Oh, how I am officially tired of the Hot Stove League drama and anxious to see spring arrive and the Cardinals get back on the field.
For a lot of people, this is the most exciting time in the baseball world. The time when their team goes out and gets an All-Star to be their clean-up man or plucks an ace off of the free agent market to anchor their pitching staff. Unfortunately, those people are called Yankees fans.
If you read the Internet fan pages or listen to sports talk radio, Yankees rooters -- and sometimes Red Sox fans, too -- don’t know if Matt Holliday or Jason Bay are even worthy to wear their uniform. It’s not a question of if they’ll get them. It’s a question of if their teams even want the best player available right now.
In Redbird Nation we’re not used to seeing big splashes in December and January, so it’s hard to imagine the Cardinals bringing home the belle of the ball. The Jason Isringhausen signing was pretty big back in 2001. But, since then, it seems like the Cardinals only shop for back end of the rotation starters (Jeff Suppan was a below .500 pitcher when the Birds signed him to a three-year, $9 million deal in 2003) and third outfielders (Reggie Sanders, Juan Encarnacion...) on the open market.
The Cardinals’ own free agents almost always seem to end up elsewhere after they hit the open market, too. The team never made a bid for Suppan, Mike Matheny, Woody Williams or Matt Morris when they became free agents. And it seems like they gave Mark DeRosa the same treatment this off-season.
As a Cardinals fan, I feel as if the 2010 Redbirds have a chance to really be great... If only the front office would show a little bit of faith and pull the trigger on Holliday and maybe find a fifth starter here or there. Someone who could give the team some insurance, not necessarily even an impact player. Waiting for the drama created by agent/supervillian Scott Boras to play out is giving me an ulcer. The highs and lows are dizzying.
This week is a great example:
First, an incredible rumor surfaces, buoyed by a report on ESPN Radio, that the Cardinals are not only close to a six-year deal with Holliday. But it is said the contract is being worked in such a way that it would allow the Birds to also sign Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre and bring back John Smoltz as their fifth starter.
Pretty exciting stuff until you read that the Mets are getting ready to bail on their pursuit of Jason Bay and open their big New York checkbook to chase Holliday, inevitably driving up his price beyond what the Cardinals seem to be willing to pay.
While I want to believe the first rumor, honestly, which one do you think is more likely to be true?
What does it mean that the Cardinals let DeRosa walk. Does it mean Holliday is in the bag? Does it mean the Birds plan to do nothing at all?
I wish I could say I don’t care. But this is a pivotal time in the history of the Cardinals. Signing Holliday could be the key to keeping Albert Pujols is a St. Louis uniform for the remainder of his career. And the thought of a guy who people talk about in the same breath as Stan Musial packing up and leaving like Bruce Sutter, Vince Coleman and Jack Clark did just makes me sick.
I am just looking forward to all of the money talk, contract squabbles and gamesmanship to be over.
I’m ready for the crack of the bat, the smell of the grass and the taste of a ballpark hot dog.
Somebody wake me up in March.
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