It's a cold, rainy morning here in Arkansas, which finely matches the mood of Cardinal Nation after the quick exit from the postseason. There's this kind of limbo that goes on when your team is out of the playoffs early. There are still games going (though the LDS have been pretty anticlimatic this year, save the fact closers can't seem to get the job done) but your team isn't a part of them. You can't go full bore into discussions and rumors of next year just yet, though.
What you can do is a little retrospection. At least, that's what Tony LaRussa did yesterday. I saw very little of this series, unfortunately, but I have to agree with LaRussa, I expected a better game on Saturday that what happened. Like I say, I didn't see a single pitch of that one, but just looking at the score and comments, it didn't seem like they had much fight in them. To score just one run in a game Vicente Padilla is pitching just doesn't seem right, though par for the course for this year's version of the Cardinals.
The link above notes that Troy Glaus, Rick Ankiel and Joel Pineiro are not likely to return next year. None of these are huge surprises. The focus on Mark DeRosa has knocked Glaus out of the picture, though many of us would be just fine with DeRosa walking and David Freese taking over the job. Either way, though, Glaus really isn't in the plans, especially after the injury problems this year.
Pineiro has really pitched too well for the Cardinals to keep him. They have Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse already locked up and management has continually said they want to plug in at least one home-grown arm into the rotation in 2010. With John Smoltz around, most likely back if he decides he wants to pitch again, there's not much room left to keep Pineiro. Besides, we saw what happened the last time he signed after a contract drive.
Ankiel....oh, Rick. Amazingly, the separation between Ankiel and a fan base that has followed him, nurtured him, rooted for him through the good and the bad and the good is not likely to be as painful as was expected six months ago. A .233 average and a propensity for the strikeout will do that. As Pip notes, Rick leaves St. Louis with exactly the same number of strikeouts as a hitter as he had as a pitcher. I've always been a fan of Rick, but he doesn't make enough contact to make him worth a bench slot and the outfield is probably going to be full in St. Louis for some time to come.
Today actually will be a busy day around the front office, as a lot of the recap meetings and initial thoughts for next year will be happening. Don't expect a whole lot of public news out of that, though, unless LaRussa or Dave Duncan decide not to return. Bernie Mikalsz addresses that along with some other questions and he comes to the conclusion that I had, that TLR isn't leaving after that performance. He couldn't go out on that note and be able to rest in retirement, I don't think. It wasn't the loss, it was the lack of competitiveness.
Someone who probably won't be back next year, though, is hitting coach Hal McRae. Besides the fact that the offense just never clicked, even with Matt Holliday and DeRosa in the lineup, there's this quote from John Mozeliak:
"It did seem the way we were approaching things at the plate, obviously it wasn't successful," Mozeliak said. "When things aren't going right, you've got to change. Did we make the right adjustments or not? As we sit here today, we had not."
I'd suggest McRae start updating his resume, because that is not a vote of confidence.
The stove may not be heated yet, but the preparations are being made. It could be another active offseason for St. Louis, so you better get ready.