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As the Offseason Begins, There’s Intense Pressure on the Cardinals’ Front Office

As Major League Baseball pivots into the offseason, no front office is under more pressure than the St. Louis Cardinals’ management team of chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., president of baseball operations John Mozeliak, and GM Michael Girsch.

Here’s why:

1. The Cardinals are on the short list of the most successful and prestigious franchises in baseball history. They are generously, and faithfully, supported by a devoted fan base. The standards are high. The attendance is high. The revenues are high … and escalating. Even with a couple of down seasons, the Cardinals maintained their reputation for rating among the smartest and most disciplined baseball operations in the industry. With vast resources, a guaranteed 3-million-plus in annual home attendance and a new $1.1 billion TV deal commencing in 2018, there’s no legitimate justification for the Cardinals missing the postseason for a third consecutive year.  The transitioning Cardinals still managed to have MLB’s ninth-best winning percentage over the past two seasons, and there’s no shame in that. The 2016 and 2017 teams were flawed but competitive. It isn’t enough. These are the St. Louis Cardinals. They are not supposed to be also-rans. They are supposed to be playing October baseball games at Busch Stadium.

2. There pressure is turned up because of elevated expectations. Buster Olney, Bob Nightengale and many other respected baseball scribes have been talking up the Cardinals as being a busy,  aggressive, daring, move-making, wheeling-dealing offseason hive of activity. The fans are expecting the Cardinals to do Many Bold Things. If it’s a relatively quiet winter, this will displease the consumers of Cardinals baseball.

3. Because of pride, no Cardinals executive, manager or coach will acknowledge this, but it’s humiliating for a proud franchise to be dominated by the Chicago Cubs. After having decades of fun, slapping the  Cubs around, the Cardinals are on the ground, absorbing a bully’s punches. Since the beginning of July in 2015, the Cardinals have lost 33 of their 52 games against the Cubs including the ’15 NLDS. The Cardinals have won only two of their last 16 series against the Cubs, with two splits. Over that time the Cubs have invaded Busch Stadium to win 15 of 24 games.

4. Postseason baseball was once a St. Louis tradition. That’s changed. The Cubs’ four-game knockout of the Cardinals in the 2015 NLDS became the unofficial turning point. From that playoff showdown to the end of  2017 postseason the Cubs have won 52 more games than the Cardinals, postseason included … the Cubs have the MLB’s best winning percentage (.606) to the Cards’ .515 … the Cubs have won 19 postseason games, five postseason series, a wild-card game, and a National League pennant and World Series championship … the Cubs advanced to the NLCS for three consecutive seasons. The Cardinals have one postseason victory over that time, Game 1 of the 2015 NLDS.  That’s it.

5. The Cardinals won 83 games in 2017, down from  86 in 2016. But the ’17 Cardinals also fell behind the Milwaukee Brewers who took second place in the NL Central. That ‘s abnormal, because STL hadn’t finished worse than second in the division since 2008. Hey, it’s one thing to lose significant ground to the Cubs. But now the Cardinals are also chasing the Brewers, who were 54 games below .500 from 2014 through 2016? Really?

6. DeWitt, Mozeliak and Girsch are steadfast in their support of manager Mike Matheny, who was rewarded with a three-year contract extension the morning after the 2016 Cubs won World Series Game 7. Matheny’s new deal kicks in next season, and takes him through 2020. Management’s loyalty to Matheny is so strong, it led to an unusual course of action following a second consecutive disappointing season in 2017. Rather than address their dissatisfaction by changing the manager, the bosses cleared out many of Matheny’s coaches and put a largely new staff around him in an effort to enhance his development as a manager …  this, coming six seasons into his job.

These men are in charge of the franchise. Choosing a manager is their call. Standing by their manager only reaffirms their support. And holding the coaching staff accountable — rather than the manager — is certainly an interesting option. But Matheny is their guy … absolutely … 100 percent. If the latest plan works, and the modernized coaching staff can get Matheny up to speed, great. But if Matheny remains set in his ways — clinging to hopelessly outdated tactical beliefs, and mishandling the bullpen — then management’s coaching-staff experiment will fail. And given the depth of management’s unshakeable loyalty to Matheny, another failure would qualify as a complete embarrassment. DeWitt, Mozeliak and Girsch have doubled down on their bet on Matheny. That’s bold. It could also explode on them.  We’ll see.

7. The obvious challenge for the bosses: give Matheny and his coaches an improved roster. And this is where the pressure really warms up, The Cardinals have a lot to do this winter. Here are the most important items on the shopping list:

* The so-called “big bat” though I’m really burned out on the  BIG BAT terminology. Hell, just make the lineup deeper and better. Remove some of the weak links. Put more of a burden on opposing pitchers by making them work harder to get outs. Make sure to have the thinking-man’s coaching staff convince Matheny to put hitters in the right spot. The BIG BAT won’t make as much impact if your team continues to bat Yadier Molina 5th. I don’t need to see some comic-book action-adventure superhero in the middle of the lineup. BIG BAT? Heck, give me two really good bats and that will work just fine. Another thought here: the BIG BAT types don’t age well. Visit Viva El Birdos for more info.

