Opening day is just over the hill. 2011 is a very strange year for both Royals and Cardinals. This actually could very well be the strangest year in decades for both franchises.
The case of the Royals sheds a feeling of anxiety. The other side of the coin in Saint Louis presents a feeling of uncertainty. I think most readers can agree with me on these two statements.
In my eyes, Cardinals aficionados usually know where they stand. They usually have a good idea of what might happen in the season ahead. For the most part, I’d give a leaning vote to positive thinking and say the Cardinals instill a sense that they will not shell out a losing season. With their heads still above water, under Mozeliak’s wing they sink a little deeper every year as the grip loosens a little more. It’s not dramatically frightening because we all know the Cardinals have just enough stability to not completely fall apart and just enough talent to stay in the middle of the division. The loss of Adam Wainwright is the largest low blow to any team this season and I think the Cardinals are still attempting to get that awful pill down.
Jaime Garcia put up extremely promising numbers last year, posing a continuing threat to an already solid pitching staff. This year’s spring training numbers tell a different tale though as he has dished out a 1-3 record in five appearances and a heavy 7.95 ERA to boot. Should the front office be concerned? Is this an early sign of the eventual mediocrity to come? This we know is true: Carpenter will get his fill and find a way to be productive. There is no need to worry about that. BUT, with the loss of Wainwright to Tommy John surgery and the nail biting fact that Garcia is underachieving in the spring, Saint Louis could be in trouble before the season even begins.
The Royals know the future is bright, although the present is lack luster. They are receiving more publicity than ever since the first half of 2003, when they went on a tear. The farm system is the best Major League Baseball has seen in twenty years and the Royals know that. There are plenty of arguments to be made for how the Royals handle their organization though. What they do with their money and how they move their players is questionable to say the least. However, Dayton Moore and company grabbed the attention of Royals fans regarding the promising future of the ball club.
Fans in the Royals nation want to see results now. There is an anxiety to grab the money and run away in the fields of MLB success. Many people speculate that patience is the key for the team’s rise. They know that the team should accept the fact they are very weak this year, will most likely lose 100 games, and continue the trend of bottom feeding. That good fortune will arrive with time and that fans should shovel their trust in the hands of the front office. That this seven-year plan is almost to its conclusion and victory upon victory is now within the reach.
The Kansas City Royals have provided us with an interesting blueprint, one that most can depict as a blueprint for resuscitation. Bringing back to life something that was once dead. It takes time. It takes trust. It takes money in the right places. It takes draft ability. It takes the perfect amount of team analysis and management, all churned into one interesting mix on the rocks that will eventually go down smooth.
Having these suspicions headed into the 2011 season creates for a very odd assumption. The Royals, so horrible in their own right, have found the key to a hidden door. The door still difficult to open yet reaps of promise. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are always secure and engaged with expectation, yet unfamiliar with the current lack of depth and stability.
We are left with two odd feelings from two completely different faces in the game. Only time can tell the direction each team is headed.