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Reader Mail!

Greetings! Spring Training is off and running, meaning-less yet all-too-anticipated games are just around the corner, and Skip Schumaker is trying his hand at second base.

What’ll they think of next?

First…an apology. I’ve been absent from the site for some time, and that’s not fair to you, my loyal readers. I could go on and on about how I’ve had a deadline at work, a baby on the way, a novel in progress, and school in full swing…but I won’t bore you with that stuff…but I will say that I tend to shy away from much of the hullabaloo surrounding Spring Training-timed rumors and stories. I hate getting all worked up for nothing. Look for Cards ‘N Stuff to REALLY get going once the season starts.

But…in the meantime…we’ve got mail! In a Cards ‘N Stuff first, we’re going to take just a moment and answer some Reader Mail. So, grab yourself a hot cup’a joe, turn down the TV, and settle in while Cards ‘N Stuff explores Chris’ questions regarding the direction of Cards’ ownership, fanbase, and economic prosperity – or lack thereof…

From Chris…

Obviously, there’s been much discussion this offseason about the front office and what appears to most as a less than 100% dedication to winning. There’s also been quite a lot of talk of boycotting the home games to show Dewitt and Co. that Cardinal fans are not to be taken for granted.

I’m not going to say this is the correct or incorrect action for fans to take, because I’m not sure. What I’m wondering is: At what point does this become some sort of ouroboros or self-fulfilling prophecy?

Ownership states that the economy has taken a downturn. It expects less attendance this year, and therefore cannot justify spending money on players.

The fans state that unless ownership spends money on players, they will boycott.

Next season rolls around, and ownership states attendance has been low and they do not have the money to spend on players.

Repeat ad nauseum Pirates

To be clear: I’m not stating anything. Rather, I’m inquiring as to your thoughts on the situation.

Well, well, well…Chris…I hear ya’, brother…at least…I think I do. Lemme’ go at it this way:

Last season, Cardinals front office personnel stated they would be “aggressive” in the offseason and directly address the gaping holes in the team’s middle infield, closer role, and lefty-lacking bullpen. The common refrain, “Wait’ll next year!” was heard all over Cardinals Nation. And then…disaster.

The economy goes in the crapper…baseball teams and organizations all over MLB are cutting back and cutting costs in an attempt to build some sort of buffer against the economic hardships ahead…big name free agents like Manny Ramirez flounder in “I-wanna-big-contract” land…and the St. Louis Cardinals announce, “Well…we might not have as much money as we thought we would.”

Fans revolt.

Let’s take a moment here and review the actions of the Cardinals up to that point. Sign Kyle Lohse to what is now being looked at as a slightly extravigant deal considering the economic climate (and we signed him fast, by the way). Traded almost nothing away to get Kahlil Greene (who is, despite last season and what most want to believe, a shortstop who has one of the biggest upsides of any SS out there – especially among the “available” ones). And made one helluva run at Brian Fuentes (the guy just didn’t want to play here if LA was on the other line).

We’re not doin’ bad, guys.

Let’s take a look at our team right now:

Outfield – STACKED!  Infield – Pujols, Greene, Glaus/Freese/Wallace/et al, Free-for-all-at-2B-with-more-than-one-VERY-tantalizing-options. Catcher – ‘Nuff Said. Rotation – Carp/Waino/Lohse/Wellemeyer/Pin-head (oops). Bullpen – ‘meh…we’ll see.

Where do you improve the team? Really. An impact bat in the outfield? Who? Why? At least 3 of our outfielders have 40 home-run potential and some mad skillz in other areas…and our other outfielders ain’t exactly bad. With Raz, Mather, Daryl Jones, etc. emerging…we just don’t have the room in the outfield to add a bat.

The infield? How? With the 3B prospects we have, there is no reason to add a third baseman when you have Glaus on the team already. SS? Greene is going to play closer to his 27 home run season than last season’s dismal numbers…count on it. Sure, he won’t be 27 homers again, but considering what’s out there, we really have no reason to search elsewhere. Second base? Okay…sure…but lemme’ tell ya’ somethin’, guys…20 points on a batting average at second base is NOT going to win this team the division. It’s just not. So let’s just cool it with all the hoopla over finding a viable second baseman. I like the idea of Skip working out at second…and we have a few other viable options there in our bag’o’prospects. Let’s see how it plays out. There’s not exactly a lot out there.

