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Mortgage The Future

If the Cardinals decide to effectively mortgage the future to make a run at the title this year, would you support the decision? They get the pieces that they/we think they need to make them the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series this year, and the cost is a fleeced minor league system unlikely to produce much of value for the next 3-4 years.

Decisions like this one are heavily influenced by emotion - partly because of want and partly because despite all the due diligence that can be done at the end of the day it's still a gut call.

It's a big risk now with a potentially big reward versus mitigated risk and lower probability of success for this year.

The Cardinals could go out and try to trade for anyone and everyone who may or may not be available - James Paxton, Max Scherzer, Trevor Story, Raisel Iglesias, and anybody else on some arbitrary list of the best trade deadline candidates. Let's say that they do exactly that and surrender half of their top 20 prospects in exchange for a bunch of rentals and a payroll way beyond that of a mid-market team . If they lose, they'll be loading up on the struggle bus for the next several years - basically the Pirates of the last 5 years. If they win, they'll be the World Series champs with a front seat on that very same bus.

Under most circumstances I'm in favor of avoiding the bus. I'll take planes, trains, and automobiles instead. Improving probability is nice but probability is not certainty. With no guarantee of anything except new names on the lineup card, being happy to reach the playoffs and rolling the dice once there works okay. And by "okay" I mean they've used pretty much the same strategy every year which has translated to 6 trips to the playoffs since winning it all in 2011. Getting there is great but getting rolled by a superior team in 5 of 6 trips isn't great. Still, it's nice going into every season with an expectation of seeing them get 85-90 wins.

This year might be the exception - the perfect storm, the planetary alignment, the serendipitous clusterfudgery of roster construction. Yadier Molina and Wainwright could be co-creating their swan song. Nolan Arenado could (probably should) opt out at the end of the year. Future first ballot Hall of Famer Matt Carpenter sits just months away from a $2M buyout. Goldschmidt's decline years may very well be a lot better than most, but they are decline years nonetheless. Current ace Jack Flaherty seems bound for free agency in a few years. Perhaps the time is now because the window of opportunity is there but closing quickly.

If the Cardinals decide to bet everything on red, would you back them? If doing so meant forfeiting your right to complain, bemoan, and question everything for the next 5 years would you jump off the bridge with them?

Tough call....maybe.

The thought of an infield of Goldschmidt, Edman, Story, and Arenado sounds decent. That Molina guy is off to an okay start. The outfield has as few athletic guys who can make plays and occasionally hit the ball hard. A one-two punch of Scherzer and Flaherty might win you a few games. Adding a shutdown reliever to a bullpen with Reyes, Gallegos, Cabrera, and a bunch of guys who aren't Tyler Webb or an injured Andrew Miller probably wouldn't hurt.

Granted, it comes at a price. Giving up the right to complain for 5 years is like 35 in baseball years or something. It's like the conversion from human years to dog years or Celsius to Fahrenheit - nobody really knows how that stuff works. The thought of watching the team struggle to replace core players, a superstar or two, a couple of franchise icons, and a substantial portion of the farm system sounds awful.

But they'll probably have to do most of those things anyway, so if they want to put everything on red then I'm in. I wholeheartedly endorse the idea of throwing caution to the wind (not that it matters what I think). It would be a refreshing change from the conservative, risk-averse approach of not losing too much. That may work okay in Vegas when you want to play a long steady game without losing your shirt, but fortune favors the bold.

If the Cardinals choose to be bold then I'll be pleasantly surprised - shocked actually. I'm willing to accept whatever comes after even if it means jumping off the Armchair GM Bridge into the swirling waters of the Forfeiture of Complaints river.


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