Inside Look: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals limp into Shea this evening looking nothing like the team that beat the Mets in the 2006 NLCS, and barely resembling the St. Louis squad of Opening Day 2007. A sudden rash of injuries in the last few weeks has depleted the Cardinals of their resources, and will be looking to Albert Pujols and a good dose of luck to carry them through this rough time.
To get a St. Louis perspective on the goings-on, we asked Aaron Hooks of Cardinals Diaspora to give us the low-down.
1. Injuries have decimated the Cardinals this year, plummeting them 8 1/2 games back. Is there still hope for the postseason, and if so, what has to happen?
Letâ€™s be honest here, if the Cardinals werenâ€™t in the worst division Major League Baseball has ever seen, Iâ€™d say the season is over. But as long 6000 cheese heads are willing to pee their pants to win a division and the Cubs donâ€™t change their name and move out of Chicago, then the Cards are at least 50/50 to play in the postseason. Also, it would help the cause if the first female second baseman in National League history, Amanda Kennedy, could get his (her?) batting average up to, oh, .225 or so, that would help too.
2. If you go on MLB.com, Kip Wells (3-11, 6.45 ERA) is listed as the #1 starter. Braden Looper recently hit the DL, and things are so bad that Mike Maroth was imported to start tonight against the Mets. Is Chris Carpenter or Mark Mulder anywhere near a return, and are there any other glimmers of hope in the minors?
I think this question may be a polite way of telling Cardinal Nation that our rotation is one big skid mark on the underwear of baseball. And unfortunately, you would be right. If youâ€™ve read the local kiss-ass media this week, youâ€™d think that Mike Maroth is a hybrid Randy Johnson with the tenacity of Walter Johnson, yet most of us remember him losing roughly 137 games in one season for the Tigers 3 years ago. When Cardinal management let Weaver, Suppan, and Marquis bolt after the season, we knew that our success in 2007 would depend on Carpenter making another Cy Young run (one start, it was a loss), Adam Wainwright turning into a legit starter comparable to his bullpen success (looks like a dead arm season) and Kipper Wells changing his name to something respectable. It didnâ€™t happen. The buzz is that Carp will be back a week or two after the All-Star break, but my sources are telling me that Mulder may be farther out than expectedâ€¦ hence the Mike Maroth trade.
3. OK, who on the Cardinals IS healthy?
Bill DeWittâ€™s banker. And his wallet seamstress. And his driver. What other owner can pack the house every night with Todd Wellemeyer in the rotation? Did I mention that Wellemeyer was cut from the Pirates AND the Royals?
4. Other than Sir Albert, who might provide the firepower in this series against the Mets?
Funny. How about an East St Louis street gang? But unless they tagged along on the charter, I wouldnâ€™t worry too much about anyone. Youâ€™re good.
5. With all the injuries, a number of new faces have received opportunities to establish themselves. Any surprises, or particularly good / “nice to hear” / human-interest stories?
Rick Ankiel. Oh, but heâ€™s out of options, so heâ€™ll have to stay in AAA until the September call-ups. Other than that, I think we can all agree that from free-agent signings to rookies who have gotten their shot, the Cardinals have collectively rolled over and burped.
6. Is there an arm among the healthy that Dave Duncan might turn into this year’s Jeff Weaver?
Jeff Weaver? Seattle wants to dump him and his 8 million on anyoneâ€¦why not try it again. He can be our Roger Clemens, just come back every late summer, win a few games in dramatic fashion, sign another bawdy one-year deal and then do it all over againâ€¦
7. Tie game, ninth inning, two outs, Albert Pujols on third. Who do you want to see at the plate?
Aaron Miles. No doubt about it. Dude was cocksure enough to bite a guyâ€™s back muscle out for a teammate in the minor leagues, so heâ€™s not worried about the pressure of bringing Albert home in the 9th.
8. Tie game, ninth inning, two outs, Julio Franco is on third. What Met would you least like to see at the plate?
The Cardinals have a long history of getting killed by the same guys every year. Ken Griffey Jr, Matt Holliday, and chief amongst them is Carlos Beltran. Many Cardinal fans’ defining moment of the 2006 World Series run was Wainwrightâ€™s strike out of Beltran- not Weaver finishing the job. Detroit may have not realized it, but once that happened, it was over for the Tigers. Oh, did I mention that we won the World Series? I didnâ€™t think I did.
Thanks again to Aaron for his no-holds-barred perspective of the St. Louis Cardinals. To see more entertaining news regarding the Cards, be sure to visit Cardinals Diaspora.