The Cardinals should take heed of Jazz Chisholm's comments about veteran leaders

Jazz Chisholm Jr. called out his veteran teammates' treatment of younger players, and the St. Louis Cardinals would be wise to avoid stepping into the Miami Marlins' trap regarding team leadership.

Miami Marlins Photo Day
Miami Marlins Photo Day / Brennan Asplen/GettyImages
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The St. Louis Cardinals have had a plethora of insults hurled toward them over the past year, and many of them shared the same refrain: The team is old and stuck in its ways. It's a problem that has permeated throughout the organization, from the front office failing to keep up with the times in pitching development to signing multiple aging former Cardinals to hearken back to the winning culture of the 2011 championship team.

The Cardinals believe that possessing veteran leadership is the key to revitalizing the team in the clubhouse, but it remains to be seen how these veterans will mesh with the younger members of the team. Jazz Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins recently criticized his team's clubhouse during his first three years in the league and spoke of veteran leaders' disconnect with young players.

"“I was already a team leader without being called a team leader,” Chisholm said. “You can’t be a team leader when you’ve got guys that’s been in the clubhouse that’s been in there nine or 10 years even though they suck. They’ve been there for nine or 10 years and the team calls them the team captain. But they’re not a good captain, they’re not a good person, you’re not even a good athlete at this point. You’re just here and you’re bringing down the young guys that are supposed to be good.”"

Jazz Chisholm

The Cardinals have some exciting young talent, with Masyn Winn expected to be the team's everyday shortstop and Victor Scott II fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster. But with Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, and Brandon Crawford brought in to be leaders, all of whom are in the twilight of their careers, Chisholm's comments raise a question about whether the Cardinals' intention to solve one clubhouse issue might lead to a completely different one, where players of different age groups fail to coalesce and end up resenting one another.

Baseball is increasingly considered a young man's game, at least for the players. Bat flips, formerly taboo, are now commonplace. Players are adding their own flair to the game, such as Juan Soto and his widely emulated "Soto Shuffle." The sport is embracing its personalities, as are many fans, while the players who yearn for the game to return to its more buttoned-up roots are falling out of fashion.

It would be unfair to label all veterans as curmudgeonly and unwilling to adapt to a younger, more in-your-face style of baseball, but if the more experienced members of the Cardinals are inflexible toward those who will shape baseball's future, the Cardinals could end up circling right back to the clubhouse drama that shaped so many of their offseason moves.

That being said, the less experienced players need to do their part and listen to the advice that the older players give out. The Cardinals were excellent with this in 2022, as players saddled up to Albert Pujols and frequently sought his teachings. The Cardinals' young players are the future, but to reach their potential, they need to be willing to take the advice of those who succeeded at the highest level for many years.

For baseball to thrive in today's age, players need to express their personalities. An uptight, stodgy sport will no longer entice younger fans, and veterans who refuse to acknowledge and accept baseball's current flashier style will not earn the respect of their younger cohorts. Chisholm's words should be food for thought for the Cardinals as they attempt to rectify the clubhouse for the upcoming season.

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