* The bullpen may not be a total teardown, but we’re talking about a substantial project.  The Cardinals need a closer. A reliable, fearsome closer who won’t tinkle when the big-stage pressure is on. Good luck. Established, veteran closers come with a scary price tag and limited warranty. The expensive arms are a risky free-agent investment. (See: Melancon, Mark.) But the St. Louis bullpen needs a helluva lot more than a closer. This bullpen requires a several new residents. Durable relievers. Unless new pitching coach Mike Maddux can get Matheny to rethink the reliever work load and reliever usage, the manager’s favorite book will always be  “A Farewell to Arms.”

* I forgot to mention this in my first draft, but the Cardinals need a veteran starting pitcher for insurance. With so many young pitchers in the queue, and Adam Wainwright a year older (and coming off elbow surgery) the Cardinals need a steady hand capable of providing innings. And ideally this  pitcher could provide bullpen support if necessary.

8. The Cardinals have approximately 829 outfielders, and though I intentionally exaggerate there, the organization’s outfield surplus is real, and it must be thinned out. There are some tough decisions to make. Who do the Cardinals give up? Who will they protect and keep and build around? Suppose the front office makes regrettable choices? Trading the wrong outfielders. Keeping the wrong outfielders. The type of Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell trade that haunt general managers forever.  Mang, that’s pressure.

9. The same applies to the organization’s bountiful supply of young pitching talent. Be careful out there. Sure, it can work out great. Sometimes you can flip a promising prospect — say, Carl Pavano — and acquire future Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. WIN!

On the other hand….

You can trade a struggling talented young pitcher — Jake Arrieta — for Scott Feldman and a backup catcher … not only that but the Orioles packaged Arrieta with a young reliever, Pedro Strop. And the O’s watched in horror as Arietta won a Cy Young in 2015 and helped the 2016 Cubs win their first World Series since 1908.

Sometimes you include a young pitching prospect in a deal for Eli Marrero and J.D. Drew — and that prospect turns into Adam Wainwright.

Sometimes you send a pitching prospect to the NY Mets to acquire an aging knuckleball pitcher (RA Dickey) who just put up an outlier season that he’d never come close to duplicating. And the young pitching prospect who went from Toronto to New York was a fellow named Noah Syndergaard.

Sometimes you see the Tigers deal a pitching prospect named John Smoltz to the Braves in exchange for some long forgotten veteran starter. Smoltz had a Hall of Fame career. The aging starter that went to Detroit, Doyle Alexander, made 78 starts for the Tigers in two-plus seasons and went 29-29.

Sometimes, if you are the Diamondbacks, you talk yourselves into believing that young hard-throwing starter Max Scherzer will have a short career ruined by injury … and you trade him to the Tigers where he wins his first of two (and probably three) Cy Young awards. And you, the D-backs, gave up this future Hall of Famer for journeyman pitcher Edwin Jackson and the serviceable starter Ian Kennedy.

That stuff makes me cringe.

Pressure

Like I said, be very careful.

10. Finally, the pressure is on because there is a growing perception of DeWitt among Cardinals fans … that he won’t spend money … that the team’s payroll is too low … that he isn’t committed to winning … because he knows the fans will file into Busch Stadium each year, 3 million strong.

Frankly, I think much of this is nonsense. Find an MLB owner who has won more consistently than DeWitt since his purchase of the Cardinals before the 1996 season. If anything, DeWitt is fortunate that some free agent players (Mike Hampton, Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, David Price) declined the Cardinals’ massive offers.  And last offseason the Cardinals spent $112 million on two free agents, Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil.

I do understand why there’s some fussing over this; according to Spotrac the Cardinals’ 2017 payroll was just under $150 million, which was below the MLB average of $152.3 million … and the Cardinals’ payroll ranked 16th among the 30 teams. The Kansas City Royals (13th) had a larger payroll than St. Louis in 2017.

But there’s a lot more to winning than crazily throwing money around. Trades can work well. Trades can improve your team. The teams that had the top eight winning percentages in the majors in 2017 had an average of 14  players on the 40-man rosters who were acquired through trades.

To me, the issue here is more about being overly conservative. Yes, I do think it is time for the front office to be more aggressive in making trades and, yes, increasing payroll. They Cardinals must do both.

The problem for DeWitt is how he’s perceived.

Fairly or unfairly.

If the Cardinals don’t get much done on the trade market or dish out meaningful free-agent money this offseason, the narrative of DeWitt the Cheapskate will grow — even if it’s mostly bogus. And as the perception grows, and as the questions about the commitment to winning intensify …

The heat on the front office will rise accordingly.

