2017: You Sucked. Good Riddance.
Lets get right to it.
Part 1 is here. (1-10)
Part 2 is here. (11-20)
And below you will find part 3.
This is the part of the post that I, @cardinalsgifs, say 'turn back now if you are easily offended'. I mean that. I don't wanna hurt your feelings. If you thought last year was an amazing year for the team, for management, for media, you may not like this post. In fact, you may hate it. The whole basis of this post started when CardsCards and I were talking about what would be remembered from the 2017 season 5 years from now. I asked him to help me, perhaps all of us, turn the page from 2017 to 2018.
21. Out? That’s Exactly Where We Want You
Only the Cardinals, man. Only the Cardinals.
I get that there are those of you out there that don’t agree with Pride night. Fine. You don’t want someone’s sexuality interfering with your ability to watch your sports and see men get all sweaty, and when they get super excited, slap each other’s asses. OK. To each their own.
Frankly, pretty much all post-game ballpark celebrations annoy me, except that I like that they tend to make traffic better when I leave. But even if you are against such a thing, you have to admit that this was a good PR move for a team that has needed good PR for YEARS.
And then they bungled it up.
The Cardinals still had Christian Day on their calendar, and Lance Berkman – who let’s just say doesn’t have the best relationship with the LGBT community – was a featured guest speaker. By all accounts the Christian Day was tame. Lance Berkman apparently talked about what Christianity meant to him, and nary a word was spoken about homosexuality or bathrooms or political opinions. Of course, when I say all accounts, one group that wanted an account was OutSports, an Online Gay Sports publication.
Naturally, they were interested in being present for anything Lance Berkman might say.
And they were denied credentials. Why? To quote Chris Tunno, the Communications Coordinator, “Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites. ... Major League Baseball and its member clubs credential only those media wishing to cover teams and their players, where a theme night would not fall under that category.”
Which is absolutely defensible, of course, if any of it proved to be true.
Instead we were treated to features by OutSports about how MLB says they totally could have credentialed them! Why it’s the team’s own discretion!
Then we were given ANOTHER story by OutSports that showed that – what do you know! – Chris Tunno himself HAS credentialed an online publication to cover an event!
In both cases, Chris Tunno, who again has “Communications” in his title, did not offer a comment.
This is ridiculous.
Now, I suppose I have to give a proper caveat here that Chris Tunno is responsible for giving our own Joe Schwarz a press pass to cover Winter Warmup – and there are future events that Birds on the Black would like to be credentialed for that are already in the works. So, yes, this website already has a preexisting relationship with Tunno that it hopes will continue. Thus, you may think that I am mincing words here, or playing nice, to do my part in it. It’s fair to question me and my motives here to not fully criticize Mr. Tunno. I apologize if you feel the following passage is, in fact, letting him off.
My lord the rank stupidity. The Cardinals KNEW Outsports would be at the event.
Tunno even suggested that they had to buy a ticket to attend. They did! Had they been credentialed, this would have been a virtual non-story by their own admissions. Nothing controversial was said! Instead, the Cardinals brought the controversy upon themselves and full well knew it the entire time. Then Tunno apparently didn’t think that a journalistic outlet would, you know, perform Journalism and actually look into his claims. And when those claims proved to be false, what happened? Silence. From the communications guy. The silliest part was that the other online site that had been repeatedly credentialed was an LGBT site. So it’s not like there was any homophobic actions at work here in any way. The Cardinals just managed to trip over themselves to make it look that way, and totally knew it was coming.
Cardinals install “Pride Night”
Cardinals hold inoffensive “Christian Night”
Cardinals historically credential an LGBT website
Cardinals combine the three to still manage to embarrass themselves and further the city’s reputation as being hostile to minorities.
Because they wouldn’t credential a website that they knew would be in attendance already. Awesome. That’s exactly the PR win a massive company should expect from their Coordinator of Communications.
22. Busy Doing Nothing
I am basically going to plagiarize the fantastic @erdrickstorm who recapped this disaster well here.
The Cardinals were struggling entering last July. On June 30th they sat 3 games under .500 and in 3rd place. It had been exactly 3 weeks since John Mozeliak had shuffled the coaches’ deck and declared that everyone’s job was on the line, including his. Since that time the team had gone a middling 11-9 and demoted its SS of the future, Aledmys Diaz, to AAA. This was the environment in which they announced the promotion of John Mozeliak, whose job was perhaps, not as on the line as was previously communicated. Mozeliak indicated this was a great time for the promotion as they were about to have a “busy July.”
