The Cardinals are off today, and that’s necessary but disappointing, because I like watching this team play baseball. I don’t think I said that last season. Not much, anyway.

Watching the 2023 Cardinals was a health problem for me. My blood pressure wouldn’t settle down. There was always a stupid error, an early starting-pitching implosion, a late blown lead, a baserunning debacle or a lapse of judgment. Not enough talent, not enough urgency, not enough motivation – and not enough of anything good.

The Cardinals had 91 losses, and I needed 91 prescriptions from my doctor. Not really, not that many, but my friendly pharmacist stayed busy.

What we’re seeing could be a phase or a tease or an early-season hallucination. As we say in baseball, time will tell. I predict nothing about what the Cardinals’ record will look like by Kentucky Derby Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Indepence Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Juneteenth or Labor Day.

For now, I just like how the Cardinals are going about their business every day.

The season began with two whuppings from the mighty Dodgers, but the Cardinals responded by winning four of their last six games.

Three of their four wins were roused through comebacks.

The Cardinals have won with a few fine displays of starting pitching, a reshaped bullpen, the restoration of above-average defense and the return of cunning baserunning. Unlike last season, the energy is there. The resiliency is there. The fun of playing the game is back again. Will the trends hold?

The Cardinals have won with help from the older hitters in the lineup, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. They’ve won by going with players from a large nest of inexperienced big-league hitters.

The latest St. Louis win came with eight players on the Injured List and two essential lineup pieces – Willson Contreras and Brendan Donovan – unavailable to play after getting drilled by pitches in Wednesday’s loss at San Diego.

In Thursday’s 2024 home opener at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals overcame a 4-1 deficit of their own making to ambush Miami with two runs in the fifth inning and five runs in the seventh inning. The charge seized an 8-5 victory before 47,273 enthused fans.

With the Cardinals trailing the winless Marlins, the desired response emerged – just as the desired response came into view after the Cardinals got outscored 13-4 by the Dodgers in the first two days of the 2024 campaign.

Manager Oli Marmol summed it up in his answer to a post-game question from The Athletic: “If I can narrow it down to one thing, this club is going to fight. I think we’ve shown that in a short period of time. If there’s one thing we’re going to do, we’re going to fight. There’s not a whole lot of panic in that group.”

The St. Louis offense hasn’t put everything together. The injuries were a nuisance in spring training but turned into a real problem just before the regular season got underway. The starting pitching must be a more dependable innings source.

The 4-4 record isn’t ideal optimal, but it is acceptable. On April 3rd of last season the Redbirds were 2-2, and that turned out to be the last time they stood at .500 all season. From April 4th through the end of their 2023 misery the Cardinals went into every remaining game with a losing record by their name. It was their worst full season since 1990.

The 2024 Cardinals are highly motivated to shake off the failure of 2023 and start something new. They are entitled to throw out 2023 and show us who they really are after adding new players, parting with other players, and flushing last season away. I know it’s fashionable to still be red-faced angry about everything, and maybe that’s how some are burning off the leftover rage.

Me? I’m going to judge this 2024 team on its own performance and merits and do it independently of the vitriol being directed at John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt Jr. Why? Because these are entirely separate issues. The men in the dugout, in the batter’s box, on the mound and the field didn’t concoct this roster or set the payroll budget.

I’ll do what I’ve always done: think for myself, praise when warranted, and raise hell when warranted. It’s fine to reference the Cardinals cataclysm of 2023 as long as you don’t attach that hideous failure to the players who, in 2024, are trying to play better baseball, give the pitching staff a more solid foundation, and instill a more positive, committed mindset in 2024.

Too many fans and media are still trying to drive the wayback machine to 2023, even though 2023 is over. So why would you want to go back there over and over again? Fortunately the dugout staff and players are only concerned with what they can change. And they can put away 2023 only by changing the franchise trajectory in 2024.

“Each and every day, it’s all about discussing what we need to do better and then  getting after it,” Marmol told me recently. “Everyone in that clubhouse has the same mentally.”

This team has roster-related concerns, and could use some better injury-related luck. But the Cardinals are also emitting a good vibe. Work ethic, pride, competitiveness, etc. It’s a different vibe.

That’s my first impression of these 2024 Cardinals. It’s surely better than the last impression I had about the 2023 Cardinals.  And that’s the first thing I wanted to see once the Cardinals turned the page to ‘24.

THE MIX OF YOUNG AND OLD: In Thursday’s win the injury-impacted St Louis lineup included seven players that have played less than three full seasons in the majors. That included four rookies: center fielder Victor Scott II, shortstop Masyn Winn, catcher Ivan Herrera and left fielder Michael Siani. Two two guys were rookies last season – right fielder Jordan Walker and DH Alec Burleson. The most experienced MLB player in the group was second baseman Nolan Gorman, who turns 24 on May 10. He’s played in 216 major-league games.

