The St. Louis Cardinals probably spent a good portion of the flight home from Pittsburgh dreaming of the welcoming committee, the smells and sights of Busch Stadium and of adoring fans who have their backs. The club probably did not dream of getting pummeled by a Chicago Cubs team with a .333 winning percentage and most likely did not envision the best pitcher they would offer being infielder Daniel Descalso.
Yes for the Cardinals, this homecoming was like the prom king getting cake thrown in his face by the perennial nerd and being helpless to stop it. Talent abounds on the team, especially the pitching staff. Nobody needs to get bent out of shape over a disaster overseen by a replacement fifth starter, but what should be a cause for concern is the lifelessness of the club. This team has no spark, no fire, NO Cardinalness about them.
Why is that? Is it the flushing out of the old clubhouse favorites, David Freese, Pete Kozma and Shane Robinson? Probably so. Look, while the team has plenty of talent, albeit little speed and average defense, there is no reason a lineup that contains the likes of Matt Holliday, Jhonny Peralta and Yadier Molina can’t get it together. This team started Jon Jay in center, Kozma at short and Freese at third, and they went to the ever loving World Series.
While Molina is an undisputed leader, the rest of the team fumbles for an identity. The team needs that glue guy; the in your face hustler; the never give up spit in his own Daddy’s eye to steal second type. It needs enthusiasm, cohesiveness and a purpose. Deposing Kozma, Freese and Robinson and confusing poor Jay about his role has left this team with two factions — what is left of the Memphis Mafia on one side and the uneasy newcomers on another. It has to find someone to bridge that gap and unite it.
Who will heal the divisions in the Redbird Roost, if anyone? That remains to be seen. It is time for the team to put up or shut on its prospects and see what it really has rather than just hyping them. Maybe when management figures out who this team is, the team will too.