Rumors of a Josh Donaldson deal surfaced, but nothing was finalized. The days ticked away slowly.
By July 13th the Cardinals had accomplished nothing. They had lost 2 games in the standings and stood, somehow, tied for 2nd with the Cubs, 5.5 games out of 1st.
The Cubs responded to this situation by trading for Jose Quintana.
The next day starts the 2nd half. The Cardinals lose to the Pirates. Bill DeWitt says the Cardinals are not buyers or sellers, they are “dealers.” In other words, you could expect the Cardinals to try to bring on talent. You can also expect them to waive some of their bigger trade chips, like Lance Lynn. This was a decision point for the team. If they were going to go for it, it was time to make their move. As bad as they had played, they were somehow still in it. They needed the support of the front office if they were going to win this thing.
Of course, as bad as they had played, they were actually, yes, pretty bad. If the Cardinals were going to throw in the towel, 5.5 out in mid-July is a good time. Trade your assets. Play the kids. Retool for 2018.
Really, the only acceptable option was to have a middling .500 team outside of the playoffs continue to be a middling .500 team out of the playoffs. Guess what happened?
One week later, on July 21st, the Cardinals finally made a trade. They traded minor leaguer Marco Gonzales for minor leaguer Tyler O’Neill. It was a good trade! It was also a trade that wouldn’t impact the 2018 club in any way.
The Cardinals were now only 3 ½ games out of 1st, albeit in 4th place. The division was winnable, but it was going to be hard. They needed to make a move.
July 31st was a day off for the team. Apparently it was a day off for the front office as well. While everyone was waiting to hear about the big bat, or the bullpen help, or the Lance Lynn move, exactly none of that happened. None of it. The Cardinals, and their busy July, went the entire month without making a Major League transaction. The future wasn’t helped. The kids weren’t playing. The team wasn’t helped. Nothing was bolstered. The talk had let to nothing.
But then Mo told us we were bound to have an active August. I even think some of you believed him.
Between injuries and ineffectiveness, it’s been a struggle over the last few years for Adam Wainwright. The man is a true competitor, who wants nothing more on the baseball diamond than to be on the top of his game and prove he is still an elite pitcher. He’s also semi-famous on twitter for having not quite the thickest skin, as he has been known to search his name and block negative (but not abusive) comments from even huge Waino lovers.
Then, in August, things got worse. Adam was clearly injured, and we were all awaiting news on just how injured he was.
Well, not all of us.
@DrMiles5, the co-editor over at Redbird Rants, wrote an article riddled with factual errors that basically declared Adam Wainwright’s career to be over. Miles later said this was poorly worded speculation, but reading the article “Planning For the Permanent Loss of Adam Wainwright” (which has since been edited in some way), it’s clear that Miles expected Adam’s injury to be the end of his career.
The best part, is that they tagged Adam in the post.
Adam Wainwright, perhaps not wanting to announce his retirement in a blog, took exception to this (and other factual errors).
Miles took a lot of abuse for his post. When a beloved public figure comes after you, and does so rightfully, it’s probably best to turn off the phone for a week. This isn’t what Miles did, however. He turned it into another post where he declared himself “Twitter Enemy #1.”
I’d suggest the tone of this article was poorly chosen.
Apologetic and confessing to errors, the article turns to defending his site with lines like:
“Let me do my best to be 100 percent clear here: FanSided and Redbird Rants is by fans (not media)”
He also posted a parable about making sure we don’t attack people for one mistake, and instead celebrate their successes. More on this in a bit.
You would think that would be the end of this, but it wasn’t. When it was later revealed that Adam would need surgery, that was in no way career ending, Miles wrote the following article:
This was….not good.
Because Adam came back to pitch briefly, but not pitch well, before his season ended, Miles concludes that his article where he stated the PERMANENT loss of Adam Wainwright was partially correct because Adam was almost basically out for the rest of the season (Though, again, Adam’s complaint was about his career).
The concluding paragraphs are real winners:
“So, there it is. Yet another procedure that very likely should have occurred back when I wrote my first article assuming it was coming. For that, I’m owed an apology. Second, I feel that I’m owed an apology since- in essence- his 2017 season was finished as evidenced in his weakened appearance on 9/23 and I had predicted that outcome as well.
