Updated: Jun 17, 2019
This is the sixth, and final, part of a series about the disjointedness of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and organization. This part is where I attempt to bring together how disjointed I believe the Cardinals team is at the major league level.
The Disjointedness If you look at the 2nd through 5th parts of this series in conjunction, hopefully you seem to see the entire picture of why I believe there to be a severely disjointed organizational set of philosophies - or at the very minimum a conflict of philosophies between the upper management and on-field management.
When you consider the fact that the Cardinals have some of the most acreage in the outfield, you would expect to see a fleet of fleet-footed outfielders. Now let’s get this out of the way. They have had a few; Tommy Pham is fast and good at defense. So was Randal Grichuk. So is Harrison Bader - when he gets to play. However, Dexter Fowler, while having long strides and decent speed, is a terrible outfielder defensively for some reason. (I really can’t tell if he’s just slower than he looks or if he gets terrible jumps. But the numbers back my eye test up greatly on this issue.) The Cardinals did what was best for the team and moved him out of center field this year, but they moved him to right field.
Having one of the largest outfields in the majors requires a very good arm when you’re so far away from third base. The best arm should go into right field, and Fowler has one of the worst arms on the entire roster. Matt Carpenter’s is worse. I can’t think of anyone else. While Marcell Ozuna won the gold glove in left field last year (somehow), he’s not a supremely athletic player either - and while he’s supposed to have a good arm for a left fielder, his right arm/shoulder are having a bit of trouble right now and I can’t tell you with a straight face that it’s the best in the outfield - and Pham’s isn’t fantastic. That being said, even hurt it might be better than Fowler’s, so I’m not sure why they’re not playing him in right field.
Furthermore, if you’ve got this huge stadium with tons of acreage to play with, wouldn’t it make sense to use more of it to your advantage? The Cardinals pitchers tend to get ground balls at fantastic rates. Good for them! But the Cardinals have built their infielders on hitters moved up to the highest potential difficulty on the defensive spectrum to get bats into the lineup. They’re not built to pitch and play defense like the Cardinals of old. Shouldn’t the pitching philosophy be brought to speed on this matter?
With the introduction of spin rate and other Statcast data stats, I am not as up to speed as I could be writing this article, ask Zach Gifford or Joe Schwartz for help with that - but it seems (from the small amount of reading on the subject that I have been able to do) that the current Cardinals pitchers might not be the team to go to the high heat with just yet...leaving the team in a bit of a lurch. They have ground ball pitchers to get contact that is currently being hit through the infield at a high rate because we don’t have the infield defense to stop it. If they were able to switch to the high heat more and use their bigger ballpark to get fly ball outs at a much higher rate (see Lynn, Wacha, etc.), they simply may not have the outfield defense to get that done either.
As an offense, when you have as large a ballpark as the Cardinals do along with the park being fairly close to sea level and the way the wind cycles through the park making it a terrible place for right-handed hitters to hit the long ball, you’d think you might have a team built around hitting for average and for extra bases, ignoring the three-true-outcome types of hitters that permeate baseball at the moment. The Cardinals seem to have gone all in on that second type of hitter, however; essentially transforming players (Carpenter, Fowler, etc.) who used to be more of the former into more of the latter.
All in all, this really makes for one disjointed mess after another because the team cannot gel when it’s pieces are working against one another against their own will at all times.
If you got through all 6 parts, thank you for reading. I commend you, and thank you for reading.
If you enjoyed them, then please head on over to http://www.facebook.com/flyovercountrybaseball … to see more of my work. Hopefully Cardinalsgifs and others here will allow me to spread my baseball nerdiness more with y’all in the future!