Cheap Seats

Cardinals have a lot of explaining to do after striking out on Heyward, Price

I was planning to wait to jot down my thoughts on the Jason Heyward signing until after I got a chance to let the anger subside a little bit.

But the boss thinks the best time is now. So forgive me if I seem a little bit raw.

In a nutshell, I am angry not because the St. Louis Cardinals failed to sign Jason Heyward, not because they let one of their best two pitchers and arguably their best position player sign with the Chicago Cubs.

I’m angry because I feel like the Cardinals, who talk about their loyal fans as being the best in baseball, treat their paying customers like a bunch of rubes.

We’re dismissed as being “emotional” for becoming attached to players. It’s “just business” they say.

Well, here are business terms they can understand: They rake in cash by the boatload and we all know it. The Cardinals drew more fans each of the last two years than every other team in baseball except the Los Angeles Dodgers, quite the feat when one considers the fact that ownership likes to posture St. Louis as a “small market.” Meanwhile, they just inked a billion-dollar local television contract and ticket prices are only headed in one direction, up.

I don’t expect the Redbirds to have a $200 million payroll. But I know for a fact that they can do better than being in the middle third of teams in spending when Forbes magazine labels them the most profitable team in Major League Baseball.

In short, the Cardinals could make their payroll go up to $150 or $160 million and still make a load of dough.

But why should they. All they have to do is tell us that they tried really hard to land top players as evidenced by the fact that they always find a way to claim that they finished second in the bidding. Then they insist that the players already on the roster who make the MLB minimum are just as good as the players they let walk.

They say we’re the best fans in baseball, the smartest and most savvy. But then they treat us like we’re stupid.

It’s no wonder why.

Any time the Cardinals fail to land a key player and fans stir with angst, the social media apologists shout them down and say what about 2011? Or mention that the Cardinals have been in three of the last five World Series.

That’s great. I’ve been there. Got the T-shirt. But, remember, this is BUSINESS. And in business, what you did yesterday doesn’t mean a thing. All that matters is what you’re going to do tomorrow.

The Cardinals have painted themselves into a terrible corner. They lost nearly 400 innings of starting pitching and a key offensive player on a team that didn’t exactly inspire with the offense in 2015.

It’s nice that the club has been able to coax and extra season or two out of bargin bin veterans like Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran. But we were told this team needed to identify its next generation of core players and it had the money to do it. Dumpster diving might be great for finding complimentary players. But it doesn’t carry the bulk of the weight on a team that fancies itself a contender.

Ace Adam Wainwright said after the Cardinals lost to the Cubs in the playoffs that he wanted Chicago to know that the team from St. Louis didn’t have any intentions of giving up its position as team to beat in the NL Central. Little did he know that Chicago would pick the Cardinals roster cleaned while the front office whimpered.

If I was him I would be pretty angry right now. He took a hometown discount to allow this team to add other players needed to compete, not to line the owners pockets.

Meanwhile, fans optimistically tweet that they’re sure the Cardinals have a Plan B up their sleeve. They’re going to replace their lost players with guys who are even better and cheaper.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

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