Friday, October 21, 2005

FROM THE RED STATES

Well, the season is officially over, and to prevent another post like the one from the other day, I thought it might be prudent to wait a couple days before posting.

My thoughts on this season...we suck. Plain and simple, there is no easy way to put it. You see from being a regular visitor of the Cardinals website and message boards, I am in the minority. Most Cardinals fans are happy about being Central Division Champs, and think this was a successful season. I disagree. I think 1 team and 1 team only has a successful season.

When I was a kid I always dreamed of playing baseball for a World Series Champion, and although winning the division is the first step in that process (or used to be, and is no more-thanks to Bud Selig and his wild card system) the season is a failure if you don't win the World Series, especially when you have made the playoffs 5 out of the past 6 seasons, like the Cardinals have done. Despite that fact they have finished the season just as another team who failed to get it done when it counted.

Contrary to what most Cardinals fans say, all we have proven the past 5 or 6 years is that we can dominate the likes of the Pirates, Reds, Cubs, Brewers, and even the Astros (who we just got beat by). Big deal.

I think it is time for the Cardinals and GM Walt Jockettey to re-load, as it is clear from the past 2 seasons that this team is capable of winning in the regular season, but not in the post season.

There are a few reasons why I think this is the case, one...we’re too old. You see in the regular season when your playing the Reds or the Pirates it is ok to have a bunch of banged up old guys that can only play 3 or 4 games a week. We are good enough to beat the Pirates in that case, but come post season, when everyone is banged up, our old guys care are incapable of producing. I think of the World Series last year, and this series against the Astros has clearly demonstrated this point. The likes of Walker, Sanders, Grudzielanek, and even Edmonds are so old that if they are not 100% they are not capable of hitting. Like I said earlier, everyone in the playoffs is banged up, so therefore they are not capable of hitting when the team needs them the most. It's time to get younger. Reload with some talented younger players that have more endurance and can still perform after a long and physical season.

Secondly, our pitching. Going into the series with the Astros I figured we would have to win the two games Carpenter pitched, which we did. Then win the two games Mulder pitched, which we didn't. I knew we were screwed in game 3 with Clemens and Morris pitching. The Backe/Suppan game I thought was a toss up and would probably decide the series. I was counting on Carpenter and Mulder winning their two games each, Mulder didn't get it done.

The key to winning a short playoff series is dominant pitching. The Cardinals have one guy in Carpenter who fits that bill. When I think of dominant starting pitching, I don't think of Mark Mulder. Sure Mulder is a decent pitcher but he is far from dominant. He is a junk ball pitcher who relies on his defense and getting ground balls. Look at the World Series Champs of the past few seasons...the Marlins had Beckett, Hernandez, and Penny a few seasons ago. The Red Sox had Schilling and Martinez last season. Even back a few seasons the D'backs had Johnson and Schilling. It clearly takes two guys. This was a good season in a sense that Carpenter has stepped up and proven that he is capable of being one of those guys, but we need another one. Mulder is serviceable in the regular season, but far from a dominant playoff pitcher.

Thirdly our bullpen is not as good as it should be. Again it is good enough for the regular season. Interestinghausen is decent, but not lights out. Our pen was decent but not lights out. King struggled all season, and clearly our most reliable reliever was Al Reyes, who blew his arm out on the last game of the season. His loss clearly hurt.

Solutions to the problems...well it is clear we need a younger outfield. Walker is pretty much all but said he is going to retire, Sanders is a free agent. Thanks for the two good years, but it's time to part ways with both of these guys. Grudzielanek is serviceable, but I think we need to find another SS and slide Eckstein over to second.

Pitching wise Marquis, is a free agent...burn the road up. Matty Mo, thanks for the good years but good riddance. The Cardinals have a possible future stud in Anthony Reyes waiting in the wings, I say bring him up and give him a shot. He was a team mate of Mark Prior at USC, and many have said that Reyes was the best pitcher on that staff. It's his time now. Suppan is a pretty decent pitcher, who we should be able to keep fairly cheap and would make a great 5th starter, I say keep him. That leaves us with Carp as the ace, Mulder, Reyes and Suppan. We need to add another ace type pitcher to win the post season.

The pen, well I have no clue what to do with this. Billy Wagner, Trevor Hoffman are both free agents this season and would look nice in a Cardinal uniform. That way we could have Interestinghausen for the 8th, and one of these two as our new closer. That's dreaming, and in a perfect world, but hey ain't that what the internet is for...dreaming.

You add all this up and it is just the wishes of one ticked off Cardinals fan who is not impressed with NL Central Champs. I want the WS championship, and we need to get younger with more dominant pitching to do that.

Then to add insult to injury I am going to have to wear a stinking, rotten, filthy Cubs hat at church on Sunday. I was hoping Chris would give me at least a week to grieve, but such is not the case. Although looking at the hat it ain't all that bad, it could be a lot worse.

Frankly after the Cardinals getting to the WS last year only to hose me, then Illinois making it all the way to the National Championship game, joining in on the hose job, then this Cardinals season I am pretty much wore out from all the screwings I have been getting from my time. Oh well I will be setting myself up again once the basketball season starts, and come opening day I will be right there ready for another hose job from the Cardinals. Cubs fans should consider themselves lucky because I am a Bears fan and knowing that they suck, and have no chance of winning anything is a lot better than watching your team win, get your hopes up, and then raping you at the end of the season. Like many a Cub fans motto..."wait til next year."