Let me be perfectly clear: I like Adam Wainwright very much and am glad that he is on the St. Louis Cardinals. That said, I would like the apology but don’t really expect it and certainly do not NEED it; my ego is not that fragile.”
If you’ve been following along, I don’t need to explain to you why Adam has nothing to apologize for. But this reads as a statement that Adam’s ego is too fragile to issue the apology, while ignoring a pretty major truth:
Unlike the first article, they neglected to tag Adam in the 2nd article.
It was unwise to tag him in the 1st article, but then to ask for an apology in public, but not actually Adam himself? This is missing some class here folks.
Let me say that I actually personally like Miles a lot. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, a good Cardinals fan, and I believe that he, and the other members of Redbird Rants are actually victims of a terrible system set up by their overlords, Fansided. The way Fansided demands constant content for below living wages with disregard to quality means that you’re going to get at least occasional sloppy work, which I believe the 1st article was. It also means you’re hitting publish without being able to step back and ask how your voice is going to be received, which I believe the 2nd and 3rd articles were. That said, I think this incident should have been a wakeup call to Miles, as it ultimately is an embarrassment to us all.
Miles says they are fans, not media. It’s not true. While anyone can sign up for a blog, when you publish your thoughts to the world, you’ve instantly entered the realm of being media. They might also be fans, and many of them are amateurs, but they are definitely media. They definitely write each post hoping to get clicks and influence readers. Declaring yourself just a fan after you write something that gets attacked is a cop out from what your actual role is.
Furthermore, there are levels of responsibility here. I am an amateur writing for a small time blog. I have very little reach. Miles is the co-editor of a blog that is a subsidiary of Time. Their reach is huge. Anything they fart out will get countless more readers that what I produce. They know this. Why? Because Miles actually gets paid to write for them.
Sorry Miles, you’re getting paid to write for a website promoted on Sports Illustrated and owned by Time. Redbird Rants rivals Viva El Birdos as the most read Cardinals blog out there. You are definitely a part of the media.
The difference between Redbird Rants and the blog you just started 5 minutes ago is pedigree. You can write any crap you want and you’re just another moron on the Internet. Redbird Rants has the pedigree to expect levels of responsibility from them. In this, these articles failed.
Their failure caused a negative reaction from a Major League player with Major League followers watching how a good guy is treated by the media. Their screw-ups cause the little guys like us to be lumped in negatively with them. That the story continues to trip over itself with more and more articles is a repeated forehead slap of embarrassment for the reputation of the St. Louis media and the team’s relationship with its fans.
I realize this is small potatoes. I realize the guys at the PD weren’t exactly scared of this reflecting poorly on them. For the rest of us, it became just another thing for outsiders to mock about St. Louis.
24. The Pen Is Weaker
I wrote 2,000 words on Matheny and the bullpen, and then I stopped and deleted them. Either you know that he sucks at handling a bullpen, or you refuse to acknowledge he sucks at it. Nothing I say is going to change your closed little minds, and this isn’t really what this section is about. You’ll have think pieces telling you the bullpen really wasn’t that bad, and while there may be some truth to that, the people that wrote those articles were shaking in fear every single night, just like you and me.
Still, this isn’t all about performance. If Mariano Rivera was a Cardinal, people could have pointed to him and said “SEE? If Mike is a bad manager, why is Rivera doing so well?” The point is never the team doing good or bad, the point is the team doing better or worse than they otherwise would do.
One way the Cardinals drive me absolutely crazy in this capacity (and they are hardly alone), is the manly man concept of playing hurt. If your injuries are impacting your production, you most likely shouldn’t be playing. Your backup is possibly or even likely better than you, and you need time to heal so that you can be at your best. The Cardinals don’t know this and they end up shooting themselves in the foot over and over. This is how a Tommy John needing Lance Lynn sits on an NLDS roster. This is how a Yadier Molina that can’t swing still starts at catcher. In 2016, we saw on video Mike discussing an injury with Kevin Siegrist – and then allowing him to continue pitching – only to have him end up on the DL days later.
2017 was no different. We got to hear all about Matt Carpenter’s achy shoulder, we got to watch him throw balls like he was possessed by David Eckstein. We saw his stats dip well below Matt Carpenter levels (and below the levels of his roster replacements). And when the Cardinals had officially played their way out of contention, we saw Carpenter get shut down for the remaining few games. We are left to wonder what his season might have been like had he been dealt with earlier in the year. (As an aside, you can’t tell me Oh has felt right since the previous September)
The most egregious example of this, and not for the first time, was Trevor Rosenthal. Trevor, who spend a good month of 2016 getting the crap beat out of him before he was finally disabled (and came back strong), started 2017 out be being the lights out Trevor we all missed.
