Monthly Archives: September 2011

It All Comes Down To This

Thursday’s loss to the New York Mets was disappointing. The Cardinals had the opportunity to pick up that half game and they errored and walked their way right out of it. But there really is no reason to panic. Tonight’s game at Busch Stadium is just as much of a must-win as it would have been if they won yesterday.

In terms of significance and timing, yesterday was probably the team’s worst loss since Game 2 of the 2009 NLDS. And of course, it’s easy to second-guess the late inning moves by Tony LaRussa. After all, the manager deserves all of the blame when the team loses and none of the credit when they win, right? Maybe Fernando Salas should have been the one to start the 9th with Jason Motte warming up behind him for insurance. Who knows if the outcome would have been different.

But the reality of the situation is still the same: The Cardinals have an opportunity to catch and pass the Atlanta Braves. Yesterday determined nothing. If the Cards win two of three in their next two series and the Braves lose two of three in theirs, the teams will meet in St. Louis for a one game playoff to determine the Wild Card winner. The Cardinals are still in position to take advantage of the math. So tonight, the Cardinals have to forget what happened on Thursday. They have to win a game against the Cubs. That would be the case no matter what happened yesterday. The same situation will come up Saturday, Sunday, and for three games next week in Houston.

Does one game back look a lot better than two games back when there’s only six left to play? Certainly. But no one clinched anything yesterday. The Cardinals are still playing much better baseball than the Braves, and are a lot healthier. If the Cards go out and roll over against the Cubs tonight, maybe we have a problem. It’s been said before many games during the second half of this season, but tonight’s game is the most important of the year for the Cardinals.

Tonight, we see what they’re really made of.

–CCR

Cardinals Extend Carpenter

Early Monday morning, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported the St. Louis Cardinals have extended the contract of Chris Carpenter. Unconfirmed figures on the contract indicate the deal is for two years and $21 million. The contract will circumnavigate Carpenter’s $15 million option for 2012.

The move gives the Cardinals relative stability for three-fifths of their rotation through the 2013 season. Jaime Garcia already inked a deal that keeps him in the Cardinal uniform for the next few years, and Adam Wainwright will head the starting five assuming the Cards make good on their promise to pick up his two options years.

Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook are still under contract for next season, giving the Cardinals a locked-in rotation for 2012. By 2013, the team may be looking to either Shelby Miller or Carlos Martinez—or maybe even both—to make the leap from prospect to Major Leaguer.

This move isn’t totally unexpected given Carpenter’s success and reputation with the franchise. Letting him go to free agency would have been one of the toughest calls this team has had to make, but paying him $15 million next year didn’t seem feasible either. Hopefully his injury history is just that, and he can play out his final years as the contributing force he has proven to be when healthy.

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