I'm not sure if the Cardinals should pay Carlos Beltran $37 million over the next three seasons. But I am sure of one thing: It's not acceptable that the team shaved Albert Pujols from its payroll and all it has done so far is re-sign diminished shortstop Rafael Furcal and add a very mediocre lefty reliever.
Whatever happened to all this big talk about having a bunch of money to invest in other areas if Pujols didn't re-sign here? It's easy to say now that there aren't many attractive targets on the free agent market. But didn't the Cardinals front office know what the landscape looked like before they played out the string with Albert?
Besides, there are things that can be done short of signing Beltran. What about improving at second base or shoring up a bullpen that was very suspect last season before Octavio Dotel was added to it?The Cardinals refused to pick up Dotel's option at the end of the season then watched him walk away to similar money elsewhere. He'd look pretty good pitching eighth innings in 2012 -- especially for a team that might have a lot more close games since it won't score as many runs as it did the season before.
The Birds act as if they are hoarding away cash to make a big drop on one cornerstone player. Yet they don't acknowledge any interest in trying to sign the only superstar left out there, Prince Fielder. So their behavior is making some of the 3 million plus faithful a little bit nervous that they're hoarding cash just because they like cash.
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I don't care if they improve the team through a signing or a trade, it is unacceptable for the Cardinals to keep the money they saved from not re-signing Pujols. Without Albert in the mix the team currently has a projected payroll of slightly less than $90 million. That would rank them 18th in the major leagues in terms of outlay for players while their attendance typically ranks in the top five.
Now, I know there is time left for the Cardinals to make a move. I'm not saying they aren't going to. But I am saying that Redbird rooters aren't stupid. And I'm not especially happy that the team raised ticket prices, doubled season ticket deposits and then effectively slashed it's payroll by 20 percent.