Assuming both stay on the field to close out the season, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are on track to break the record for most games together from a starting pitcher and catcher that’s stood for a half-century. Both are now 40 years of age and have spent their entire careers with the Redbirds, dating back to 2004 and 2005, respectively – racking up 13 All-Star appearances between them, not to mention their pair of World Series rings.
Looking at the Chicago Cubs, Willson Contreras and Kyle Hendricks are much younger and obviously well shy of Molina and Wainwright in terms of time together. Contreras was almost traded and is a free agent at the end of the season. Hendricks is done for the year due to injury and 2023 is the last year of his contract. It seems unlikely they’ll come anywhere close to what the Cardinals’ tandem has achieved together – and may never be battery mates again.
I don’t need to remind Cubs fans that St. Louis pulled off trades for not one, but two All-Stars in recent years, acquiring both Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. They make you nervous every time they stepped into the batter’s box – even this week at Wrigley. The Cardinals went out and made bold moves, surrounding their homegrown core with superstars – something Chicago failed to do during their last competitive window.
St. Louis has had zero losing seasons since 2007, and the last one prior to that came all the way back in 1999. They have won eleven World Series championships, the Cubs just three. Why? This is far more complicated than the curse of Lou Brock. Since 2000, including this year, the Cardinals will have appeared in the postseason16 of 23 years, more than two-thirds of the time. The North Siders? Just eight of 23 during the same span, about one-third of the time.
Just how many players are on the Cubs’ current 40-man roster from the bevy of trades that started with the Yu Darvish to the Padres deal in 2020? If you’r looking for meaningful contributors, it’s a very thin list.
Greg Deichmann, who came over in the Andrew Chafin deal, was just released. Nick Madrigal is finally doing well. Anderson Espinoza is developing and learning. Alexander Canario is raking and was just promoted to Iowa. Alexander Vizcaino is MIA, on the restricted list. That’s it on the 40-man (48 with injury) list. The rest are still in the minors. Granted, the Cubs’ farm system is now ranked 10th in all of baseball, which is great and all – but it hasn’t translated to a more palatable big league product.
Cubs re-tool while the Cardinals eye another NL Central crown
Meanwhile, the Cardinals added two of the best infielders in the game. Earlier this month, the Cubs traded arguably their four best relievers at the trade deadline, for prospects (again). Cardinals brass rolled the dice sending Gold Glove center fielder Harrison Bader to the Yankees for Jordan Montgomery, who is 4-0 with a 1.71 ERA wearing red. His latest effort? A one-hit complete game shutout of the Cubs at Wrigley this week.
Trea Turner is really good and could be part of the ‘next great Cubs team.’ Yet he recently said publicly it would be ‘mandatory’ to know what they are trying to do, paraphrasing. My fellow fans, that is the perception of where this franchise is as far as the MLB pecking order goes.
I feel compelled to remind readers that the Cubs are in the third-largest media market, the Cardinals twenty-third. Yet, the division leaders are spending $11 million more this year on salaries. The Cubs are in their second rebuild in a decade. The Cardinals rest atop the NL Central standings with a 5 ½ game lead, 18 games ahead of the Cubs.
While the Cubs rebuild, again, the Redbirds reload. I have heard the people say they hate the Cardinals. Hate is a very powerful and ugly word. I ENVY the Cardinals…and their fans. Good luck in October, we’ll wait till next year.