104 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. For fans of 28 other teams, that coundown had already begun. For Cardinals’ fans, it begins now.
Last night the Red Sox did what they did all series long. Pulled a rabbit out of their hat.
The entire series they didn’t hit well. In fact, only David Ortiz had more hits than games that were played in the World Series. But they got the hits when they needed them. Something the Cardinals were unable to do.
In Game 4, it was Jonny Gomes (2-for-17) getting a home run. In Game 5, it was David Ross (3-for-16) getting a double. In Game 6, it was Shane Victorino (2-for-13) knocking a triple off the green monster with the bases loaded.
One this was clear. You take David Ortiz out of that Boston lineup and the Cardinals probably roll over them in four games without a fight.
In Game 6, the Cardinals threatened with men in scoring position four different times. In the second, fourth, fifth, and seventh innings, but scored just one run on a dump into left field by Carlos Beltran against the shift.
When the time came to do something, the back half of the Cardinals lineup found the invisibility super power and couldn’t buy a hit when they needed it. That was the difference between the Red Sox and the Cardinals in this season. I felt like the Cardinals outplayed the Red Sox all series long, except in runs. But runs are what gets you wins.
The Red Sox got the last laugh against Michael Wacha as they became the first team to peg Michael Wacha with a postseason loss. But the 21 year old pitcher shouldn’t be too disappointed in the grand scheme of things. His four postseason wins are tied for the third most all-time and he tied Chris Carpenter’s 2011 postseason to share the franchise record. That isn’t bad company.
Speaking of pitching, Shelby Miller was the missing man this postseason, pitching a single inning in the month of October, despite being the second best pitcher in the rotation through the regular season. Bad first round matchups forced him to the bullpen, but then the lack of work and an eyeball on his innings kept him from other appearances.
It prompted plenty of Twitter jokes about where he was or what he did to deserve such treatment. And then once again when he got up in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s Game 6 to toss in the Fenway bullpen. And that’s not something that’s been addressed and has pretty much been downplayed by the organization.
There has been talk that between Miller and Edward Mujica, the Cardinals wasted valuable roster spots. That may be, but who are you putting on instead? It’s not like we had Matt Adams or a similar hitter that was missing out.
This offseason could be one of a shuffle. They need to find a shortstop and right fielder Carlos Beltran will be a free agent. They’ll probably slide Allen Craig to the outfield, which will free up first base for Matt Adams. Or they could use star prospect Oscar Taveras in the outfield to take his place in right field or replace Jon Jay in center field.
Beltran led the team in home runs (24), was third in RBI (84), and only Matt Carpenter and Jay played more games. Do you let your most reliable bat go?
Beltran has said he wants to play three more seasons and it’s hard to see a way for him to do that in St. Louis. He will likely get the one year qualifying offer, but they will turn that down in pursuit of a multi-year deal. But at that point it will be up to them. The Cardinals have historically re-signed the players they intend to keep before they reach free agency. Lance Berkman and Jake Westbrook were signed late in the season to extensions. Kyle Lohse was allowed to walk into November without any contract talks.
The team that takes the field in April could be drastically different than the one we just witnessed in October. There are scenarios that could play out that would find David Freese, Edward Mujica, Jon Jay, and other players who have had key roles the last couple years end up in another team’s uniform next season.
As always, we will see. John Mozeliak has known the issues that the team has had. Some situations, like shortstop, are about at their tipping point. Something will need to be done this offseason. There are options available, but will it be more than he’s willing to pay? That’ll be the question.
Time to wait and see. And at the risk of sounding like a Cubs fan…
There’s always next year.