Cheap Seats

Memo to Cardinals media: Fans have a right to have an opinion

He's been gone a day and I am already deathly tired of hearing the St. Louis media moan and groan about how Cardinals fans ran Tyler Greene out of town.

I see a lot of Cardinals ballgames. Almost all of them, in fact. And I can't remember witnessing a whole lot of open hostility toward Greene this season. Yeah, there was a smattering of boos when he allowed an easy grounder between the wickets with the bases loaded Wednesday night in the midst of a two strikeout night at the plate. But, as I have said a million times before, if MLB ownership expects people to be emotionally involved enough to shell out hundreds of dollars to watch a bunch of grown men in pajamas play a child's game, then expect them to be emotionally involved enough to be disappointed when things go bad.

Yeah, I see the message board comments in which people rail against one player or another. And, while I never want to underestimate the power of a 15-year-old kid with a computer in his parents' basement, I also don't want to give people who post anonymously on the internet too much credit. I don't know if they have ever played the game nor do I know if they have ever BEEN to a game. And, as a reporter I have a simple rule of thumb: If someone isn't willing to sign their name -- their REAL NAME -- to something they write, I don't believe a word of it unless I can independently verify. 

I readily admit that I was on the Tyler Greene bandwagon for too long. In spring training I tried to look between the lines of his 0-for-3 with two strikeout box scores to point out that he hit the ball hard foul a couple of times before he eventually whiffed. And that ground ball he waved bye-bye to was really pretty tricky. But MLB doesn't count "almost" for anything. And the bottom line is that Greene just wasn't getting the job done through multiple opportunities.

It was obvious that manager Mike Matheny lost faith in Greene by how quickly he pulled the plug on him as a starter and then how little he was letting him play at all lately. Does a rookie manager need a part time job of babying a player with a fragile ego?

I heard a long rant yesterday about how Cardinals fans are too obsessed with the 25th man on the roster. They should have just let Greene be. He could collect his paycheck with no expectations and we should all just be glad for him.

But the thing is, no matter how it is sliced, Greene was hurting the team by not being able to do his job.

The Cardinals couldn't use him as a pinch hitter against a lefty with a game on the line the other night because he's batting .067 off the bench. They team couldn't use him as a pinch runner because, although he's lightning fast, he's managed to get himself picked off with the game on the line in that role. They couldn't use him as a defender because the ball seemed to find its way through him at the worst possible time. On the rare occasions that he started a game, Greene hit only .224.

Couldn't the Cardinals find anyone better at any of those roles than Greene? If not, why not add another pitcher to the bullpen?

He was also hurting the team by becoming a distraction. I don't know if he was more popular in the clubhouse than Brendan Ryan was. But professionals tend to grow to resent people in their ranks who don't belong. How many nights could the Cardinals have had a better chance to win if they had just one more guy who was able to contribute to the cause?

Simply put, that roster spot is valuable. It could be used not only for a player who could help the team. But it could also be used to help groom a young player who is on the rise. Greene was out of options and there was just no way he was going to be a Cardinal in 2013. His .218 batting average isn't just his 2012 mark -- it's also his career average. Let's not forget that Greene is 28 years old. He was drafted to be the heir apparent to David Eckstein at shortstop, for crying out loud. So let's see what Ryan Jackson can do and move on with our lives.

And stop ripping the Cardinals fans when they lose faith in a player that's it's obvious the team has lost faith in, too. They haven't exactly been throwing batteries at Greene.

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