In the home team’s 8-5 victory, this what Herrera, Gorman, Winn, Scott, Walker, Burleson and Siani combined for:

* Six of the team’s 10 hits.

* Six of the eight runs.

* Six of the eight RBIs.

* The only home run (Herrera) and three of the four extra-base hits.

* Four of the six RBIs delivered with runners in scoring position.

* All three of the team’s walks.

On the other side of the generational divide, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt – they’ve played 26 major-league seasons between them – combined for four hits, two RBIs and two runs.

Note: The combined average age of Scott, Herrerra, Gorman, Walker, Burleson, Winn and Siani is 23.4 years.

Note: The combined average age of Goldy and Arenado is 34.5.

THIS MUST CHANGE: In their first eight games Cardinals pitchers have been wood-chipped for 15 home runs, the most in the NL and tied with Toronto for the most HRs yielded overall. The Cardinals have allowed homers at a rate of 2.0 every nine innings. Only the Toronto pitchers have done worse. STL’s 4-4 record is surprising and unusual in a way because the Cardinals have been out-homered 15-5 by opponents.

ON LANCE LYNN: In his first two starts of the season, at LA and then Thursday at Busch, Lynn did well when facing hitters during their first two times through the lineup: 35 batters faced, eight hits and two walks, 12 a 34.3 percent strikeout rate, one homer, one run, and a 1.08 ERA.

On Thursday, Lynn had his first experience of 2024 in going against a lineup for the third time in a start. It was a problem for him: five batters faced, four hits, two homers, three earned runs, no strikeouts. That adds up to an 81.00 ERA, .800 batting average, and .2000 slugging percentage. Lynn faced seven Miami hitters in the fifth inning before getting lifted for lefty Matthew Liberatore.

Lynn has a 4.15 ERA in his two starts and 8 and ⅔ innings. He’s been roughed for a .316 average and .553 slug but has blasted his way to a 30% strikeout rate.

THE ROTATION ISN’T WHERE IT NEEDS TO BE: The Cardinals rank tied for ninth in the majors with an average of 5.2 innings per start. They’re tied for 11th with two quality starts. They received good work from Kyle Gibson in his one start, Steven Matz in his one start, Lynn in his first start and Miles Mikolas in his second start. But Mikolas pitched poorly in his first start. In his second start, Lynn lasted only 4 and ⅔ innings and gave up three homers and four runs. And as the fill-in for the injured Sonny Gray, lefty Zack Thompson is 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA and 8.27 WHIP. And Thompson has allowed four homers in 10 and ⅓ innings.

The rotation content is a mixed bag. There are things to like, and things to dislike. The St. Louis starters rank 21st in the majors with a 4.97 ERA. and have been smacked for 2.4 homers per nine innings. That’s terrible – and the worst in the National League. And no rotation has allowed more homers so far than STL’s 11. The Cardinals are 2-0 when getting 6+ innings from a starter and 2-4 when their starter goes fewer than 6 IP.

THE OUTFIELD DEFENSE IS A PLUS: Other than to say it was really, really bad, there’s no need to review the circus staged in the St. Louis outfield last season. But the situation looks better in the early days of the 2024 season. Michael Siani, Victor Scott II, Jordan Walker and Alec Burleson are all on the “plus” side of defensive runs saved. Siani is tied for the MLB lead among outfielders with +2 outs above average. Scott, Walker and Burleson are each +1 in defensive runs saved. As a minus 1 in defensive runs saved in left field, Brendan Donovan has the only below-average rating.

BULLISH BULLPEN: Since evacuating Dodger Stadium, the Cardinal relievers have an 0.73 ERA in 12 and ⅓ innings in their four games against the Padres and Marlins. Andrew Kittredge, Giovanny Gallegos, JoJo Romero, Ryan Fernandez, Ryan Helsley, Andre Pallante and Matthew Liberatore combined for a strikeout rate of 24.4 percent, allowed only six hits, and gave up one earned run on a wild pitch by Liberatore in Thursday’s sixth inning. Opponents have a .146 batting average, a .195 slugging percentage and 0.73 WHIP against the St. Louis bullpen during the four-game stretch.

JOHN MOZELIAK WAS BOOED? Oh my goodness … I must take a break and stagger across the hall to the fainting couch … oh my dear … he was booed? Oh, the horror … I’m dizzy … this never happens in St. Louis … where’s the humanity? … headlines! I hear clicking. 

Well, a few months ago Blues GM Doug Armstrong was booed when shown on the Jumbotron at Enterprise Center the night after firing coach Craig Berube. I remember Joe Torre getting booed, and the mere mention of August Busch III was booed. When Dal Maxvill was GM of the Cardinals, he showed me some hate mail from Cardinals fans. Not nice. Star Blues players been booed. Dick Vermeil was booed. Bill Bidwill was booed, long before he eventually moved the football Cardinals to Arizona. The great running back Ottis Anderson was booed. Mike Matheny got booed. Tony La Russa once looked up at the sky at spring training to see a very readable “FIRE LA RUSSA” banner attached to a small airplane as it circled above the ballpark in Jupiter. But Mozeliak gets booed, and this is an epic, once-in-a-lifetime event to some? OK. Fans wanted to vent and they vented at the easiest target in the house. And there’s nothing wrong with booing. Fans should air their feelings.

