I think the moment of realization for me that the Cardinals were maybe gonna be a bit of a disappointment this year was when they began the season by bringing up Jordan Walker, he had a 12-game hitting streak through the first 12 years of his career, and then...he stopped hitting entirely, then turned it around against the D-Backs and Mariners and was immediately demoted back to Memphis, where he is currently not hitting.
And then, since demoting Walker they've only won once. Maybe twice, I'm writing this Saturday afternoon, maybe they did win again. But...knowing this Cardinals team, I'm not sure.
Even as someone who has disliked the Cardinals in the past, this is an infuriating start to the season, because all the tools are there. Goldy and Arenado are still playing extremely well, Flaherty's healthy and confident, Edman, Gorman, Nootbaar, Burleson, Donovan and Carlson are all young and working well, and pretty much every contributor to the team's strong 2022 is still intact. But a mixture of diminishing returns, early stumbles and the reality of there being five young outfielders volleying for position has led to the Cardinals, who were positioned to lead the NL Central this year, finishing the first month of the season in last, behind the Reds.
And it's not like no one's doing well. Goldschmidt, even at 35, is still hitting .310 with 14 RBIs and 4 homers. Tommy Edman is still one of the best defenders in the NL, and has been hitting decently as well. The only problem is that there aren't a lot of overwhelming standout performances throughout the rest of this team. Willson Contreras, himself a breath of fresh air taking over for Yadier Molina, is hitting .265. It's not a gigantic statement for his first year away from Chicago. Jack Flaherty has a 3.94 ERA and 33 Ks in 32 innings. Yes, it's consistent numbers for an oft-injured ace, but it's not overwhelmingly huge. Ryan Helsley, who barely gave up any runs at all last year, has a 4.82 ERA right now, and he's closing games because Alex Reyes is gone. Even Nolan Gorman and his 22 RBIs are felled by a lower average and him not being a very adept defender.
There's just a lot of okay performances denoting this team, and if the Brewers, Cubs and Pirates are gonna be filled with great performances, 'okay' isn't going to cut it. The Cards get to play Detroit, Boston and Cincinnati in May, but the road to that is lined with tough teams like the Dodgers, Angels, Brewers and Cubs, and unless something changes dramatically, they'll need to really work hard to still be intimidating against these teams. Part of me hopes they figure it out, because this is the sort of team that's too big to sink.
Coming Tomorrow- Jose Altuve is hurt, Aledmys Diaz is in Oakland, and somehow the best player on the Astros is still a second baseman.