Tha Sports Junkies 101

The Cardinals Weaknesses Have Piled Up, and Now it is Costing Them

Cardinals Offseason dustinphillips/ via


The Cardinals weaknesses have piled up since their last World Series championship.  The growing number of flaws is a direct result of their refusal to address roster issues as they come about.  Now, due to the way they have handled the roster, there is a laundry list of needs this offseason.  Rather than filling holes as soon as they opened up, the front office has decided, over the last six years, to try and win from within, or apply short term fixes.  This philosophy was fine while the team nucleus remained.  However, now that the abilities of the players that made up that nucleus are declining and certain guys have moved on from the team, the Cardinals are facing the repercussions of not finding long term solutions.

Cardinals Weaknesses Have Piled Up

The Bullpen

St. Louis has only had one year this decade in which the bullpen has lost less than 20 games.  That year was 2013, when the pen only accounted for 19 losses.  Even the 2011 championship season saw 30 losses from the bullpen, which was the most losses in the last seven years.  Since the trade that brought Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski to the Cards, in 2011, there have been no other major outside additions to the bullpen.

Seung Whan Oh was brought in last year, and pitched well, but has been mediocre at best in 2017.  Even when he was effective last season, he was not enough to get the Cardinals to the postseason.  Another miniscule bullpen addition last season that failed to help the team make the postseason, was Zach Duke.  Duke, like Oh, was effective last year, but has not been good in 2017 upon his return from having Tommy John surgery.

This past offseason, Mozeliak brought in Brett Cecil via free agency.  Cecil has a 4.06 ERA this season, and has lost his role as a high leverage reliever.  The lack of attention given to the bullpen has burned the Cardinals again in 2017.  The bullpen has accounted for 28 losses, and has an ERA of 3.91.  Should the front office elect to ignore the problem again this offseason, the situation will be no better in 2018.

Front of the Rotation Starter

Another place the Cards have failed to improve, year after year, is the starting rotation.  After Chris Carpenter’s injuries forced him out of the game, Adam Wainwright became the ace of the staff.  Waino filled the role well for a short period, winning 19 games in 2013, and 20 in 2014.  Unfortunately, he missed most of 2015 with an injury, and has not been the same pitcher since.  Even when he was pitching well, though, the organization did not go out and acquire any other front of the rotation pitchers.

Carlos Martinez has now taken over Wainwright’s role as ace, but now he is the only front end guy on the roster.  David Price could have filled this void, but the Cardinals did not want to pay for him.  Because they missed out on him they have to try and find that type of pitcher this offseason.  Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, and Alex Reyes are guys who may develop into that role, but they are all still too young to count on next season.


There has been no legitimate shortstop in St. Louis since Rafael Furcal.  Pete Kozma played the part in 2013, before an aging Jhonny Peralta was signed.  Peralta was serviceable at short for the first two years of his contract, but his value was on offense.  When his bat faded, his defense was no longer good enough to warrant him a spot on the team.  He turned out to be another short term fix, as he was released earlier this season.  Paul DeJong was called up earlier this season, and has played the spot well.  Unfortunately, he is not up to the standard of many other Major League shortstops.  This is yet another area that could be addressed this offseason, though should they hang on to DeJong, it is not pivotal to success in 2018.

Middle of the Order Bat

Finding a middle of the order bat is pivotal to success in 2018.  As it stands now, the Cardinals have a lot of good hitters, but no great hitters.  They have plethora of on-base guys and 20 home run guys, but they lack the player that opposing pitchers do not want to face.  No hitter on the current roster worries the opposition like an Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday.

After the departure of Pujols, the organization did a good job of bringing in Carlos Beltran to fill that void.  When Beltran left after two seasons, though, Holliday became the only feared hitter in the lineup.  Unfortunately, Matt only had one more healthy season in St. Louis.  Since that 2014 season, the Cardinals have lacked the big bopper in the three or four hole.  The lack of that type of hitter has been especially evident this season.  This weakness must be addressed for this team to win in 2018.

A Busy Offseason Ahead

If Mozeliak and company had taken care of these issues as they arose, they would have much less on their plate this offseason.  But, since they have opted to go with internal options, and short term fixes, they have a lot of work to do.  If they really want to compete with the Cubs next season, moves have to be made.  Through free agency and the trade market, there are players available to fill the Cardinals holes, but, it will be up to the front office to make things happen, and put a better product on the field next season.