Once the decision was made to wait and see who won last night, I knew the M & M boys (Mo and Matheny) would beat me to the punch. And as much as I was prepared for anything, credit has to go to the Cardinals for making the tough choices. Already posting a roster that possesses the most playoff experience of any club, St. Louis left two veterans off who were key contributors in past Octobers.
While the decision to keep Jon Jay surely will be debated based on usage, it really shouldn’t come as that big of a shock. Especially since Tommy Pham also is active, Jay doesn’t figure to see many chances against the Cubs. Yes, I’m prepared to be very wrong as Jay takes Arrieta deep twice in Game 3 but what I can say — you are welcome.
The other key reserve who also factors in at the expense of a known quantity, Greg Garcia earned his way on with the bat. Given that he will be the lone middle infield back-up, however, puts his chances at taking hacks few and far between. That’s okay since he will have Tony Cruz to keep him company now that the on-field manager is back.
If you are looking for the x-factor in what sets the Cards apart from Chicago, start and finish your search with Yadier Molina. Cruz filled in admirably down the stretch and quite possibly earned himself one more year as the understudy, but Molina someday will hang his #4 on the outfield wall at Busch. Of course no one knows how much pain Yadi will be dealing with either behind the plate or while taking his hacks against the Baby Bears, so that will tell the story.
St. Louis is far from the wounded club that desperately needed the expanded rosters for depth, and the break served to refresh a number of lingering concerns. Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk both battled timing issues as well as injury recover in September to solidify the roster. They join Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty in rounding out a very impressive group of sluggers that looks to carry the Birds on the Bat to their fifth straight NLCS.