The Cardinals have long been a model of consistency, posting a winning record in 16 of the past 17 seasons. That stretch that includes 12 playoff appearances, two World Series titles and two other National League pennants.
Cardinals Midseason Top 10
1. Alex Reyes, RHP
2. Carson Kelly, C
3. Jack Flaherty, RHP
4. Luke Weaver, RHP
5. Magneuris Sierra, OF
6. Paul DeJong, SS/2B
7. Jose Adolis Garcia, OF
8. Harrison Bader, OF
9. Dakota Hudson, RHP
10. Delvin Perez, SS
But the days of the Cardinals as a model franchise seem to be fading into the distance.
St. Louis is in unfamiliar territory, with an underperforming group of veterans and a 43-45 record at the All-Star break. Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz, two of the team’s top hitters last season, performed so poorly they were demoted to the minors at various points. Jhonny Peralta hit .204 and was released after 21 games. Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong spent significant time on the disabled list. Adam Wainwright (35) and Michael Wacha (25) continued to regress from their 2013 pennant-winning peak. And the bullpen produced a middling 4.12 ERA with 11 blown saves.
The poor all-around performance has led to calls for manager Mike Matheny's firing, and there have been other organizational changes made during the year. Third-base coach Chris Maloney was reassigned within the organization and assistant hitting coach Bill Mueller was placed on a leave of absence in May. Michael Girsch moved into the general manager's role July 1, and John Mozeliak was promoted to president of baseball operations.
Chairman Bill Dewitt Jr. publicly stated the team would not mortgage its future to try and patch up the many holes on this unit and make a run at the NL Central-leading Brewers, although the Cardinals have been linked to Josh Donaldson in trade rumors.
The good news is most of the Cardinals’ top prospects are in the upper minors and should be available to help the big league club soon. Some, such as Paul DeJong, already have. The bad news is the early returns on high-risk high school bats from the 2015 and 2016 drafts are not promising, as Nick Plummer, Bryce Denton and Delvin Perez have all struggled, and the team did not have a pick until the third round this year due to penalties for former scouting director Chris Correa's hacking of the Astros' databases.
The future is where the Cardinals are going to have to look to reclaim their throne as baseball's most stable organization. Until then, barring a stunning second-half surge, jobs are very much on the line in St. Louis.
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