St. Louis Cardinals got off to an unusually dysfunctional start

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When someone asks who is the best Major League Baseball club of the 21st century, they never say the St. Louis Cardinals. No, he hasn’t been as dominant as the Los Angeles Dodgers in recent seasons, but he’s won two World Series titles this century.

The Cardinals have hit .500-plus every season since 2007, and before that, they’ll have to go back to 1999 to find their previous sub-.500 campaign. What was their last back-to-back Sub .500 season? The 1994-95 strike year. Before that, are you immune to work stoppages? What about 1958-59? actually.

The Cardinals have made the playoffs in 16 of 23 seasons since 2000. They are Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker, Scott Lauren, Matt Holliday, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and others for keeping the trains running on time.

Coming into this season, the club found themselves on the verge of starting a new era in the position as the player who caught the steadfast Yadiel Molina, one of the greats of recent times, ran off into the sunset. . There were options in both the free agent and trading markets, with the cards having funds in the former and outfield surplus to deal with options in the latter. Until this point in the 2023 season, those intertwined decisions were fateful.

Through Monday’s game, the Cardinals are 12-24 and dead last in a miserable NL Central. how miserable The division posted a cumulative 5-26 record last week. it’s not a typo. Cards are far from hunting. But this usually shrewd front-office action that pieced together the current roster is being assessed as clearly as an unforced error as we stand here today.

Let’s look at these two related issues separately and then put them together.

Outfield/designated hitter congestion

The card’s early struggles have little to do with the team’s offensive performance. Despite the fact that only 1B Paul Goldschmidt is playing at or near his expected level, his MVP candidate for 2022, his 3B Nolan Arenado, has been in serious funk all season. I’m falling Scored.

The club features a young and deep contingent of players assigned to the outfield and DH roles. Outfielders are now split between the 24-year-old and his 25-year-old Lars Nootvar, Dylan Carlson, and Alec Burleson. Tyler, 28, is expected to rejoin O’Neill soon after he is taken off the injured reserve list. Jordan Walker, 21, started the season in the lineup and acquitted himself. He entered the equation in massive spring training, earning playing time in all 20 games before being dispatched to Triple-A.

Of that group, Carlson, Burleson and O’Neal had the fewest hits, but all but Burleson established credible levels of MLB performance. Nootbaar is his OBP machine. Toss his 23-year-old Nolan Gorman, who was his first 2B in 2022. He tied with his leader on the team in home run count and is his second-best offensive player at the club, behind Goldschmidt, as his DH for the first time this season.

Everyone shone in their teens. Each season, we create an ordered list of full-season minor league prospects based on level and league-related production and age. With Walker ranked 1st in 2021, Carlson ranked 8th in 2019, O’Neill ranked 19th in 2018, Gorman ranked 61st in 2022 and Nutvaal ranked 87th in 2021. deep group. You know what they may have bargained for to get Molina a definite heir.

Once O’Neal is healthy, there will be a shortage of outfielders at bat, not including Walker, who is currently underage and struggling. If you are

“Catcher” Wilson Contreras autograph/mishandling

This past offseason, the Card’s two main catching options were Sean Murphy for the A’s (via trade) and Wilson Contreras for the Cubs (via free agency). Card was reportedly very interested in Murphy, and Murphy was eventually traded to the Braves, who immediately signed him to a six-year, $73 million contract. Murphy is an excellent defender, and although his bat came out a little last season, most decided Contreras wasn’t in the league. A supposedly wanted to include Nootbaar in Murphy’s deal package, Card hesitated.

They then turned their attention to the 31-year-old Contreras, signing him to a five-year, $87.5 million contract. Although a bat first player, he has never been considered a truly subpar defensive receiver.

Well, the card gave Contreras a month behind the plate before essentially making him the scapegoat for his early-season struggles. They had a high level of powwow among some veteran pitchers, manager Oliver Marmol and his coaching staff, front office members and Contreras.Outfield/DH at bat until further notice. The stance has been relaxed somewhat and outfielders have been taken out of the equation, but this still looks very wrong on many levels.

They already have too many cooks in their OF/DH kitchens, and they’re squeezing out another one who’s guaranteed $17.5 million per season through 2027. All the while Jordan Walker sat in Triple A.

Additionally, while it can certainly be argued that Contreras’ presence may have had some impact on the poor performance of the pitching staff this season, Adam Wainwright, who has been injured all season, The leader of the anti-Contreras faction was quite wealthy.

The latest information from St. Louis indicates that Wainwright and Flaherty have Contreras’ back and think he can weather this.

Ultimately, the Cardinals seem to have made some key mistakes in the offseason and spring training. Murphy is a good young catcher and his growth arrow continues to point upwards. The Cards could have eased congestion in the outfield by acquiring him, and Walker remained in the big league lineup.

But we needed to focus on the players we got right away. Red flags regarding Contreras as a receiver should have been highlighted and addressed in spring training. Card made a huge investment in the player – which I still believe is a very good player – and should never have left him hanging to dry like this.

That said, this could all go well with the card. Contreras would have to reappear as a catcher and soon. May bring one. The player can either fall under its weight or stand up for an opportunity. It’s silly to expect Wilson Contreras to be Yadi Molina, but he could still be who the cards thought he’d acquired – an offense-first catcher with good defense. Well, at least in the early stages of his contract.

Molina recently helped the Cards pitching staff pitch far beyond their heads. Now Contreras needs only to keep them out of harm’s way, and the club’s Brass may eventually add throwing talent from a surplus of position players. They hit once last summer by adding Jordan Montgomery, but they may need to do so again. increase.

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