Here is a video captured on August 17th, where Trevor is warming up with clear discomfort.
He is discussing the pain. There is nothing hidden there. He was put in the game anyway. He threw 8 pitches, gave up a walk and a home run, and was lost for the season to Tommy John surgery.
What was the point of putting him in? Did they think Trevor might suddenly get over it? Did they think Trevor would suddenly be good?
Nah, Trevor got hurt, and he blew the game. Win-win if you hate the Cardinals.
And no, I’m not suggesting the Cardinals could have saved him at that point. But we’ve now seen the Cardinals pitch 2 relievers who were once lights out and knowingly throw them when hurt. Both times requiring DL stints.
One must wonder how many times they’ve been allowed, or encouraged to pitch through pain until their effectiveness and health disappear entirely. One must wonder how much talent the Cardinals have destroyed that have left them in 2018 with a bullpen full of question marks.
25. Rally Killer
The rally cat moment was magical and fun. It’s pretty hard to imagine how a team could bungle it up any worse.
First, let’s remember that the team had possession of the little cash cow, until they literally gave it to a random person at the ballpark solely on the claim that it was theirs. This person was lying, and let the cat escape into the night. Great start Cardinals.
Rally Cat was found, the Cardinals planned a Rally Cat Appreciation night, and Ron Watermon, the Vice-President of Communications, assured the public that the cat was going to be returning to the Cardinals. He told the Post-Dispatch:
“Rally Cat will be cared for by our team, making the Cardinals Clubhouse his home. Mike and our players are looking forward to loving and caring for him.”
Now, this is an obvious lie. It has to be. There is no way the Cardinals plan for this cat was for it to live in the bowels of Busch stadium so it could be cared for 81 days out of 365 by Mike Matheny and his players. Obviously this cat had to have some sort of actual home. It’s so obvious this wasn’t the Cardinals actual plan that we can only assume they think the fans are ridiculously stupid.
The St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach responded as such on Facebook:
Wow. Clearly, at a minimum, Watermon came off poorly to the organization. The Outreach indicates here it STILL wants to find a solution that includes the Cardinals, so now it was Watermon’s time to step up and make things better. Let’s remember, he’s a Vice-President of Communications. This might be a tricky matter, but he should be an expert at exactly how to clear this up.
The Post-Dispatch quoted Watermon’s reply to the controversy:
“It is personally hurtful to me, irresponsible and, frankly, childish. There is no need for the organization to personally attack me for doing my job.”
Wait, What? This was the reply? To further dig in and fight? To call them childish?
What, exactly was Watermon’s job in this case? To help secure the cat for the St. Louis Cardinals. He obviously failed. What was Watermon’s job in his reply? To help secure the cat for the Cardinals. He doesn’t even try because he’s personally upset and is fully ready to make himself the story.
Here, Cardinals, in case you are interested in hiring a new VP of Communications, let me submit to you the e-mail that Watermon SHOULD have sent to reporters.
“I was shocked to see the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach’s comments on me. Clearly there has been a miscommunication, and that’s my fault. If anyone ever got the idea that I was bullying them, it was 100% unintentional. Both myself, and the Cardinals organization have a tremendous respect for the work the Outreach does, and we also are completely committed to ensuring that Rally Cat lives in the best situation possible. We would love it if that situation involved the St. Louis Cardinals, as our organization and our fans have completely fallen in love with the adorable kitten, and want Rally Cat to be a real member of the Cardinals family. I hope that this miscommunication doesn’t stain the relationship the Cardinals hope to have with the Outreach, because not only would the Cardinals love to still have Rally Cat, we would appreciate any assistance we can get in making sure we are providing the sort of home that Rally cat deserves. Even if Rally Cat doesn’t find a home with us, we will completely respect the Outreach’s decision and know that they properly have the best interest of Rally Cat in mind.”
I dunno. I wrote that in one shot in less than a minute. It can probably be much improved upon, however I’m pretty proud I don’t call them childish, nor do I make our squabble the main story line and instead focus on the best for the cat and hoping that it can be with the Cardinals. Just an idea.
