Why Cardinals nation is quickly ruining my hopes for a bounce back year.
Ok, we get it. Not the start you want. Baseball is the longest professional sports season in the world for a reason.
The St. Louis Cardinals, fresh off an absolute THEFT of Paul Goldschmidt, have started the season 2-3, and are quickly plummeting out of play off contention. Oh wait. That's right. ITS APRIL. Why is it then, that as I sit here scrolling through twitter, I see so many negative takes about this team?
I feel like this year has been doomed from the start. If your Blues maybe shockingly underperformed high expectations early, we've set this Cardinals team up to play right into our expectations. We continue to bemoan the front office, dump on Fowler, worry about Ozuna's health, and everyone once again throwing in the towel on Adam Wainwright's career, to name a few.
Well I for one have had enough of all that, and I am here to draw my line in the sand, to defend all of these guys, and to explain why John Mozeliak simultaneously lost and re-earned his job this spring.
While I could probably jump straight into the front office (FO), I would rather start with someone who I actually feel rather poorly for, and that's Dexter Fowler. One thing that always comes up as a St. Louis Cardinals fan is the notion that we have the best fans in baseball. I for one, have been at the forefront of this belief, if only in my own mind. I have many times over again cited this as a reason to come play in St. Louis.
Unfortunately, with Dexter Fowler, we are seeing the culmination of some bad circumstances that have lead us to the epitome of a dumpster fire in right field, while Bryce launches nukes in Philly. Ok, so no, Bryce wasn't the most realistic option, but the frustration is certainly there from Cardinals fans for good reason. Since coming to St. Louis, Dex has played in 212 of the Cardinals 349 games. Injury plagued Dexter last season, who only played 90 of 162 games. And he has been joined in right since coming to St. Louis by the likes of O'Neill, Bader, Ozuna, and Martinez, who can no longer be a regular at first base.
But I don't have to tell you that. Dexter Fowler also hit .264 in '17, .180 in '18, and is hitting a cool .100 way too early in '19 for some Cardinals fans. Well but he's a valuable switch hitter! How many times have the Cardinals actually been able to use his bat to their advantage? To actually USE a guy who is getting paid 16.5 mil per year. Fowler batting .264 ahead of Goldy and Ozuna seems scary. Add in a Kolten Wong who looks absolutely locked in right now, and you have a force to be reckoned with in St. Louis.
But as stated before, we have not seen that production out of Dexter since his 2016 season, his age 30 season I might add.
Now, as Fowler begins his age 32 season, you have to wonder if he hit his prime. And if he hit his prime after one year under contract, you can look no further for fault than the FO. But again, I will discuss later.
Okay, so what's my point. I said I was going to defend Fowler, who's sporting a defensive war of .3, -1.6, and -.9 for his last three seasons, with his -1.6 year being his first year in St. Louis. But then I look at the numbers that really matter. If Fowler was signed to a small contract, say 4 years, maybe 20 Mil, fans might be more okay with his struggles. And for a guy who had 1 all star appearance prior to St. Louis in 8 full seasons, I have to wonder who the hell wants to make this deal, not who is signing it.
You really expect Dexter Fowler to turn down a contract like that, at a time when his only bargaining chip was 1 all star appearance on the back of a loaded Cubs team in '16. Absolutely not.
This destruction of Dexter Fowler on social media has to stop, because it shows St. Louis fans as shitty fans, not objective fans. Objective fans just call out stats and say someone is struggling. And while St. Louis does a lot of stat quoting on Fowler, it has come to the point where he no longer influences this. Let him play, and let the FO sink their own ship.
Concerted attacks at Fowler are attempts to what, get him to quit? Get him to opt out of his contract? Or maybe Mo will see your tweet and realize, "You know what? Little Timmy is right. Dex is shit in RF."
