Maybe now most fans will start to realize that the Cardinals offense of 2012 has truly been a thing of beauty. Because the offense has been so good all year, many Cardinal fans forgot what a slump really is. With the recent 4 game slide, the Cardinals have scored 1 run. It all started the night Yadier Molina was run over by Josh “James” Harrison at the plate in Pittsburgh, and I’ll have more thoughts on that later. The Cards are still in control of their own destiny, holding on in the final wildcard spot, as the Pirates and Dodgers have also struggled recently. If you look at the last 4 games though, a lot of the blame has to go to the starting pitching. Last night Adam Wainwright had a clunker, but he was due for one. Jaime Garcia isn’t right or effective, and I’m still not sold on him being good to go after his shoulder troubles. Jake Westbrook hasn’t pitched well since signing his extension.
The last 4 games, the Cards have lost 9-0, 5-0, 8-1 and 10-0. One could argue that if the offense was firing on all cylinders, a couple of these games could have been one because the pitching would have had a different approach. I agree somewhat, but my view is that I’d rather see the offense go through this mini-slump at a time when the SP is also doing the same. I hope most fans will now look at this offense for what it is, which is the real deal that is finally hit a bump in the road. We’ve been spoiled by the Cards offense keeping them in almost every game. I hate to beat a dead horse, but if the BP had taken care of business at a rate of league average performance, every little thing about the team wouldn’t be magnified.
As you know by now, Rafael Furcal is done for the year. That’s a tough blow, but it’s not one that will determine the outcome of 2012. His UZR and UZR/150 defensive ratings were nowhere close to what they’ve been in the past. Ryan Jackson and Pete Kozma will be fine in his absence. I’m not trying to undermine what Furcal means to the Cards, but he’s been hitting 8th in the order for a reason, and that’s because he hasn’t been right offensively for months now.
Looking back on the hit that Molina took from Harrison in Pittsburgh, there seems to be two extreme sides to the case. One is that it was a clean play. The other is that it was a junk move by a player hitting .230 trying to make his mark in the league. After looking at the reply many times, I’m split down the middle. Harrison is probably nothing more than a bench player on 25 of the 30 teams, and was a little excessive with the forearm and elbow to the head, but that’s a bang-bang play. Should he have tried to slide around Molina and make the hand tag to home plate in that instance? Absolutely, but the Pirates are trying to make a statement that reflect their manager Clint Hurdle, who by most accounts is a good, clean baseball man. Hurdle should win Manager of the Year if the Pirates finish above .500 for the first time in 20 years, and he knows the path to the Pirates success starts with “getting up” and beating the Cards.
What people also need to remember is that the Cardinals have been the constant in the NLC for the last 12 years. If you look at every other team, they’ve undergone dramatic changes to “go all in” only to find themselves rebuilding for the next 5 years. Every team’s success starts with defeating the Cards and proving that they belong. In other words, the Cardinals have to deal with these teams “getting up” to play them unlike against other teams, which are pounded in the heads of the players on these teams by every opposing manager.
Many want to point the finger at Mike Matheny and claim he’s responsible for the failure of the 2012 Cardinals already. I really don’t get that, and the year is far from over, but hey, why not blame a rookie manager if the Cards don’t go 162-0. I’m glad Tony LaRussa never had an off year with more talented teams.
Reinforcements are on their way today as rosters expand. I’m predicting that the Cardinals offense returns to form and the team still makes the playoffs. Regardless of how far they go once they get there, the 2012 season will be a success. I have a feeling many who are speaking out so negatively about the Cards at this point are the ones who predicted the Cards had no chance without Albert Pujols, Dave Duncan and LaRussa. It’s good to know that most idiots that post on the Bleacher Report posing as experts are about as insightful as Ken Rosenthal in his bow tie.