Naturally, the story gets absurdly worse, as reported by the Riverfront Times (quoted below).
On August 24th, The Rally Cat was GIVEN ITS OWN LAWYER, Albert Watkins, who had a phone conversation with Bill DeWitt III. Naturally, this phone conversation cleared everything up so the two sides could find a path forward. Or not.
What in the Hell happened on that phone call? What in the Hell were the Cardinals priorities? They were more interested in clearing the name of their PR guy? Did the Cardinals even want the cat anymore?
I guess? Because apparently the concept of using the cat for profit came up? What exactly was said on this call?
BDWIII: “Hi there, let’s get straight to the point. We want the kitty, but not at the expense of the hurt feelings of our communications guy. So you’re going to apologize to him. Maybe give him a free cat, or something. Then and only then will you give us the cat, so we can shave it bald and sell locks of its fur to our dumb fans for $100 dollars a peace. Then we’re going to teach the cat to fetch us cigars, and we’re going to explain to our fans that the cost of the cat prohibits us from signing any big dollar talent. It’s a deal, right?”
This should have been so simple. The Cardinals should have apologized for anything that happened in the past – because even if they feel they were wronged, the entire purpose was, again, to actually get the cat – then they should have said they hope they can start anew with a clean slate. This would have been followed by telling them they have reached out to multiple teams with live mascots to find out how to best manage the situation, but are more than welcome to the opinions of the outreach. And yes, of course, there will be merchandise – after all, the fans demand it – but a percentage of that money will be used to help animal facilities, including the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach – as well as funding the best conditions for the cat itself, including paid handlers. If the Outreach feels any of this isn’t in the best interest of Rally Cat, please let us know, so that we can look into how we can make the Cat’s life even better.
Instead, even more fighting occurred, which included – I kid you not – freaking cat puns. It won’t surprise you to know that before the Research ever found a home for the cat, they determined once and for all that the Cardinals would not be it.
Rally Cat, like Rally Squirrel, was a good thing that fell into the Cardinals laps. It was a magical, fun moment that had Cards fans buzzing for days. It could have been a major PR coup for the franchise. Instead, it became yet another bungled mess of organizational incompetence. Pathetic.
26. At Least They’ll Waive Their No Trade Clauses To Get Away From St. Louis!
It’s hard to escape the metaphor that the Mike Leake trade represents. Signed to a 5 year, $75 million dollar contract (plus a $5 million dollar buyout), Mike Leake was the symbol of the Cardinals seriousness of the 2016 off-season. Full of dry powder, and ready to make deals, the Cardinals wound up being out bid for their top 2 choices, David Price and Jason Heyward. They ended up with giving a significant commitment only to Mike Leake, and even that was a struggle. Leake, whose father had suffered an injury, wanted to stay closer to his family in Arizona. As a result the negotiations went on for a seriously long time at a seriously high price for a completely league average starter.
In the end, the off season that started with stars in their dreams, the Cardinals held a press-conference that they were going to be defending their National League Central crown by signing the most mediumest, averagist, okist, borderlineish baseball player than ever lived, and hoping that by virtue of Devil Magic this would improve the team.
It didn’t. Leake’s 2016 was, boring, predictable, and even managed to be disappointing by realistic Leake standards. With an ERA+ of 87, Leake generated an entire one/half of a WAR! For all of the “as a Cardinal, Leake will get better” talk, Leake actually got worse.
Then came 2017, where Leake suddenly became a Cy Young/All Star Game contender. Through 9 games Leake was 5-2 with a 1.91 ERA. However, the team was only 5-4 in his starts because of the now famous putrid play put on by his teammates.
Then something happened. I don’t know what, but the rest of Leake’s tenure as a Cardinal was the worst stretch of his entire career. In 17 games he went 2-10 with a 5.73 ERA. His final start for St. Louis, done fully for the purposes of giving him trade value (as opposed to starting a better pitcher when the Cardinals were in a playoff hunt) was his best start, by game score, in over a month. It was as though Leake knew this was his chance to escape.
So just to quickly detail what happened next:
Leake negotiated a no-trade clause, and then waived it a year and a half later.
He did this to go to the Seattle Mariners, who were a below .500 team that was 16 games out of 1st.
He was “excited” to go
He immediately found himself in Seattle, finishing the season for them with 5 starts where he went 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA.
