Add Carol Slezak to the growing list of media types looking to act as apologist for the St. Louis Cardinals.
She cautions not to mention injuries to the Cardinals, citing the number of players currently residing on their disabled list. What Slezak fails to do is scratch below the surface to reveal..............
Chris Carpenter - Went down in the first month of 2007 (that's right, last season) and had Tommy John surgery last July. The Cards have been praying to get him back by the 2008 All-Star break, but that seems unlikely.
Mark Mulder - Down for the last two seasons, twice under the knife for shoulder problems, but was hoped to meaningfully contribute by the 2008 AS break.
Matt Clement - A total reclaimation project, it was clear this guy was not going to be ready at the start of the season and he's yet to pitch at the MLB level in 2008.
Slezak then turns to the position players, highlighting how the Cards are "contending despite" the use of guys like Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker.
Well, Carol, who's to blame for this "patchwork lineup" filled with "no-name players"? Who's responsible for a roster filled with pitchers that can't pitch?
Would it be okay for Jim Hendry to do nothing if Carlos Zambrano was known to be out for nearly two seasons? Uhm, no.
Would Cubs fans support a return of Jacque Jones and Matt Murton to the daily outfield grind? Err, unlikely.
But apparently in St. Louis, it's okay for a skinflint management team to cobble together a bunch of overachievers and pray for good things to happen. And it's even better for said management team when the media overlooks this lack of effort and allows "injuries" to disguise reality.
So please, sportswriters, dig a bit below an IR report before you release your sympathetic dribble. Applaud the Cardinals for what they have managed to achieve so far, but don't tout injuries to players who were never to be a part of the 2008 solution in the first place, nor highlight bench bums thrust into the limelight all because ownership was unwilling to put a better product on the field.