Thanks for reading…

–Bernie

More: Time for the Cardinals to Seize the Day…A List of Offseason Trade Targets

  • badgerboy23

    To further the pressure, we have a new GM. Sure…..I know Mo is waiting in the wings to bless things, but supposedly Mo has other duties he wants to move on to. I get the idea he’s still nurse maiding the new guy. Things just seem…….messy.

    • JeremyR

      He’s a GM in name only.

    • JohnS

      Yeah, we really don’t have a new GM, we have changes in job duties. Girsch is basically the office boy and will have to do the grunt work for Moe. Decisions are not in his job profile….

      • Mark Lee Arbogast

        Coffee Boy

  • M W

    I don’t know why Girsch is even mentioned. Mo is still the one doing 99% of the interviews which is very odd. So it’s clear that the roles haven’t really changed at all. Mo is making all roster decisions.

    Obviously it isn’t all about spending money. But the team needs to prove to free agents that they will SOMETIMES go as far as is needed to sign a top name free agent. So far they haven’t. That’s a bad rep.

    The team has to get a big name.

    • flood21

      Girsch is there for one reason. Another guy they can fire when they don’t spend the money or trade the resources to improve the team.

  • TH

    I agree completely that Molina has no business batting 5th…ever. However I believe a “big bat” is a necessity for this team. Simply making this lineup deeper won’t help much because, well, this lineup is already fairly deep. I mean, outside of right field, where is there a discernible hole in the projected lineup? Say what you will about some of their defensive issues, but they are all solid hitters, or even better in some cases. They lack a legit middle of the order bat. That’s what they have to get in order to improve this lineup.

    • Big T

      TH – I agree. Look at all of this years playoff teams. All had a legit power bat if not two. Molina looks good in the number 6 or 7 hole (depending on the bat we get and who we don’t trade.)

      • Christopher Toth

        Big T, agree. Just curious though, how many playoff homeruns were because of a juiced ball? Intentional or not, a lot of pop ups sailed out without the aid of wind.

        • Big T

          Agreed. I can only remember about five legit ones in all the games I watched. Most enjoyable was Turners against Lackey game 2. But then again I hate the Cubs

          • Christopher Toth

            Me too!

          • frxere

            I’d root for a team from hell before I’d root for the Cubs!!

    • JohnS

      Well at least last year, he led the team in RBI and let’s face it, if not him then who? I do like Bernie’s comments of perhaps needing two more good bats to lengthen the lineup (that surely would get Molina out of the five hole” instead of maybe just going all in on one big stud. If we just get Stanton then we still don’t have anyone to hit fifth, as he would likely hit either fourth or fifth, as would DeJong (and heaven help us if DeJong turns into Aledmys Diaz Pt. II). No, this lineup is pretty thin even with the addition of Stanton who would likely just be pitched around without an additional slug bat to hit behind him….

      • TH

        If they did get Stanton, you could have a lineup of (depending on who would get traded of course) Carp, Fowler, Stanton, Pham, DeJong, Gyorko, Molina, Wong, pitcher. I don’t think that’s a thin lineup, nor do I think pitchers would intentionally put Stanton on in front of a guy who just posted a .931 ops a season ago. Even if DeJong resgresses some, that’s a pretty good combination of power and obp. I’d be all for improving it in two places, but what else is honestly out there that is going to significantly improve this team other than the big names (Stanton, Donaldson, etc.)? I mean all you’d really be doing is substituting one league average (or slightly better) player with another.

        • Mark Lee Arbogast

          They are hoping Moss or Reynolds comes available

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  • frxere

    Trade for Donaldson and sign Moustakias.

    • geoff

      Because the Cardinals need two high strikeout third basemen?

      • frxere

        Moose will be a upgrade from what they’ve had.

    • flood21

      Why do you want 2 third baseman? Going to trade one?

      • Mark Lee Arbogast

        Who is the third baseman now? They have severa” second basemen trying to play third but no real third basemen

        • flood21

          So your answer is to go out and get 2 staring 3rd basemen. That make no sense unless you think one of them can play another position.

      • frxere

        Their going to have to make some trades! Moose will be a upgrade to what the Cardinals had.

      • frxere

        One of them will play 1st.

  • Eric Marshall

    I agree whole heartily with MW, this team, routinely is “in” on free agents (or at least by ownership’s definition of “in”) while, when the numbers come to light, we are not close in; years or salary. There seems to be a lot of window shopping by this team. If they would spend smarter IE; Leak, Cecil, and even Fowler….. and save that money for true top free agents would we have had the last 2 years we did? I don’t know, but I think we may have had several more wins at least and that would put us closer to the playoffs.

