Open
Close

What’s This Nonsense About a “Window” For the Cardinals?

Last month Derrick Goold wrote a fine piece for the Post-Dispatch, describing the Cardinals’ front-office urgency to win now, because the “clocks’s ticking.”

Goold mentioned how the Cardinals “threw open a window” of limited opportunity and characterized the “clear shelf life” of the team’s push for a title.

I  don’t understand the concept … this bizarre notion …  that the Cardinals are driven to win ASAP before their “window” slams shut.

Um, why would there even be a window?

Why is a metaphorical clock going tick-tock, tick-tock at a quickening pace to set offanxiety at Busch Stadium?

Makes no sense.

None.

The idea that the Cardinals have a casement or an hourglass piece is ludicrous. Why would there be a time restraint on their goal of reclaiming the NL Central, seizing the division and overthrowing the Cubs, and marching on to compete for another World Series championship?

I believe that should be an annual goal, with no windows in the way.

Why would the Cardinals or their fans look at their watches and start sweating over the days running short in their chasing of the Cubs?

This is nonsense.

The Oakland A’s always have that window. We have seen the cycle from the A’s many times … they assemble a cost-controlled roster, reach contender status, and give up prospects to make daring trades in a leap for a championship. And after coming up short, Oakland rebuilds anew.

The Kansas City Royals were a franchise on the clock, tracking time, acquiring players, trying to win it all because they knew their talented core nucleus would break up soon. KC management knew that Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Kendrys Morales, Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Edinson Volquez (and others) were zooming in on free agency … presumably unaffordable to the Royals. So if the baseball people had any chance to win the team’s first World Series since 1985, the time ws NOW. There was understandable desperation behind the trades that brought in pending free agents such as the multi-position Ben Zobrist and starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. The aggressiveness paid off with a 2014 AL pennant and the 2015 World Series title. The buzzer sounded on the clock. The Royals now must retool, and start over. But that World Series parade made everything worth it.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a porthole and a chronometer and a deadline … taking advantage of a veteran roster, a winning roster, for as long as they can contend until the payroll tightens and time runs out.

The Tampa Bay Rays have lots of windows that open for a while until getting locked shut by the usual financial realities of a small-market club with pathetically low attendance.

The Milwaukee Brewers have opened a window … the Cincinnati Reds are getting closer to respectability and will soon be trying to pry that window open. The Brewers and the Reds will have an opportunity to win, at least until it’s time to slash payroll again.

The Cardinals?

Please. They are not the Royals, they are not the A’s, they are not the Rays, they are not the Pirates or Brewers or Reds.

The Cardinals are a wealthy, prosperous, generously supported franchise that draws nearly 3.5 million fans to home games each season … they are a deep-revenue franchise that is about to realize the financial bonanza of a $1.2  billion local TV deal that begins this year.

In addition to winning 11 World Series and 19 NL pennants, here are two other factoids about the Cardinals’ historically prominent standards:

Most postseason games, MLB history:

  1. New York Yankees,   392
  2. St. Louis Cardinals,  247

Most postseason victories, MLB history:

  1. Yankees,  230
  2. Cardinals,  130

The Cardinals aren’t out on the street, busking for dollar bills.

They have the financial firepower to do just about any damn thing they want to do. They can buy any player, make any deal, and lean on a replenished and ascendant farm system. This isn’t an economy-class operation. This is a first-class ride all the way, and there are no limits to the champagne.

What is this limited window of opportunity based on?

OK, so Adam Wainwright’s contract expires after the 2018 season. Great Cardinal, great guy, but also an aging pitcher coming off elbow surgery following two troublesome seasons that produced a substandard 4.81 ERA. Wainwright has a chance to be better this season — he could use some fair batted-ball luck for a change — and I wish him well. But I don’t think this is panic room stuff.

OK, so the Cardinals acquired big bat Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins, and he’ll be here for at lest two years … meaning that he can leave as a free agent after two years. Just because Ozuna will be in position to explore free agency following the 2019 season, why do we assume he’ll run off and join another team? If the dude is everything the Cardinals hope he will be — if he’s a rocking presence in the middle of the lineup — then here’s how you keep the window open. YOU PAY THE MAN so he continues to swat homers for your team.