So Mike Leake, the major investment of the 2016 season, spent a terrible year and a half in St. Louis before he excitedly and voluntarily went running to a worse team, where he immediately improved. For their part in it, the Cardinals happy threw in $15-20 million dollars to convince the Mariners to take him on.
The deal ended up being a disaster in endless ways. The narrative of Leake being better out of Cincinnati wound up with him actually being worse in St. Louis. The Cardinals paid money to dump him, and he was eager to leave. Perhaps the painful cherry on top is that Mike Leake was heralded as a great hitter. During his time in St. Louis he hit .156 in 96 at bats with a total of 2 doubles. Hoo boy.
One must speculate why this happened. What made Leake worse? What made him eager to escape to a worse team? Maybe that’s on Leake. Maybe that’s on the Cardinals clubhouse. Maybe it’s all coincidence. But when someone puts on a new uniform and suddenly becomes good, you have to ask yourself what went wrong.
Still, the summary of this is that the 2017 Cardinals in the midst of trying to make the playoffs paid someone else to take their biggest 2016 acquisition and added nothing in return. That’s embarrassing.
“I do feel like you’ll see some trade activity in August.” Fans didn’t quite get as mad at this Mo prediction, probably because they were too jaded to even care at this point, but boy did it piss me off. One deal was done in August, and it was to get rid of a player, allegedly to make room on the team, 2 days before the roster expanded to 40 man. Give me a break.
Meanwhile, in August, a very flawed team got hot. By August 12th, the Cardinals, who still needed bullpen help and an offensive upgrade, found themselves remarkable tied for 1st. It’s almost ridiculous to think about, but in 2017, simply no NL Central team had actually decided to win and take the division. On August 12th, with only a month and a half to go, anything could happen. Anything. Any team can be better than any other team over such a small period of time. There was no reason to count out the Cardinals, ESPECIALLY if they made moves to bolster the team.
And there was nowhere they couldn’t bolster at this point. Literally every part of the club was riddled with question marks, and the much heralded OF and minor league depth we’ve heard about all offseason was certainly around in mid-August.
They did nothing.
The Cardinals were tied for first!
They did nothing.
A week later the Cardinals had slipped to 2 ½ back, still well within striking distance!
They did nothing.
They even admitted they could have done something. Mozeliak on August 22:
Bernie wrote an outstanding article that day that doing nothing was inexcusable. He also detailed all of the moves the other front offices had done for every other NL contender.
They did nothing.
Two days later the Rosenthal news happened. He was out, and the Cardinals needed serious bullpen help. Serious bullpen help they apparently had the ability to add.
They did nothing.
By September 6th the Cardinals had fallen 4 games out, and time wasn’t on their side. They finally added Juan Nicasio. It was too late by then, of course, and even had the Cardinals made the playoffs he couldn’t have been on the roster.
It was an abandonment of the team. Plain and simple.
28. Last in, first out.
After the season ended, the Cardinals personal post mortem left…much to be desired. With players complaining about things like Dexter Fowler LEAVING WHEN THE GAME IS OVER TO GO SPEND TIME WITH HIS FAMILY, and creating divisions by saying that the sloppy Cardinals were a result of the PLAYERS WHO DIDN’T COME UP WITH THE CARDINALS, the article revealed a distressing and ridiculous divide in an unhappy clubhouse. With some complaints registering as whiny and silly, and some complaints being legitimate, it showed Cardinals fans that, once again, the leader of men had failed to produce a cohesive clubhouse with a singular mission of winning as a team.
We’re nearing the end of an exhaustive article after an exhaustive season, and it shows. I can barely continue to go on about what stupid things like this mean for the big picture. Dexter Fowler was supposed to be the guy that fixed the bad culture in the clubhouse, now here was an article putting the blame on him front and center. It shows that leadership from peers can be difficult to achieve when the mission statement from those above is muddled, or not in alignment.
I don’t know what you expected from a manager whose top trait was his ability to lead, but I didn’t expect annual articles about how unhappy everyone in the Cardinals clubhouse is. No wonder St. Louis seems like a less attractive option.
