Cheap Seats

Nice try for Giancarlo Stanton — but St. Louis Cardinals need hitters and pitchers, not near misses

I think all St. Louis Cardinals fans — at least the relatively rational ones — are in agreement that the club did all it could in its effort to land reigning National League Most Valuable Player Giancarlo Stanton.

President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak reportedly had the best offer on the table in terms of prospects offered and the most money ponied up toward relieving the Miami Marlins from the burden of Stanton’s ginormous contract. If it wasn’t for that pesky no-trade clause, he’d be wearing the Birds on the Bat now. There’s nothing Mo could do to convince a guy who didn’t want to play here to accept a trade he didn’t want. So, a pat on the back for a fine effort. But it was all for naught.

So what are you going to do to make up for the misfire, Mo?

It’s not that we don’t appreciate your efforts. But this is a results-based business and the Redbirds still have a gaping hole in the middle of their lineup, a deficiency at the back end of the bullpen and, contrary to your statement that the starting rotation is good to go with the addition of a surely fine fellow (who hasn’t toiled in the major leagues since 2014), I am of the persuasion that the Cardinals could use another starting pitcher — and a good one at that. I’m not trying to be cold or unappreciative. But this isn’t the off-season to whiff on making significant improvements to this team. The Birds have passed (or come up short) for the last several winters when it comes to adding a “signature” player or two to replace the likes of Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter and Matt Holliday. The Birds used to have a pretty good formula of keeping four or five pillar players around to lead the team and then filling in around them with solid role players.

Now the leaders of the team are mid-30s catcher Yadier Molina and similarly aged hurler Adam Wainwright who I love as much as any Cardinals player in recent memory. But let’s be honest, his most recent vintage Waino season came in 2014. I hate to say it, but those good ol’ days aren’t coming back. Cardinals fans are a patient lot. But if this team is going to continue to market itself as the most successful team in National League history, it needs to do something to live up to its legacy. And soon.

The bright side is Wainwright’s $19.5-million salary comes off the books next year, Lance Lynn’s slightly more modest annual salary is gone already and the Cardinals are set to begin to enjoy their giant new local television contract. With the winter meetings starting Monday, and a dump truck full of money to spend, here’s Mo’s chance to put the Cardinals back on the map. There is much to be done. But there are many opportunities at hand and many resources to use as currency to fill the void.

I’ve named names in recent weeks of players I’d like to see added to the St. Louis roster. But I’m not going to be specific in my demands as a Redbirds Rooter. Surprise me, Mo. I don’t necessarily care about the names on the back of the jersey as long as the players are legit athletes. All I want, as I await the delivery of my season-ticket invoice, is something to make me excited about writing a check. That means I wanted to believe this team has a real chance to win the National League Central Division crown in 2018, not some smoke-and-mirrors wish to make it back to the playoff promised land.

The Cardinals made another incremental move Sunday, signing former farmhand Luke Gregerson to a two-year contract with an option. That’s nice. But that’s not a transaction that’s going to move the needle that measures the balance of power in the National League.

The old saying “good is the enemy of great” explains the Redbirds in a nutshell. The Cardinals have decent players all over the field and up and down the lineup. But they can’t be satisfied with decent, OK, adequate or all right. They need to aspire for supreme, dominant, excellent and superb talent. They need guys who can play better defense, hit better in the clutch, run the bases faster and smarter and otherwise do the little things. They used to call that the “Cardinals Way.”

Let’s stop talking the talk and, instead, show we remember how to walk the walk.