Fire everyone, including Fredbird.

Does that sum it up?

Did I miss anyone?

Accountability is necessary, for sure. But when we go on our “hold them all accountable!” tirades, let’s not forget about the players. Don’t give the hitters a free pass when you voice your disgust and start naming names in the blame game.

It’s up to the St. Louis players to hit more home runs and recharge their slugging percentage. It’s up to the players to hit for a higher batting average and inflate a sagging OBP. The Cardinals have several guys capable of doing this … and should be doing this … but aren’t doing this.

It’s up to the starting pitchers not named Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson to step up, and do their part to make this a more complete rotation.

Steve Matz (sore back) is injured again, so maybe it’s time to repurpose him again and convert him to a relief role when he returns, if he returns, and until he has to go back on the IL with a new ailment. Give a rotation opportunity to a younger arm that has more upside.

I know the Cardinals are stuck with Miles Mikolas for the remainder of this year and in 2025. But can someone please do something about his inability to consistently get outs when he has the advantage on two-strike counts? The numbers with this are preposterous and don’t make sense.

I like the St. Louis bullpen a lot, but it’s a little squishy in the middle, and Giovanny Gallegos can’t be trusted. Not unless he can increase velocity and movement and revive his four-seam fastball.

I think it’s time to stop living in the past and waiting for Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright to come back and save the franchise from destruction. (Or mediocrity.) This organization is steeped in nostalgia and using former stars as marketing pieces to distract the public from current problems.

That’s fine, because all teams should honor the past. The Cardinals are a historically prominent franchise and have much to treasure.

That said, here’s what ownership-management doesn’t seem to understand …. the more that they lean on past stars, it just reminds a frustrated fan base of what they used to have, what they don’t have now, what they miss, and how the product has declined.

That’s a twist in the marketing plan that doesn’t get enough attention. The Cardinals don’t have much of anything new or exciting to market, so they play the greatest hits and hope to sell more tickets by going with the golden oldies.

The Cardinals are in a difficult spot. On the current roster, the old stars are getting older and aren’t the kind of stars that can lift the team. And the young stars – the future franchise foundation – are bedeviled by false starts.

The Cardinals haven’t been in this kind of place for a long time, and there are no easy remedies. They can’t wait for the next generation version of Pujols, Molina, Wainwright, Chris Carpenter and Jim Edmonds to appear out of the mist.

The 2024 Cardinals are relying on aging stopgap talent like their three new starters – Gray, Lynn and Gibson. (So far, son good.) But these are temporary solutions.

The Cardinals have done well in refurbishing the bullpen, which is electric in the late innings with the outcome at stake. The Cardinals are woefully short of elite-performance hitters. Despite that, they still have a chance to be a winning team that makes the postseason. But that would be a mere band-aid for a franchise that requires major reconstructive surgery.

And when I say hold the players accountable, I think I know your response: the front office picked these players and put this roster together, so it still comes down to the people in charge. And all of that is true.

But ownership seems firmly set on keeping the current structure in place. There’s been so much winning here. It was an extensive run of success. But that’s the danger of living in the past. You can get stuck there. You think you have all the answers and will win again because winning is in the DNA.

You’re unable to adapt. You don’t evolve to keep up with the changing times. You no longer can stay ahead — or catch up to — rival teams who who are younger, more talented and have a front office operation that’s modernized and advanced in its collective thinking.

The addition of Chaim Bloom as a front-office advisor has made a positive difference on the pitching side, and it’s a start. But Bloom’s future alliance with the St. Louis baseball operation is unclear, and the Cardinals need more of what he can offer.

The Cardinals need to face the obvious reality: past success assures nothing and isn’t a plan for the future.

This happens to all MLB organizations at some point of time.

The classic 1960s Cardinals of Bob Gibson and Lou Brock got old, and the daunting challenge of replenishing the roster came up short in the 1970s. The 1980s “Whiteyball” Cardinals of Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and many others were a magnificent, and successful show. But when their time was winding down, the Cardinals became an ordinary team that didn’t failed to make the postseason from 1988 through 1995. The Bill DeWitt Jr. ownership cycle has mostly been outstanding since 1996, but the Cardinals lost considerable brainpower when Jeff Luhnow went to Houston as the new GM and took some of STL’s smartest analysts with him.

The Cardinals want to go back to a special time and place. Problem is, they don’t seem to know how to get there.

BIRD BYTES

Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt have combined for only three home runs in 231 at-bats this season. This is a stunning statistic. Here’s another dart to go with it: the three Goldschmidt-Arenado home runs have produced only five RBIs this season. FIVE. Both Goldschmidt home runs were solo shots, and Arenado’s HR was a three-run job.

Nineteen MLB hitters have driven in five runs in a single game this season. The Goldschmidt-Arenado home runs have driven in five runs all season.

