The Cardinals start the second half of the season and I am just as perplexed about where they are headed as I was on opening day. When the season began I thought that this was no better than a 75 win team. Now on July 17th 75 wins would be a huge disappointment. The problem is even though the Cardinals currently sit in the Wild Card spot I still do not have a good feeling about this season. Nor do I believe that they will be good enough to make the playoffs.
This team has shocked me all season long but there are two main reasons that this team will ulitmately fall short. The first and the most obvious to me is their bullpen. They have no closer and really that makes everything else a problem. The best teams, and the teams that win the World Series, have their bullpen locked down from the 7th inning on. The most succesful teams know exactly how they want to setup their bullpen for the opposing team. Tony La Russa is a master of this tactic. This year though he has a very difficult time making the correct matchups happen. That all stems from not having a true closer. Jason Isringhausen is not the pitcher he once was. Ryan Franklin is not a closer. Kyle McClellan and Chris Perez are unproven. That leads to the problems that have plagued this team. 20 blown saves this season is all you need to know.
The other main problem that this team has is there are too many streaky hitters in their lineup. Glaus, Ankiel, Ludwick and Duncan are all wildly streaky. That is good if you have reliable everyday hitters in your lineup surrounding them but when the only one you have is Albert Pujols there are too many games over a 162 game season that you are going to be shutdown. That has been the case all season and will continue to manifest itself the rest of the way.
How do the Cardinals solve these problems over the final 2 1/2 months? That remains the big question. I think that the Cardinals will address the bullpen problem before the trade deadline but if you think that Matt Holliday, Jason Bay or a Xavier Nady are on their way here your crazy. The Cardinals are not going to dismantle their minor leagues for a rent a player at this point.
I don't believe the Cardinals thought they would be at the point they are at right now. I think if everyone in the organization was honest they would have been happy with a .500 season.but now things have changed. I believe John Mozeliak will make every effort to make an impact move but I don't think it will be a major impact move. The deals just aren't out there to make. You won't see them trade the Colby Rasmus' of the world on a rental player situation.
The Cardinals have played above their heads this season. I feel it won't be enough in the end. Let the second half begin.