Here we go again.
The Cardinals, for nearly 2.5 years now, have been one of the most, if not THE most, frustrating team in baseball.
They’re a team that can roll out 3 Top 10 NL MVP candidates in the middle of the order and still never get a timely hit. They’re a team that can feature 3 pitchers making in excess of 10 million dollars per year but not get a shutdown performance when it’s needed. They’re a team that features 2 hall of fame caliber coaches that can never seem to strike the right cords. They’re a team that feels like they should be 20 games over .500, but can’t get to more than a fourth of that on a regular basis.
They’re getting their asses whipped and find the time to go out and enjoy NYC.
Worse, they don’t have that one glaring thing that HAS to be resolved to really get on a roll. Fernando Salas has generally been pretty good. But last night it was his turn to yak up a win. Pujols is the best player in baseball, but has hit into the most double plays in MLB… by far. Each day it’s a new leak. Each day it costs the Cardinals another win.
We alluded to it yesterday, but at this point I think the only reasonable conclusion to draw is this team lacks a leader. Again.
And frankly, for all his talent, it doesn’t seem like Pujols has it in him to do anything other than go out and play great baseball. Because when the Yankees start going into a funk – DJ gets cozy with the Post. Or when the BoSox suck, Youk is tearing that clubhouse a new one. Pujols claims that everything will be alright and that 'the media' and 'bloggers with nothing better to do' are over-reacting.
Because the Cardinals haven’t won a playoff game since 2006.
And every day that passes it looks like that 5 year streak will be alive and kicking some April 2012. 6 years of absolute prime for an all-time great… but his 109 million dollar teammates can’t muster up the stones to beat a weak-ass division?
What’s wrong with this picture? Where’s the accountability for this systematic failure? Is anyone wearing a Cardinals uniform ready to step up and lead? It's easy to say - hey, Pujols is the leader because he's the best player. He'll get it done. But if we walk this back, the Cardinals have been woeful underacheivers since 2005 (2006, getting into the playoffs from a historically weak division) and 2005 was a LONG time ago.
Let's talk turkey here - Pujols isn't leading this team anywhere but into another .500 year and first row seat to watch the playoffs at home.
It's not his fault this isn't in his DNA as a player. He gets paid to produce and he produces wonderfully. But at the same time, someone in that locker room besides TLR has to do someting to bust the Cardinals out of a rut they can't shake.
As promised: Kitten face.