The Cardinals are on a 91-win pace coming off Monday’s win over the Padres and that fits with where pretty much everyone thought they’d be coming into the season. So why has this season been so frustrating?
Isn’t it a good thing when a team meets expectations that are relatively high? 90-wins typically gets you in the playoffs in MLB and while it’s not a guarantee it’s certainly a likelihood based on what’s happened in recent years.
If you listen to the show each day you know I’ve been frustrated along with everyone else so I’m not pointing fingers. I’m just trying to figure out what it is about this team that bugs all of us so much.
After thinking about this for a couple of days I’ve boiled it down to three things:
1) The general inconsistency of the team
Let’s be honest, the 2018 Cardinals are a tease. They have one of the three best rotations in baseball and at times they have the look of a team that might just have what it takes to do some real damage…and then they fall apart at the plate or on the bases or with the glove. They’ve lost too many games to bad teams, too. Every time it looks like they’ve got things going, things go to crap.
That kind of team is maddening. Nobody likes being teased and I think that’s the primary source of frustration here in 2018.
2) The “proven” players who are doing nothing
The Cards are on a 91-win pace even though they’ve gotten basically nothing from Dexter Fowler, Greg Holland, Luke Gregerson, and Brett Cecil. That’s like $50 million worth of salary this season that’s not helping you. Hell, they’re hurting the team at this point. It only stands to reason that all of us watching from the outside think, “What would this team look like if they were just getting SOMETHING from these guys?????”
Players earn big time contracts because of their track records and with that comes the expectation that they’ll produce something close to what it says on the back of their baseball cards. When “proven” players aren’t even close to their career norms it’s easy for fans and media people alike to wonder what the team would look like if they were just decent.
3) The repetitive nature of the team’s problems
Poor bullpen management, shaky relief pitchers, bad defense and bad base running. We’ve all seen this movie before and the fact that this seemingly simply things haven’t been truly fixed over the last 2-3 seasons is annoying. We were all sold that Jose Oquendo’s return would fix all of these problems and let’s be honest, that hasn’t happened. Some things are better, no doubt, and Oquendo is not to blame for any of this. It’s just that sloppy, “fuzzy” baseball has held this team back in recent seasons and this season is looking very much like 2016 and 2017 in that regard.
The 2018 Cardinals are not a bad team by any means…but they are annoying. Maddening, sure. Frustrating, yes. Irritating, of course.
But they’re not bad they’re just…incomplete.
Hopefully the front office can correct things before too many games get away. The top of the NL looks like it’s going to be extremely competitive all season long.