Well, it’s over.
Barney Frank has sung.
Doris Kearns-Goodwin can now die a happy man.
And somewhere, Curt Schilling is still talking as he pretends he somehow deserves some of the glory for this.
Unfortunately, all we have going on here is Thursday Morning Coming Down for yours truly, as I add my name to disappointment roll call today, along with all of you other Cardinals loyalists out there.
There’s no joy to be found in Mudville at the moment.
Matty C. makes final out at Fenway.
I reckon there’s plenty to discuss regarding things that quickly went downhill for the NL Champs in this noted “Weird Series” fall classic. From multiple quirky plays occurring all over the field, to the total disconnect from the Cardinal Way of sound fundamentals shown throughout regular season/previous playoff rounds compared to the various baseball brain farts that left us scratching our heads multiple times in this series. Those simply could not be the same Redbirds we all had been watching together for the last seven or eight months. Right?
Lacking the spirit in St. Louis? Freese & Jay done seen better days.
Am I incredibly bummed about all of those obvious failings? Of course I am. There were so many blatant miscues here and there it’s no wonder many in Cardinal Nation are e-ranting and e-whining on and on about them in today’s post-mortems. But it was certainly not at all shocking to see this team go down in flames and lose a series when our “Mr. Clutch” ace (Adam Wainwright) loses both of his starts, and especially when an entire half of the starting of line-up is barely making any contact whatsoever. “Big City” Adams, David Freese, Jon Jay, & Pete Kozma? More like Out, Out, Out, & Out! Seemingly e’r other inning; seemingly e’r single at-bat. Our ducks at the top-half of the order were continually hitting with nobody on and were left stranded out there on the bearded pond. It became awfully clear awfully early on that this no-show quartet had little business riding the bench somewhere on a sh!tty team, let alone on one the remaining two that were vying for the crown.
A clutch knock, fellas? Maybe a couple lil’ bloop singles that somehow find a way to fall in and break the funk? Hell, how about just a productive out that advances a runner???
(Not even close.)
Rest Assured: Serfass & Woodmansee (Baseball Nerds)
Ok, I’ve had a chance to swallow my pride and sleep on it now…and this is still not Happiness! Perhaps taking some time to “write out” my frustrations and slowly start rattling off those silver linings and looking ahead will be therapeutic. Perhaps things are just paining me that much more today because a very good friend, colleague, and fellow baseball nerd assured me several months ago that I had nothing to worry about all season with this team — they were destined for another championship run. Oh, and as if that false sense of security wasn’t cruel enough, it was none other than that ol’ Serfass Phamily Phave, Shane Victorino, that ended up doing us in!
Reeled in and filleted, I tells ya! What emotional battering! 😉
These f*cking guys? #FearTheHygiene
[Bitterly] Moving Forward…
From our Fearless Leader:
“There’s been a lot of talk about [being set up for success], and rightfully so,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday night, moments after a 6-1 Red Sox victory ended the World Series. “You look at the young arms. We’ve got experience behind the plate and in left and right. We’ve got a lot of young players out there. There’s a lot of things to be excited about moving forward.
“It’s really hard to think about at this point, because it’s so rare and special to be on this stage. And you hate to see anything slip away — not that we gave it away, they took it. They played us and they beat us.”
Matheny’s View? A Bright Future
“As we look through the season — and we’ll start doing that tonight, kind of reviewing what we were able to accomplish — we had plenty of adversity,” Matheny said. “[There were] plenty of things we had to overcome. And they did it in a style that represented the organization well, the way they played and didn’t back off one second, of the way they prepared. It was a relentless team, and I think that’s a way to label them. And I’m very proud to be a part of them.”
We’re beyond the “conventional wisdom” stage of what to do next at this point — it’s now an outright necessity for the team’s brilliant GM John Mozeliak to go ahead and tap into that surplus of young pitching talent in order to make a couple of significant upgrades going into 2014. Obviously, the stockpile of fastballin’ young’uns are the StL organizational strength and that highly-touted farm shouldn’t be sold outright for assumed instant glory…but we also find ourselves in a position where the team can afford to ship a couple of those arms for the sort of quick improvement to the regular line-up that puts us over the top come next October. It’s a rare luxury for a contending team to have, no doubt, and timing-wise, it’s very promising to see several solid (and very affordable) free agents out there this offseason that could quickly fill a need, too.
Top Priorities: Yunel Escobar at SS in 2014?
What’s Next? Who’s Next?
