As we all know, the St. Louis Cardinals have been wildly inconsistent thus far. And that’s because at one time or another, each facet of the team has struggled.
First, it was the starting pitching. Then at times, the offense (14 runs one day; 0 the next three). And of course most recently as Gashaus34 has pointed out, the bullpen has been weak. The one thing that has been consistent is the defense — but unfortunately it’s been consistently bad, which has not helped the W-L record at all. The Cards’ longest streak without an error this season was four games — decidedly not up to standards
So we know that each GROUP has been a letdown. But how about individuals? There are plenty to choose from, and even for a while there Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha could have made this list. However, my top five:
No. 5: Matt Adams. Sure, his playing time was limited by the Matt Holliday experiment, a few starts by Stephen Piscotty and Matt Carpenter, and then the power emergence of Brandon Moss (despite his hands of stone defensively). But it is very clear that Adams has yet to show himself an everyday player. In his most recent 0-for-27 slide and with Moss sidelined, he was even losing playing time to Jedd Gyorko, for crying out loud. And even when he does start to hit a bit and get some extended looks at first, that’s about the time he gets bit by a nagging injury. Is he fit to play every day? Maybe not. Two words: Trade bait.
No. 4: Mike Leake. Signed as sort of an afterthought when the Cards struck out on David Price and opted against John Lackey, he has been nowhere near as adequate as the man he replaced in the rotation, Lance Lynn. He’s improved slightly in recent weeks, but he still seems … well … just very hittable. Two words (being optimistic here): Playoff bullpen.
No. 3: Randal Grichuk. So much potential, and we’re seeing it again the past few days before the All-Star break. But if you want to complain about Adams’ 0 for 27, Grichuk has had three or four similar slumps this season. That’s pretty disappointing for a guy the Cards need to bat fourth, fifth, or sixth. Two words: 8 hole.
No. 2: Brayan Peña. OK, he’s been hurt. I get that. But it’s his return, apparently too early, that cost the Cardinals most. For one thing, they lost Eric Fryer to the division rival Pirates, and now that Peña is back on the DL, the Cards miss Fryer’s excellent defense and solid bat even more. Not to mention, Peña was atrocious in his few appearances. An error, a passed ball, several wild pitches that shouldn’t have been wild, four stolen bases given up. And, oh yeah, apparently he can’t hit anymore. Two words: Bad contract.
No. 1: Kolten Wong. Was there any doubt? He’s young, sure. But he’s been around waaaay too long to make the same boneheaded mistakes. He used to hit line drives; now he strikes out or pops up about 80 percent of the time it seems. He’s always made a bunch of baserunning mistakes; it appears he simply can’t get smarter on the basepaths. And his defense is just puzzling. How can a guy who has such amazing range and has played infield for his entire baseball career not be able to field a grounder cleanly? It’s because he’s just not very good. It is maddening to watch him swing the bat, run the bases, and play second base. What does that leave? Two words: Memphis Redbird.
OK, that’s the list. And I hope all of these guys make me eat my words in the second half. Literally, I will print out this list and eat it (and post the video, which won’t be pretty) if all five guys start doing the job.