Since homering on Aug. 19 of 2023, Arenado has just one homer in his last 218 at-bats and is slugging a faint .294 over that time.

Going back to late last season, Goldy has only five home runs and a .335 slugging percentage in 243 plate appearances.

Except for the absence of home runs, Arenado has been doing better at the plate in his last 18 games, hitting .282 and drawing more walks to raise his OBP. But the power isn’t really popping. His slugging percentage for the season is .347. That’s lower than the slugging that’s been put up by (among others) Brewers’ 20-year old rookie Jackson Chourio, Cubs third baseman Christopher Morel, and Marlins singles hitter Luis Arraez.

At least Goldschmidt’s engine is starting to rev up. In his last 11 games he’s batting .333 with a .476 slug and four extra base hits. It’s a start, but I don’t know if this will lead to anything big.

And I don’t see how a team that has a powered-down Goldschmidt and Arenado can start blitzing opponents with a hailstorm of runs.

Nolan Gorman and Jordan Walker were supposed to help Goldschmidt and Arenado lead a vigorous and dangerous offense, but that isn’t working out. The offense is weak, not strong.

The two older guys and the two young dudes are obviously part of the problem. There are 131 games to go. But those games will just turn into dates on a calendar instead of something potentially special unless the big guns start booming.

The overmatched Walker was batting .155 with no home runs, one double and four RBIs when demoted to Triple A Memphis. There’s been a rush to condemn the Cardinals’ player development to excuse Walker of all responsibility, but that’s a cop out. Walker has been given plenty of instruction on what he needs to do to get a swing that puts balls into the air instead of killing grass and bouncing on the infield dirt. If he doesn’t implement what’s being suggested, and if he can’t stop chasing pitches out of the strike zone, I don’t see how that’s a coach’s fault.

Gorman has had his moments this season, including an exciting walk-off HR to zap Arizona. But two of Gorman’s four home runs came in a 10-3 blowout loss to Miami, and I think it’s fair to note that. Gorman is slugging only .352, which is significantly down from last year’s .478. In his last 17 games (since April 10) Gorman is hitting .167 with a .231 OBP and .267 slug … and has one homer and four RBIs. With too many strikeouts. He’s still young and works hard and obviously has talent. But Gorman shouldn’t be getting worse – much worse – after a robust 2023.

Walker and Gorman have a combined 30 percent strikeout rate this season. And with runners in scoring position Gorman and Walker are a combined 6 for 40 with 14 strikeouts.

Center fielder Dylan Carlson had two hits Thursday, including a homer for Triple A Memphis in his rehab assignment. The Cardinals might want to get DC up here before there’s an accident – a foul ball off his knee, a strained calf while sprinting, a sharp pain in an oblique on a check swing … whatever. If this outfield can be rescued, Carlson is an important figure in the project. The team needs him to hit like, say, 2021. Carlson was 15 percent above league average offensively that season and slugged .505 after the All-Star break.

At the center field position this season the Cardinals are batting .125 with a .196 onbase percentage and .167 slugging percentage. They have no home runs, and only three RBIs Per wRC+, the Cardinals CF spot is 89 percent below league average offensively. Injuries are a factor, of course. No Tommy Edman. No Calson. Rookie Victor Scott II wasn’t ready. And while Michael Siani is an excellent defender with speed and impressive small-ball skills, he has a .157 average and .419 OPS in 45 big-league games.

Earlier I mentioned Mikolas and his problem with hitters on two-strike counts. This season opponents are batting .301 when Mikolas has two strikes on him. That’s the second highest two-strike batting average against an MLB starting pitcher this season.

Here’s the worst part: on two-strike pitches Mikolas has been smacked for seven doubles, three homers and a .521 slugging percentage. How awful is this? As a group, major-league starting pitchers have limited hitters to a .172 average and .264 slug on two-strike counts.

Brendan Donovan leads the Cardinals with 16 RBIs this season. And he’s picked up the pace recently, batting .276 with a .448 slug in his last seven games. But in trying to increase his power, Donovan has sacrificed OBP. He’s walked only one time in his last 10 games and has a .244 onbase percentage over that time. That plunged his season OBP to .309. Donovan’s OBP over his first two years as a Cardinal was .381. The Cardinals need a higher OBP from the leadoff spot. And Donny is slugging just .368 this season, so his quest for power is problematic.

Lars Nootbaar doesn’t have much to show for his blistering hard-hit rate of 51 percent that puts him in the top 11 percent among MLB batters. That said he hasn’t been barreling a lot of pitches (only four.) I think his power numbers and batting average will grow. But what Noot does well is work counts, avoids chasing pitches and drawing walks. His 13.2 percent walk rate ranks among the top 13 percent of hitters. Noot had a 14.5% walk rate over 2022 and 2023. Should he bat leadoff?

Thanks for reading.

I hope you have a good weekend.

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.