    • JohnS

      At the very least the Cards would have had more money to spend on true top of the line FA’s if they hadn’t blown the farm on guys like Fowler, Cecil and Leake….It seems like every time they try to cheap out it comes back and bites them in the you know where….

  • JeremyR

    An 83 game winning team sold 3 million + seats. They have a huge new TV contract. There’s no pressure on them at all.

    All they have to do during the offeason is come up with a reason for why the team was bad and claim to fix it. And if they don’t, well, they’ll come up with another reason.

    Last year? Defense. This year? Liliquist (despite having one of the better star ERAs and FIPs in the league)

    (Also, DeWitt has been called “DeWallet” since basically forever. He’s always been cheap, despite essentially being gifted the team by AB)

    • Mark Allen

      The Cardinals are such a regional draw that a lot of far-flung fans procure ducats far in advance. I imagine the effects of poor play take longer to be seen in the stands than many franchises. I can handle the team losing, but the execution has been abominable. We may well dial back our purchases next year rather than making the 240-mile roundtrip just for the fun of quaffing pricey berries.

      • JohnS

        I know others who have made the long road trips and also concluded “not again”. This team simply isn’t good enough and perhaps more importantly, entertaining enough, to support long distance commuter fans from the hinterland. I believe that source is going to dry up if the mediocrity continues…is that enough to drive change? I don’t know, don’t know if that is a meaningful portion of the Cards’ fan base or not….

    • candomarty

      I believe the moniker “DeWallet” was coined by none other than Mr Miklasz, if my memory serves. So it surprised me that he appears to be defending DeWitt’s fiscal policies (which I agree that he should).

    • Christopher Toth

      You frequently argue this point and support your assertion by noting DeWitt sold the garages a year later for $75MM having paid $150MM to AB to acquire the Cards.

      That said,

      1. Forbes valued the Cards @ $112MM in 1995.

      2. The Cards had operating losses before and after DeWitt took ownership.

      3. Publicly held corporations were dumping teams in the early 1990s. DeWitt’s purchase of the Cards in 1995 was the 12th that decade.

      More to the point though, in making your (unfounded IMO) accusation of DeWitt, you always fail to take into account the following:

      1. DeWitt & his partners funded $40MM of the new Busch Stadium in cash.

      2. DeWitt and his partners issued $200MM in private bonds to fund the vast majority of the new stadium’s construction codts of which they are solely responsible for repaying.

      That’s hardly the definition of stingy. As is, DeWitt at a minimum has invested or borrowed $390MM in connection to his ownership of the Cards (or on a net basis if you net out the garages $315MM).

      If you throw in Ballpark Village, then DeWitt and his partner’s have sunk in a few hundred millions more.

      • Jody Wassmer

        How nice of the OWNER to pay money to support his team! Gee, that’s what owners are supposed to do, right? No one’s paying for the new roof I need on my house except me. Now, let’s fast forward to 2017: The Cards are not an overly competitive team, are behind the league average for payroll and Dewitt and Co are asking for public subsidies for more of Cardinal Village. Time for another roof!

        • Christopher Toth

          Huh? Clearly you missed the context that drove my response. His assertion was DeWitt is stingy. My retort was anyone who invests and/or borrows $390MM on his team is hardly stingy REGARDLESS of where he spends it.

          MLB reported 2017 opening day average payroll at $138MM. Cards opening day payroll was $152MM or significantly more than the league average despite your assertion otherwise.

          • Jody Wassmer

            From Bernie’s column: According to Spotrac the Cardinals’ 2017 payroll was just under $150 million, which was below the MLB average of $152.3 million. Who’s right? MLB or Spotrac? Regardless, the Cards need more and better players and Dewitt can afford it.

          • Christopher Toth

            You are mixing apples and oranges. One average is total payroll plus disabled list, the other just payroll.

            2017 Opening Day Payroll (Metropolitan Statistical Area Population Rank)

            Only one team with a smaller MSA than St. Louis – the Orioles – spent more on opening day payroll.

            Of the 16 teams who spent less than the Cardinals, 11 of them are located in larger MSAs.

            The Astros, Diamondbacks and Rockies had smaller opening day payrolls than the Cards and they made the playoffs.

            The Astros won the World Series despite their opening day payroll being $28MM less than the Cards and the Dodgers lost to the Astros despite an opening day payroll that was $118MM higher than Houston’s.

            Timing is everything. The Cards couldn’t have spent enough last year to catch the Cubs on paper so it was prudent to keep their powder dry just as Theo Epstein did with the Cubs until he thought they could make it to the World Series.

