I shouldn't jinx the Cardinals by blogging about them. They have been an incredibly frustrating team this year, losing so many games that they should have won. Their starting pitching has been mediocre; their bullpen, especially late in games was horrific, at least in the beginning of the year; their stars, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, have had down years; their middle-infield defense for most of the season was terrible, particularly in a town where the standard was set by Ozzie Smith; their best pitcher, Adam Wainwright, missed the whole year with Tommie John surgery, etc., etc. And yet, if they win today and the Braves lose, the Cardinals would enter the playoffs on a roll, and go to Philadelphia, where they just beat the Phillies on the road 3 out of 4 games. Then, perhaps, miraculously, the Cardinals might play the Brewers in the NLCS. A month ago, this was all a pipe dream, when the Cardinals were 10.5 games back of the Braves. Now they're tied, and it all might come true. Or they might just give us one more frustration.
Here's what we've learned this year about the Cardinals:
1. Albert Pujols is human. Which means he might just be gone, because he's not going to be worth $25-30 million a year in his decline phase.
2. Lance Berkman can still play. Which affects #1, since Berkman would move to first if Pujols leaves.
3. Allen Craig can really, really hit. Which also affects #1, since Craig would move to right if Berkman moves to first. Craig, incidentally, would have power numbers as good or better than Pujols if you extrapolated to give him Pujols' ABs. And he's getting paid $400,000 this year. Just sayin'.
4. Jason Motte, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez, Fernando Salas, Mitchell Boggs, and Kyle McLellan are really really good out of the bullpen. Too bad Tony LaRussa felt obliged to let Ryan Franklin close for the first two months of the season.
5. Jon Jay is secretly better than Colby Rasmus.
6. David Freese, if he can just stay healthy, is really really good at third base.
7. Yadier Molina has taught himself how to hit (which is a good thing, since his defense is slipping).
Anyway, it's been a fun ride. It'd be great if we could keep it going for another three or four weeks.