Unpacking the St. Louis Cardinals' dilemma of whether to rebuild or retain

A local St. Louis Cardinals analyst recently posted a poll on Twitter/X asking this exact question. The results were telling.
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game Two
St. Louis Cardinals v Detroit Tigers - Game Two / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals are riding a bit of a wave at the moment. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games as of May 24th, and they have made it all the way up to third in the National League Central. Had Friday night's game not been rained out, the Cardinals had the chance to hold a share of second place in the division with a sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

All of this winning has bred some positivity and optimism amongst the players and the fan base. The offense is showing signs of what it should be, the bullpen has been stout, the defense has been chock full of spectacular plays, and the starting pitchers are doing exactly what's needed of them.

This streak led Brandon Kiley, co-host of BK & Ferrario on 101 ESPN, to pose a question on X. Kiley simply asked fans if they were rooting for the team to make a playoff push or if they were rooting for the team's downfall like last year to force a reset.

As you might imagine, the large bulk of fans chose for the team to make the playoffs. Life is more fun when the team you're a fan of is playing in meaningful games in September and October.

The surprising aspect of this poll was the quantity of people who wanted to team to crash and burn. Nearly 18% of voters chose for the team to lose again in order to force drastic changes in the front office and on the field. To me, that number is significantly higher than it should be.

Regardless of your thoughts on John Mozeliak, Oliver Marmol, Turner Ward, or Dusty Blake, rooting for your team to lose is rarely a good idea, especially less than a third of the way through the season. It's early, and the Cardinals are within striking distance of both the Wild Card and the division at the moment. A continued winning streak paired with a bad week for the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, or San Diego Padres could grant the Cardinals a playoff spot.

Rebuilds rarely go well for teams in baseball; the draft can be a crapshoot, and player development is rarely if ever linear. The Baltimore Orioles of today, the Chicago Cubs of the 2010s, and the Houston Astros over the last decade-plus are outliers in the grand scheme of baseball lore. The Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and New York Mets in recent memory are the more likely routes for teams who choose a complete teardown.

Rebuilding takes time, patience, competency, and a lot of losing to reach relevancy once again. It's possible the fans calling for a teardown and rebuild are the same ones who rip apart the front office for unintelligent trades, short-sighted signings, and general mishaps abound.

Fans should always root for their club to win regardless of its playoff prospects. A complete tear-down and rebuild would send the Cardinals organization, one known nationwide for its storied history, into a spiral. If you thought watching the team now was unbearable, just wait until you have to toil through 3-5 years of miserable baseball to even sniff postseason opportunities.