“There wasn’t a feeling that something was going to change if we just came in today and went back to work.”, Doug Armstrong said when asked about the firing of the Stanley Cup-winning coach Craig Berube.
One cannot look at the situation the Blues find themselves in and help but see similarities in the other St. Louis team. Since 2011, the Blues only missed the playoffs two of those years and won a Stanley Cup. The Cardinals, since 2011, have missed the playoffs only four years and won the World Series in 2011. Both are very successful teams.
Last year, however, the wheels came off for both teams. Both teams had a big problem with defense. The Blues had inconsistent play in the net and the Cardinals had the same behind the plate. Penalty kills for the Blues; and bullpen issues for the Cardinals. Both teams lost their biggest leaders. For the Blues, it was Alex Pietrangelo and Ryan O’Reilly. With the Cardinals, it was Yadier Molina and Albert Pujols.
Both teams came off the horrible years and they sounded like they could have shared a press conference. Both approach the new season intending to retool instead of tear down and rebuild. The Blues got to the 39th game before admitting their approach wasn’t working. If the Cardinals season follows the same script, could Oliver Marmol be gone by the All-Star break?
What can the Cardinals learn from the Blues?
Armstrong said in the article that they would talk about the message they wanted to get across to the team every day and it wasn’t translating. The Cardinals messaging for years has been good pitching, great defense, and fundamentals. That wasn’t making its way to the field last year. Maybe that is one of the reasons for bringing in strong personalities like Sonny Gray and Lance Lynn, hoping they can get through to the team in ways the coaching staff hasn’t been able to do.
Armstrong mentioned that he was waiting for things to change and they just didn’t. Will this coaching staff be able to be more nimble when making on-field decisions? Do they even have a plan if things go sideways? What will their approach be to analytics? Will that be a tool to use or what they base their decisions on? Can this staff improve on making pitching changes? Will they be able to improve the defense or will things remain the same?
When asked about roster moves, Armstong said that yes, if players weren’t performing he would not hesitate to trade them, put them on waivers, or ship them to the minors.
If a player goes into a prolonged slump will they change the lineup, will the Cardinals bring up players from the minors, will they finally get to the point where they say it’s not working and go full-on rebuild? This roster just like the Blues roster, has some good players. What can also be said is that good players don’t necessarily make for a good team. Just ask the Padres or the Mets.
With so many correlations the Cardinals should be looking at what happened just a half mile down Clark Ave., Otherwise, it will be another long year in St. Louis.