So Astros County and C70 exchanged some questions regarding this, the merciful final series of the 2011 season. For us, anyway. The Cardinals could very well be playing next week if things go the way they look like they could go. Here are Astros County's questions, and C70's answers. (Note: Here are my answers to his questions)
AC: If the Cardinals don't sweep the Astros, how upset will you and your readers be?
C70: All three of us? :) It'll be disappointing, sure. This September has been almost the embodiment of what we expected this Cardinal team to be like all year long, so to see them get that close and then fall short won't feel good. However, a lot of us had resigned ourselves to missing the postseason a month ago. It's been like playing with house money since then. You hope to strike it big, but if you leave with what you brought in, you can't get too worked up about it.
AC: This season has obviously come to the final three games. What do you look back on from 2011 and think, "Jeez. If this/that happened, we would be resting starters right now." ?
C70: The United Cardinal Bloggers are going to be putting together a postseason publication and I'm thinking my review of the season is going to be titled "What If?" There were a number of games throughout the year that should have gone the other way and didn't. Basically, though, if Adam Wainwright is healthy all year and/or the bullpen issues with Ryan Franklin and Miguel Batista got resolved earlier, the Cards could have had 4-5 more wins at least and been solidly in the postseason.
AC: How do you feel about the re-signing of Lance Berkman? Has he managed to make Cardinals fans forget that he was an Astro for nine years?
C70: What do you mean? Berkman's a rookie this year, isn't he? Thought it was a little strange that he was so good and so old, but.....
Actually, though, Berkman quickly became a fan favorite. I think it helps that, for the most part, the Houston/St. Louis rivalry was never that bitter and ugly, but a fairly professional meeting of two teams trying for the same goal. Berkman (and players like Craig Biggio, Roy Oswalt, and Jeff Bagwell) were respected as adversaries, even as you tried to beat them. There were some great people on both sides of that divide, so it's easier to accept one of them as your own.
Plus, hitting 30 homers helps. You'll notice no such warm fuzzy feelings exist for Ryan Theriot.
AC: Thanks for David Carpenter, by the way. How do you feel about the front office, and how confident are you in them going into this off-season with Pujols on the horizon?
C70: As you so adroitly point out, the front office isn't perfect. That trade last year made no sense on the face of it and got worse as Pedro Feliz played in St. Louis. However, it's also the front office that got Berkman on a bargain deal and made a controversial trade of Colby Rasmus and apparently got the better end of the deal, at least short-term. (And after Colby's comments in the National Post, I'm not sure they aren't going to win the deal long-term, either.) Is Pujols a big deal? Sure it is, but I don't think it's an intricate negotiation. I don't know that they'll lock him down (I really think they will, but no guarantees) but I trust them with the process just as much as I'd trust any other front office.
AC: Who deserves to be in the playoffs: Cardinals, or Braves?
C70: Deserves? Depends on what you value, I guess. Braves have run into injuries and a wall and don't look to be much of a post-season threat, but that's what some said about the Cards in '06. The Cardinals are playing better baseball now and could make a deep run, but they could also get swept out by Philadelphia. My bias says the Cards deserve it, but unfortunately that and $4.50 gets my wife a coffee at Starbucks if they don't win two more games than Atlanta does in the next three (or four) days.