OK, so mystery man starting pitcher Miles Mikolas came back from Japan to sign a two-year deal with St. Louis.  Can we at least watch him make 12 or 15 starts against big-league hitters before we develop a hideous rash out of fear he’ll leave as a free agent following the 2019 season?  If Mikolas turns out to be, say, a younger version of Zack Greinke … well, then it’s fine to fret over losing him. But once again: if Mikolas has a couple of good seasons and establishes himself as a true asset, you don’t have to close the window on him… you PAY THE MAN to stay.

Starting pitcher Michael Wacha can become a free agent after the 2019 season. And do we know how Wacha will be pitching when his contract expires? Will he be pitching regularly? Will he be forced to endure another setback with the stress issue in his right shoulder blade? No disrespect to Wacha but are we supposed to believe the Cardinals would be in dire straits — because Wacha is irreplaceable! — after the 2019 season? Hey, if Wacha rediscovers his peak form and receives an overdue kiss of good luck that will keep his shoulder sound, then you don’t have to jump off a bridge just by thinking of him departing as a free agent. You can prop that window open by PAYING THE MAN to stay.

OK, who else? The Cardinals have an option year on Matt Carpenter for 2020 … if they pick up the option it means he’ll play for them over the next three seasons. The Cardinals have a 2020 option on reliever Luke Gregerson. So if he’s still an above-average bullpen arm, the Cardinals can count on three seasons from Gregerson. The Cardinals have third baseman Jedd Gyorko under contract for two more seasons — and he too has an option for 2020 that ensures he’ll be a Cardinal for three seasons if that’s what the team wants.

I don’t see a crisis surfacing  … do you?

I mean, even if the Cardinals had every one of these guys leave as free agents over the next few years, does the franchise crumble? Would it doom the Cardinals to a 15-year disappearance from the postseason? Hardly.

They’re replaceable …

They are replaceable for two obvious reasons:

1. The Cardinals have the payroll power to go out and find replacements for those who leave.

2. The Cardinals have touted their revived farm system as a source of sustainable talent that will play a significant role in maintaining a  winning tradition.

Question: if the Cardinals can afford to sign or acquire any player to fill a major need — then why would they have only a two-year window?

Another question: if the player-development system is thriving again, and funneling good, cost-controlled talent to St. Louis … then why would there be a limited opportunity to win before the window comes down hard on the hands of chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and president of baseball ops John Mozeliak?

The window should ALWAYS BE  OPEN because these are the St. Louis Cardinals.

This not a pauper franchise. This not a franchise that must wonder and worry about fans showing up at Busch Stadium. This is not a franchise that must hustle and scrap to scrounge up some TV revenue. This is not a franchise that requires a rebuild, not with so much financial clout and a deepening farm system.

I’m not only rejecting the “window” premise here … I’m smashing the window.

It should never exist. Not with this team, not with their money, not with their farm system, not with their passionate fan support, and not in this baseball-mad town.

Now … having unburdened myself with this therapeutic rant, let me take a breath and offer this:

In speaking to the Post-Dispatch, Mozeliak seemed to reject the idea of a limited “window” for catching the Cubs. Mozeliak wasn’t quoted citing a two-year window of opportunity. Or maybe something got lost in translation. But …

“I think our expectations are the same every year,”  Mozeliak said. “It’s never been one of those (clubs) where you’ve seen the massive reset or rebuild. We’re trying to reload. And as we enter into how we start about 2018 there is just a lot to be excited about how this club looks today. And we may get more excited about it in time. Under my time with the Cardinals, I don’t know if we’ve ever not had the pedal down.”

That last part is debatable. But Mozeliak is a competitor. Overly cautious, yes. Overly pragmatic at times, yes. But he wants to win.

And I think that by now he’s probably sick of the fawning over the Cubs and Theo Epstein. I don’t think Mozeliak has set up a window for a two-year run. I’d expect to see him  jump through  an open window in a tall building instead of putting a fake time limit on his team’s chances of taking the Cubs down.

