What's upsetting is this is a team that clearly has the talent to make a playoff run, and they just don't play up to their potential. When that happens, you start doing what Cubs fans have become famous for -- waiting for next year. The Cardinals future might be equally as uncertain as the Cards, too.
If I were GM, here's my list of priorities:
- The team may be in the market for a new manager. TLR has been taking it year to year for some time now, but this is the first time I've wondered if he'll come back or not -- and also whether I WANT him back. He's a hall of fame manager, and one of the greatest of the modern era if not all time. But, maybe he's finally reached the end of the line in St. Louis. The team certainly seems to have tuned him out, and with rumored friction with some of the young stars (Rasmus), might be time for a new voice. I'm not opposed to bringing in that new voice, but worry that Mozelik isn't the guy to find him. A bigger concern to me is the fact that if TLR hangs it up, it probably means that Dave Duncan is on his way out, too. Now, there certainly are other great pitching coaches out there, but Duncan is a true wizard and has more reclamation projects on his resume than anyone else.
- Pujols -- you have to get him signed to an extension this offseason. We, as a fan base, don't want to see what would happen if 2011 opens and talks are stalling.
- Role players. The team has guys that looked to be solid role players, but all of them seem to have gone in the tank at the same time. Brendan Ryan, Felipe Lopez, Nick Stavinoah....all have shown they have it in them to put up solid numbers, and all of them have had disappointing seasons. Plus, TLR relied too heavily on rookies such as Craig and John Jay. While they've given an indication that they are legit big leaguers, they just can't match the veteran presence -- such as what Ryan Ludwick brought to the table.
- A closer. I like Ryan Franklin, and he's been better than any of us had a right to expect. But -- he isn't a guy that is going to close for a World Series contender. It may be that one of the other arms in the bullpen will step up, but I think the team needs to look elsewhere. Perhaps Matt Capps, Brian Fuentes from the Twins will become available. Or, maybe the Twins would look to trade Joe Nathan as he rehabs his injury.
- Third Base -- We can't trust Freese to stay healthy. A third baseman with a little power and a decent average would do wonders for the offense, and give the team another option behind Pujols, Holliday and Rasmus.
I suppose the optimist -- which I try to be -- believes that a little retooling will do the trick. It might be, though, that some of the pieces that we thought were solid enough are little more than filler. It should be an interesting offseason to watch.