            1. Dodgers $242MM (MSA #2)
            2. Yankees $202MM (MSA #1)
            3. Red Sox $200MM (MSA #10)
            4. Tigers $200MM (MSA #14)
            5. Blue Jays $178MM —
            6. Rangers $176MM (MSA #4)
            7. Giants $172MM (MSA #11)
            8. Cubs $172MM (MSA #3)
            9. Nationals $168MM (MSA #6)
            10. Orioles $164MM (MSA #21)
            11. Angels $160MM (MSA #2)
            12. Mets $155MM (MSA #1)
            13. Mariners $154MM (MSA #15)

            14. Cardinals $152MM (MSA #20)

            15. Royals $141MM (MSA #30)
            16. Rockies $131MM (MSA #19)
            17. Indians $125MM (MSA #32)
            18. Astros $124MM (MSA #5)
            19. Braves $112MM (MSA #9)
            20. Marlins $112MM (MSA #8)
            21. Phillies $111MM (MSA #7)
            22. Twins $108MM (MSA #16)
            23. Pirates $101MM (MSA #26)
            24. White Sox $99MM (MSA #3)
            25. Reds $94MM (MSA #28)
            26. Diamondbacks $93MM (MSA #12)
            27. Athletics $82MM (MSA #11)
            28. Padres $72MM (MSA #17)
            29. Rays $70MM (MSA #18)
            30. Brewers $63MM (MSA #39)

          • Jody Wassmer

            Mo and Dewitt are really good at keeping their powder dry. A lot of fans, including myself, believe they’re also good at milking the cow dry. They’ve allowed the franchise to slip and continue to employ an incompetent manager. Even the Brewers at the bottom of your list finished ahead of them this year.

          • Christopher Toth

            If you think outspending eleven teams in larger markets out of 30 baseball teams with only one smaller market spending more (Baltimore) is milking the cow dry, then this conversation is pointless because you are being – respectfully – intellectually disingenuous.

            If DeWitt and company really wanted to milk the cow dry, then they’d spend at a level either commensurate with St. Louis’ market size or less in comparison to other MLB teams.

            In 2017, the 20th smallest MLB opening day payroll – the Marlins – was $112MM despite having the 9th largest MSA. The Cardinals outspent Miami and therefore their #20 market size by $40MM.

            As for slipping?

            All teams with aging cores slip. No MLB team stays at the top forever and if that’s your expectation, then it is an unreasonable one.

            I can only think of one time the Cardinals didn’t prudently spend and that was going into the 2013 playoffs. In hindsight, I suspect DeWitt wishes he had spent $ on a premium bat and/or pitching but that presumes of course there were deals that could have been made.

          • Jody Wassmer

            Keep going to the games. Keep buying the over-priced swag – that’s your choice. I see an owner and management that HASN’T KEPT UP with the competition. The new $1.1 BILLION TV contract should help. But SHOULD isn’t the same as “getting it done.”

          • Christopher Toth

            Newsflash. No MLB team can always remain at the top. If you sign premium talent, then typically you can only do so with multi-year deals which means at some point the core of any successful playoff team will age and necessarily be less productive.

            Bottom line is your expectations are irrational and circular in logic.

            E.g., you are arguing for an increased payroll while noting above Milwaukee with its MLB smallest payroll finished ahead of the Cards.

            E.g., you argue the Cards haven’t kept up but you ignore how the Cubs and Astros were able to pull ahead after 5 years of tanking.

            Even the best of clubs go through cycles while recharging their batteries.

            The competition didn’t pull ahead because they spent tons of money as you would have it, but rather because they tanked and traded their best players in exchange for high draft picks or top 20 minor leaguers.

          • Big T

            Chris, Once again all great points.

            Willful losing (tanking/rebuilding) is cheap. Mr DeWitt is continuing the Cardinal Way (drafting developing and deploying his assets in a value driven manner = prudence. Some MM and FO haters just don’t see it or refuse to acknowledge it.

            Check out the last 13 teams on your list. All are or just finished tanking/rebuilds

          • Christopher Toth

            Thx. Exactly. It is essential though for MM to get in sync w/the front office. They need to be going in the same direction. In fairness to MM, at the end of the day it is Mo’s job to ensure that. Hopefully with the Secret Weapon back and Maddux they will get there.

          • Big T

            I am curious, what do you think of a trade for Stanton? Personally I’d like to give them Piscotty, Grichuk, Wong and Hicks for Yelich, Gordon and Stanton. Solves a lot of their salary problems and loosens up our outfield jam. Have to give to get?

  • JohnS

    The Cards’ front office and ownership are like the college student who goofed off all semester and didn’t attend classes and now is trying desperately to save the day with an all-nighter. We know how this will end, and it ain’t pretty!

    • Jody Wassmer

      Good analogy!

  • Big T

    “no front office is under more pressure than the St. Louis Cardinals’ ” I can think of several that are. Boston just fired a guy who won their division 2 years in a row…. Dodgers fell short again after 5 division titles and back to back NLCS… Washington is coming into the final year of their core around Harper…Cubs just blew up their coaching staff… Lots of problems all over.

