It is difficult to hear people say disparaging things about your favorite team. We try to ignore it, we put our fingers in our ears and go “la-la-la-la-la” real loud so we can pretend we never heard it. But sometimes, yes sometimes we have to face it, the Cardinals do have aging veterans.
It came to light over the winter when Jason Heyward left the Cardinals for the Cubs. When he was pressed for details at his press conference with the Cubs he had this to say about the Cardinals
Heyward told reporters following the press conference he loved the youth from the Cubs, while saying the Cardinals were “altering” and a few of their key gamers were growing older.
He’s right. It doesn’t mean they are washed up and no good. Cardinal fans were infuriated and began pointing at their youngsters that are expected to produce. There is one major difference here. The Cub youngster did produce last year (Rizzo, Russell, Bryant, Schwarber) for the entire season and the Cardinals youngsters were not what got them where they ended except for Martinez and Wacha. Beyond that there is a point to be made.
Let’s consider a few things here.
Matt Holliday was having a good first half of the season then he broke down. The numbers show that the 36 year old had less RBI’s in 2014 from 2013 in 65 more at bats fanned more times and the batting average dipped by 28 points. His WAR dropped as it went from 3.3 to 0.8. That is dramatic.
Jhonny Peralta is 33 years old and can still play almost everyday. In fact he never got hurt the two years in a Cardinals uniform. He had less extra base hits and more strikeouts than the previous season along with the slugging % dipping. His WAR went from 5.7 to 1.8 in the two seasons in a Cardinals uniform.
Fan Graphs has this summary:
By wins above replacement, Peralta is coming off his worst season since 2010. His usual plus defense turned into a negative, declining from 12 runs above average in 2014 to seven runs below average in 2015. The 33-year-old was still a model of consistency at the plate, but his was actually a tale of two halves. Through the All-Star Break, Peralta posted a 127 weighted runs created plus. Afterwards, he managed a weak 74 wRC+. He looked like a guy who was slowed by a minor injury, although it’s unclear if that was the case. Now officially in his mid-30’s, Peralta may need a few more days on the bench in order to stay on top of his game. When he’s healthy, expect decent power, contact, and defensive skills.
The Quick Opinion: Peralta is a quietly productive shortstop. He doesn’t look the part of a solid defender, but he’s usually well above average. Last season was an exception, and his offense also trailed off in the second half of the season. Perhaps he was playing hurt.
Yadier Molina is the heart and soul but he is now 33 years old and in catching age that is aging. He is nursing a thumb that he may have linger for the rest of his career. Last year his power waned with 4 homers (due to thumb), his average was down, the OPS dipped and WAR traveled from 2.3 to 1.4. Now he had second surgery for thumb repair. Aging, yes.
Adam Wainwright is another player that is continually coming up with an injury that puts him on the shelf for a long period of the season. The 34 year old only played in about 3 games last season. The bottomline for Wainwright is he is constantly breaking down. His WAR went from 6.1 to 0.9.
So now here is where you tell me the Cubs have aging players too. Yes they do. Difference is, it is not their core position players it is the pitching staff of John Lackey and Jon Lester. Those two pitchers have not shown the propensity to injured.
This is not me giving up. I am just stating the Cardinal fans need to quit ignoring the facts. Help is on the way but so far, it is basically unproven. We can likely agree that the success for the 2016 Cardinals is based on the production the club can get from these aging players and then the blend of young talent in the organization can fill in the gaps.
Face it, the Cardinals do have aging veterans.