Here’s my unofficial “We’re Looking At You” list for 2022:
1) President of baseball operations John Mozeliak: Fired a successful manager to hire the youngest manager in baseball, rookie Oli Marmol. It may have been the right thing to do – but it’s also a risk that can blow up. Mozeliak bypassed more expensive DH options to sign the oldest hitter in baseball, Albert Pujols. “Mo” made one material move to buttress the starting rotation by signing Steven Matz to a four–year, $44 million contract. Was it enough? Mozeliak made some low-budget moves that have a chance to turn out much better than anticipated. And he’ll be working with the manager he wanted. He’s won a lot here. He’s been one of the most successful GMs in the majors since taking over the baseball operation in St. Louis in 2008. Now? He just has to win more — especially n the postseason.
2) Bill DeWitt Jr: The Cardinals are high on the list of winningest MLB franchises under his leadership. It will be a meaningful experience for fans to watch Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Albert Pujols go on a sentimental journey together in 2022. But can this team go on a successful journey that runs deep into the postseason? Nostalgia is wonderful, but this sweet experience could sour if the team doesn’t play up to the high standards set by Pujols, Waino and Molina over many seasons in St. Louis. If fans perceive that management’s 2022 approach was mostly about marketing three franchise legends to get the cash rolling in, the reaction won’t be pleasant. It’s an intriguing situation.
3) I’m circling back. This part of my little list-making exercise applies to Mozeliak, DeWitt, Michael Girsch and the entire front office: if you’re going to with “Glory Days” as the top song on the 2022 playlist, you’re obligated to try and make the best of it. That means getting Molina, Wainwright and Molina the talent that this team needs along the way in an effort to make this season truly special.
4) Oli Marmol: The advance billing may work against him. Previous manager Mike Shildt was portrayed as a forward-thinking baseball man who wouldn’t remain in the safe room of baseball’s old school. Didn’t really happen. Marmol is supposed to be next-level in his thinking and his baseball beliefs … or has this been overstated? Are we really going to see the Tampa Bay Institute Of Baseball Strategy expand to St. Louis? I’m still skeptical about how far Marmol will go with these “radical” tactics in an ultra conservative baseball town that still thinks onbase percentage is some crazy, smarty-pants statistic used by snotty elites that want to take over baseball. A reliever starting games? Not having a designated closer? Using Paul Goldschmidt at leadoff? What the hell is this? It’s outrageous and someone must arrest this manager. We’ll see how this goes. One day the Cardinals will have a manager who can get the best of Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell in the baseball-brain matchup. It could be Oli. I sure hope so.
5) Paul DeJong: I just have to make a plea here. Mr. DeJong. Please hit, and hit a lot. This would be delightful for several reasons including this one: silencing the obsessives who foam up with DeJong bile. Oh, and here’s another benefit: a strong offensive year by DeJong would elevate the St. Louis lineup.
6) Jack Flaherty. Gotta get back on the mound. Gotta get back to 2019.
7) Miles Mikolas and Dakota Hudson: They’re absolutely the keys to this rotation and all that goes with it. Gotta return to 2018, or close to it.
8) Matz: no sane or mature person believed the Cardinals would go loony tunes on a contract for Max Scherzer. But Matz was the big, huge, extravagant offseason purchase by the front office. And because he’s the official luxury vehicle for the 2022 St. Louis rotation, Matz has to deliver.
9) Jordan Hicks: It’s time. And Marmol just showed us he’s willing to break away from the managerial pack to try different things. Jordan Hicks, 5th starter? At least in title? Hello to “The Opener.” Or maybe “The Piggyback” … how will this evolve and play out? The peoples will be heading to the fainting couch. Reporting from Busch Stadium, Katie Woo (The Athletic) tweeted: “Though he won’t pitch more than two innings in his first start, the Cardinals will not be treating Hicks as an opener. Oli Marmol was very clear in naming Hicks as a starter. His length will increase with each start.”
10) Tyler O’Neill, Harrison Bader and Dylan Carlson: We saw what this group could do when healthy and packed in the same lineup and outfield. Which reminds me of another oldie, by the Beach Boys: “Let’s Do It Again.”
Thanks for reading …
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For the last 35 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. 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.