The St. Louis Cardinals just finished a ridiculously good season
Sure, the Cardinals are disappointed this morning. Fans. Ownership. Etc. That’s a good thing. This franchise has set the bar high, so when a season ends short of a World Series, it falls short of expectations. In a day or two, though, everyone will have a chance to take a deep breath and put this season in perspective.
That’s when they might realize how successful it has been. This was a transition year for the Cardinals. They did not have Tony La Russa, Dave Duncan, Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Chris Carpenter. Yet the Cardinals still ended up in Game 7 of the NLCS.
Along the way, a new generation of Cardinals emerged. Allen Craig and Lance Lynn are at the top of this list. Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly and Matt Carpenter all played their way onto the radar screen. Going forward, they all figure into the picture at some level, either as players or trade assets.
It’s impossible to look at the 2012 Cardinals not be optimistic about 2013. The Cardinals proved that good organizations endure, and they have one of the best, beginning with owner Bill DeWitt, Jr., general manager John Mozeliak and manager Mike Matheny.
Everything came undone in the NLCS, especially the starting pitching. Mozeliak’s toughest questions going forward are what he can reasonably expect from Carpenter and Adam Wainwright. If they’re still capable of pitching at a high level, the Cardinals are in great shape for 2013.
With those guys leading the way, Matheny can fill in behind them and allow the young guys to compete for jobs and to grow and fail and grow in a reasonable way. There are questions up and down the roster, but if Carpenter and Wainwright can still be productive, things almost certainly will fall into place.
Offensively, the question is who’ll play shortstop. After that, it’s a matter of figuring out who plays where. With Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran in the middle of the lineup, the Cardinals should have enough offense.
It’s always tempting to evaluate the Cardinals on what we’ve just seen. In this one series, they had problems in almost every area. Still, they were one victory away from a second straight World Series.
On the day, Pujols bolted for the Angels last December, I’m guessing Mozeliak would have been thrilled to know his team got back to Game 7 of the NLCS. It would have spoken volumes about the state of the organization, the depth of the farm system and the winning attitude in the clubhouse.