This past couple weeks, members of the United Cardinal Bloggers have been doing their annual post-season roundtable. Each writer or site poses a question to the group and gathers their thoughts. While John Mozeliak successfully nuked my question by already picking up Jaime Garcia‘s option this weekend, I switched gears to gauge the opinions on what to do with the team’s arbitration eligible players.
On Sunday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals put the finishing touches on their 2013 campaign that saw them finish with a 97-65 record, good for best in the National League. For a team that spent most of the first half of the season in that position before floundering mid-summer, it was a happy ending.
The team, however, will enter postseason play for the tenth time in the last fourteen seasons with about as many questions as answers. Here are three important questions that the team will need to find answers to if the franchise’s 12th World Series title is in the cards.
Cardinals fans have seen this scene far too often in 2013. Unfortunately, I called this when I wrote a couple sentences about his return. Mitchell Boggs wasn’t fixed yet. Boggs still isn’t fixed yet and we learned that once again with his appearance in the ninth inning of a one run game, an appearance that was inexplicable to most every fan on Twitter. Matheny seemingly gift-wrapped the game for the Royals, bringing in Boggs who allowed a first-pitch home run by Jeff Franceour to tie up the ballgame.
Thursday night’s struggles were apparently the final straw for the Cardinals’ organization. Getting the call in the 7th inning to help get Joe Kelly out of a mess, Mitchell Boggs proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced, allowing Milwaukee to score their third run of the ballgame. Trevor Rosenthal came in at that point and struck out Martin Maldonado to end the threat.
It was the most recent in a series of disappointing struggles for Mitchell Boggs who was arguably the best setup man in baseball in 2012. The injury to Jason Motte in spring training put the bullpen in flux and Boggs was never able to settle in to the closer’s role. As a result, he continued to struggle with both mechanics and confidence.
It’s been a theme for the Cardinals all season. Missed opportunities. The most glaring from this afternoon being a bases loaded situation in the bottom of the seventh with no outs. Ground balls from Allen Craig and Yadier Molina ended the inning without the Cardinals scoring to extend their 2-1 lead. At that point, the momentum swung firmly in the direction of the Nationals.
In the top of the eighth, Mitchell Boggs came in and it all began to unravel for the Cardinals. A tough bounce resulted in a fielding error by Pete Kozma allowed Michael Morse to reach base. Ian Desmond singled to move Morse to third. Danny Espinosa sacrificed Desmond to second. With runners at second and third, Boggs managed to strike out Kurt Suzuki for the second out of the inning. It appeared the Cardinals might escape the inning.