That's it; it's all over. The 2010 St. Louis Cardinals' Baseball-Reference page has been updated for the last time, at least until park effects are recalculated, or something; they can't hurt us now.
And because it's still really easy—because the wounds haven't even begun to heal, and we have six months more to pick at the season's scabs, I'd like to come up with five terrible things to take from the 2010 St. Louis Cardinals. Wish me luck. (Or go visit the Top Five Good Things To Take From The 2010 St. Louis Cardinals, at Viva El Birdos.)
5. Rogers Hornsby is still dead.
As the preeminent living expert on Rogers Hornsby's relevance to the 2010 St. Louis Cardinals I feel like it's my duty to make this clear: with each passing year it becomes more difficult for Rogers Hornsby, that miserable bastard, to will himself back to life and fill the Cardinals' perennially vacant Defense against the Dark Arts position—sorry, their perennially vacant second base position—sorry, their perennially vacant dark arts second baseman position.
Rogers Hornsby has been dead, now, for 47 years. I don't have a large sample size of undead second basemen with which to work, but assuming an age adjustment of (114-29)*.003, as in the Marcel projections, he's losing about 25% of his value a season at this point. Pretty soon he should be worse, on defense, than Skip Schumaker, which makes his eventual zombie-free-agency contract a lateral move.
4. It only gets harder from here to win with Albert Pujols.
Don't get me wrong—Albert Pujols will be a net positive for a long time to come, assuming he signs a long-term contract. He just finished leading the league in WAR, according to Baseball-Reference. But between his inevitable aging and his impending pay increase, winning with Albert Pujols will begin to get more difficult, and not less, from this moment forward.
Right now the Cardinals can spend $30 million on 30-year-old Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter. Pretty soon they'll only be able to spend it on Albert Pujols.
3. About that Kyle Lohse contract...
His last start was nice to see, but Kyle Lohse, who comes into the 2011 season as the fifth starter by default, finished the season with an ERA of 6.55. He didn't deserve it—he got beaten up on balls in play, especially after his comeback from motocross surgery—but he pitched badly, and he got bad results. Per Baseball-Reference he finished the season -2.9 wins below a replacement pitcher, which means that in the two years since he signed his $40 million deal he's been worth -3.7.
That's right—the Cardinals have paid him $16 million to date to be nearly four wins worse than, I don't know, Jason Simontacchi. He's been so bad that they're going to have to use up Rogers Hornsby's Zombie Roster Spot to keep from losing him in the Rule 5 Zombie Draft. In short, and in long, and in medium, this is maybe the worst contract the Cardinals have ever given a player. If he manages to push past replacement level over the last two years they have to be deemed a major success, given the circumstances.
2. We can't expect the pitching to be any better than it was.
This is the kind of year you have to take advantage of—Chris Carpenter made 35 starts, 235 innings, and was excellent; Adam Wainwright was even better than he was last year; and Jaime Garcia had a chance to lead the league in ERA in mid-August.
One of those things might happen next year. Two of those things might happen next year. But all of them? That's going to be tough. The Cardinals will likely be better in the back of the rotation, just because it's hard to be worse—you don't start a season thinking you're going to rely on Jeff Suppan 14 times and actually be pleasantly surprised with the results. But they'll probably lose some of it in that unstoppable front of the rotation.
1. You can measure twice and still lose 76 times
I can't fault John Mozeliak for all of what happened this year, or even most of it. He had a mostly average-looking team around his stars, and was sharp enough to realize that he had potential trouble spots at third, short, and second, and to realize Felipe Lopez could play third, short, and second. He brought a bunch of starters into camp and came away with the five best.
And then nobody hit on the infield, David Freese's bones went on strike, and Felipe Lopez became the only veteran in baseball history to be released with two weeks left in the season. Kyle Lohse injured his forearm at the X Games; Brad Penny, it turns out, was John Mozeliak's wild, kind of facist side all along, just a figment of his millennial angst; and Brendan Ryan didn't realize nobody thought his Joe Thurston impression was funny until June.
That's the scary thing about baseball, when it's not the exciting thing about baseball—Mozeliak had a perfectly cromulent offseason, won blog plaudits for his Felipe Lopez contract, and then the Reds won a million games for some reason.
Maybe it'll be easier if we think the Cardinals have a terrible offseason this year; then they can surprise us in the good way.