Is ESPN Writing off the Cardinals too soon?

Posted by Ben Weixlmann | Friday, August 15, 2008 | 0 comments »'s Joel Koch reporting.

From Baseball Tonight, which aired at 11:30pm (central) on August 14.

Robert Flores: “Will anyone catch the Cubs?”

Buster Olney: “The answer’s no. No one’s catching the Cubs. They’re running away and the Brewers will be the Wild Card.”

Does anyone else feel like Olney just picked up a batting glove and slapped Cardinals Nation across the face?

Olney is one of the “experts” that picked the St. Louis Cardinals to finish second-to-last or just flat-out last. Well, he’s already got that wrong, as the Cardinals will probably finish third place in the Central Division, at the worse.

Olney, though, is giving the Cardinals no chance at making the postseason. Well, can the Cardinals prove him wrong yet again?

Ok, this article is not meant to bash another Cardinal hater that works for ESPN, though it seemed like a fun idea. This article is meant to be all about the next two weeks.

The Cardinals are at a crossroads right now. They have lost Chris Carpenter for a start, they have Adam Wainwright on the mend without knowing where he’ll end up (see my article on that debate), and Kyle Lohse (the de-facto ace in Wainwright and Carpenter’s absence) has been mediocre and played his way out of a long-term contract with the Cardinals.

Phew, good thing all of these problems can change over the next two weeks.

Starting on 8/15, the Cardinals will play 14 games over the next 18 days. There’s some good news and bad news on that front.

The good news is, the Cardinals play only one team with a better than .500 record.

The bad news, the Cardinals play the Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, and Houston Astros. Those are four Central Division teams that have given the Cardinals fits in their best years.

So while you could say the series against the Chicago Cubs was a make or break series, you can almost say that the next 18 days are more important.

In these 18 days, the Cubs will play nine straight games against the Reds, Pirates, and Washington Nationals; however, they will also play three games against the Florida Marlins and four games against the Philadelphia Phillies, two teams in hot pursuit of an Eastern Division title and a Wild Card berth.

The Brewers catch a break like the Cardinals. The Cubs will play 17 games in these 18 days, while the Brewers will play only 15. More importantly, the Brewers, like the Cubs, will have a weak schedule. They play at the Cardinals for two games and at Los Angeles for three. Other than that? Three games against the Astros and six, count them SIX, against the Pirates.

So while the Cardinals will have a tougher schedule, due in large part to facing Central Division foes that the Cardinals always have problems with, they will have four days off. The Cardinals and Brewers share three days off, so they can only gain ground on one day (outside of wins and losses on days where they both play).

The Cubs, though, are a much different story. The Cubs and Cardinals share one day off, so the Cardinals could potentially make up one and one-half games on the Cubs.

The Cardinals hold their 2008 postseason hopes in their own hands. What they do in the next two weeks will show if they’re October bound, or golf course bound.

So, to Buster Olney and all of the other naysayers out there, don’t write us off until the fat lady signs…or until we lay an egg.

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