    Bernie call a spade a spade. Do you want the Cards to tank and would you be patient through 4 or 5 years of willful losing baseball? You are once again very pro DeWitt and anti MM in this article.

    So with our payroll so middle of the road how do you or anyone expect MM to win a WS? Fair question. If so how is that primarily MM fault? Objective fans realize you have to have the horse to run for the roses.

    • Here a link to 2017 MLB opening day payrolls–

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2017/04/02/heres-the-2017-opening-day-payrolls-for-all-30-mlb-teams-total-tops-4-billion/2/#537e2675a78d

      When you figure out a correlation between team payrolls and winning, let me know.

      • Big T

        I get your point that teams who tank or are put together with draft choices generally have lower payrolls. (For a few years until arbitration or extensions occur to eliminate arbitration years.) I was speaking in general that difference maker’s cost considerable money. Looking at our payroll and players draft position our roster does not contain enough elite players for ANY manager to win the WS with. My correlation is that most winning teams all have above avaerage payrolls, not 13th in the league.

        Look at the 11 last teams in your article. All of them are in the midst of tanking process including the Astros who just won the WS. Willful losing baseball comes cheap. That correlation is much easier to see.

      • When you figure out DeWitt could afford a much higher payroll than he carries, you will no longer be a simple minded twit. There’s several things this team currently lacks, such as a power hitting middle of the order RBI man and a closer. If you can’t develop it, you must therefore go out and buy it. Smarten up.

    • Christopher Toth

      Big T, generally agree and you make good points. The problem with MM is he’s been out of sync with the organizational plan he’s charged with implementing.

      As such, it isn’t only a matter of wins or losses, but rather is one of the whole organization – ownership, front office, the manager & coaches, and minor league system – staying on the same page.

      E.g., rightly or wrongly, ownership and the FO decided to pursue homegrown talent. Matheny was hired because they believed he’d excel at developing that talent at the MLB level. Instead, he favored veterans too often over younger players and was to quick with his hooks.

      E.g., sabremetrics. The organization relies heavily on these metrics to evaluate, draft and sign talent but MM didn’t use that data at the MLB level.

      Personally, I am skeptical MM can change but having said that, if MM is willing to change so as to be in sync with the rest of the organization, he should net more wins out of his players than he was able to last season.

      As I mentioned above, MM can’t be blamed entirely for at times going off the tracks. It was Mo’s job at the end of the day to keep his organization in sync and he didn’t last season.

      I am hoping MM changes. I’d rather see the Cards in the playoffs than be proven right in 2018.

      Best to you.

  • J Walls

    Ho hum…another day another Matheny bashing column. We get it, Bernie…you can’t stand Mike. Sheesh.

    • flood21

      Agree! His obsession with MM is getting very old.

  • ken

    i wonder how many wits will dredge up the worn-out term “dewallet” to criticize dewitt in this comment section, all told…

    • Mark Lee Arbogast

      But he is “the wallet” of the Cardinals isn’t he? No negative implied.

    • funny how Bernie coined the term DeWallet and then bashes folks for implying that DeWitt doesn’t spend enough money.

  • Brian Hudson Sr

    We have got to get rid of so many strikeout hitters and find consistent run production. There are so many holes to fill that I believe (JMO) it’s a two year turnaround. Jose being back is going to help but let’s get back to solid defense, timely hitting and strong pitching. I don’t have the answers but what I’ve seen the last two years reminds me of the teams during the 70’s.

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    I agree on two real good bats. Everybody wants to get a guy that hits 30 jacks. Well, we had one two years ago and a whole lotta good that did them. They need to stop getting players that are sub par defenders who strike out too much.

  • Scott Warren

    Is the suggestion that one of the Cardinal OF is Jeff Bagwell? Goodness I sure hope not. When your team makes the kind of money the Cardinals do and aren’t even in the top 50% in MLB payroll, that’s fact not perception.

  • James Davidson

    Bernie,

    Please go back and listen to the interview you did with DeWitt shortly after they failed to sign Luis Robert. From my recollection be basically said, 50 Million is a lot of money on an unproven talent (agreed, but it’s not my money so I don’t care) but the shocking thing to me was his statement immediately after. I believe it was something along the lines of “if Robert ends up being a star then the cardinals would have to worry about paying him again once his contract was up”.

    I believe he has fairly earned his stingy reputation.

    • Christopher Toth

      Stingy or prudent? I’d argue more often than not, DeWitt has shown prudence. Pujols, Heyward and Price are evidence of not throwing money at people just for the sake of spending.

      • Jody Wassmer

        But the Cards did throw big money at Pujols, Heyward and Price. They got outbid. While Dewitt is showing “prudence,” the Cards have slipped down the pole. Dewitt has overall been a great owner BUT I really believe the game has passed him by.

