The Brewers are everything the Cardinals should have been

Back in 2015, the Cardinals were one of the gold standards in baseball. They had won three straight division titles and reached the postseason six out of seven years.

However, all of that changed when they lost the NLDS to the Cubs. For a few years, the Cubs took over as the Central’s prominent threat. After 2018, it was the Cardinals’ turn again, and they responded by winning the NL Central in 2019 and reaching the NLCS.

But what should have been the start of another run was derailed by poor front office decisions, mainly trades. Ownership also put a cap on spending, and while the Cardinals should have regained their status as the Central’s best team, they only captured one division title since then and won just one playoff game.

While the Cardinals were stuck in neutral, along came the Brewers. They won the division in 2018 and reached the playoffs as a Wild Card the following two seasons. In 2021, they won another division title and then did it again in 2023 after missing the playoffs in 2022.

Fast forward to 2024, and they remain at the top of the NL Central. This is after they lost Craig Counsell and traded Corbin Burnes. Meanwhile, the Cardinals finally spent this past offseason and should have been a better ballclub than the Brewers by all accounts. However, it’s the Brewers who remain on top.

The question is why has it come to this? Why is it that the Brewers, after losing significant pieces are still better than the Cardinals, who finally spent some cash in the offseason? What are the Brewers doing right, and what are the Cardinals doing wrong?

Sometimes, spending works. But there’s more to success than spending, and it all starts with the people making the decisions at the top.

Cardinals’ fans are obviously tired of hearing about the Marcell Ozuna, Randy Arozarena, and Adolis Garcia trades. But these trades certainly hurt them. Now, you can add Tyler O’Neill to the list of players that are gone and thriving with other teams.

Again, it all starts up top, and a big reason why the Brewers are better than the Cardinals is because of their front office. Despite the trade of Corbin Burnes, the Brewers are still doing a great job developing and evaluating talent. They may have traded their ace, but they keep churning out solid young players, much like the Cardinals used to.

Notable examples include Sal Frelick, Brice Turang, Freddy Peralta, Devin Williams, Blake Perkins, and Jackson Churio. The Cardinals once had a habit of drafting and developing great players, and while stars such as Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman, and Masyn Winn have emerged, they aren’t doing it as frequently as they once were.

But the key is that the Brewers are doing a great job of evaluating their talent, unlike the Cardinals. They chose players such as Dylan Carlson over Arozarena and Garcia. They may not look so crazy now for being so high on O’Neill, but now that he’s thriving with the Red Sox, it’s clear that the Cardinals missed something with him and other players.

They didn’t properly evaluate their talent. And so, the Brewers caught up to them and passed them. In addition, Cardinals’ ownership has allowed this to happen. They haven’t held those like John Mozeliak accountable. The DeWitt’s have allowed him to get away with so many mistakes, while the Brewers’ ownership makes sure to hire and promote the right people and put them in the right roles.

You could argue that on paper, the Cardinals have a better team. But games aren’t won on paper, and it’s clear that the reason the Brewers are so much better is because of who is in charge. This was once the Cardinals’ strong suit, but not anymore.

The Brewers are the captain now, and they have become the gold standard of the NL Central. The Cardinals missed their chance to regain their prominence, and the Brewers took advantage of that mistake.

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