My hope is that the coverage this year has offered ongoing, rolling insight into this topic. That has been the goal. At the very least I've explored this in previous chats.
Nolan Arenado has told people close to him, privately and on his own, what he has also maintained publicly -- that he is enjoying being a Cardinal, that he has found a home playing in St. Louis, and that he has been pleased with the move. "He loves it there, like really loves it," a friend of his recently told me as we talked. The friend offered that without me asking.
First, Arenado has been around the game long enough to know that a team losing two of its top three starters is going to struggle. Now, if he's frustrated the Cardinals did not address that need with known quantities, he's kept that to himself. It would be a fair criticism for him to have, after all, we've had it all along. Second, he's aware of his own performance.
Third, it should be clear by now that he was not basing what he considers a "winning" team based entirely on the standings. What do I mean by that? Well, think back to something he said in a profile I wrote about a month ago. He talked about how getting the playoffs with the Rockies really opened his eyes to what it means to win, and he said that if he didn't get to the playoffs those two years then he probably wouldn't be a Cardinal because he wouldn't have known, wouldn't have chased something better. That something better is knowing a team doesn't want to cycle in and cycle out of the playoffs, that it expects to get there every year, and that it expects to advance.
I don't suspect he was told this was a transition year. No one was.
Everyone going in -- fans, players, media, ownership, front office, manager -- was aware that it could be a year where the lost revenue of 2020 and growth of some young players contributed to the results on the field. No one expected Flaherty to miss two months because he ripped an oblique at the plate at Dodger Stadium. That's something that players recognize, too.