        • David B

          I think the offers to Heyward and Pulols were made with the calculation that they would fall short of what other teams would offer. Maybe they really were outbid on Price. Think about how screwed the Cardinals would be if they had “won” these bidding wars. My sense is that DeWitt is going to make a move to prove that this perception (the game has passed him by) is wrong. We’ll see.

  • John Tudor

    If they had really pursued the bats last year instead of focusing on defense and base running, they hypothetically could have had Justin Turner/Jose Abreau/Charlie Blackman for close to the same price they will have to pay to get just Stanton. Just another catch up move that they seem to be good at (Leake/Fowler).

    Also, why not Adam to closer role then sign a vet starter for the #2 or 3 spot in the rotation? Makes sense, but this is a Mo-Tie lead team, full of empty promises, ego-ignorant attitudes, and blind allegiance.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    While we’re talking about bad trades – how about Steve Carlton for Rick Wise. Yep, the Cards traded Carlton, a future 4 time Cy winner away cuz Busch didn’t want to pay him anything more than the $50,000 he was signed for and, being a billionaire and all, couldn’t find a reason to spend another $15,000 to keep Carlton on the team. Wow….

    Speaking of cheapskates….

    Now let’s address Bernie’s concerns. First let me preface the discussion by dismissing the “best owner in baseball because of his far sighted use of sabermetrics to add value to the team” myth. Was it sabermetrics that allowed the extension of MM? Was it sabermetrics that set the bar at 90 wins and not winning the division? Was it sabermetrics that provided the insight to offer outrageous deals to Mike Hampton, Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, and David Price? Was it sabermetrics that offered outrageous deals to Leake and Cecil? Hmmm…. maybe not so flawless after all?

    It’s odd that last year during the off season the needs were identical – a “big bat” and a closer and an improved bullpen (at that time I pressed for an offer to Turner at 3rd and Chapman as the closer; the Cards did not make on offer on either player). Our starting pitching appeared to be in better shape because in 2017 we had Reyes penciled in as a starter. But Tommy John took that away. Now Reyes is set to go this year, but it will be on a recovery basis. And not all TJ surgery is successful. Let’s hope this one was. Going forward into 2018 we’ve traded Leake and are losing Lynn. Wacha and Waino are both question marks. And the only solid pitcher we have in the stable is Carlos. So, on balance, it appears we had a more solid rotation heading into 2017 than we have going into 2018… unless the baby arms come through. And who knows if they will or when they’ll actually be brought up! The key here is that we cannot start the clock too early as that means we lose control and it will cost us more sooner – right Bill and MO?

    If the Cards want to win, they’ll find a way to land Stanton and a top closer. And they’ll bolster their starting pitching. CC Sabaitha anyone? Else we will continue to play for a wild card slot. And that is a very risky move. The goal has to be to win the division. Any other goal will simply not get us where we have to be to win another ring. And isn’t that what we want? A FORKIN RING!!!!

  • Let me get this straight, Miklasz believes people’s perception of DeWitt not spending enough is “non-sense”. DeWitt’s payroll is 15th, currently lower than that of teams like the Royals and Mariners. They consistently claim to keep “dry powder” in reserve for the trade deadline. Then more times than not, they do nothing/zero/nada at the trade deadline keeping that dry powder in their pockets.

    Yr after yr they can expect to draw 3.4 million plus in attendance, an amazing number for a city this size. They currently enjoy their biggest TV contract by far in club history. Ventures like Ballpark village been a literal cash cow for DeWitt, along with all the other money printing ventures associated with his franchise.

    Yet Miklasz continues to refer to those who call on DeWitt to spend more, as engaging in non-sense. The only non-sense around here is Miklasz’ continued defense of DeWitt, and his refusal to play fair with his own fan base.

    Even if DeWitt goes out and lands a Stanton or a J.D. Martinez this winter, that has zero to do with the overly unnecessarily restrictive payroll liberties he has taken with this club in recent seasons. Being good to us now, won’t excuse the times when he has clearly neglected the needs of this team.

    I’ll be the first to stand up and applaud DeWitt, IF AND WHEN HE FINALLY DOES SOMETHING IN TERMS OF A GENUINE QUALITY INVESTMENT TO HELP THIS STRUGGLING TEAM. Let’s just say I have little faith in a man who believes Mike Matheny & John Mozeliak are the right men to lead us to another World Championship. I have little faith in a franchise who refused to commit to a talent like Jeff Luhnow, while happily committing to an incompetent buffoon like Chris Correa.

    Again as for signing any of those big names, that without a doubt is in the category of believe it when I see it. Let’s just say, I don’t know if DeWitt is capable of pulling that trigger. Call that non-sense if you wish Bernie. But I don’t happen to believe in the Easter Bunny either.

