Deep breaths. Deep breaths.
The 2014 Cardinals were supposed to be a powerhouse.
Coming off a World Series run in 2013 on the backs of a bunch of 21-23 year olds is pretty much a dream scenario for any franchise. Weaknesses at CF and SS were appeased by acquiring Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta respectively. This team was locked and loaded for another deep playoff run.
Then 2014 actually came. And the Cardinals are still struggling to find their groove with only 50 games remaining. People want answers.
In Cardinals Nation, those answers usually begin and end with the manger. To wit:
And these are some of the more family friendly Tweets you get when searching for ‘Mike Matheny’. The peanut gallery isn’t happy. When that happens in St. Louis? It’s usually the manager getting the heat.
The Cardinals have scored 413 runs in 2014.
The terrible Cubs? 439. What about the lowly Diamondbacks? 452. The worst team in baseball (Rangers)? 464. The only team to score fewer runs than the Cardinals in 2014? The Padres with 363.
Is that on Matheny? Yes and no, I suppose. He’s the one that hired the hitting coach and is tasked with improving the team by putting them in the best positions to succeed. But he’s not at the plate day in and day out failing.
And if we’re going to all be adults for a second, I don’t care who is on the bench for the Cardinals… if you can’t score runs, you’re not going to win games. To be 1 game out of 1st place with such paltry offense, that’s pretty good, right?
Then again… that call to put Rosenthal in last night? Brutal. He’s watched as his closer has been consistently burned when he’s pitched 4 straight days. And he promptly flamed out on cue. Why go to your closer there in a tied game?
His pulling of Shelby Miller during his best start of the season after 80+ pitches? Curious to say the least.
Oh, and the challenges…
Matheny hasn’t done much to instill faith that he’s contributing mightily to the success of the Cardinals. Is he wasting the talent? Is the talent carrying him? Does the talent even exist? All questions we’re probably not going to know the answer to until the season is over, unfortunately.
I know this single post on a site nobody reads isn’t going to change the discourse between Cardinals fans. But I think it’s worth pointing out that this team is either going to suck or succeed together.
Matheny deserves his fair share of blame. But if you’re going to go 7 innings between hits against (mostly) a guy you just traded away? Well, feel free to spread some of the shade around.
Photo: Sporting News