The Cardinals need to stop relying on Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado to be franchise cornerstones

While having Goldy and Arenado in St. Louis has been a treat, their moment to lead the Cardinals has passed, and it's time to build around other players
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

The Cardinals deserve credit for being bold in their pursuits for Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They acquired each star at the best possible time, when they were both still in their primes and capable of leading the team to a World Series title.

However, in recent years we've witnessed that tandem decline sharply. Since finishing first and third in the MVP race in 2022, respectively, Goldy and Arenado have fallen on hard times.

One would expect an offense with both stars in it should be one of the top offenses in the league. But that is not the case. Yes, it could be if they would produce, but it's time to accept the harsh reality, that neither star is in their prime any longer and that the Cardinals need to stop relying on them to carry the offense and be franchise cornerstones.

The Cardinals wasted Goldy and Arenado's prime years

At this point, these guys are no longer your best two players. That moment has passed, and as hard as it may be to accept, the Cardinals really wasted their prime years. They could have held onto Randy Arozarena or gone after Nick Castellanos in 2020. But they didn't.

They also could have added top-level pitching anytime from 2019-23. They didn't. As such, the Cardinals have only played in three playoff games with both Goldy and Arenado on the roster. They've lost all three and haven't won a playoff game in almost four years.

And while the team declined, so too did Goldschmidt and Arenado. Now, neither one of them is producing the way they should, and it stands to reason why the offense is so inconsistent and not one of the top offenses in the league.

We don't know what the Cardinals are going to do at the trade deadline just yet, and it's really unclear thanks to how bad the National League has been this year. The next month should determine what they do.

But regardless of whether they buy or sell, they need to stop relying on Goldschmidt and Arenado to be franchise cornerstones because they just aren't those guys anymore. Acquiring both sluggers was a good move by John Mozeliak, but it just didn't work out.

Should the Cardinals sell, I would expect at least one of them to be traded at the deadline. More than likely, Goldschmidt won't be back with the team in 2025. But even if they buy, Goldschmidt and Arenado are not the franchise superstars they once were.

If the Cardinals truly want to reap the benefits of getting Willson Contreras, Tommy Edman, and Lars Nootbaar back, they're going to have to make some changes to the lineup. That's not to say that Goldy and Nolan can't still contribute in some way, but having them hit in the heart of the order is what's dragging the team down.

The Cardinals have a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup with Masyn Winn and Alec Burleson. That I wouldn't change. But when you get your injured bats back, if you want to improve, building the lineup around other guys is the only thing that will help.

This means moving Goldy and Arenado down in the order, close to the bottom even. Contreras had been the Cardinals' best hitter up until he got hurt, so if I were Oli Marmol, I would hit him third and let Lars Nootbaar hit cleanup, as Nolan Gorman is also struggling.

It also might be worth giving them a few days off. It seemed to work with Goldy back in May before the Cardinals rallied from nine games under .500 to get back into the race. Arenado also needed the night off at Rickwood Field anyway. Maybe sitting him for a few extra days will help him get going.

Either way though, the Cardinals can't keep banking on Goldy and Arenado to carry the offense. That's just not their role anymore. Losing Contreras hurt, but he's your centerpiece now, and when he comes back, the lineup should be built around him, Burleson, and Winn.