    Even when they willfully traded for the bum Heyward who was headed for free agency. They themselves couldn’t manage to be the high bidder for his services. And make no mistake, they wanted Heyward in the worst way. It was only a stroke of luck, how the Cubs were bigger dummies and saved us from ourselves. Still the Heyward situation can be used as an example of DeWitt wanting to spend the money, yet still refusing to actually pull the trigger.

    I’m far more inclined to believe that instead of a Stanton or a j.D. Martinez signing, DeWitt/Mozeliak will come up with another free agent disaster signing they’ve been recently known for. No doubt Stanton will be playing for a club next season, but not the Cardinals. While if you added up the many millions thoroughly wasted on free agent disasters such as Mike Leake, Brett Cecil, Jhonny Peralta, Jonathan Broxton, or Brayan Pena, that money would represent a pretty nice chunk of the money they would ultimately owe Stanton. And yet the man responsible for those blunders was incredibly promoted. Things like that are the genuine” non-sense” associated with this club, not those who merely express their dissatisfaction.

    As for Stanton or Martinez becoming a Cardinal

  • Let me get this straight, Miklasz believes people’s perception of
    DeWitt not spending enough is “non-sense”. DeWitt’s payroll is 15th,
    currently lower than that of teams like the Royals and Mariners. They
    consistently claim to keep “dry powder” in reserve for the trade
    deadline. Then more times than not, they do nothing/zero/nada at the
    trade deadline keeping that dry powder in their pockets.

    Yr after
    yr they can expect to draw 3.4 million plus in attendance, an amazing
    number for a city this size. They currently enjoy their biggest TV
    contract by far in club history. Ventures like Ballpark village been a
    literal cash cow for DeWitt, along with all the other money printing
    ventures associated with his franchise.

    Yet Miklasz continues to
    refer to those who call on DeWitt to spend more, as engaging in
    non-sense. The only non-sense around here is Miklasz’ continued defense
    of DeWitt, and his refusal to play fair with his own fan base.

    Even
    if DeWitt goes out and lands a Stanton or a J.D. Martinez this winter,
    that has zero to do with the overly unnecessarily restrictive payroll
    liberties he has taken with this club in recent seasons. Being good to
    us now, won’t excuse the times when he has clearly neglected the needs
    of this team.

    I’ll be the first to stand up and applaud DeWitt, IF
    AND WHEN HE FINALLY DOES SOMETHING IN TERMS OF A GENUINE QUALITY
    INVESTMENT TO HELP THIS STRUGGLING TEAM. Let’s just say I have little
    faith in a man who believes Mike Matheny & John Mozeliak are the
    right men to lead us to another World Championship. I have little faith
    in a franchise who refused to commit to a talent like Jeff Luhnow,
    while happily committing to an incompetent buffoon like Chris Correa.

    Again
    as for signing any of those big names, that without a doubt is in the
    category of believe it when I see it. Let’s just say, I don’t know if
    DeWitt is capable of pulling that trigger. Call that non-sense if you
    wish Bernie. But I don’t happen to believe in the Easter Bunny either.

    Even
    when they willfully traded for the bum Heyward who was headed for free
    agency. They themselves couldn’t manage to be the high bidder for his
    services. And make no mistake, they wanted Heyward in the worst way.
    It was only a stroke of luck, how the Cubs were bigger dummies and saved
    us from ourselves. Still the Heyward situation can be used as an
    example of DeWitt wanting to spend the money, yet still refusing to
    actually pull the trigger.

    I’m far more inclined to believe that
    instead of a Stanton or a j.D. Martinez signing, DeWitt/Mozeliak will
    come up with another free agent disaster signing they’ve been recently
    known for. No doubt Stanton will be playing for a club next season, but
    not the Cardinals. While if you added up the many millions thoroughly
    wasted on free agent disasters such as Mike Leake, Brett Cecil, Jhonny
    Peralta, Jonathan Broxton, or Brayan Pena, that money would represent a
    pretty nice chunk of the money they would ultimately owe Stanton. And
    yet the man responsible for those blunders was incredibly promoted.
    Things like that are the genuine” non-sense” associated with this club,
    not those who merely express their dissatisfaction.

  • Jody Wassmer

    Lots and lots of needs for this team. I believe MoTie will make one big trade this offseason for a bat and then fill in with youngsters and maybe an over-the-hill vet or two to shore up the other areas. BUT, let’s face it, Matheny isn’t the right guy. Will Dewitt ever face that?

  • DeWitt must be rewarding Miklasz handsomely for his continued defense of his inexcusable 15th ranked payroll. The only “non-sense” and absurdity here, is how Miklasz believes we’re collectively too naive/dumb to see through his smoke screen.

    Even if DeWitt surprises us all by finally spending some of the profits this winter he’s been hoarding, that doesn’t excuse the way he’s been ignoring club needs in recent seasons.