It's not the end of the world. The Cardinals barring a late season swan dive (in which any other team in the division doesn't follow suit, that is…) are in line for their sixth trip to the postseason in seven years. All that while missing our starting center fielder and shortstop, the #2 starter in the rotation, having no regular left fielder and about 3/5's of the starting rotation inexplicably replaced by t-ball tees on any given week.
And in the meantime Albert Pujols continues to be the biggest freak on the face of the planet. I think there's got to be a support group set up by now and I'm guessing Brad Lidge and Odalis Perez are charter members. While I like Ryan Howard and appreciate all that he's done for the Phillies this year, there's no way that Albert hasn't earned a second MVP. How much more clutch can this guy get without this being a Disney "based on a true story" film?
The 2006 campaign has been one of the more frustrating ones in recent memory. While the Cardinals are in first, they definitely haven't played like a team that's earned another division title for significant stretches this season. The Cards as of late haven't seemed as lackluster as, say, the Cards right after the All-Star break, and there have been some signs of improvement.
Chris Carpenter had been injured
and a few starts afterwards he still wasn't quite up to snuff. Since then Carp has been just as
dominant as his Cy Young award season and just when the Cardinals needed
stability and someone intimidating on the mound. Jeff Suppan has once again completed his
second half transformation and turned into the second coming of Woody Williams. The emergence of Chris Duncan has helped relieve some of that "Who's in left" second-guessing. Time will tell if
It's also been nice to see the metamorphosis of Jeff Weaver. While I think he might be just a stop gap for the remainder of this season, it's been nice to see that Dave Duncan has been able to work some of his magic already. The results have been hit and miss, but at least Weaver's learned some poise. When he first came over whenever he didn't get a call I would've sworn he was going to cry. He'd pout to the umpires and look like he was falling apart. He's still got an animated streak, but he looks more in command of his emotions on the mound and he's been at least a little better pitching-wise. Now if they could just do something about pitching to left-handers.
On a side note, I'm glad the Cards
got to face
Anyway, back to Cardinals. I was wondering who was going to fill the Einar Diaz role on this year's club and so far Jose Vizcaino appears to be the front runner. I was happy to see Walt Jocketty try and fill the hole with a veteran and Vizcaino came cheap after being released by the Giants. Apparently what the Cardinals really needed was someone to keep the edge of the bench warm. If you're a glass half full type it's because Aaron Miles has answered the call effectively at short. But like Einar last year, you have to wonder what a guy has to do to see some playing time every now and then.
One of my big gripes with the
Cardinals this season (and in the past) is how they deal with injuries. Jim Edmonds, Jason Isringhausen, Mark Mulder and even Albert Pujols have been playing hurt. In the case of
Pujols has a notorious dislike of
sitting games out but with elbow, wrist and back injuries continuing to swirl,
Tony La Russa needs to have Albert sit a few. While I admire Pujols and
So what more can you say? The Cardinals have some questions with injuries going into the postseason, but if history has shown us anything in recent years, all it takes is a late hot streak at the end to take home the hardware. It's easy to be down because things haven't gone as smoothly as they have in past seasons, but it's hard to argue that the Cards don't have enough talent to put together a run. With October right around the corner now is when it all gets really interesting.
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