Well here we are just over a week into the season and what do we have? The answer is "who knows?"
Seven games is hardly a fair look at any team—especially at the outset of a season. Of course by this time last season I was wondering whose head was going to roll over the self-destruction of the bullpen carrying over from '03 (you know, the bullpen that ranked first in the NL in ERA...) but as of yet I still don't have a feel for the '05 incarnation of the Cards. It's strange really, I have a feel about some players—Eckstein is going to be a fan favorite and his going to scratch and claw every last bit of success he can find in St Louis, Reggie Sanders could very well be the surprise offensive break out player this year (because who can get tired of the chants of "Reggie! Reggie!"?) Scott Rolen will come around eventually and Albert, well, Albert will be Albert. But I have yet to get a feel for the Cardinals as a team.
Maybe it's because the Cards haven't put together anything consistent yet this season. Maybe it's because some players haven't really distinguished themselves (Grudzielanek, Mulder, Walker) this season. But maybe it has to do with the fact I haven't really seen a true team effort so far this season. It seems like we're in extended spring training with the guys trying to figure each other out and their role on the team. Each season is a new lifetime of sorts and most lifetimes don't have a particularly auspicious start—there's crying and confusion and lots of flailing (kinda like us at the plate, in the field or the mound—choose whichever one applies…)
The thing is, I'm still not worried. Tony LaRussa and Walt Jocketty have stocked this team with grinders. They don't really define themselves in the first few games. Eckstein is the exception who, like Fernando Vina before him seems to relish his "pest" status to opposing pitchers. That being said these guys will continue to plug away, however unflashy it may be. Consistency is seldom sexy or as exciting as the big plays, but a look to the success of 2004 will tell you that it's the best way to win a whole boatload of games. Ironically consistency seems to be the one thing missing so far this year but it doesn't look like the team is unable to be consistent—they're plenty talented and hard-working, but more that they're still feeling everything out. If we're still doing this kind of stuff in May I'll be concerned (mind you, I'm not happy about it now…) but until then I'm just trying not to get too worked up and trying to enjoy watching the 2005 Cardinals come together.
A couple unrelated thoughts:
Seven games in and I'm already tired of Hungo—and that's only after what, three games that I've actually see him call? I don't wish the guy ill but the more he talks about pitching, the less I'm convinced he actually knows about pitching.
There is a report out there that Steve Kline wishes he were still in a Cardinal uniform. Just another reminder that baseball in St Louis is special.
Can we start a fund to buy out the advertising time from Dirt Cheap liquor? If I have to see that damn bird one more time, so help me…
And finally, just in case there's anyone starting to panic about the Cards being under .500 at this point in the series just remember—the Brewers are leading the division. Take a deep breath; you can be confident that this is not how the season will end.