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on underachievement

i had been planning to write about other things, and not wallow in the team's 7th sweep in the last 2 1/2 months. then i read this from jocketty in the post-dispatch:

"Our problem is we've got a couple of guys who are underachieving that need to do better," general manager Walt Jocketty said before Thursday's game at Shea Stadium. "And if they would do better, we would certainly be in a better situation."
yet again, the organization misses an opportunity to take responsibility for the team it has assembled. last week, they blamed the fans' unreasonably high expectations for the unrest in cardinal nation; this week, they're putting the onus on the players. the front office and dugout have done great jobs -- flawless -- only to be victimized by ingrates in the stands and slackers on the field.

can you imagine an unluckier group of guys than jocketty, dewitt, and co.? do they deserve this?

among the starting eight, only edmonds has substantially underachieved --- and he's still been plenty good enough. (it's also true that molina has stunk with the bat, but that's his right as a #8 hitter making the minimum wage.) but pujols and duncan have greatly overachieved, and encarnacion has lifted his game to about the league average. factor in an all-star year from rolen, eckstein's career-norm season, and solid role-play contributions from zpiezio and j-rod and luna, and the lineup is way, way in surplus. collectively, the position players have performed well above their established level of performance; if that group is wanting, the fault lies with the guys who selected the players.

granted, slack performances have run rampant on the pitching staff, but the organization's flawed evaluation of its talent and inefficient deployment of resources has contributed to the downturn. marquis has been given way too many opportunities, wainwright and reyes way too few; the team took forever to recognize and respond to mulder's injury and pretty much ruined him for the season. the cardinals -- lotta fans, too --- blithely assumed their luck would hold in the rehabilitating-castoffs department; but not every junior spivey you acquire can turn in a tony-womack season, and not every sid ponson or jeff weaver can respond to duncan's magic elixir. sometimes flawed players turn out to be just that -- flawed. the cardinals seem surprised by the discovery.

the only backslide the organization couldn't have anticipated and planned for is isringhausen's --- and even that one, a number of people saw coming. his has been an extremely costly collapse, prob'y worth 3 or 4 games in the standings; i give the organization a pass on it. but let's not lay all the blame for this disappointing year at his feet; even if izzy were having his typical season, and had blown 3 or 4 saves at this point 'stead of 10, so what? the cards would be a handful of games up on a weak division, heading into the postseason with an inadequate rotation and feeble bench, and we'd all be saying what we said the 1st half of this year -- here comes another loss in the nlcs.

don't be pissed at the players, i wrote two months ago; be pissed at the organization's complacency and arrogance. just once, i'd like to hear jocketty or dewitt come forward and say: you know what, we let the fans down this year. we came into the 2005-06 off-season with the best team in a weak league, with a clean shot at another world series, and we blew it. we underachieved; the men in charge didn't make the best decisions. sorry, best fans in baseball; you deserve better. it's going to be a struggle the rest of the way in 2006, but we're still hoping for the best. and we pledge to do better in 2007 and beyond.

that'd quiet a lot of us unreasonable, ingrate fans.