Cheap Seats

Time is about up on St. Louis Cardinals quest to land Giancarlo Stanton

I want to see Giancarlo Stanton join the St. Louis Cardinal as much as anyone. But, please, Miami Marlins, just make a decision one way or another.

Not only are Cardinals fans spending sleepless nights — not hyperbole, I read a report that Stanton’s people were meeting with the San Francisco Giants Thursday night and a trade appeared imminent right before I went to bed and then couldn’t stop thinking about it, depriving me of a few precious Zs before the alarm clock woke me up. I’m sure, judging from the content on social media sites that I wasn’t the only one. But the entirety of Major League Baseball seems paralyzed as it waits for this trade to happen, causing the Hot Stove League’s pilot light to go out.

If the Cardinals can’t land the biggest Fish of the off-season, I’d at least like them to be able to move forward on plans to improve the team in other areas.

Fortunately, the news was better in the morning. ESPN’s Peter Gammons said Friday that the Giants have asked for reports about prospects from only two teams as this process seems to move into its final stages: The Giants and the Cardinals. I’m confident that the Birds can offer up better prospects than San Francisco. So this development would seem to be favorable to St. Louis. If Birds President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak and company haven’t already met with the slugger’s representatives, it appears they’ll soon have their chance to shine. I hope plans of adding a starter and a couple of arms for the back of the bullpen plus images of packed stands at Busch Stadium can sway baseball’s biggest prize to spend at least the next three years in St. Louis.

The only logical conclusion about why this is dragging on so long is that the Marlins are intentionally playing the waiting game. I have heard that the club likes the offer on the table from the Redbirds. So, either Miami is hoping San Francisco ups its offer and the bidding war escalates or that it can drag its feet long enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers to get involved and put us all out of our misery. But I don’t see LA’s involvement as being a good development for Miami. After all, the Dodgers know Stanton would hold his breath to play there if he thought there was a chance. So why would the Dodgers offer up top prospects or volunteer to pay the bulk of the slugging outfielder’s contract? LA doesn’t heat up the competition in Miami’s favor. In fact, it may eliminate the competition altogether.

Speaking of California teams, I understand that that Stanton is from Los Angeles and grew up a Dodgers fan. The lure of playing for his boyhood favorite team is obvious. But why does that make people think that the Giants would be a preferred destination? Because those two cities are in the same state? That doesn’t mean they’re similar. LA is known for sunshine and beaches. San Francisco is known as a breezy, chilly place. It was Samuel Clemens who once said that the coldest winter he could remember was the summer he spent in San Francisco. They’re too far apart to shoot over to LA after a day game for dinner. I ask Cardinals fans this: If you grew up rooting for the Redbirds and you were a major league ballplayer trying to force a trade to your favorite team, would it be an acceptable Plan B to accept a deal to the Chicago Cubs? Hardly.

If Stanton goes to the Giants, his memories of going to Dodgers Stadium as a young man, taking in games on a leisurely summer evening are going to be replaced with thoughts of getting booed every time he comes to the plate in Los Angeles and being the scourge of the city. While it’s mostly fun and games between Redbirds rooters and Cubs fans, things aren’t nearly so civil on the West Coast where violence has erupted in the stands and outside of ballparks where the Giants and Dodgers play. If you’re a fan of Dodgers blue, Giants black and orange isn’t an acceptable substitute.

There are a lot more factors than the weather that make the different destinations across the major leagues desirable places to play. Atmosphere, ability to compete at a high level, fan support — St. Louis isn’t a vacation destination. But it surprises me that some people think it isn’t a pretty ideal place to play professional baseball.

So, while things could change at any moment, it seems the Cardinals are still very deep in the Stanton picture. But I hope that the way this process has lingered on doesn’t keep the team from moving forward with other moves that need to be made to help the Birds be a better, more competitive team in 2018.