Baseball, ostensibly, is supposed to be a game of joy, of fun — a chance to relieve a whimsical childhood full of lighthearted happiness and friendship. It is not supposed to be a game that resembles a trip to the dentist, yet for the St. Louis Cardinals, it appears as if they are playing the game after Novocaine has worn off. Mark Ellis, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter, in particular, look as if they would rather be hunting Nigerian kidnappers than playing baseball.
So the question is why? What is going on with the vaunted Cardinal Way that is leaving the club so unhappy? Recently they tried to spark a resurgence in the offense by calling up the talented and multi-tooled Randal Grichuk. In doing so, the club sent down the popular and respected Shane Robinson. Grichuk did not pan out — well, that is not necessarily true, you can’t tell much from 20 or so ABs, but nevertheless, the increasingly impatient management just gave him the boot too.
Enter Joey Butler. Claimed off waivers at the end of last season, Butler has torn up Triple-A pitching this season, but is viewed largely as a limited Quad-A hitter. In other words, few expect Butler to be a season-changing spark.
So we know about roster upheaval, so how about role uncertainty? Lately that has been somewhat improved, as the revolving door of subpar 2B has seemed to land on just one subpar 2B, Ellis. But in CF, the situation is a mess. Peter Bourjos is finding some footing at the plate, and is making some excellent plays in the OF, but does not have the full confidence of management yet.
Translation? Chemistry. The chemistry on this team is poor, as the roster is constantly in flux and players are constantly being shuffled in and around the lineup. The team looks ragged, upset and like their tooth hurts. Their is no crying in baseball, but for the Cardinals, apparently there is a lot of scowling.