If the Cardinals have urgency this offseason — as the baton-twirling media often tell us — it isn’t because of the pressure of a mythical window of limited opportunity.

It would be because of an increased aggressiveness in their desire to win. But the Cardinals really haven’t displayed the level of urgency that they’ve been credited for … not yet, anyway.

Ozuna was a smart trade at a reasonable cost. But the Cardinals need to do more before I organize a tribute dinner in praise of their “urgency.”

Why would we go nuts about their “urgency” and offer testimonials when the Cardinals have an obligation to win? Trying to upgrade your roster in a substantial way isn’t an act of urgency … it’s an act of duty in respect to the remarkably consistent support of the fans.

The “urgency” narrative is mostly a media concoction.

There’s still time for the Cardinals to actually make this overused word — urgency — matter by taking action and making roster-enhancing moves to legitimize it.

I would even say that the window for improving the 2018 roster is still wide open …

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend…

-Bernie

More: ESPN’s Schoenfield Says Cardinals Are Currently NL’s “Fourth-Best Team”

  • One of the big problems sportswriters face is the need to produce COPY even when there is none. Goold’s article is an example of this. He never really develops the theme of “a window,” and for good reason since THERE IS NONE. When Moze is quoted as saying, “It all comes down to the acquisition costs. Do you go all-in just because you have a one-year opportunity?”, I suspect Goold took the statement out of context. Logically that was a reference to Machado and not to a “one year window for the Cardinals to win it all.” Nowhere in Goold’s article does Moze give credence to the “window” narrative. I think Bernie’s comments are more about Goold than about the Cardinals.

    The other thing is, stop with the $1.2 billion in TV rights fees.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinasettimi/2015/07/30/st-louis-cardinals-score-a-1-billion-tv-deal/#26e905c77484

    While it is a huge chunk of change, it is doled out over fifteen years. According to the Forbes article the marginal increase in Cardinals revenue amounts to $25-30 million in each of the first four years of the contract. (This is due to the fact that the Cardinals were ALREADY making about $30 million on their TV contract in 2017.) At the end of the contract, the additional $50-55 million in revenue will likely be equivalent to about $40 million annually after allowing for inflation. That will pay approximately ONE superstar annually at the beginning of the contract, and it is likely that in fifteen years the extra $40-55 million STILL only pays for one superstar annually. But many irate Redbirds fans apparently learned their economics in the public schools, and think this $1.2 billion is going to be dropped into DeWitt’s lap, I don’t know, March 15th or so. They resent that anyone receiving this kind of money doesn’t immediately–that is, on March 15–reinvest this $1.2 billion THAT HE WON’T ACCUMULATE FOR FIFTEEN YEARS.

    And then–get this–according to Forbes “The total value ranks it close to the top ten of MLB’s Most Valuable Television Deals.” So the Cardinals are CLOSE to the top ten? You mean we’re not even definitely in the top ten? But I guess that what with $1.2 billion dropping out of the sky, whether it is on March 15 or over fifteen years, we are IMMEDIATELY going to be able to outbid all ten or so of the teams with bigger TV deals. What kind of logic is this? Socialist, I guess, which brings me back to where some of our irate Cardinals fans–and some of the commenters here–learned economics.

    • JohnS

      Not only that, that additional new revenue will be subjected to taxes, so it is even less than meets the eye. Oh, I guess they could spend all of the new tv revenue players on players so that it is not subjected to income tax. Yeah…fat chance of that!

      • Thanks for the intelligent stunning revelation, DeWitt’s revenues will actually be “subjected to taxes”.

        Got any other helpful information, perhaps you could give us last week’s weather report.

    • LawrenceKScardsfan

      You make some points but it’s hard to feel sorry for billionaires owners heavily subsidized by taxpayers. The biggest socialists in our country are those at the top of the income pyramid. To your point – trickle down doesn’t work – not even in baseball.

