My initial reaction to the signing of free-agent shortstop Brandon Crawford:

The Cardinals collected another antique!

That isn’t necessarily a criticism. It’s more of an observation. Antiques can have value. Antiques can be aesthetically pleasing. Antiques can look good on a table – or in uniform, on the Cardinals’ bench. The St. Louis front office likes them! And this is made abundantly clear by the team’s five-man starting rotation, which has an average age of around 35 years old.

Your museum curator is Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak. He’s been busy gathering artifacts, having brought in six additional pieces since the end of last season. I’m referring to pitchers and position players that are dated between 34 and 38 years old.

The roster has antediluvian flair. There’s no truth to the rumors that some of these dudes were part of the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

About that starting rotation:

Lance Lynn, age 37

Kyle Gibson, 36

Miles Mikolas, 35

Sonny Gray, 34

Steven Matz, 33

In the bullpen there is Andrew Kittredge, 34. And Giovanny Gallegos, 32. Reliever candidate Wilking Rodriguez, 34, could be part of the senior group.

Priceless antiques can be viewed at the corner infield spots. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt will be 37 by season’s end. Third baseman Nolan Arenado turns 33 in the first month of the regular season. Do Goldy and Arenado show any cracks? Or how about signs of glaze deterioration? Antiquarians will be studying them in 2024.

Starting catcher Willson Contreras is vintage at age 32 and will be 35 by the the end of his five-year contract. The Cardinals clumsily put Contreras on the shelf for a while early last season, but thankfully he’s been restored.

The bench presumably will include two heirlooms: Matt Carpenter (age 38) and the latest relic, Crawford, age 37.

As of now, at least 12 of the St. Louis 26-man roster spots will be assigned to players age 32 or older. Wilking Rodriguez would make it 13. And perhaps Mozeliak will go shopping again in search of something primordial.

This is also true: the Cardinals also have important young players including three starting position players. Shortstop Masyn Winn and right fielder Jordan Walker are nearing their 22nd birthdays, backup catcher Ivan Herrera is 23, and second baseman Nolan Gorman is almost 24. And then there are the older (but still young) veterans in outfielder Lars Nootbaar (age 26), utility specialist Brendan Donovan (27) and center fielder Tommy Edman (nearly 29).

But the creation of Club Methuselah was done by design.

And with a specific goal in mind.

Remember this quote from Arenado? He identified a concern that apparently played a role in last year’s chaotic 71-91 season.

“Our team was just all young guys,” Arenado said. “I don’t mean this in a bad way, but they kind of overran the clubhouse and usually veterans run the clubhouse. There were just so many of them. I think if you want to get the best out of young guys, they’ve got to see how veterans do it. All-Stars and players who have been there before, that’s how you get them better. If they don’t have those types of figures, it’s hard for that to happen.”

OK, but Arenado is supposed to provide leadership. Same with Goldschmidt. What about that? Anyway, Mikolas backed up Arenado’s sentiments during an interview with the YouTube show, Foul Territory.

“It’s tougher to connect to younger generations,” Mikolas said. “You wanna play ping pong against the guys, and some of the younger guys, sit around on their phones a lot, and it’s a lot of social media. I’d rather sit there and play some card games. Young players can be tough to approach as well. You don’t see things the same way or at the same eye level.”

Ah, these kids today.

What are you gonna do with ’em?

The “we’re too young” complaint was addressed in the planning for 2024.

1. Mozeliak sought a solution for sickly rotation by attacking the problem by adding toughened, tested layers of experience. The free-agent signings of Lynn, Gibson and Gray gave the Cardinals a deeper maturity and resilience that wasn’t there in 2023.

As major-league pitchers Lynn, Gibson and Gray have combined for 34 seasons, 881 starts and 5,156 innings. They’ve competed in 14 postseasons (eight by Lynn. Between them the three righthanders have been named to six All-Star teams. They’ve received Cy Young award votes in six different seasons. Since the beginning of 2014 Gibson leads the majors for innings pitched – and Lynn and Gray rank fifth and seventh respectively.

If we include the experienced Mikolas, the Cardinals’ four most established starters have been named to eight All-Star teams and received Cy Young votes in seven seasons. Mikolas, Gibson, Gray and Lynn combined for 761 innings last season – an average of 190 IP per starter.

2. Next to arrive were Carpenter and Crawford. Carpenter returned home to the Cardinals after playing for the Yankees and Padres over the past two seasons. The 2024 season will be Carpenter’s 12th as a Cardinal. Crawford was a popular fixture at shortstop for the Giants over the past 13 seasons.

As big-league players Carpenter and Crawford have combined for 26 seasons, 3,106 games, 11,854 plate appearances and 11 postseasons.

Between them, Carpenter and Crawford have three World Series rings and played for four NL pennant winners. The two left-handed hitters got MVP votes in five different seasons (combined), were selected to six All-Star teams, and have two Silver Slugger awards. Carpenter’s versatility was a plus on some very good St. Louis teams; he played third base, first base and second base for the Cardinals. Crawford won four Gold Gloves for his outstanding shortstop defense as a Giant.

3. Lynn, Gray, Gibson, Carpenter and Crawford have collectively amassed 146.6 Wins Above Replacement in their MLB careers. That said, Carpenter and Crawford are past their peak years. In their own way, Gibson, Lynn and Gray have something to prove in 2024 – whether it be reducing home runs allowed (Lynn), having the endurance to continue producing a high-innings count innings (Gray) or dismissing a largely overstated “mediocre” classification (Gibson.)

4. This discussion of this team’s extensive experience must include Arenado and Goldschmidt. Goldy is entering his sixth season in St. Louis, and this is year No. 4 for Arenado. In their combined 24 MLB seasons, Goldschmidt and Arenado have been collectively honored with 15 All-Star selections, MVP votes in 15 seasons, 14 Gold Glove awards, and 10 Silver Sluggers.

The Cardinals certainly have gravitas.

The AARP approves of this roster.

The Cardinals have a generational divide.

But it might actually bring this team together.

If the younger Cardinals really give a damn about winning, they have plenty of learning resources to go to. They can lean on the eight previously mentioned older teammates – a group that has collectively competed in 38 total postseasons, won multiple pennants and championships, received Cy Young consideration seven times, All-Star status 31 times, and piled up 18 Gold Glove and 12 Silver Slugger awards. That’s pretty amazing.

There may be some good-natured yapping and debating about cringeworthy music choices in the clubhouse, but the young guys won’t be running the place in 2024.

I like seeing a team that has so many esteemed, award-winning, championship- level, richly experienced players combined with several young players that have substantial upside.

Ideally, this mix of old and young will lead the Cardinals into a surprisingly good season and make them a dangerous postseason entry. And Mozeliak will deserve credit and praise.

If the increase in old-timer citizenship doesn’t go as well as hoped, there will be many Injured List casualties, startling performance declines, and lots of media-and-fan yelping about how the Cardinals were too old and poorly constructed. And Mozeliak will be called many foul names on social media.

The extreme age differences in 2024 will probably lead to an extreme result. Might be really good. Might be really bad. But it definitely will be fascinating to watch.

(I’ll be back later with another column on the Crawford signing.) 

Thanks for reading …


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 and Sports Info Solutions 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.