Once again, the Cardinals had too little to offer way too late when and they blew yet another opportunity to make the team better.
The infuriating news has emerged that the Birds decided maybe they were interested in Orlando Hudson after all and that they broached the subject of a sign and trade deal with the Diamondbacks. But not until after the second baseman was being wooed in a straight up free agent deal with the Dodgers.
GM John Mozeliak said the Cardinals became interested when it became obvious they could get Hudson for a low dollar, one-year deal. First, when did it become obvious to him? The news that Hudson was only getting one-year contract offers has been widely reported for more than two weeks. Second, why can the Cardinals only afford to sign players to a one-year contract?
Their second and third baseman, shortstop and centerfielder are all free agents after the 2009 season -- not to mention that pitcher Joel Pineiro is, too -- and the odds are slim and none that any of them will be back. The team's cheapness is another example of the extreme short sightedness of its front office. While it has couple of young, talented third basemen in the farm system, it has no one of note in line to take over next year at second or short. It's obvious that the Cardinals are going to be in exactly the same boat next year -- trying to find a cheap replacement for both positions off the scrap heap. And the result is going to be a further degradation of the talent on what was a pretty good when Mozeliak took it over from Walt Jocketty.
This was the time for the Cardinals to make a move. If they actually wanted to sign or trade for decent players, they would surely pay more for them next season than they would if they acquired them now in a depressed market.
This is just another gaping hole in the theory that anything but cheapness is dictating what's going on in the offices of Busch Stadium. Mozeliak came right out and admitted that the team has a need at second base -- dispelling any thought that the club believes outfielder Skip Schumaker is a legitimate candidate to play second base. But the chance to get a guy who is an excellent fielder who hit over .300 last year -- who originally wanted a five-year deal in excess of $60 million -- for $3.5 million wasn't good enough. And now the Cardinals are back to zero.
I understand that the Cardinals can't pay top dollar for premium free agents and compete with the Yankees. But this was the off season for an upper mid market team to get some much needed pitching and second base help. When opportunity knocked, the Cardinals turned off the television, pulled the blinds shut and pretended that no one was home.
For this team to give it's 4.3 million fans an $87 million payroll is an insult. I'd say it was a joke. But it's just not funny.