Friday, I wrote about the huge thirteen day stretch for the Cardinals that began with the series against the Dodgers. The weekend could not have been worse for the Redbirds. Losing all three games dropped their lead to only 1/2 game over the Reds, who beat the Yankees twice in New York over the weekend.
The sweep wasn’t the worst news for the Cardinals, as Lance Berkman may be lost for the season. Today, we will learn the extent of Berkman’s injury. As reported by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a torn ACL is likely. If that is the diagnosis, the Cardinals take an immediate hit on and off the field.
Despite all of the hype about Matt Adams, Sunday was his first MLB game, so things need to be tempered slightly. He has a long way to go to prove that he can play first base every day and contribute offensively for a World Series contender. While on-field success for Adams is possible, he will not match the off-field presence of Berkman.
Adams is another example of the greatness of the Cardinals’ farm system. The scouting and player development is second to none. However, the one thing that can’t be coached is personality. Even if Adams has the right attitude, he won’t command the presence of Berkman. Adams won’t be able to show up looking like a state trooper as Berkman did at spring training or organize an ugly tuxedo theme for a road trip, yet still have everyone’s uppermost respect.
Berkman’s authority and attitude are key components for the success of the Cardinals. Those, combined with his playing ability, make the Cardinals a World Series contender. Without Berkman, the Redbirds have a good chance at winning the weak NL Central, but progressing in the playoffs is entirely different.
Watching Marc Rzepczynski give up a three run bomb to Scott Van Slyke (Andy’s son) on a 3-0 pitch was brutal. The Cardinals bullpen has struggled in May with a 6.09 ERA, so this month can’t end fast enough for them.
In fact, May has become a perfect storm of problems. Bullpen struggles, injuries and hitting slumps have slammed the Redbirds, yet there are ten more games this month. Hopefully, the two games against the Padres can allow the Cardinals to recalibrate, especially David Freese who struck out four times last night.
Freese has now gone hitless in four straight games, and his average is down to .259. Outside of the 3-4 night against the Giants last Wednesday, Freese is 0-30 in the last ten games.