Cheap Seats

Do the Cardinals really think Bryce Harper wants to wear those ugly blue uniforms?

It’s been a couple of days, But I am still trying to figure out who thought the recently announced St. Louis Cardinals alternate road jersey was anything besides a tacky, soul-less monstrosity.

I wasn’t happy when I thought the new duds were going to be a rehashing of the unfortunate powder blue pullovers the team wore in the 1970s and early 1980s. But the glorified pajamas the team unleashed on an unsuspecting public are worse. Much worse.

How is the club supposed to lure top free agents to town when they know that 13 times a year they’ll have to wear this terrible getup? I imagine the players will be inspired to miss the playoffs so they don’t risk being forced to put on those terrible outfits a fourteenth or fifteenth time in 2019.

Bryce Harper is young and stylish. I can’t imagine he’d want to be caught dead in that uniform. On the bright side, Manny Machado is used to wearing day glow orange jerseys and caps with a cartoon bird on them when he was with the Baltimore Orioles. And Josh Donaldson put on some of the ugliest baseball uniforms known to man when he was a member of the Oakland Athletics.

On the issue of free agency, I’m stunned that we haven’t heard more substance at this point regarding destinations for the top free agents.

Usually at this time of the winter, we’re hearing numbers and cities attached to the name of players. This year, nothing. It’s difficult to imagine with two mid-twenties superstars on the market that things will fizzle like they did in 2017 when Mike Moustakas couldn’t find more than a one-year pact. I just can’t believe that it’s Thanksgiving time and agent Scott Boras has not even once mentioned the alleged existence of a mystery team.

While Redbirds fans are likely hoping for a quick resolution to the Harper situation, it seems to me more likely that Machado will sign first and we may have to wait a while to get the answers we seek.

After his “Johnny Hustle” remarks and Spikegate, Machado is potentially damaged in his marketability. He can be less choosy about his destination because of the baggage he brings with him and it’s easy to imagine a scenario in which teams don’t feel comfortable committing to Machado for 10 or 12 years, being unable to divorce themselves from the situation if his attitude goes south. If it is Harper’s goal to be the highest-paid player in baseball history, the way to get there is to let Machado set the market and then top the deal. While only a couple of teams have been named as realistic landing spots for Machado if he commands a $300 million contract — the Philladelphia Phillies and New York Yankees — those teams plus the Washington Nationals, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals have been named as teams that realistically could add Harper.

If things linger on past Thanksgiving and then Christmas, the Redbirds might find themselves in a situation where Machado suddenly becomes more appealing. Say the Phillies ink Harper and the Yankees trade for Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke, effectively closing their checkbook for the 2019 season, Machado’s price could suddenly go down, down, down.

The Dodgers don’t seem enamored with Machado after his postseason flame out. The Cubs have Kris Bryant at third base and don’t seem to be in a position to need to invest heavily at shortstop. The Giants have Brandon Crawford under long-term contract at shortstop. The Mets aren’t spending money. The Red Sox don’t have a need for Machado. If none of those teams are interested in bidding, I could see Machado looking for a one-year deal during which he could rehab his image and show what a good guy he is. What better place in the majors is there to do that than St. Louis?