I’ve written less this week than I have at any time in the nearly nine years I’ve penned this blog.
It’s not burn out or lack of interest. It’s simply due to the fact that I have no idea what to make of what’s going on with the St. Louis Cardinals right now. So, to borrow a phrase from general manager John Mozeliak, I have been sitting here “waiting for clarity” about the team’s direction so I can figure out what to make of it.
We were led into this off-season with promises of “payroll muscle” being exercised and a new crop of cornerstone players being landed to keep the Redbirds competitive in the presence of a clear and present danger some 300 miles up Interstate 55.
Instead, while the Cardinals indicated they were fishing in the deep end of the free agent pond, they refused to spring for the expensive bait and came home from a day on the water with nothing but a sunburn to show for it.
I read the writings of folks on social media who argue that it would be uncharacteristic of the St. Louis Cardinals to set the market on top pitching target David Price or their own free agent, outfielder Jason Heyward.
But aren’t they the ones who said that’s what they needed to do?
Mozeliak put himself in an awful spot by parting with a first round prospect in young, controllable starter Shelby Miller for one year of Heyward. Either sign Heyward to a mega deal, or give away one of the most valuable jewels in the vault for virtually nothing.
It was a bad deal made to seem even worse when the Atlanta Braves flipped Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a much more impressive haul then the Redbirds got when they dealt Miller.
The Cardinals once-ballyhooed farm system was dealt a terrible blow a little bit more than a year ago when top prospect Oscar Taveras was killed in a car accident. Trading Miller in a knee jerk reaction to Taveras’ death left the Cardinals without their two guys they were supposed to count on to be the next generation of stars to support the team.
Their loss makes it almost impossible for the Redbirds to make a trade to land help without giving up something that’s going to hurt in another area.
So free agency was the only real way to address the problems.
Mozeliak has a wonderful record for keeping the Cardinals competitive. But I can’t see how the team could afford to miss out on Heyward AND Price and then announce it didn’t like any other players on the free agent market enough to make a bid?
Somehow the team is going to replace nearly 390 innings of lost starting pitching and their most dynamic offensive player while improving a chronically anemic offense... but not if it costs any money or any of the team’s dwindling supply of prospects?
Maybe the current slate of available free agents isn’t appealing because of the bang for the required number of bucks. But is next year’s crop any better?
So... I am trying to have faith that the Cardinals are going to come up with a better answer of how they’re going to compete in 2016 (other than the latest theory that they’ll count on a bunch of oft-injured players, several of whom are in their mid 30s, not to be completely healthy all year).
In the meantime, it’s tough to speculate on the future of a team that’s current configuration couldn’t possibly be what the front office plans to field next year, could it?