Veteran leadership paying off for St. Louis Cardinals

Key veterans like Lance Lynn, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Carpenter have helped young players take the next step.
San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

The acquisitions of veterans Lance Lynn, Brandon Crawford, and Matt Carpenter this past offseason by John Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals were a bit questionable at the time.

Lance Lynn provided rotation depth, but other younger, more reliable starting pitchers were available for a similar price. Matt Carpenter was familiar with The Cardinal Way -- a philosophy that was lacking last year -- but he was aging and hadn't performed well offensively or defensively in years. Brandon Crawford, while few other veterans could mentor better than he, was also aging and hadn't seen success on either side of the ball in years. Both Carpenter and Crawford were left-handed hitters with limited defensive versatility. On the field, the two position players would be bench bats, and, Lynn would be an innings eater.

The other side of the coin revolved around the intangibles these three could bring to the table. Lance Lynn and Matt Carpenter were products of the Cardinals' system of years gone by, and Lynn's patented fire on the field was exactly what the team needed. Crawford, despite his underperformance, would be a suitable understudy to rookie Masyn Winn should he falter.

They've each proven their value thus far off the field. Brandon Crawford has been complimentary and a guiding force for Winn all season. After hitting his first home run with the Cardinals a few weeks back, Crawford, rather than soaking up the fame, instead took the opportunity to tout Winn's skill. Crawford said of Masyn Winn, whose 18-game hit streak ended in the same game, that "I'd be surprised if an 18-game hit streak is his career high at the end of it." That's high praise coming from a player with 4 Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger Award, 2 World Series rings, and 3 All-Star selections.

Matt Carpenter has also been instrumental in guiding the young players on the roster. He most recently imbued his on-base tendencies to Alec Burleson. Back in April, Burleson was struggling offensively; he hadn't hit a home run in nearly nine months, and he had been swinging at pitches that weren't advantageous to him. Carpenter and Burly had a "heart to heart", and Burleson has since done nothing but mash. He has an OPS near .900 for the month of June, and he has 7 home runs in just 21 games this month.

Lance Lynn, meanwhile, has brought some levity to the clubhouse. He was quoted around May 12th, the beginning of the Cardinals' hot streak that has catapulted them from 8 games under .500 into the playoff picture, saying players needed to relax and play the game their way. Lynn has been serviceable on the mound, but he's been irreplaceable off the field.

Lance Lynn, Matt Carpenter, and Brandon Crawford may not be carrying the team on the field, but their clubhouse presence has been exactly what the Cardinals needed this year.