Here’s an interesting part of this: the Cardinals had more than 47,000 people in the ballpark Thursday, and that was coming off an atrocious season and a restless and angry winter. The streets around Busch Stadium were packed. It was a festival of happy people. It was an awesome, happy scene. A celebration.

The last time the Cardinals had a season as horrible as 2023 — that would be 1990 — do you know how many people had tickets and showed up for the 1991 home opener?


Now that’s a ticked-off fan base.

Mozeliak was booed. But at least there was a full house there to boo him. So this was a “protest” boo, and it was awfully mild. It wasn’t a more serious “I’m done with the Cardinals and won’t go to any home games” protest. That’s the kind of protest that REALLY matters.

WARMING TREND: Four names make the list.

– Ivan Herrera hit his first big-league homer Thursday, a solo shot, and drove in another run with a single. He’s batting .333. He’s tied for third on the team with four RBIs. He leads the Cardinals in slugging percentage (.583). Only Willson Contreras and Brendan Donovan have a higher OPS+ than Herrera among Cardinals.

– Nolan Gorman’s double off a lefty reliever was STL’s big blow of the game, a two-run cash-in that put the Cardinals ahead to stay.

– Masyn Winn had a two-hit afternoon against Miami. He had an RBI triple and scored a run. He leads the team with a .350 batting average and is playing “plus” defense at short.

– The Cardinals have won three of their last four, and during the mini stretch third baseman Nolan Arenado is 7 for 18 (.389) with a .500 slugging percentage, two doubles and three RBI. He had a big three-hit game Thursday that included an RBI double that cut Miami’s lead to 4-3 in the fifth. For the season Arenado has an 80 percent success rate defensively which ranks fourth among MLB third basemen.

COOLING: Victor Scott is down to a .100 batting average for the season (3 for 30) and has struck out in 30.3 percent of his plate appearances. That said, he’s playing plus defense, is hitting the ball fairly hard, and is chasing pitches at a low rate of 20.8 percent. He doesn’t have any glaringly awful habits at the plate. Scott is tied for the team lead in runs scored (six) and doubles (2).

STRONG START FOR NL CENTRAL: The Cards have rebounded nicely after losing to the mighty Dodgers in the first two games of the season. The Redbirds reside in last place in the NL Central, but I wouldn’t make too much about that. The NL Central is the only division in MLB that has all five teams playing .500 or better.

Here’s how each division has done so far:

NL Central, 22-10
AL East, 21-13
AL Central, 18-15
NL West, 18-21
AL West, 14-19
NL East, 8-23

PARDON MY RANT: YEAH, THE MARLINS STINK. SO WHAT? It’s funny how so many Cardinals “fans” were quick to dismiss Thursday’s 8-5 win as a pile of nothingness because the Marlins haven’t won a game this season. These are the same people – including media – who were whimpering over STL’s rugged early 2024 schedule, and warning us that the Cardinals would get ripped apart by multiple opponents who made the playoffs last season – including Miami.

But after the Cardinals displayed admirable feistiness to recover from a 4-1 deficit and win their home-opener 8-5, the victory was downgraded because of Miami’s weak early-season form. And of course, these same caterwauling folks would be going apoplectic if the Cardinals had lost to the Marlins.

Let’s see if I understand this: beat the Marlins? THAT DON’T COUNT. DA MERLINS SUCK. Lose to the Marlins? It counts and is a total disgrace and DeWitt must sell the team.

Yo! All wins count the same in the standings. No MLB team gets to choose its opponents. Each team plays the schedule that’s been handed to them. The Marlins made the playoffs last season. The Cardinals – famously – did not.

You win the game or lose the game. Sometimes you face opponents who are on a roll (Dodgers), or a dangerous opponent (Padres) that’s been scoring a bunch of runs, or a reeling opponent (Marlins) that’s been awful to this point of the schedule.

The goal is to win as many games as you can – unconditionally so. Good teams. Garbage teams. Average teams. Whatever. Just stack up wins. Collect as many wins as you can over a sixth-month challenge.

The next time the Cardinals play Miami – on the road in June – the Marlins could be on a hot streak. You never know. So just win as much as you can. And never apologize for winning. That’s especially true of a team that has eight players on the IL and had two important lineup pieces missing.

“Every day is a new opportunity, the late Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller said. “You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again. That’s the way life is, with a new game every day, and that’s the way baseball is.”

Thanks for reading … and have a fantastic weekend,


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. on Friday. Stream it live or grab the show podcast on 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 or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

All stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions 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.