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The Sports Daily > Cards Diaspora
The Middle

The 2018 MLB playoffs begin on October 2nd.

1,085 days from the last time the Cardinals played a playoff game (October 13th, 2015), in fact.

I bring this up not to depress you (although it is depressing), but because – like it or not – the Cardinals are middled. Not good enough to qualify for the postseason; not bad enough to get a premium draft pick.

Runs in ’17? 13th out of 30 teams.

Errors in ’17? 16th out of 30 teams.

Earned Runs in ’17? 21st out of 30 teams.

Pick the stat you place a high value on and search your preferred stats database. You’re probably going to find the Cardinals ranked between 10th – 20th for both 2016 and 2017 in it.

Middled.

Yesterday I was sent an article from the Wall Street Journal and the crux of it doesn’t bode well for the Cardinals situation.

“You have front offices thinking more strategically about, ‘Which side of the spectrum are we on?’” Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said. “Because I’m actively trying to avoid getting stuck in the middle.”

In case you are a Cardinals die-hard that turns off all baseball when your team isn’t playing… the Dodgers are currently participating in the World Series.

TL;DR the link?

If you’re not competing for championships, you better be one of the worst teams in baseball.

This push to the extremes originated in basketball and football, before seeping into baseball more recently. On paper, it makes sense: Good teams vie for titles and reap the benefits of qualifying for the postseason. Bad ones earn coveted top draft picks, the easiest way to add a direction-altering player without giving anything up in return—a must for smaller franchises that lack vast financial resources. Teams in the middle often stay in neutral, spinning their wheels without going anywhere.

Even academics are on-board:

The stratification is producing a strange new reality—the duty to lose. Vince Gennaro, the associate dean at NYU’s Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business, said that in this environment, middling teams with trade chips “have an obligation to their fans to deal those players for prospects to make their team less competitive in the near future so they can return to contention.”

This is the reason this off-season is so important – maybe the most important since the off-season when Tony LaRussa was hired.

Because if the Cardinals don’t make significant moves either way? If they believe that what they have is good enough?

Welp.

It’ll be 1,085 days and counting.

Photo: Lead Blog