posted on October 01, 2010 05:30
The 2010 Cardinals season was officially declared dead at approximately 9:30p CST Tuesday evening when Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce crushed a walk-off HR to send his team into the postseason and exterminating the ‘magic number’ that had been in single digits for nearly two weeks.
Most Cardinal fans had been resided to this fate for weeks. The Birds had the tenacity of a monk on peyote. It was only a formality before the games didn’t matter.
It seems to be the pre-eminent word used to describe the 2010 Cardinals campaign. Disappointment in the outcome. Disappointment in the injuries. Disappointment in LaRussa.
But what specifically were the 5 most disappointing things about the Cardinals? Perhaps this is like trying to determine the most gruesome ‘Faces of Death’ video or the hottest Victoria Secret model- but it’s worth taking a stab at.
Disappointment 1: Albert Pujols is going to finish the season .310/42ish/120ish and lose to Joey Votto for the MVP award, but still get some serious vote backing. For whatever reason, Dan and Al keep referencing this cryptic ‘some people think he’s having a down year’ bullshit every telecast when no one has really said anything of the sort for 5 months… but as you can clearly see- 2010 wasn’t a down year for AP. It was another monster fucking year for AP.
Don’t get spoiled by his greatness. You put this guy in any other city and people are literally creaming themselves with his 2010 stat line. When he goes away, I truly will have nothing but empathy for the next 1B player to wear the Cardinals uniform.
But in 3 of the past 4 seasons, where AP is in the prime of his prime… the Cardinals have shit themselves and not made the postseason. The possibility that the Cardinals win only one World Series with the greatest player of a generation is so disheartening that it makes you question pretty much everything about his teammates, the organization and life in general.
Disappointment 2: Matt Holliday somehow entered a line-up, put up awesome numbers, and made the whole thing worse.
Seriously? How does this fucking happen?
I mean it’s done. We’ve got one weekend of baseball left, but this really happened. The Cardinals added Matt Holliday for a whole season and the total offense somehow got way, way worse. Not a little worse. But WAY worse.
I remember being giddy like a schoolgirl when the signed Holliday to that deal in the offseason. I mean, a full year of these guys bending over pitchers and giving them the business? Sign me up. But much to everyone’s chagrin, the offense pretty much sucked balls all season long and this dynamic 3 & 4 punch the Cardinals looked to have was a mirage. Yet it wasn’t, because those guys were great.
Disappointment 3: The development of the ‘young guys’ (for lack of a better term).
David Freese started out red hot and then turned back into Lemony Snicket. Brendan Ryan channeled Mario Mendoza and flirted with the .150 mark during the summer. Jon Jay burst onto the scene with a bombast that convinced the Cardinals to trade Ryan Ludwick. Tyler Greene logged many trips back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis- never really sticking. While Skip Shumaker’s defense at second base was a poor as many predicted.
Sans Jamie Garcia, there wasn’t a guy that came to the Cardinals not through free agency or a trade that gives us a ton of hope for 2011. I know several fanboys and girls will look at the past week or more and point out some highlights. But that’s baby-league MLB. I want clutch hits, when everyone is still in the hunt, not September AAAA proof.
So now instead of having an established infield with MLB experience and a RF anchor, the Cardinals are in a serious state of flux. Do they trust Freese can stay healthy? Do they trust Ryan can become a high .OBP guy? Do they trust Shumaker can become a plus 2B? 2010 was supposed to be the year LaRussa finally trusted some of the ‘young guys’ and laid the foundation of the future.
Disappointment 4: Tony LaRussa.
Dude was cranky as hell all year long. Never wanting to bust his players in public, he directed all his anger outward through the media to the fans. He came off as a real ass on post-game shows. He was pretty much as curt as he could be on every interview.
But the worst?
He couldn’t inspire a group of 25 highly paid men to give a flying fuck. Not in May. Not in July. Not in September. We were waiting for this team to get the TLR ‘Hard 9’ attitude and grind out some wins that should have been losses. But all we got was the complete inverse. A team that had a bunch of winnable games that were pissed away.
This isn’t a call for his head. Nor is a plea to step down. But a Hall of Fame manager that’s paid like a Hall of Fame manager has to get better production and focus out of a team with obvious talent.
Disappointment 5: The starting rotation.
Wainwright? Carpenter? Garcia? Those dudes were nails, Hooks- how is that disappointing?
On a couple of different levels this rotation disappointed.
First- the back half was truly terrible. The Brad Penny mis-diagnosis was laughable. A mild back strain doesn’t take 5 months to recover from, so somebody was bullshitting us about what went on here. Hopefully the true story will come out soon. And Kyle Lohse? Could end up being the worst contract in Cardinals history and that’s not even hyperbole. There is 2 years and 25 million dollars left on that fucker and he can’t get through the Pirates minor-league players twice.
But it’s also disappointing that with 3 really quality starters in this era of baseball that a team can’t get to the postseason. Garcia will get some Rookie of the Year votes. Wainwright will be the CY Young runner-up. And until the past 3 starts, Carpenter would have gotten some sixth of seventh place votes for the same award.
Most teams would take those 3 and damn the rest… but for whatever reason, the Cardinals couldn’t get any momentum going to push a winning streak past 3 games.
It’s unfortunate for the good pitchers. It’s unfortunate for the bad pitchers. It’s just fucking unfortunate.
The list goes on.
In fact, there are probably disappointments I overlooked. But the bottom line is that the 2010 Cardinals were built with a World Series in mind. Now as we enter October, we’re already looking forward to Opening Day 2011.
And that’s disappointing.
@athooks writes for CardsDiaspora.com and Twitter and SB Nation STL