So, why does it feel like fans are down on the team?
It's clear that there is a ton of frustration among Cardinals fans at the lack of spending right now. St. Louis currently ranks 16th in projected payroll for the 2023 season, which is frustrating when you consider a smaller market like San Diego has a top 5 payroll. There are real questions about whether or not the team can truly compete year in and year out with the best in the game at a smaller payroll.
Yes, the club is relying on some projections and rebound seasons from their lineup as well. They lack the depth of stars in their lineup that other contenders have. St. Louis also lacks a true ace in their rotation, and are now hoping that Jack Flaherty can step up and be the ace they need in 2023.
All of these things are true, but I think Cardinals Nation is still lowering on this club than they need to be. As things currently stand, I really like their chances in 2023. You can say it's foolish optimism, but I have a hard time believing that the club will not get high-level seasons from even just a few of Flaherty, Tyler O'Neill, Dylan Carlson, Nolan Gorman, Juan Yepez, and Jordan Walker. Just a few of these players making steps forward from 2022 puts the Cardinals in an excellent position to compete with the best in the NL.
Had it not been for a very odd meltdown from star closer Ryan Helsley and the club's elite defense in the 9th inning of Game 1 in the Wild Card Series against the Phillies, the Cardinals may have been the team that made a run this last postseason. Even if they only made it to the NLDS or NLCS, perceptions about this club would be much different. The Cardinals do need to do a better job positioning themselves to make deeper runs, but just ask teams like the Mets, Dodgers, and Braves how their postseasons went last year. Money does not guarantee success.
We all want this club to succeed and do well. Keep pushing the front office and ownership to make significant moves, but don't lose sight of the potential this team has in the process, Cardinal Nation.