It’s a fun time to be in the sports business as there are so many things happening, many of them away from the field, court, and ice. To dwell on one item is no fun so let’s get a taste of a little bit of everything and see what pushes your button.
The St. Louis Cardinals
With season now over, its time to take the emotion out and look at the future because the past we can only dwell on for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it was a good season for the Redbirds as they found themselves back in post season, but once you get there you only want more. While some wring their hands about how things ended, remember there is only one team that will win their last game so welcome to the big club that will try and get better.
How do they get better for next year? You are always as good as your pitching, and the pitching was pretty good this year. The bullpen was lights out for the most part especially in postseason. The good about this is you will have some real power arms next season to go along with experience. Going into spring training with likes of Helsley, Miller, Cabrerra, Webb, Gallegos, Brebbia along with someone who will catch the eye of decision makers will be interesting for sure. Jordan Hicks hopes to return by the All-Star break adding another fireballer. “X factors” should include: does Carlos Martinez stay in the bullpen or is that the next destination for Adam Wainwright should he return? Helsley, Martinez and Cabrerra should be stretched out in the spring in the event they can be added to the starting rotation. An interesting experiment that is the fail safe should the Cardinals not find the free agent market for a veteran innings eating starting pitcher.
Offense, Offense, Offense! Or should I say consistent offense is what the Cardinals will look to improve on. Aside from Kolten Wong and newcomer Tommy Edman, few players on this team had what you would call breakthrough years. A new hitting approach was implemented, and it will take time to bare fruit. Lessons learned by all which also make spring training must watch. The other pressing question will be where will the offense come from? If Marcel Ozuna is not invited back, that could signal “help wanted” for the outfield. With Dexter Fowler winding down a no trade clause contract and Harrison Bader struggling at times offensively, there could be as few as five players vying for two spots in Bader, Tyler O’Neil, Randy Arozarena, Lane Thomas and Dylan Carlson in the running. Every inning will count for some during spring training for this group. Let’s hope there are enough innings to go around for them to face big league pitching instead of a bunch of guys wearing numbers on their back in the 80’s and 90’s.
Then there is Tommy Edman. He played well enough to supplant Matt Carpenter at third base, he played extremely well in the outfield, and yet with the Carpenter contract the question is will Matt Carpenter be the incumbent when spring training starts and finishes? If that is the case what do you do with Edman? He was the major reason this team found themselves in post season with his versatility and contributions everywhere. How the Cardinals find 500 at bats for this young man will be a challenge but justified.
It will be an intriguing off season to say the least for the Cardinals' front office as they have some decisions to be made. Decisions that will transform the roster you saw finish this season into what you will see in February, let alone when the Cardinals will be playing for keeps for the regular season. Stay tuned. More to come for sure but here are a few things for you to chew on …
• The Cardinal Ritter fiasco: Too bad for the kids and parents, but the coaches got what they deserved, and their termination should be followed by a statewide suspension for the next two years. No place for it and ignorance is no excuse.
• NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says he doesn’t think teams are tanking? Why are the bad teams trading and cutting good players before the deadline and getting draft choices and not players in return?
• The Blues are on a skid right now. Has anyone looked at the calendar lately? Relax!
• Will beating Wisconsin be enough for Lovie Smith to remain as head coach at Illinois? Provided he must have more wins on the remaining schedule and be bowl eligible.
• Note to self… never take the word of #22 ranked college football team when they are a heavy favorite the following week.
• NBA season starts this week. Can’t wait as this may be the best season this league will feature. They will need it as the China fracas will cost them a bit.
• Is it safe to say that Bradley Beal is the highest earning St. Louis born athlete? A two year- 72-million-dollar contract extension with options puts him well north of 200 million dollars in career earnings. Not bad for the local guy. A nice goal to shoot for those who will follow him.