Updated: Jan 8, 2018
2017. You Sucked. Good Riddance.
You know that malaise you feel as a Cardinals fan?
It’s real. It’s been happening for years now.
We can only dream of it going away.
Yes, I know that non-Cardinals fans are constantly telling you that you have nothing to be upset about. Your team HAS been very successful in the recent past! They’re the best NL team of all time! They aren’t even under .500 you unappreciative jackanapes!
Don’t listen to them. You have every reason to wallow in the misery that is following a team that used to bring constant joy, and now seems to trip over itself at every turn.
People tell you to calm your nerves because it’s not like they’ve slipped over the waterfall, but while that may be true, it’s sure been awhile since it’s been this close.
I’m here to tell you that you’re not crazy. You’re not mad. Being a die-hard Cardinals fan has resulted in some really rough years lately. Even if they avoid slipping into rebuilding mode, there has been a cloud hanging over the team that gives the high points a certain sense of malaise and frustration. Why, take for example, 2017.
1. Mike Matheny Contract Extension
OK, this isn’t fair, as this may count for the 2017 baseball season, but actually took place in 2016. I won’t comment on how terrible this obviously was, but I will say that the day after the hated Chicago Cubs won the world series, Cardinals fans woke up to THIS news. 2017 felt hopeless months before it even began.
2. Chris Correa, what a hack.
January 30th the Cardinals finally got their punishment for the Correa-Astros hacking scandal. They would lose 2 million dollars and their 1st two draft picks. Because they also signed Dexter Fowler (giving the CUBS a draft pick), and they had a free puny city pity pick, the Cardinals would not have a draft selection until the 3rd round. The Cardinals had already overspent on their International signings, making this a costly decision for a team that was having more and more trouble attracting marquis players to play for the team. Draft picks have meant a lot to St. Louis, and the top 3 were given away. Oh, and naturally it was most pad publicity and sadness for Cardinals fans. Not that they weren’t plenty used to this already.
3. Alex Reyes, Meet Tommy John
Those of us that looked at the 2016 slide as evidence that 2017 wasn’t going to be the banner year that many Cardinals fans had deluded themselves into thinking it would be held on to this one thing: Even if the team isn’t fun to watch, by God, I can watch Alex Reyes pitch.
But instead in the days leading up to pitchers and catchers officially reporting, one of the most exciting moments of the season, rumors started coming up that Reyes might have elbow trouble. Instead of basking in the official beginning of a new baseball season, Cardinals fans took to social media to scream at each other about NOT to be pessimistic, that no one knows ANYTHING official, and Reyes just might be ok after all! Some reports came out rumoring surgery, then other reports came out saying it wasn’t as bad as the Cardinals had feared.
Of course, a few hours after this is was confirmed that Reyes would be undergoing season ending surgery. Happy pitchers and catchers day!
4. Fans are idiots (part 1)
Dexter Fowlers is one of the most charismatic players in baseball, let alone on the Cardinals, so naturally the fans would completely fall in love with him, right?
Nah. Not in 2017.
In February Fowler, who has an Iranian wife, made a comment about the “Travel Ban” being hard when you have family in one of the regions. Which, no matter how you lean politically, seems pretty damn reasonable.
Naturally thought, he was attacked for his quote. Alternate views are no longer allowed without us making a comment on them. Suddenly all of the usual St. Louis bashers were writing articles on the horrible things a vocal few were saying. Welcome to St. Louis.
Later in the season, the backlash from making some sort of pro-environmental tweet (full disclosure I didn’t see it) caused Dexter to hide all of his tweets (again full disclosure, as I am not a blue checkmark I don’t know what abilities they have. All I know is that I can’t see any Dex tweets before September, even though he’s numbered as having over 1200).
Dexter is the exact sort of personality we should be falling all over without having a few disagreements run him off of twitter all together. It was a bad showing from fans who laughed at the Cubs fans that ran Heyward off of twitter the year before.
5. Put In A Position To Fail
Matt Adams had played in the majors since 2012. It took him until 2017 and losing his regular 1B job to Matt Carpenter to decide that he needed to get into that good old spring training tradition of being in the BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE! The best shape of his life thing has proven again and again to be complete crap. Remember Yadi’s best shape of his life? Remember begging him to eat a cheeseburger a month later? Remember when Broxton dropped weight? If you can think back you can remember a billion of these.
Well, Matt Adams got PLENTY of early spring playing time, what with Matt Carpenter playing in the WBC, and Matt Adams made the most of it by mashing minor league pitchers and proving that he would make a great AA player. This made the famed Cardinals brass think they just HAD to get Matt Adams at bats. Adams, who had a career OPS+ of 109, which hardly makes him an elite hitter in any way, was all of a sudden shoved into LF, a position he had never played in his professional career.
His first practice was on March 18th.
Spring Training was over halfway over.
By April 6th, Adams was starting in LF. He gave up a triple that was a catch 96% of the time.
An insidiously stupid decision that has direct links to other stupid decisions on this list, Matt Adams an overall good, nowhere near elite hitter, was put into LF with virtually no time to learn the position under the assumption that his career 109OPS+ and LF defense would somehow bring more value to the team than Tommy Pham or Jose Martinez, who were actual outfielders and better defenders.
Adams was to do this WHILE learning the outfield with no concern that this might actually hurt his offense.