Okay…pitching. First of all…if our current rotation holds true, we need no one else. We have 2 ace-quality pitcher, one who should have been on the all-star team last year, another who was one of the best in 08 when he was healthy…and Pin-head (but he’s our fifth starter! he does NOT define the rotation). You want anymore than that, and you’re just being greedy. And if one goes down, you have K-Mac (who I would LOVE to see in the rotation). The bullpen is another story…but bullpens are a difficult lot to predict as it is, anyway. And the closer role? Dude…despite what WE are willing to do, how many closer-potential pitchers do you think want to come to a team with a manager and pitching coach in a walk year and Perez and Motte ready to compete for the job? It ain’t gonna’ happen. You wouldn’t do it…you would go someplace else where you’re going to close games for the next couple years.

Look…all that to say, we’re not in bad shape. We have a LOT of talent on this team…and a LOT of depth in position players. This season is going to live and die by Carp…and right now, we just don’t know what we’re going to get…therefore, the front office CAN’T sign another pitcher in this economic client just to watch him sit on his multi-million dollar arse if Carp is healthy.

Anywho…to answer your questions directly, Chris…No, I don’t think it will be self-fulfilling. I watch Cardinals baseball because I LOVE the Cardinals. Sure, I get ticked off when they don’t do everything I want them to do…but that’s the nature of the biz, man. It’s baseball. If I choose not to go to a game because I’m miffed that the Cards aren’t doing what I think they should do…I’m just hurting myself. And if enough fans DID miraculously choose not to attend the games this year to actually turn a few heads in the front office with the bottom-line impact…then so what?

What are they going to do next year? Trade for a big bat? Nope. We have the talent to win. Cut players or trade them to reduce salary? Nope. That would make things worse.

No, no…I think a few fans will not attend this year due to economic hardships…and then many will claim it’s because they are “boycotting” the Cardinals. Some may actually do it…but in the long run, it won’t matter. The Cardinals would be stupid and disingenous if they let that happen.

You try to put a winning ball club on the field every year. You may disagree with how to do that…but you do it. Whether the fans attend in force this year or not, the organization is still going to make the best decisions possible as they see it. We are not the Pirates.

Long story short…we have a very competative club this year. Bill DeWitt is an idiot for being WAY too visible…and he does set a budget and try to stick to it. But he isn’t trying to cripple the team. This isn’t the movie Major League. He and the front office are trying to put a good product on the field…some fans just disagree with how they’re doing it. So what?

Unfortunately for DeWitt and Co….their method takes time to produce (farm system) where Jocketty had the luxory of raping the farm system and then hoppin’ a train outta’ town while we picked up the pieces. Walt Jocketty and his “sign a veteran” mentality are martyrs in this town. It’s time to let it go.

In this economic and baseball climate, the farm system is the right way to build a team. And if we weren’t all up in arms about missin’ the playoffs while we transition in some young blood…we would be yelling, screaming the same thing at the Yankees as they drop the kind of bucks we’re beggin’ for this year.

I think it’s high time Cardinals fans show a little integrity. If you hate the Yankees for buying a team five years ago…then you have to hate them for doing it now, too…and stop jumping down the Cardinals’ front office’s throat when they try to do it the “right way”…with a farm system.

Okay…whew…that was a LOT! Anywho…



3 thoughts on “Reader Mail!

  1. First, thanks for taking the time to answer.

    You more or less stated what was lurking in the back of my mind, but with all the doom and gloom in the STLToday forums I was starting to second guess myself. I believe we have a contending team, but the bullpen makes me nervous. Until I see one of the youngsters in action I can only replay the horror of so many late innings from last year.

    One of these days you’ll have to let me buy you a beer (preferably, an overpriced one from Busch while we revel in the Cards handing the Cubbies yet another loss).

    Posted by Chris | February 21, 2009, 12:18 am
  2. Well said…I truly believe that a lot of the discontent is propagated by the 24-hour news cycle, just as it is in politics. When I talk to my friends who are Cardinals fans, I hear more opinions like yours.

    However, I must say I love the part of the 24-hour news cycle that produces non-stop Cardinals coverage. I just have to take much of what I read with a grain of salt. Up here in northeast Iowa, we get far more coverage of the Cubs and Brewers, and I just don’t think I can go back to the days of the once-a-week-or-less feature story about the Cardinals.

    Posted by Gary | February 21, 2009, 3:38 pm
  3. Chris – BEER! Problem is, I live five hours from St. Louis (far corner of MO) and don’t get to attend many games. Yeah…the forums are a direct product of anxiety-riddled fans looking for reasons to bag on the team. They’re upset and they want someone to hear it.

    Gary – I love the 24 hour coverage…but I think the problem guys like you and I and Chris see is a problem of perspective and not coverage. We love the daily coverage, but we have to be careful and not lose sight of the forest for the trees. I applaud your courage behind enemy lines…ugh…Cubs and Brewers country…*shudder*

    Posted by deckacards | February 21, 2009, 9:39 pm

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