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WHEELER: Why Can’t Some Just Enjoy a 1st Place Team?

Kevin Wheeler
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UPI/Bill Greenblatt

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What is it about baseball fans that makes them seek out problems to obsess over even when the team they love is playing well and winning?

The Cardinals had the best record in baseball going into Wednesday’s game against the Astros down in Houston and yet I continue to hear from fans who are unhappy something. No matter what ‘s going on, someone’s unhappy. But what is there to be unhappy about when your team has the best record in the sport?

Now, my point here isn’t that the Cardinals are flawless. They have their problems, as do all teams, but when the good outweighs the bad you end up with a winning/contending team.

So far we’ve had to listen to people moan about the offense (during the 1st home stand), the bullpen (throughout most of April and into early May) and the defense (non-stop since Spring Training), not to mention specific players who seem to take turns as “Whipping Boy of the Week” (Ryan Franklin, Ryan Theriot, Colby Rasmus, etc.).

Here is my advice: relax and enjoy the wins.

Take note of what’s wrong but don’t obsess over it.

The defense is shaky sometimes. So what? The offense is the best in the league and the pitching staff is strong. Those strengths more than balance out the weakness.

The Cardinals aren’t perfect and that’s okay. (Please excuse that little bit of Stuart Smalley wisdom. Thank you.)

They’re better than the competition right now and so long as that is the case please do yourself a favor, crack open a cold one and enjoy the wins.

Finally, please stop e-mailing me, texting me or tweeting me about Colby Rasmus. He is fine. Like the team itself, the center fielder has his flaws but the positives are significantly greater than the negatives on the whole. He’s a productive offensive player who plays a premium defensive position. And he’s 24 years-old. He’s already one of the better center fielders in the game and he’s only going to get better.

To make my point, allow me to reach all the way back to last season for an example of another young center fielder who “just wasn’t living up to the hype.” I present to you the case of Matt Kemp of the Dodgers. At the age of 25, in his 3rd full season in the Majors, Kemp was a disaster. He was getting ripped for appearing disinterested, his defense had deteriorated, people thought he had gone a little too Hollywood and his numbers weren’t what people expected. Sure, he hit 28 home runs but batted just .249 with a meager .760 OPS and 170 strikeouts.

Right now he’s hitting .320 with 17 HR, 50 RBI and a stellar .997 OPS.

Kemp is the perfect example of why you just don’t give up on a gifted player so early in their career. People wanted to run Kemp out of Los Angeles last year, the Dodgers stuck by their man and now they’re reaping the rewards.

Right now it’s easy to say that Kemp is a better player than Rasmus but at this time last year it sure wouldn’t have seemed that way. Young players mature, they get better with experience and they generally peak between the ages of 27-30.

Colby won’t be 27 until August 11th, 2013.

Give him time, stop obsessing about his flaws (and he has a few, no doubt) and show some patience.

And please, dear God, stop e-mailing me your Colby Rasmus trade ideas…

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