Many fans compare the 2016 St. Louis Cardinals with the 2011 team that made a late season comeback to win the World Series, but does the 2016 have the roster to make a similar run?
The 2016 Cardinals have not played like the Cardinals in the past. They have played sloppy defense, pitched poorly, and have not had the clutch hitting that they are used to. These struggles have led many Cardinals fans to draw parallels to 2011 season when the Cardinals were 8.5 games out of a playoff spot with only 28 games left to go in the season and ultimately went on to win the World Series.
With this many games to go in the season, the Cardinals were 61-53 which put them 4 games back of the Wild Card holding Atlanta Braves. Since then, they went on a 29-19 run while the Braves played .500 baseball the rest of the way, including losing 8 out of their last 10 games to send them home packing.
Sorry to disappoint Cardinals fans, but this isn’t 2011 all over again. The 2016 Cardinals do not have the roster to go 29-19 the rest of the way and it is hard to see the Dodgers, Marlins, Pirates, and Mets all struggling down the stretch.
The 2011 season was a very busy one for General Manger John Mozeliak. He made 2 big trades that really shook up the roster. First he acquired veteran infielder Rafael Furcal in April. He then made a big splash when he acquired Edwin Jackson, Occtavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Corey Patterson. Mo was very active and brought in players that turned out to be monumental in their late season comeback and playoff run. In the 2016 season, Mo acquired Zach Duke… Good work Mo.
The Cardinals do not even have the luxury of being in this situation before. There has been so much turnover in the organization the last 5 years that only 4 players on the current 25 man roster were apart of the 2011 team (Matt Holliday, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and Jamie Garcia).
In addition, the 2011 roster was unquestionably better than the current 2016 roster. Not only did it have in their primes Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday, and Jamie Garcia, but it also included in his prime first ballot hall of famer Albert Pujols, and veteran ace Chris Carpenter. They had 3 All Stars in Molina, Holliday, and Lance Berkman. They had a dominate bullpen which had included Jason Motte, Rzepcynski, and Sanchez setting up games with Fernando Salas closing the door. The most important part of that roster was their clutch hitting which came predominately from David Freese.
In recent years, Mo has put so much stress on getting younger that he forgot the importance of getting players in their prime. With the exception of Piscotty and ARGUABLY Carpenter, every one of the players on the Cardinals roster is either too inexperienced or past their prime. The Cardinals hitters need a leader to start hitting to get them on the right track. In 2011 it was Pujols and Berkman, who are both no longer with the Cardinals. It is time for Molina and Holliday to become the leaders that Cardinals need. After a shaky start, Wainwright has pitched very well and has been the veteran leader like Carpenter was but the rest of the starters have not followed. Worst of all, the Cardinals bullpen has been a joke. There is no consistency and in a league where bullpens are so important, the Cardinals lack it.
It’s time to come back to reality Cardinals fans. The league is extremely competitive and the Cardinals simply haven’t been able to compete.