They have pitchers who could probably step right into the St. Louis line-up if needed--Stuart Pomeranz, Chris Lambert, Jordan Pals and Mike Parisi just to name four. They have excellent infielders like Mike McCoy who has more than proved himself at shortstop this year and Travis Hanson who has owned third base since returning from Memphis at mid-season. They have a tremendous outfielder in Amaury Marti who is the most natural outfielder I have ever witnessed. They have three great catchers, Gabe Johnson, Iker Franco and Dan Moylan, all of who are as dangerous with the bat as they are with the glove. So what is it? Whatever it is, and if anyone knows, no one is telling the fans or the media.
Watching a team lose six games in a row is disheartening at best. I have done the math and no matter how many games the Springfield Cardinals win from this point on and no matter how many everyone else loses, they will not be appearing in post-season play. There was a point at the end of the first half when post-season play for the Cards seemed almost a given. Now that dream has faded and all Cards fans have to look forward to is the hope of the Big Birds playing in October. And you know what--they aren't exactly tearing up the competition. The last time I looked they were only one-half game ahead of Cincinnati after leading the division by a wide margin for most of the season.
Someone needs to win. It's not going to be Memphis. It's not going to be Springfield and it may not be St. Louis. Springfield is about to be swept by Tulsa after being swept by Frisco in Texas earlier this week. The Springfield Cardinals return home this weekend to play Wichita in a four game homestand. This homestand could have been a pennant race. Now it is nothing but the last four home games of the season.
What happens in the minor leagues effects the majors--directly. St. Louis has made some great trades in the past few weeks that will go a long way to help in post-season play (if they make it). Right now from where I sit (and again I am speaking totally out-of-school) it seems totally self-destructive to develop a young player to be an outstanding ball player with years of playing ahead of him, a player anyone would love to have, only to trade him off for a guy who may only play in October and at most one or two additional seasons. Trade too many of these young players off for ready-to-retire veterans and the young ones come back to bite you in the rear and the short-term vets eat up your budget.
What's wrong with the Springfield Cardinals? As far as I can see--nothing is wrong with the team. I am convinced that becoming a Cardinal is a dream come true for many baseball players. St. Louis is a great franchise and to be a Cardinal is an honor. So you work hard to be the best Cardinal you can be and then suddenly find yourself a Blue Jay or (and God forbid) a Met. Where is the incentive? Where is the loyalty? Why learn one playbook when more than likely you're going to be reading another before you ever make it to the majors? Developing players just to be good-looking potential tradees seems like it has to be detrimental to the organization.
What's wrong with the Springfield Cardinals? Nothing. They just need to be able to continue to dream and work toward flying into the majors as a Cardinal and not as an Angel or an Oriole.
The Springfield Cardinals return home Saturday night and the crowd will be large and noisy and appreciative of the team they love. They are loyal--win or lose. To whom it may concern: Don't take that loyalty for granted--it could also come back to bite you in the rear.
You can write John Brayfield at email@example.com