The Cardinals are not the 2023 Diamondbacks. In fact, they're nowhere close

The third Wild Card spot allows for an underdog team to reach the postseason and go on a magic carpet ride, but it's giving the Cardinals false hope
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages

Just days after jumping off the sell train and deciding this year's Cardinals squad is a team to invest in, I was proven wrong. After going over .500 with a win on Monday, St. Louis lost back-to-back games in walk-off fashion to drop their series against the Marlins.

Of course, there's always some hope. Despite how mediocre the Cardinals have been, they are still in playoff position, now two games over .500, and could make it to October. A perfect example of a team that didn't have a great regular season but got hot in the playoffs is last year's Diamondbacks, who won just 84 games and got the third Wild Card before going to the World Series. The 2022 Phillies are another example.

However, that does not mean that this year's Cardinals team can pull that off. The truth is, the Cardinals are not last year's Diamondbacks. In fact, they're nowhere near as good as that squad.

The Cardinals don't have the pieces to pull off a D-Backs style run

It's unfortunate, but it's true. This Cardinals team doesn't even hold a candle to the Diamondbacks last year. I'm not trying to be negative, but you have to look closely at both teams to understand why a similar run is just not possible for the Cardinals.

Firstly, Arizona had three starting pitchers that were carrying the load. Former Cardinal Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Brandon Pfaadt were all pitching great for the D-Backs and keeping them in games.

To be fair, the Cardinals' starting rotation has actually been a strength. The signings of Sonny Gray and Kyle Gibson were solid ones, and you have to give John Mozeliak credit for that. But Gray is really the only starter that can be trusted in a playoff game.

He's the undisputed ace of the staff, but he doesn't have a No. 2 starter to go with him. If the playoffs began today, Gibson would be the Cardinals' Game 2 starter, and while he's pitched well, you need somebody better than that.

The bullpen has been great for the Cardinals, and they do have a bullpen that can perform well in big spots. But Ryan Helsley, JoJo Romero, and Andrew Kittredge are starting to show some fatigue, and the bullpen can only carry them so far, despite a deadly big three at the back end.

For argument's sake, let's say that at the deadline, the Cardinals go and get a No. 2 starter like Nathan Eovaldi. If they get that done, then yes, they have a playoff-caliber rotation. But even if they add somebody like Eovaldi, there are other issues left unresolved.

The biggest weakness for this team is the offense. They're near the bottom of the league in runs scored and batting average. Even if the Cardinals add another starter, no matter the quality, their biggest issue is still not fixed.

The problem with the offense is the cornerstones, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals are too reliant on them returning to their MVP-caliber form from 2022. Unfortunately, both stars are past their prime.

If they were to get going, then yes, the Cardinals' offense would be in much better shape. But Arenado's power is completely missing, and Goldschmidt has been as streaky as ever. And to be fair, getting Willson Contreras, Lars Nootbaar, and Tommy Edman back will be huge for this team, but it still doesn't fix their problems.

We hear it on the broadcast all the time. "Wait until the offense gets going." Yet the offense remains inconsistent. One night, they'll put up eight or nine runs. The next, they'll be held to three or fewer and miss key spots.

Arizona had similar star power in their lineup with guys like Corbin Carroll, Christian Walker, Ketel Marte, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. You could even make the case that the Cardinals should be better with Goldschmidt, Arenado, Contreras, Masyn Winn, and Brendan Donovan, among others.

But Arizona was still better because the players they have in their core still have a few years left of their primes at least. They didn't rely solely on one or two guys to carry the load, and that's the Cardinals' problem.

And so, with this team, it's just not possible to have a run like that. This is not a World Series contender, and if the Cardinals were to make the playoffs as currently constructed, they wouldn't last long.

I hate to be a party pooper, but the Cardinals are nowhere close to last year's Diamondbacks. The third Wild Card spot, as well as a mediocre National League, have given them false hope.