Fowler for his part would seem to be doing the work to find a way to achieve the numbers he's paid for, but it just simply boils down to the fact the Dexter Fowler was GRAVELY OVER PAID. And for yet another year, the FO is dragging him to right field on a stretcher just like Scott Sterling, the soccer goalie who keeps getting knocked out.
So let's please stop going after Dex, and simply start addressing the real issues with this team, which revolves as much around roster creation as it does around under performing big contracts, contracts we knew would fail.
Yeah. This one hurts. After watching Christian Yelich NOT ONLY win MVP last year, but then we watched him start off this year by absolutely torching our staff who stumbled groggily out of the gate. If it's hard for a lot of Cardinals fans to imagine what would have been for an arguably cheaper Yelich. Let's break this down.
- Marcell Ozuna
Cardinals Give Up:
- *RHP* Sandy Alcantara (2-3, 3.44 ERA, 34.0 innings with MIA last year)
- *OF* Magneuris Sierra (hit .190 in 54 games last year in MIA)
- *RHP* Zac Gallen (8-9, 3.65 ERA, 133.1 innings with MIA AAA affiliate)
- *LHP* Daniel Castano (compiled a 9-12 record with a 3.93 ERA A+, A, and rookie ball for MIA)
- Christian Yelich
Brewers Give Up:
- *OF* Lewis Brinson (hit .199 in 109 games for MIA)
- *OF* Monte Harrison (hit .240 in 136 games for MIA)
- *INF* Isan Diaz (compiled a .232 batting average in 119 games for AA and AAA in MIA)
- *RHP* Jordan Yamamoto (compiled a 1.83 ERA in 68.2 innings between A+, A, and rookie ball for MIA)
At first glance, you can obviously tell the stats I provided are limited, but they give a snap shot of what we are seeing from these trades. And obviously Christian Yelich far outperformed Ozuna in '18, making the Yelich trade better just in terms of big player returns for both teams. Not to mention that Sandy Alcantara is an upper 90's guy, long and lanky with nasty stuff, similar in terms of build I would say to the late Yordano Ventura.
What the Cardinals did was unload their farm pitching a little, something the Cardinals are more then capable of doing since they are so deep on pitching. Here's the only problem: unlike Miami, we didn't create space for Ozuna, we assumed he would fit. In a team that gained Fowler after '16, lost Holliday after '17, and traded Magneuris Sierra, who'd logged a total of 22 games played with Cardinals in '17, we allowed a log jam to begin, forming around injuries to Ozuna and Fowler, and the complete inability of Jose Martinez to field his position, whatever that might be for the day.
Yet again, we must boil this down to poor decision making on the part of the front office, but partly just a regress in production for one of the games former brightest stars. The big bear's shoulder has gone away for hibernation, and there is no telling if it will come back this year. They same could be said about Carlos Martinez in general. Maybe this is telling us there is a problem with keeping guys healthy.
But on Opening Day, he was in LF, yet again showing maybe a complete disregard for players health?
Can we hate Marcell Ozuna? I don't think so. We traded for him and made him the heart of our order after one very electric, damn near MVP year in Miami during '17. Maybe we just have another dumb move from the FO. Now we play the waiting game to see who pays him. If it's the Cardinals, you have to worry about how MUCH they will pay him. I certainly worry about it.
Adam Wainwright Done?
I'm not going to entertain this really. once again, the greatest fans in baseball continue to dump on someone who has been nothing short of a true leader, and someone most organizations could only dream of having as their leader. There is something called being an objective fan and not an apologist for veterans or personal favorites, but I just don't see how we can treat Waino in this way, when again the FO just keeps giving him money and contracts.
And for 1 year at 2 million dollars, plus incentives, I have to like what he brings. If nothing else, he helps to mentor this staff for minimum of 2 mil, which if we were going to eat Stantons contract, we can eat 2 mil for Waino for 1 year. It remains to be seen what his job is, but I think we have beaten the dead horse enough. Speaking of dead horses, see if you can guess who was in charge of this decision again?