Among my laundry list of would-be improvements, whether filled via trade or scrap-heap signing, includes making an investment for a long-term SS solution the top priority of our Hot Stove efforts. Methinks Tampa Bay’s Yunel Escobar would be an absolutely perfect fit on this squad right now, so I’m going to go ahead and declare an “all in” on this call. Beyond acquiring the next Edgar Renteria at SS, I also feel that infield depth is a serious concern moving forward…especially now that we have seemingly repaid our debts to Lucifer for the aformentioned Freese’s amazing 2011 playoff run (who’s soul was clearly being punished with his .170ish/0/0 series output…but thanks for the memories, right?). Behind newly-minted starters Matt Carpenter moving over to the hot corner, and the Flyin’ Hawaiian “Mighty Mouse”, rookie phenom Kolten Wong replacing him at 2B, I’m thinkin’ we rake in a reliable veteran who can play a few spots behind them and help be a clubhouse leader for us, someone like the highly-respected Michael Young, Omar Infante, or even another tenure for Rafael Furcal (if he’s willing to play for peanuts in order to be on a winner and prove he’s healthy again, that is). Just don’t get totally lame and pull another Felipe Lopez or Ty Wigginton on us again for that role, ya hear? I haven’t forgot.
Additionally, pressing team needs include filling a glaring void in CF with a solid option for the time being (1-2 years?), as well as adding another good lefty out of the ‘pen. For the latter, perhaps the hard-throwing former closer Mike Gonzalez could both compliment 1-batter specialist Randy Choate and serve as another reliable gap-filler between Martinez, Siegrist, and my main man Trevor Rosenthal at the back end of games. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing if we might throw a few bucks Roy Halladay’s way, have him play the role of his likely-departing buddy Chris Carpenter, and see if he might surprise some folks with another decent year or two as a fifth starter or converted RP on the cheap.
That’s my $0.02 on the Nows & the Laters following our latest crushing World Series defeat to those damned BoSox from Beantown. If you’re like me and from the Nintendo and Bases Loaded era, I think the proverbial “Agony of Defeat” can be summed up pretty well by the reaction of reliever Seth Maness to Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead HR in Game 5. (By the way, if you’re old school and scoring this at home, let’s just agree that it made just about as much sense to pitch to PAPI as it did to pitch to PASTE in the video game. Get out tha way! Yikes!)
Hot Stove Heaters: Will we see free agent bidding wars from the usual big market spenders this offseason?
Baseball writer Jayson Martinez over at The Bleacher Report adds his voice to the one of many out there today also touting a very bright future for those Birds on the Bat:
Earlier this season, I chose the St. Louis Cardinals as the “Most Brilliantly Run Franchise in Baseball”. True to form, they had another brilliant season that included their fourth World Series appearance in the past 10 years. While they couldn’t outlast the Red Sox, who beat them in six games, they shouldn’t miss a beat in 2014 as long as they continue to follow the model of success that’s allowed them to post winning seasons in 13 of the last 14 years.
As they’ve shown the baseball world throughout the season and into the playoffs, their young talent is for real, and they should continue to produce more homegrown talent that should put the team in a position so that they don’t have to rely on the free agent and trade markets.
Carlos Beltran: Sliding Away from St. Louis
The Cardinals have the financial resources to make moves in free agency and the farm system that would allow them to do nothing and still be a good team. It’s good to have those options. Some teams have neither.
General manager John Mozeliak had a quiet offseason prior to the 2013 season, opting to use his financial resources to lock up Craig and Adam Wainwright to long-term extensions. With most of his team’s core of talent under club control for several more seasons and several million dollars coming off of the books, he could focus more on adding another impact bat or pitcher to push the team over the top next season.
[. . .]
The question is whether they’ll have to spend that much to put together a championship-caliber roster for 2014. There really isn’t much that needs to be done. They’re great now and they’ll be losing just one key component—Beltran—to this year’s team. Finding an upgrade at shortstop is most likely at the top of the team’s “things to do” list this winter while adding depth to the pitching staff could also be on the agenda.
Prognosticate here with me for a moment, fellow citizens of Cardinal Nation. What’s your Day After diagnosis looking like? What is it now, just 104 days ’til pitchers and catchers can officially report? Today may not be Happiness, but that day, friends, will be Baseball Bliss all over again.
How ’bout we just turn that bunch of Clydesdales horsies loose already! ¡Viva El Birdos! Dial me up some Mike Shannon on the radio!
Not that we’re doing any counting down or anything here at TWP. 🙂