But remember, to Mike Matheny, “His bat plays.”
It certainly played. With the exception of one emergency sub situation in May, Adams saw time in LF in 5 of the team’s first 9 games hitting a robust .143 with exactly 0 extra base hits. I mean that he hit. Not that he gave up with shoddy defense.
All because the guy got down to a super skinny 240 pounds, and hit well in SPRING FREAKING TRAINING.
Awesome move, guys. Awesome move.
6. Tommy PhAAAm.
Tommy Pham did not have a great spring. He hit near the Mendoza line. Apparently his eyes were messed up. Tommy Pham should not have been sent to Memphis.
Stephen Piscotty had a wretched spring. He started opening day. Pham? Minor leagues.
Because of his eyes? What would AAA do for his eyes? If his eyes were messed up, wouldn’t that call for a DL trip to get him physically fixed?
If you ask me, when Adams started taking fly balls in leftfield, the decision was made that Pham wasn’t making the MLB squad. Yes, Martinez played great in spring (and at the MLB level) but this was a Cardinals team that was loaded with better, or more logical AAA demotions (or DFAs) than Tommy Pham, one that we’ll get to in a minute.
The popular narrative is that Tommy had to go to AAA because of his eyes.
Tommy Pham’s 3rd minor league game of the year--We’re talking April 8th--he hit 2 home runs. The next day he went 4-6 with another home run. The next day he went 2-5 with a double and 3 RBI.
You think he was seeing the ball well?
Meanwhile the Cardinals were 2-5, not scoring runs, Matt Adams was flailing around LF, and Stephen Piscotty was injured.
THE CARDINALS COULDN’T HAVE USED TOMMY PHAM?
Instead, Pham rotted in Memphis for over 100 Abs until injuries had gotten the Cardinals to the point where Aledmys Diaz was pushed to the OF before Tommy Pham was called up. On a team where Piscotty and Grichuk were struggling, what the heck took them so long? What if Fowler hadn’t gotten injured? How much of Pham’s amazing season would have been spent in Memphis?
7. Now Batting Cleanup
Jhonny Peralta had been a disaster since he was run into the ground by Mike Matheny in the 2nd half of 2015. It was now 2017 and Peralta was 35, coming off injury, and hadn’t played well in a year and a half.
Peralta was a DFA candidate. He was also the opening day starter and cleanup hitter. Ludicrous.
Peralta hit so poorly he was chased from cleanup – but not the starting lineup – until the great shakeup that landed Peralta on the DL with a mysterious respiratory illness. At that point he was hitting .120 with 0 xbh while playing his usual walrus-like defense at 3rd.
We all doubt the validity of Peralta’s illness, but one must wonder what Peralta had done in the past 500 days to solidify a starting spot and a cleanup position? And If Peralta really was ill, why was he playing every day when he was clearly struggling? It’s yet another mysterious Cardinals situation where any answer doesn’t make sense.
8. Season Over
Through all of this crap and chaos, it’s perhaps not a surprise that the Cardinals came out of the gate 3-9. While there were the usual baseball fans screaming about how early it was – the rest of us remembered that every game counts, and that the team had missed the playoffs by one game.
Clearly, upper management was frustrated too. Mozeliak announced that the Adams in LF experiment was over. Jhonny Peralta hit the DL. Matheny had his toys taken away (again). It was too late.
The Cardinals started the season 6 games under .500. They ended the season 4 games out of the playoffs.
9. So That’s Why You Were DFA
The joy and fun of the frustrating 2016 season was by far Aledmys Diaz. Diaz suddenly became the Cardinals answer at SS. His glove was presented as an example for why the defense would be suddenly better in 2017. It was reasoned that more seasoning at the position meant that Diaz would be better defensively. He wasn’t. And the league caught up to his hitting. Demoted in June, only to have a brief call up in September, Diaz was traded to the Blue Jays on the offseason. His fall remains one of the sadder stories of the year. We all loved him. We all cheered for him. And his chance at redemption is now gone.
10. The Fans Are Idiots Pt 2
Matt Adams is a capable enough 1B, but never really had a home on the 2017 Cardinals. He shouldn’t have been on the team by the time the season started, but here he was. He was misused, didn’t produce, and clearly had zero value. Mo traded him to Atl for a minor leaguer.
Fans were pissed. All we got was a lousy minor leaguer? Hey look, everyone wants the best return possible. I do too. But Mo had been offering up Adams to the league for months on end. It took a Freddie Freeman injury to make the Braves even desperate enough to give up that much. At least the Cardinals got SOMETHING.
Of course, Adams then exploded for his usual 1 good month of the season and the fans went ballistic.
Every single day angry people tweeted about how we should have kept Adams – as though he really was Ted Williams on the bench – as though the rest of his history wasn’t actually real.
Then, of course, he became Matt Adams again. The rest of the way his OPS hovered around league average – not exactly what you want in a starting 1B. He was tried in left again. That was abandoned again. He ended the year hobbled and on the bench. Then after the season the Braves, who we should remember are terrible, tried to trade him and found no takers. He was let go for nothing, and later signed on to be a backup in Washington.
A backup 1B that you’re trying to get rid of has zero value. Kudos to Mo for getting anything at all for him. As the Braves proved, that’s not as easy as it sounds.
And all of you whiny, reactionary fans? Shut up.