Cards have a hard time shaking the underachiever label -

Cards have a hard time shaking the underachiever label

ST. LOUIS ( -- Tony La Russa once called it a very “personal” thing to use this word.  The negative connotation associated with it makes teams think it’s an attack of some kind when attributed to them. 

No one wants to hear it. 

But when it’s valid, it has to be used.

The Cardinals right now are underachieving.  No way around it.

For a team with All Stars like Rafael Furcal, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, David Freese, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright the St. Louis Cardinals, flat out, should be better than 47-45. 

A team with 5 players on pace to hit at least 25 home runs should be better than 47-45.

A team with the 5th best ERA among starters should be better than 47-45.

A team with, inexplicably, tied for the best run differential in the National League (+64) should be better than 47-45.

The truth is, in fact, this has been going on for a few years.  Up until Matt Holliday arrived via trade in 2009 the Cards played well below what their talent level suggested.  For the life of me I still can’t explain how such a loaded 2010 team didn’t make the playoffs.  And we all know how the 2011 squad performed up until games on August 25th.

In his final spring training before last season, Tony La Russa said he consulted with people he trusted to get their take on why this was happening.  He wouldn’t tell us what they came up with but he suggested they gave him a couple reasons. 

In the end, there’s really no rhyme or reason to explain it.  I find it hard to believe that whatever those reasons were that TLR received he finally put them to use on August 25th and that’s what made the difference in their World Series run.

To be fair, comparing this season’s team to those of ‘09, ‘10 and ‘11 is not fair.  They’re different and I get that.  But the feel of what took place in those seasons is at least comparable to the feel now.

They should be better. 

The bullpen takes a lot of heat for being tied for 4th in the majors in blown saves but we all know there’s more to this season than that.  The offense, as good as it’s been all year long, scored just 15 runs on this 1-5 road trip. That’s 2 and a half runs a game.  

Driving in runs in scoring position has proved to be about as difficult for them lately as it would be to convince Tim Tebow that religion is just a phase for him.

Things get no easier when Ryan Dempster and his 33 consecutive scoreless innings come to town on Friday. 

Hey, maybe he’ll be traded before then...

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