The St. Louis Cardinals have had a barely held-together beater vibe to them for a while. The only thing keeping the bumper attached is duct tape, two of the four-door handles work/are still attached, the windows are immovable, the muffler rusted off in a dorm parking lot years ago, and of course, there’s no heat or AC, but that car still started. And that went on for so long that it defied logic, physics, and mechanics.
Then the engine block dropped out on I-70, the sedan rolled five times, hit a median, charred the flesh off the lower half of the driver’s body, and you rued all those years of overlooking the check engine lights while recovering in the ICU for five months. St. Louis is in last place in the NL for more reasons than just the retirement of Yadier Molina, or the addition of Willson Contreras, and it seems like the Best Fans in Baseball haven’t been cheering for the same team I’ve been rooting on since third grade.
Acquiring and developing talent are not the same thing
There’s been something fundamentally wrong with player development for years in St. Louis, as prospects produce in Springfield and Memphis, and then at first in the majors before coming back down to Earth in a flurry of strikeouts and poor at-bats. Hell, Jordan Walker went from tying the record for the longest hit streak to start an MLB career to being demoted in less than a month.
I’ve written this before so I won’t repeat myself too much, but there hasn’t been a great home-grown Cardinal in a long time — pitcher or position player — and it’s no surprise to me that the club isn’t grinding out games its fanbase is accustomed to winning. Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt anchor an offense that’s relied on talent from other organizations to score for some time now, and credit to John Mozeliak for pulling off trades and signings to keep himself employed and the team relevant.
So forgive me if I’m not interested in bringing back Molina in order to keep this charade going when the issues start with the president of baseball ops. It’s honestly pathetic that the fans are going after Molina’s replacement at catcher as if it’s Contreras’ fault the rotation features a couple of New York washouts, the always-hurt Jack Flaherty, 87-year-old Adam Wainwright, and “ace” Miles Mikolas.
Once you get past Arenado and Goldschmidt, the lineup isn’t much better, boasting a usual array of promising-yet-fatally-flawed outfielders and glue guys with names as anonymous as their bats. Molina was so effective behind the plate that no one gave a shit what he did at it, and everyone wants to jump Contreras because he can’t coerce gems out of middling talent.
Cardinals as currently constructed, run are beyond repair
Molina’s best trait wasn’t quantifiable, and it’s definitely not transferable. He can’t coddle pitchers’ offerings from the dugout, and as much as I think he’d be an awesome manager, I’d rather he take over a team with a realistic shot at a World Series than come back to save the one he kept buoyant for the past decade.
Last season’s 93 wins were an aberration, and the meek playoff exit was proof of that. Albert Pujols blacked out for the second half of the year, but at least some good came from his lapse of consciousness. Cardinals fans’ selective memory is counterproductive, and they’re unsurprisingly upset that the hoopty finally refused to turn over.
The Contreras signing was a quick fix to an issue so large that it can’t be remedied by any autobody shop. It’s time to look at options for trade-ins, or at least let someone else try to right/rebuild the ship. And, no, that someone is not Yadier Molina.