How do the Cardinals fill the void of Number 5?

Iconic figures can be found throughout sports, but as iconic and Hall of Fame worthy as an Albert Pujols is rare. Even more rare today in sports is an athlete sticking with one team, the St. Louis got a taste when Albert Pujols left for a “more committed” Angels team. Now the Cardinals are left with a void to fill, the question is how do they do it?

First the Cardinals management, players and fans alike must realize there is no replacing Albert Pujols. No player in the game put up the numbers over their first ten years like he did, and it’s unlikely anyone will (At least for a while.)

A fresh start is what the Cardinals are looking at. This team will have to win a different style of baseball; they’ll  no longer have the big force at the third spot in the lineup and that’ll affect the team from one through nine.

It’s not all as bad as it seems. With new manager Mike Matheny, the Cardinals will now see a different style of baseball. While it may have some similarities to Tony LaRussa’s style, Matheny is his own man and he will bring a new culture to the clubhouse, one that says we can win without Albert!

For this to ring true throughout 14th and Clark, the Cardinals must have a few key element and the most important is execution. No longer can you rely on the MVP stepping into the box and winning you two games in a row against the rivaled Cubs, you must execute in every facet of the game.

But also leadership is a key component. And who better than Lance Berkman? The good ole’ boy from Texas was the Cardinals Superman at times last year, he stood in front of the media when things weren’t going well, and joked about his age and other players when things were riding high. Lance Berkman is the perfect guy to fill in at the 3 position that has been filled by a legend over the last 11 years.

Berkman will step up to the media in spring training and tell them the Cards can win without Pujols, he will rally his team around Matheny’s message, Lance Berkman will take the heat if things start going south. Lance may not hit .330 40 homer run 120 rbi’s but he will load his shoulders down and take the blunt of the negativity when it approaches.

On the field the team collectively must come together. No one person will fill #5’s shoes and no one player will be asked to either. The likes of David Freese, Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina will all have to pick up the slack if no one else is signed. They will all have to stay healthy and do the things that win championships.

Mike Matheny’s job isn’t easy, taking over a manager with Hall of Fame credentials such as TLR is hard enough. Now add losing a potential Hall of Famer, and the best player in the game, Mike is instantly behind the black ball, but if the 2011 World Series champions St. Louis Cardinals taught you anything that is: never count anyone out. Because all it takes is the a group 25 men on the field pulling together for one common goal, believing in each other, and letting nothing get in their way to make the unthinkable happen.


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