St. Louis Cardinals Brewing Trouble? Five Reasons Why Cards MUST Make Playoffs

Dan WelinCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2010

St. Louis Cardinals Brewing Trouble? Five Reasons Why Cards MUST Make Playoffs

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    With news that St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Colby Rasmus has requested a trade, a team with an already cloudy future did not get any clearer.  The talented youngster once seemed like a cornerstone of the franchise's future, but this premature demand comes at an awkward moment—as the team tries to pull out of a nosedive and qualify for the 2010 MLB postseason.

    With Rasmus' potential landmine as the context, here are five reasons why Cardinal fans’ motto for the rest of the season should be “playoffs or bust.”

Colby Rasmus

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    Sure, Colby Rasmus is a young player with great upside, but his trade request only adds fuel to the fire that almost seems destined to burn in St. Louis.

    Rasmus seems to have never really fit in St. Louis.  After the 2009 season, it was revealed that Rasmus had a tough time getting along with other Cardinal players and having his father as his own hitting coach. 

    He had trouble off the field as well.  It wasn’t with the law, but rather with his family.

    Rasmus joins the list of players who have not gotten along with La Russa, and La Russa always wins those.  The problem with the Rasmus-La Russa quarrel is that La Russa is already on the fence about retiring and the controversy regarding Rasmus most likely will not help matters.

Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan

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    With the possibility of Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan leaving St. Louis after 2010 becoming more a reality each day, the Cardinals and the way their organization has been operated since they arrived in St. Louis is in jeopardy. 

    Without La Russa filling out the lineup card and Duncan working his magic with the pitching staff, who knows what direction the team will be headed?

    It is possible that Jose Oquendo or someone else from within the current regime could take over and continue to have success in St. Louis, but that does not seem likely.

    Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright have been with Dave Duncan for years and they could possibly institute his methods and help the Cardinals pitching staff, but that seems like a pipe dream.

Albert Pujols

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    The thought of Albert Pujols wearing something other than the birds on the bat makes Cardinal fans cringe.  The superstar slugger’s pending free agency in 2011 is up in the air. 

    The Cardinals re-signed Matt Holliday, which is a commitment that gives protection to Pujols in the lineup.  It also shows that the Cardinals want to be competitive in the long run. 

    The way the Cardinals are playing now and the potential for Tony La Russa, the only manager Pujols has ever known, to leave adds more uncertainty as to whether Pujols will remain in St. Louis or not.

The Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds, ironically assembled by former Cardinals' general manager Walt Jocketty, don’t help matters either, boasting a roster filled with young and talented players.

    NL MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat Joey Votto leads a team that looks poised to dominate the National League Central division for years to come.

    Along with Votto, the Reds have a young pitching staff that has yet to fully utilize flame-throwing Cuban Aroldis Chapman.

Contract Issues with the Core

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    Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Yadier Molina.  Those five players are the core of the Cardinals, and some of the best players in the National League.  For whatever reason, they are not able to keep the 2010 Cardinals consistent and poised for the postseason.

    More importantly, those five players have either signed or are due a large sum of money when they are up for their next contracts.  Payroll issues have already caused the Cardinals to trade away former All Star and fan favorite, Ryan Ludwick. 

    Who knows what they will do to the overall success of the team in the future?

    There is potential that the Cardinals could be committing 50 percent of their payroll to Albert Pujols, assuming he signs an extension in St. Louis, and Matt Holliday alone.  Throw in Carpenter, Wainwright, and Molina and the financial situation in St. Louis seems dire.