Happy New Year from the Cheap Seats.
Sorry if it’s a couple of days late. But I’ve been on vacation and, frankly, the Cardinals haven’t given us much to talk about lately.
I’m still completely perplexed as to how we went from the St. Louis Cardinals declaring that they will not cede their National League Central crown to the Chicago Cubs and having lots of financial muscle to moving into the month of January with only Mike Leake and Jedd Gyorko to show for the loss of Jason Heyward, John Lackey, Jon Jay, Peter Bourjos, Steve Cischek, Mark Reynolds, Matt Belisle, etc.
I just don’t understand how the deepest free agent class in years, a new television contract and a crucial juncture in Cardinals history with several key players nearing the end of their contracts combined to see the team take a collective pass on the talent available.
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Yes, they signed Leake. But it’s hard to argue that the team is better than it was at the end of the 2015 season. And forgive me if I don’t swoon at the sight of Gyorko. Yes, I am willing to give him a chance to make good on his potential. But let’s just say the last time the Redbirds scored an enigmatic middle infielder in a deal with the Padres there turned out to be a whole lot more going on beneath the surface to explain his lack of success. Khalil Green, anyone?
The Cardinals keep saying that they’re content to go into the season with a combination of Matt Adams (.240 in 60 games with a .280 OBP and .377 slugging percentage and a ton of time on the DL with a nasty quad injury in 2015) and Brandon Moss (.226, .304 OBP in 2015) and, while theyt were willing to spend $200 million on Jason Heyward, they’ll have us believe they didn’t really need any help in the outfield at all.
While they could probably find someone to stand in right field and catch the ball, they need to find an outfielder or first baseman who can hit cleanup.
There is no one on the roster capable of filling that role. Jhonny Peralta tried last year and was run into the ground. He hit .320 batting 5th over 27 games. But when pressed into the more stressful job of batting clean-up, he batted just .258 over 60 games.
Peralta batted .243 in the second half compared to .298 in the first half. That was largely because the Cardinals didn’t have an alternative in the heart of the order so the team couldn’t afford to give him a day off. By the time the playoffs rolled around he was beyond running on fumes. He was coasting toward the garage and it contributed to the team’s demise in the first round of the playoffs.
I’m trying to tell myself that one can’t believe it when a general manager says that he isn’t interested in a certain type of player because he’s possibly trying to keep from appearing desperate.
But the Cardinals have proved many times in the past that they’re perfectly willing not to spend money. This isn’t a time where they can afford to get away with not paying for a talent infusion.
If they’re not going to add through free agency, where will they find the next cleanup hitter? Who will play shortstop in 2017 and beyond? Who will be the ace when Adam Wainwright retires?
I’m still feeling sick from watching my season ticket payment clear, Cardinals. How about giving me something to make it feel like the fans aren’t the only ones investing in the future?