posted on June 04, 2012 00:00
The St. Louis Cardinals’ trip to New York to face the Mets has been nothing short of astonishingly bad. Three games, three losses, one run scored. And when the Cards wake up Monday morning they will find themselves in third place in the NL Central for the first time since July 21, 2011 and with a .500 record (27-27) for the first time since April 20, 2011.
And it could have been even worse, historically speaking, without that RBI single by Adron Chambers in the top of the eighth Sunday night. ESPN flashed a graphic before that knock stating the Cards haven’t been shut out in three straight games since 1976, and no defending World Series Champion had endured such a streak since the 1966 LA Dodgers.
As it was, the Cards still almost went a full 27 innings without scoring a run. This is epically bad baseball. And there is currently no one in the near future coming to rescue this bunch from falling further and further back. What’s next on the horizon for this team? A sub-.500 record? Fourth place?
To their credit, the Mets are playing pretty well right now, which is precisely not what the Cards need to get out of their funk. But the Redbirds are certainly doing their part to keep the NL East race interesting; so far they are 3-11 against the division. The Mets have now pulled even with the second-place Miami Marlins, and both are nipping at the heels of the Washington Nationals. Every team in the NL East—even the last place Philadelphia Phillies—now has a better record than the Cardinals. That does not bode well for the availability of a Wild Card spot, even with the extra berth tacked on this year.
So with all this doom and gloom, the next question is obvious: How do the Cards turn it around? The answer, unfortunately, is not so obvious. The team in Memphis has to be nearly tapped out, at least of players deemed “ready” for the big leagues. Do the Cards jump someone up from Double-A Springfield? Do they try to make a trade or go dumpster diving on the waiver wire? What position is in the most need? And when is that disabled list going to shrink?
Too many questions. It’s like a bad dream. But we had to know this was possible. The injury issue is a combination of bad luck and poor planning. The Cardinals had enough depth to deal with one or two guys missing; once they started approaching double digits they had no shot to survive unscathed. They simply have to trudge on and make do with who’s on the team until a move can be made or guys get healthy. And that is a frustrating prospect as more and more teams pass the Cards in the standings.
The one thing—and maybe the only thing—on the Cardinals’ side is time. But even that is slipping away. Sunday’s game represented the one-third mark in the season: 54 games played and 108 to go. They still have a lot of baseball left, and maybe they can pull one of those “get healthy at the right time” moves like they did in 2006. An outcome like that one certainly would be sweet. But wading through this muck to get there is brutal.
It doesn’t get much worse than this in terms of futility; that is, unless the Cardinals lay another egg on Monday of course. But this team right now lacks a true stopper, and all the usual suspects for busting a slump have nodded off of late. The dog days of summer arrived way early for the Cards. How they push through them is anyone’s guess at this point.
Chris Reed is a freelance writer who also appears on I-70 Baseball Saturdays and Bird Brained whenever he feels like it. Follow him on Twitter @birdbrained.