As we watch yet another late inning meltdown, I can't help but have a few thoughts on the current state of the team, surprisingly, positive.
This year's team has been awesome especially watching players like ludwick and shumaker have good/breakthrough years. Don't forget Phat Albert has twice as many walks as he does strikeouts. That is absolutely amazing; no one is even close to him in that category. Remember the classic series in Boston where they battled hard and took two out of three from the Sawx. TLR and the entire coaching staff gave a standing ovation to his players after their gritty performance.
But, as the team painfully loses ground in the central division race it is clear to all of us on here that the Cards need improvements. I don't think any wavier deal can save this team from the problems that will be addressed by the front office in the offseason.
I can't really see us contending with Cubs for the division down the stretch. That being said I fully expect the Cards to contend for the wild card down the stretch even if we have ground to make up in September. Remember the last two teams that went to WS in National League. Last year the Rockies won 16 out of 17 to get into the playoffs and made a magical run to the World Series. The year before we all know the run the Cards made after the colossal collapse in the late season to be the team with the least amount of wins entering the playoffs. And we all know how great 2006 was. There is no doubt in my mind the way this team plays; they will contend to the very end.
Injuries have hit our team hard. (They have been for awhile). That is why we saw two rookies in a row face Brad Lidge in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday and get introduced to a big league closer. But, Carp is back. Welle just pitched a great game against a team that previously drilled him and seems to be returning to form. Ank is on the mend. Wainwright will probably start his rehab at the end of this week. And Brian Barton is on his way back. All of these players (aside from Barton to an extent) can have a dramatic impact on this team.
I look forward to August and September because I think we could make the playoffs. This team is a little tired right now, but with 5 days off in August the Cards will be rested for the final month. With a fresh team in the final month and a tough Cub schedule down the stretch (15 of 20 on the road I think) anything can happen!