As the calendar turns over to July, the Cardinals sit at 49-32, in second place in the toughest division in baseball.
They have a .605 winning percentage, have scored over 400 runs (3rd in MLB) and are also amongst the leaders in OBP and batting average.
If you're the Marlins or the White Sox, then this might qualify as the single stupidest headline of 2013.
Of course the Cardinals are good.
But you see, when the calendar flipped from May to June, the question was different. We wanted to know if this Cardinals team was great.
Certainly seemed like they had the potential to be. Remember this cover of Sports Illustrated published in the first week of June?
Well Jamie Garcia has been shut down for the season, Shelby Miller hasn't gone more than six innings in the past month (including a 1.2 inning shelling on Friday night) and Jake Westbrook may or may not be recovered from his stint on the DL.
Now we're lowing the bar.
Of course if the season stopped now, the Cardinals would be considered a 'good' team. But that's not the question we're asking…
Spinning this forward, do the Cardinals have enough to end the season as a 'good' team? A playoff team?
David Freese is on one of his patented cool streaks, with 7 hits in the last 11 games (10 played). That Pete Kozma 'Rookie of the Year' talk has gone ice cold. And from the gratuitous shot department comes a note that sometimes tummy aches lead to Ty Wiggington at first base.
The pitching staff is also hitting the skids. Wainwright and Lynn appear to be solid at the top of the rotation, but the Cardinals are down to 4 starters and Shelby Miller and Jake Westbrook have huge question marks they have to answer. Joe Kelly has been lights out… when the games are already out of hand.
Hard to believe that a team that was 21 games over .500 mid-June is not only moving in the wrong direction, but is also 2 games in arrears of the first place Pirates a mere 16 days later.
Here's the obligatory 'every baseball team has its ups and downs'.
But the good feelings and party atmosphere around the Cardinals has dissipated. July begins with a nice little distraction (i.e. every columnist and pundit congratulating the team for NOT signing Pujols to a extraordinarily rich deal), but we're all missing the lede…
The Cardinals went from great to good in the matter of a month. Could they go from good to average by August?