This might be the worst cliche in all of sports.
The Cardinals are struggling right now. 4-6 in their last 10. Half a game up on 4th place Cincinnati. It’s been a slog lately, hard to watch at times indeed. As of this writing, STL is 23rd in runs per game (3.99) and 14th in runs allowed. This is all discouraging. Players, coaches, and management need to be held accountable. Certain players have wildly underperformed, some have been set up to fail. Again, accountability is needed.
All of these points have been made on this site time and time again by writers much more elegantly than I am capable of. I want to talk about something else, and perhaps provide some perspective. The Cardinals have been bitten by the injury bug. Hard. This should not be overlooked. I was lurking through the comment section of an article yesterday where I came across a great point. I can’t find it at the moment so I will paraphrase. Basically, all the "spare parts" the Cardinals have implemented this year, bench and call ups, have been abysmal. As Cardinals fans, we are not used to this. When we called up a player in the past, that player performed. Maybe not on par with the guy he was replacing, but they always seemed to be passable. Negative WAR wasn’t a thing here.
I don’t want to get into why this was the case. Whether "Devil Magic" or coaching, scouting, etc. and why that isn’t the case anymore. That’s a different conversation. The aforementioned VEB comment pointed out that this is not typical. If anything what we are seeing now is the norm. Guy goes down, you call up the next guy and he isn’t that good, which is why he was on the bench or minors to begin with. That is the norm. Injuries can devastate a club and more times than not they do.
This is what makes the current state of the Birds so disheartening. Remember when we resigned Waino and there was a conversation about which started would be relegated to the pen? Now all the team is looking for is a heartbeat and 4 innings. As it stands, the current roster boasts only three actual outfielders on the 25-man, one of which never plays. Next guy up? There wasn’t anyone to call up. Dean was hurt. Hurst was hurt (say that 10 times fast) and he was only added out of desperation to begin with. The outfield has been a jumbled mess. Again, this is so disheartening given how good TON and the rookie Carlson have been. It could have been managed better I agree, but only marginally. The streaky PDJ at short just came off the DL and looks awful. Everyone collectively screamed "He needed more time in AAA to rehab and get in track!" This is likely true, but the Cards needed offense. Another move made in desperation…
Then there’s the bullpen. Oh god the bullpen. Nope, not gonna do it… Ok maybe the cliff notes since there are too many cases to go over. This was supposed to be our biggest strength arguably. Now it’s a bizarre mix of three lights out guys and the rest are called-up-too-sooners that you can’t blame on the club because the staff has been bled dry.
"Injuries are no excuse" is BS. Take away the best players on any given team and what do you get? A worse team. Zap a team of its much needed depth and all you can do is hope the call up can keep his head above water. A team is missing it’s top 3 starting pitchers? Nah, it’ll be fine.
Perhaps injuries not an excuse for a team not playing well, but a very understandable reason.