Updated: Jan 16, 2019
After a 2018 season that saw manager and hitting coaches get fired mid-season, not to mention a third straight couch view for the postseason, the St. Louis Cardinals front office no longer had a choice. Changes needed to be made.
In his postseason press conference, President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak finally admitted that their plan for getting to the post season was no longer working. The formula that had been a model of success had finally seemed to run its course.
The fan base has long been weary of half measures characterized as “reaching for low hanging fruit” and “keeping the powder dry.” The general feeling has been that ownership doesn’t listen to the fans and only cares about lining their own pockets.
While I can understand the angst, I find it hard to believe that the truth is anywhere close to that extreme. The Cardinals have been one of the most consistently competitive teams in the majors for nearly two decades. Even while missing the playoffs the past three seasons, the Cardinals entered each September with a real shot at making the playoffs.
The truth is though, there wasn’t enough in the tank. Overtaxed bullpens and offensive inconsistency did them in each time. Attempts to solve those problems didn’t work and there was a collective head scratching that left a team, front office, and a fan base wondering what happened.
Mo and his staff acknowledged that they heard what the fans were saying and want to win as much as anybody else does. Enter the 2018 offseason. The Cardinals front office has been aggressive so far, signing Andrew Miller and pulling off a steal of a trade with Arizona for Paul Goldschmidt. Both moves speak to the desire to win now and put the focus squarely on 2019.
In Miller the Cardinals get the shutdown lefty in the bullpen that they have needed. It’s a risk for sure as Miller is coming off a down year that saw DL time that no doubt contributed the 4.24 ERA. Miller’s H% (hits allowed per balls in play) was nearly seven percent higher than his career average as well suggesting there was some bad luck factoring in there as well. When healthy though, Miller is as dominant a lefty as you will find. The Cardinals are banking on that to carry them through.
Goldschmidt’s reputation precedes him. He’s a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove, and MVP candidate that makes an immediate impact in the heart of the lineup. Goldy is the big bat that this team has been missing for several years. His addition immediately puts the Cardinals back in the driver’s seat for the NL Central Division title.
It’s been a long three years without playoff baseball in St. Louis. The front office has heard what the fans have been saying. They have heard and they have responded with two bold moves that look to have this team poised to retake its position as the class of the National League. Mozeliak and Co. were all ears, and now it’s all business. Opening Day cannot get here soon enough.