The St. Louis Cardinals Well-Oiled Machine

It’s December and, thanks to this place called Amazon, I finished my Christmas shopping way too early and have a chance to dissect the front runners for the National League in 2014.

Let’s take a long hard look at the St. Louis Cardinals. They’re like that dude you see in the gym every day. He doesn’t look over-powering but you know he would beat you down in a fight. While you’re pumping out some insane reps, hoping to get ripped in time for that New Year’s party, he’s methodically working on his cardio, some stretching and moderate weight lifting. He’s consistent, working at it for months and years because his goal is to be healthy for the long haul.

Back to the Cardinals…

Rosenthal, Martinez, Motte and friends – that’s a deep bullpen, capable of blowing the fastball by you quite often and going off-speed when they need to. They’re like that gym dude’s arms – not big and flashy but you know he would beat you 2 out of 3 in an arm wrestle. Toned and lean, you know he’s been doing those bicep curls and tricep extensions for a long time. Trevor Rosenthal and the returning Jason Motte will anchor a bullpen that balances youthful ambition and veteran experience.

Wainwright, Wacha, Miller, Lynn, Kelly, Garcia – let’s consider them the team’s core. Just like that gym dude doing crunches and sit-ups at length day after day, this rotation is deep enough to throw long into many games. Not glamorous, but when you do it enough, just like that dude’s back and abs, you wish you could be that good. A rotation like this doesn’t happen overnight, but you know they put in a lot of work and other GM’s wish they had a rotation capable of pitching over 1000 innings and winning 80+ games on their own.

Holliday, Craig, Taveras patrolling the outfield – a savvy combination of power, speed, instincts and defense. Let’s call them the dude’s legs because without them it’s nearly impossible to be effective. While you’re skipping leg day because it’s not glamorous, that dude is working through the un-sexy calf raises, squats and lunges that allow him to kick your butt, just like that trio of outfielders will quietly go about putting up good numbers.

Molina, Carpenter, Adams, Peralta, Wong – let’s say this infield is the dude’s chest and shoulders. Maybe not benching the most weight in the gym, but still thick as a brick and you know he’s always putting in the work and has no problem going shirtless at the beach. These guys will offer enough defense to contend and blend sufficient speed with great contact and power.

Bourjos, Jay, Descalso, Kozma, Cruz – some speed, power and defense and a bit of everything you want coming off the bench. All blended in with a healthy dose of versatility. Consider them the multi-vitamin the dude takes every day. You know he’s not swigging back a litre of water with some weight loss pill or muscle enhancer. He’s the un-flashy multi-vitamin, with the occasional protein bar when life has him on the go and he doesn’t want a burger and fries. Versatile, confident and predictable, you know what you can expect from the Cardinals bench.

Matheny, Mozeliak and co. – the brains of the entire operation. You know they have a long term plan that involves contending every single year and knowing just how they’re going to do it. That dude, you know he has a plan too. He’s going to enjoy life even when he’s old. He may have a couple beers on the golf course and an extra portion of potatoes at Christmas, but he’s going to be back in the gym doing some circuit training the next day. That’s his plan, he’s sticking to it. Even if he hit a few bumps on the way, he is the picture of success and what every young kid in the gym wants to be when they get to be their father’s age.

Every MLB team has a plan.  Some may win now, some may win later, and some just want to make a profit. But you know they all aspire to be a perennial winner like the Cardinals.

As for me? I just want to be a bit more like that dude.

 

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