Cheap Seats

Hey Cardinals: Bull!!!

I'm trying to hope for the best. I really am.

But the Cardinals latest excusefest about why they don't think they can afford to sign Matt Holliday -- oh, and by the way, they might not be able to afford to keep Albert Pujols, either -- is just a bunch of garbage. Frankly, I don't know how much longer I can justify spending my hard-earned money to support a team that doesn't care about its fans.

Oh, sure, they run messages across the scoreboard that proclaim the St. Louis fans the best in baseball. But at the same time they insult our intelligence by presuming that we can't do some simple math.

Ticket prices, at least in my section, have gone up nearly 50 percent since the Cardinals opened their new stadium in 2006 under the guise that it was going to make the team more financially competitive. Financial experts say the team's revenue during that time has increased from about $160 million a year to about $235-$240 million during that span. So, how much do the team's owners invest back in the team: Nothing. Zero, Zilch. Nada. In fact, they're spending less on making the Rebirds a competitive team now than they did in the last year of the old ballpark.

According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, here's the Cardinals payroll the last five years:

  • 2009: $ 88,528,409

  • 2008: $ 99,624,449

  • 2007: $ 90,286,823

  • 2006: $ 88,891,371
  • 2005: $ 92,106,833

That, my friends, is completely bogus. We're being gouged for $9.50 beers, $20 parking and ridiculous ticket prices, and we're definitely not getting our money's worth.

Cardianls President William DeWitt III said earlier this week that the Cardinals can't afford both Holliday and Pujols with a payroll of $100 million. I'm glad you brought that up, Mr. DeWitt, because I think you're right. And if the Cardinals spent a portion of their revenue commiserate with other major league teams, their payroll would be more like $120-$125 million than the insulting $88.5 million it was at the beginning of last season.

To say the Cardinals can't afford to pay Pujols a quarter of the team payroll is ridiculous and stupid. Why? Because Pujols puts fans in the seats more than any other player in Baseball. Spending $25-$27 million on Pujols doesn't mean less for everyone else. It anything, it means more for everyone else because more fans at the games equals more money. The Astros paid Roger Clemens $21 million a few years back and said they could afford to because he put so many more fans in the seats that he paid for himself. And he pitched once every five days at the most. Pujols plays every day.

The Cardinals shaved $30 million of their payroll by getting rid of Troy Glaus, Khalil Greene, Joel Pineiro, Adam Kennedy and Rick Ankiel's paychecks. So, bottom line is that they have roughly $40 million to spend just to get to the $100 million payroll they claim to be willing to spend. But they easily could balance the budget and spend $60 million.

So I don't want to hear any more about what they can afford and what they can't. Quit playing games by offering players low ball contracts or by bowing out of the bidding before it even gets started and telling us your sob stories, Cardinals. Spend some of the fans' money on the players fans want to see play, or I can tell you that you soon won't be getting my money anymore.

That may not seem like much to you. But no one has been a bigger fan than me. And if I am fed up, you can bet that there are thousands more like me.