      • Christopher Toth

        LK, I don’t see where he was asking for any sympathy for billionaires versus simply pointing out it isn’t as though the $1.2 billion being bandied about pops up in DeWitt’s bank account all at once as opposed to over 15 years.

        I was an economist for the first 10 years of my career (trust me, it’s really boring being an economist) and although I sympathize with the merits of your argument, alas it simply isn’t true that the wealthiest Americans are the most subsidized ones.

        If you divide our economy of taxpayers into quintiles, not only do the poorest first two quintiles pay zip in federal income taxes, they actually as a group are paid $ when they file their taxes because of child tax credits, etc.

        The middle quintile – the infamous but ever shrinking middle class – only averages single digits whereas the last two quinitles pay 95% of all federal income taxes collected (and the wealthiest quintile pays considerably more than the doctors, lawyers, and other professions who largely live in that fourth quintile).

        So who has it right?

        Neither side.

        They are looking for answers in the wrong places.

        Whether you take a trickle down approach or a zap it to ’em approach of taxing the rich while they are alive and their estates once they are dead, the top two quintiles still on average over the life of our republic in the last 100 years pay 95% to 85% of all federal income taxes.

        Try as we might from a taxing policy stand point, we can’t stop the nation’s wealth from acreting to the top which makes all of this farcical tax discussion rather amusing as the two most widely argued tacts result in the well, er, basically same results.

        So where is the answer to the solution to be found?

        In the answer to this simple question: why despite at times draconian tax rates do the uber wealthy keep getting uberly weathier.

        Answer: wages and benefits are too low for the vast majority of Americans.

        That’s where the real rip off happens and yet no one aside from minimum wages really gives a hoot about it even though they are the big white elephants in our nation’s economic living rooms.

        What’s the one largely constant constant in our economy over the past 40 years despite fluctuations in tax policy?

        Wages (after adjusting for inflation they’ve largely been flat).

        If two quintiles of our economy can’t afford to pay taxes and yet the top two quintiles keep getting appreciably wealthier no matter how high taxes go, then the problem necessarily is low wages and benefits.

        Pro athlete salaries are a perfect contrast and comparison example:

        They haven’t stayed flat the past 40 years.

        40 years ago, the average baseball player made 10X the average man’s working salary.

        Today, a $20MM a year player makes 400X the annual household income average in the US.

        Athletes have refused to work when they weren’t fairly compensated to the point now they are way overcompensated.

        That message hasn’t sunk through yet to the average wager earner … hopefully it will some time soon but it will take waking up to the fact they have to stop being fooled into believing the answers are to be found in tax debates.

        E.g.,

        Even under Trump’s new tax plan, every million dollar plus income household will only net $16.7 billion of savings in the aggregate.

        To put that into perspective, here’s what that buys in today’s $:

        One Ford class nuclear aircraft carrier ($10 billion), one medium sized civilian nuclear power plant ($6 billion) and two Boeing 747-800 jumbo cargo jets.

        In other words, not much.

        Americans by and large need to stop working for free.

        • silencedogoodreturns

          wages won’t grow at the bottom because our labor pool is too large. Why? Immigration..mostly illegal. The GOP Chamber of Commerce types want cheap labor,and the Democrats want cheap voters. So the American at the bottom gets screwed every which way to Sunday.

          • Mark Lee Arbogast

            What a load of dung

          • W Mahan

            Hey Mark, explain what is a load of dung. Are you arguing that the GOP controlled Chamber of Commerce doesn’t want cheap labor, legal or illegal? Get real. Are you arguing that the Democrats don’t want cheap voters? Wise up. If you don’t think 11 million people (probably a lot more) working for sub-standard wages don’t affect pay rates, then obviously you missed the class on “supply and demand” in 7th grade. Go back to school, because you aren’t very smart.

            Union workers aren’t very smart either, or they would quit supporting the likes of Luis Guiterrez and other Democrats giving their jobs away to illegals – while keeping union wages from rising.

        • LawrenceKScardsfan

          Chris,

          You’ve done your homework on this issue. I’ve done mine.