Mo's Offseason Magic Trick
As has seemed ritual this past few years, St. Louis fans went into the offseason asking for upgrades and changes to help this team compete, with a number of both affordable options and huge impact bats flooding the damn-near-dormant MLB free agent market market. Can you imagine some of the early Harper bombs in St. Louis? One can dream.
And so, as we watched the offseason unfold, I think it was safe to say the Cardinals' fan base was thoroughly surprised to hear the announcement of a trade with Arizona that included Paul Goldschmidt, who is year in year out one of the best in the game and in the running for MVP. Add in that no longer do we have Martinez and Carpenter blindly stabbing at balls while playing first base, and I should have sold you right away on this deal.
Now loop in that we traded Luke Weaver (4.95 ERA in 30 games pitched) and Carson Kelly (who played in just 19 games last year, batted an abysmal .114, and was the dreaded heir apparent to Yadi in St. Louis, something I never think will happen), and you start to see a really good team in St. Louis. Not only do we clear space in the rotation for a guy like Gomber or Hudson or Ponce De Leon, we give Yadi the job security back that he deserves (not like we could ever rush him out but with Kelly always a focal point of that conversation, it did slightly feel like he or the FO was attempting to run Yadi out of St. Louis. Maybe I'm over thinking).
Now, to sweeten this even more, we just locked him up on a contract extension until 2024, his age 36 season, for a measly 130 million dollars. Now, I understand Goldy is dead in the middle of his prime, and it is likely he will regress sooner than a player like Harper or Trout. But come on. This is robbery of the highest order by Mozeliak, and for that I want to congratulate him for getting to keep his job.
For a fan base that has been irritable after only 3 season of missing the playoffs, the smoke was beginning to rise under Mozeliak's chair. Now, general Cardinals fans are allowed to enjoy the rest of the season while skeptics are continuing to point out that it may be time for a change, not dissimilar to what I hope I've done here.
Because while in the court of public appeal, Mo may have kept his job, you can rest assured the Cardinals die hards lay in wait for the next big time player contract that goes to an unproven player coming off of one big year. Again, see Ozuna and Fowler.
Part of it too seemed our lacking desire to make more improvements after Goldy. Moustakas at 3rd, Carp in RF? If you don't get Harper, which this is me assuming just that, then it's Goldy at 1B, Moose at 3B, and Carp in RF. Why sit on our hands watch Moose go away for bargain barn prices to division competitors. And that's is just one scenario.
But for now, I guess we have to ENDURE the awfulness that is Paul Goldschmidt's immediate production, or Kolten Wong's stunning hot start, or the fact that Jordan Hicks slider (has it gotten better? ) continues to make people look stupid.
Whatever the case might be for all of this, remember one thing: IT. IS. GAME. FIVE. OUT. OF. 1-6-2. We aren't out of a race.
So. Let's stop drowning in a pool of disgust and anger. The frustration Cardinals fans feel is certainly not lost on me, and while I don't hope for mediocrity, I hardly believe this lineup or rotation qualifies as such. JUST LOOK AROUND THE LEAGUE! MLB's twitter account has to keep posting 50+ second video compilations of homers BY DAY because guys are coming out of the gate hot this year.
Everyone just take a deep breath, stop ripping on guys who either would be stupid to turn down free money from a drunk or a guy who got traded here and literally had no say in where he went, coupled with the potential that he has allowed his arm to lack in offseason workouts?
Who knows. FUCK IT. Cardinals baseball is back Enjoy yourselves before we really truly have something to complain about. While last season, the NL central was decided by 1 game, that doesn't mean 1 game in April won that game. That means the baby bears didn't know how to sack up at the end of the year and finish the season. They choked maybe harder than Atlanta in '11.
I have confidence that with leaders like Goldy, Waino, Carp, and Yadi (who called Matheny out on instagram for sitting him), we will be alright this year. And if not, feel free to jump me for being cautious about season stats in the month of April.
Have I said that yet?
IT. IS. FUCKING. APRIL.