardinals more than their fans for 2023
The St. Louis Cardinals are a perennial contender in the National League and appear to be the clear favorites in the NL Central going into the 2023 season. Still, even after signing former Chicago Cub Willson Contreras to be their new starting catcher, fans seem to be frustrated and low on the team's ceiling.
While I do not disagree that the club could have done more, whether it was pursuing a star shortstop or acquiring a front-line starting pitcher, national media seems to think St. Louis is in better shape than Cardinals fans believe.
ESPN ranks the Cardinals as a top 4 team in NL
After MLB.com listed the St. Louis Cardinals as the 5th best lineup in baseball for the 2023 season, ESPN came out with their power rankings of MLB clubs, listing the Cardinals as the 7th best team in baseball.
What may come as a surprise to some is the teams they have them ranked above, such as the Blue Jays, Dodgers, Guardians, Brewers, and Phillies. They have St. Louis projected at 92 wins and an 84% chance to make the playoffs. Here is what ESPN had to say about the Cardinals.
"The Cardinals are rarely aggressive when it comes to a quantity of moves to add players from outside the organization. However, St. Louis has been opportunistic when it comes to making a targeted move, and generally those have paid off. The latest maneuver to fit that bill is the signing of catcher Willson Contreras. It's the only move that as of now figures to impact the big league depth chart in a significant way. Yet it appears to have been enough to give the Redbirds a strong offseason grade, as the roster looks solid. Another starting pitcher would be a good idea, but don't we always say that about St. Louis?"- Bradford Doolittle, ESPN.com
Sure, it is not like ESPN is calling the Cardinals a super team by any means. I am sure they would be a tier below the Braves, Mets, and Padres in their eyes, but I am not sure enough Cardinals fans understand how good this team could be in 2023, and how they stack up against the best in the NL. The Dodgers lost a lot of key contributors this off-season and did little to replace many of them. The Phillies will be without Bryce Harper for a large chunk of 2023, and even with the addition of Trea Turner, the Phillies barely made the playoffs in 2022.
The point is, the Cardinals are viewed by people in baseball as a legitimate threat, and that's even with some question marks on the roster. There is a lot of potential on the roster to be even better than projected right now, and the front office could go out and make some moves as well mid-season to shore up any holes.
What is it that makes people feel so down on this team then? Well, it seems more to do with how ownership and the front office are operating than the team itself.