          When we talk about subsidies, I’m not referring simply to the tax code. I’m referring to the “investment” the government (federal, state, and local) make in the upper class – and please note – it is the taxpayer who funds these governments regardless of whether they have any control (which they don’t) over the way the money is spent.

          Point in fact: The working poor (waitresses, handymen, retail workers, healthcare workers) pay taxes on their income and some of this money goes to subsidize professional sports stadiums and the various Ballpark Villages owned by billionaires that offer entertainment beyond their ability to afford.

          Point in fact: 50% of Americans do not own a single share of stock. Yet the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing has created a stock market bubble that has tripled the value of the Dow since its low in 2007. The vast majority of this gain has gone to the upper 1/10 of 1% and this gain is taxed at a lower rate than the rate of labor. This is a subsidy. Who controls the Federal Reserve? Private banks. The same banks that brought us the great recession of 2007-09 that decimated the primary middle class asset (a home) and at the same time caused massive unemployment. These private banks then scooped up the suddenly greatly devalued assets at pennies on the dollar through foreclosure. They also have placed their names on new football stadiums – a mockery IMO. The stadium where the Super Bowl will be played is US Bank Stadium.

          Point in fact: Locally, the railroad, BNSF, owned by grandfatherly and world’s richest man Warren Buffet, was given $200 million from the federal government, $50 million from the state of Kansas, and $12 million from Johnson County, KS, to build an intermodal facility. The politicians (Democrat and Republican) said it would create “tens of thousands of new jobs.” To date this facility has created only 4,000 jobs at most, of which 2,000 are involved in the construction and will be eliminated when the construction is completed. The facility is heavily automated. It is set up to take product-filled containers from China and other Asian countries coming up I35 from Mexican shipping facilities (a direct attack on California shipping yards and their unions) and transfer them to trucks so that they can more cheaply restock WalMart and other big box retailers that are putting small businesses out of business. It will also have a detrimental effect on manufacturers who make product for these small businesses. So who does it benefit? The shareholders of BNSF, the largest of which is Warren Buffet. And why would Warren Buffet need $262 million from Kansas taxpayers when he’s the world’s richest man, with a net worth of $40 billion or more?

          These are examples of subsidies for the rich. And there are many many more. It’s a con game, and people let them get away with it because they believe it will result in jobs. This is a lie. The kind of jobs being created are not jobs that can sustain a family or provide college educations, the family’s healthcare, and other necessary investments.

          And I haven’t mentioned the biggest ripoff of all – the USA military cost PLUS pricing to global corporations like Boeing, General Electric and Lockheed Martin, that get paid their cost plus a guaranteed (by the taxpayer) 15% profit. What other business has a guaranteed profit at no risk? No other business. Just the USA military industrial complex. And the owners of these companies are laughing all the way to Armageddon.

          • Christopher Toth

            LK, didn’t see this until today. Disqus is weird in that sometimes notices of a reply are same day, then other times it takes days. Not sure what kind of algorithm is at work here given the varying results.

            That said, thanks for your indepth reply and perspective.

            Rather than simply agree or counter your points, let me instead just offer some of my own views via my one time economist lenses based on subjects you touched upon above.

            First off, my worldview when it comes to economics and by extension tax policy be it at the federal, state or local level.

            Contrary to what many economists imply in their theories, there simply isn’t a one size fits all approach as no economy let alone taxation exists in a vacuum.

            E.g., total war such as WWII usually necessitates total control of an economy by a central government.

            E.g., likewise sizeable natural disasters such as the Dust Bowl or hurricanes necessitate active government intervention to prevent price gouging and a marshalling of funds above and beyond insurance dollars to spur on economic recovery.

            E.g., a massive economic depression likewise can only be managed by the central government not just to ensure economic recovery, but just as – if not more – to prevent mass starvation and associated public health risks thereof.

            E.g., One last example – there are numerous other reasons – global economic crises such as OPEC’s oil embargo in the 1970s necessarily involved the central government.

            To be clear, in each of those examples, I am by no means asserting the approaches taken were the best ones available.

            E.g., Nixon’s price control response spun supply and demand into a death spin resulting in runaway inflation.

