My problems with this team:
- Poor situational hitting
- Boring offense
- Lack of competitive spirit
- Old players whose ceiling is well-known and not that high.
This team is playing with all the urgency of a team that knows it's in the NL Central and can win its division with 85 or so wins.
I think part of the problem is that management screwed up the culture of the team by bringing in released veterans like Randy Winn, Aaron Miles, and yes, Jeff Suppan, and shipping down young players. Suppan is forgivable because the team was desperate for starting pitching and he's delivered some quality innings. But Opening Day invitees Alan Craig and Joe Mather are long gone. Remaining young player like Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker are playing scared.
If this wasn't bad enough, La Russa like to find ways to get these veterans in the lineup, at the expense of guys like Colby Rasmus and Ryan Ludwick, the one guy who has been hitting as well as expected.
Another problem is that the two longest tenured Cardinals, Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, play with an occasional and marked lack of hustle. Both are among the league leaders in double play percentage, and usually seem to be jogging halfway down the line when the DP is completed.
I don't want Albert Pujols blowing his hamstring busting down the line on a third inning ground ball, either, but I think it sets a bad tone for the team.
Of course, the team this year's version most reminds me of is the 2006 Cardinals, a team I also couldn't stand, and we know how that ended. So what do I know?