1. How good are Albert Pujols's final numbers? His down season is, even after his post-All-Star-Break return to Pujolsness, serious enough that it might have a real impact on the price he's able to extract from the free agent market; at 31 it's possible to construct a narrative in which all his best days are behind him, even if that doesn't mean that he's going to have Frank Thomas's thirties.â†µ
2. You might not see Chris Carpenter again. One of the most incredible feats of endurance I've ever seen as a Cardinals fan is Chris Carpenter returning from his second bout with shoulder and elbow problems--and two lost seasons--to justify the absurdly optimistic contract the Cardinals gave him despite having an additional year on his generous earlier contract.â†µ
That last contract ends in 2012, with a $15 million club option. I'm not sure the Cardinals have that kind of money to throw at a thirtysomething pitcher.â†µ
3. Gerald Laird might keep hitting home runs. Come on--don't you want to be able to tell your children that you were there when Gerald Laird hit a home run to put the Cardinals on his back and take them to within six runs of the Los Angeles Dodgers in a meaningless game in late August?â†µ
4. September Call-Ups. You might get to see Tyler Greene pinch run for Ryan Theriot in the eighth inning! Or Mark Hamilton start a game at shortstop. The Cardinals might call up Maikel Cleto and give him a start, because really, why not? September call-ups are among my favorite things in baseball, and in a season like this the novelty can make the difference between boredom and enjoyment. Free Bryan Anderson!â†µ
5. Free Bryan Anderson. Seriously--he's just sitting there, if you want him, moldering on the bench. He's a left-handed backup catcher who could hit .275--what's not to like? Besides his stupid face, if you're Tony La Russa.