29. Lance a little
Lance Lynn came off of Tommy John surgery to post the 2nd highest innings on the staff at 186.1. He was homer happy, in the year of the homer, but he limited damage, kept his team in games, and was a fan favorite. Lance has been pilfered for his peripherals (mostly the home runs), but let me be clear, he had a pretty impressive season for a guy who hadn’t pitched in over a year. Tommy John pitchers often have trouble locating, often tire down the stretch, often take time to work up their endurance, etc. Lance didn’t have those reasonable expectations on him because he had a longer time to recover. That’s great for his health, and probably explains how he was able to compile so many innings, but sitting out a year isn’t going to be good for anybody’s command, no matter their health. The expectations were too high, while Lance actually pitched pretty darn well. We aren’t talking about Adam Wainwright, or Mike Leake here. Lance wasn’t exactly a problem on the mound. Naturally Lance started fading down the stretch, hardly unusual for Tommy John pitchers, and somehow his stock plummeted among Cardinals fans.
However, the Cardinals rotation is anything but secure. It’s full of question marks. Lance Lynn has been a consistent in the rotation, and there is good reason to think he’ll only be better next year.
None of that seemed to matter to the Cardinals. Lance would be semi-expensive to the team, and confirmed many times through the year that he hadn’t even been talked to about an extension. Indeed, after the year ended the Cardinals made a draft pick seeking qualifying offer, which Lance denied, and have had zero rumors about being in talks to bring back the pitcher.
What’s more, Lance seems to have no interest in returning, and seems to completely understand that he’ll be pitching elsewhere. This continues even as FA prices drop around the league, and the Cardinals continue to have holes to fill and money to spend.
One must wonder what happened in this relationship, yet another (along with Mike Leake) where a key player seems more than satisfied to leave St. Louis, and one where the team seems to have completely written off one of the best available free agents who happens to be at a position of need.
It’s another puzzling saga for a franchise that keeps telling us their priorities are the exact opposite of their actions.
30. It’s All Good!
Once again, I’m going to slightly cheat here and take us a little bit into 2018. There was another #30 that I spent weeks researching, and is going to require its own post if anything is able to come from it. Let’s remember that I didn’t have to cheat either.
The Cardinals had plenty more mishaps this year, from the silly (shooting fireworks off after a KRIS BRYANT home run) to the serious (woman hit with a stray bullet walking around Busch. Sigh) But I think it’s important to look forward to 2018, (which has already started off with a bang for Cardinals critics while Carlos Martinez awaits a court date for allegedly beating up a guy outside of a strip club).
"I don't anticipate a major move between now and spring training."
The Cardinals entered the off season with clear needs to put themselves in a strong position to compete in 2018. Multiple impact bats. Innings from the starters. Relievers that don’t set themselves on fire with every appearance. Someone who gives you slight confidence to close games.
Of those needs they entered 2018 with, oh, 1 of those. Marcell Ozuna was traded for without giving up much. If you believe his numbers from last year will keep up, this is a great addition. If you look at his 37 home runs and remember that year Ryan Ludwick hit 37 home runs in a harder home run hitting environment, well, Ozuna is hardly going to close the gap the Cardinals desperately need to close. Other than Ozuna the Cardinals have made exactly 0 offseason additions. From the starting pitching standpoint they are depending on a reptile eating pitcher who found success in Japan to give innings in the majors for the 1st time in his career. Hardly an open and shut case. From the bullpen they added Luke Gregorson after a fairly unimpressive year, and later inexplicably, named him the closer they were seeking. Dominic Leone might be great bullpen depth if you believe his 2017 is his true level. If it’s not his true level, the Cardinals are in serious trouble.
It’s the 3rd straight season the Cardinals are riddled with question marks and fail to have leadership preaching that they will continue to fill the holes they themselves earlier identified. Instead, the leadership is telling you they are comfortable with what they have. And again, as always, they have the money to make a magical deal that will apparently never come.
Maybe some of you still believe them. Maybe some of you see all of these moves as the best the Cardinals can do, the best they can show, the most committed they can possibly be. Maybe you admit there was a lack of dedication in years past, but this year they are the management team you want. The one that will stop at nothing to win it all.
Well, in a year in which teams seem eager to shed payroll, and hesitant to offer free agents anything near their perceived market value, the money simply isn’t being spent. The talent to add depth and stability is out there. The bigger contracts that want to be shed are available for consumption by any team with the money and the will to win.
Maybe you think the Cardinals are one of these teams. But considering the TV deal, the extra $50 million all teams have gotten, and the dramatic tax cuts saving unbelievable amounts of money, if you want me to start thinking this team is truly committed to giving you another ring in 2018, please don’t try to convince me until after they have a higher payroll than last year.