            Public Subsidies of Private Enterprise

            I am using the term subsidies however, they are in essence the public equivalent of an equity investor.

            Generally speaking, I don’t have a problem with public-private partnerships as long as the equity upside offered in the private sector is captured by the public in any state or local initiative.

            E.g., the Cardinals essentially funded their own stadium by issuing $200MM in private bonds and another $90MM in cash. To do so, they needed an equity partner and Saint Louis County lent the Cards $45MM (the Cardinals have to repay same at the end of 30 years or deed the stadium over to the county).

            Give or take how you crunch the numbers using differing methodologies, the Cards self-funded 75% to 90% of the stadium’s construction cost.

            Public Benefit

            This is trickier because there are intangibles involved as well and it depends upon what accounting trickery a proponent or opponent uses to make their case.

            Rather than debate the particulars of the Cards deal, let me end this section by simply saying anytime the public is asked to serve as an equity partner, they should benefit in any appreciation of the team’s value thereby making it a true equity partnership.

            I do need to highlight one intangible that is not easily quantified upfront and do so having been involved in developing commercial real estate in Chicago.

            When you are trying to woo a large corporation to relocate to your city, one of the first questions that corporation wants to know is whether any given market is capable of producing the kind of labor they need and whether the region is capable of retaining that young talent over time this ensuring an uninterrupted labor pool.

            In that vein, that’s where St. Louis errored IMO vis a vis the soccer stadium. Soccer and hockey are the preferred sports of Gen X forward and an MLS soccer team in St. Louis would have helped tremendously not only retsin but attract a younger more skilled labor force.

            E.g., Nashville, Austin and Seattle are perfect examples of cities understanding that kind of intangible value and is a huge reason why all three are thriving economically.

            Taxing Sources

            Yes, all individuals pay sales, property and other forms of taxes but that is across the board and not discriminatory in theory.

            Priorities

            On the surface, absolutely education, policing, etc., are essential, however when looking at same from an economic development standpoint, it is essential to take the long view. If as is a city or region can’t afford to meet its basic needs, that problem won’t go away on its own over time thus creating the classic catch-22 of “I can’t pay the rent but I must pay the rent”.

            Negotiations

            Beyond doubt, there are numerous examples out there wherein corporations shirk their end of the bargain.

            It seems to me the best remedy is legislating all public monies used in a private-public partnership meet the “promises” by turning them into loan or taxing convenants.

            QE / Tanaka Recession

            I agree QE had the effect of being a giveaway. The Chinese were none too thrilled with it either as they viewed it as devaluing their US holdings.

            The dilemma is like what the Japanese began experiencing in the 1980s, you reach a point of economic stagnation that even if you give away the money (which Japan tried), if there isn’t sufficient marketplace demand other than depletion driven GDP spikes, your economy along with wages remains stuck in quicksand.

            Tanakas are tricky to escape. So far, history suggests the only workable sure fired ways are global wars, transcendent bio and/or technology innovation, and massive government spending on infrastructure.

            Full disclosure: I dealt with the Fed every day of my banking career. The Fed Reserve also serves as a conduit for its member banks to buy and sell overnight funds to each other as ones liquidity needs dictate.

            That said, the vast majority of a bank’s profits are margin based. Higher or lower rates don’t erase that net interest margin.

            Lastly, just a quick thought on defense spending.

            My late father represented a major defense contractor in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and there are other sides to this issue not often understood (understandably) by the public.

            E.g., XYZ contract may not always be fully related to X purchase. Some of it may be disguised to cover top secret initiatives to develop new military technologies that they don’t want the Russians or Chinese to know about whatsoever. Hyperspace engines are a perfect current example of where a lot of those $ are ending up at (and most likely accounting for a lot of UFO sightings of late).

            E.g., oftentimes a Pentagon defense request is simply too expensive for any public company to take on without profit guarantees. Obviously this isn’t perfect given it almost always leads to cost overruns but the alternative is we couldn’t stay ahead of the Chinese and Russians without a viable defense industry or an industry willing to take on such projects because they were too financially risky.

            E.g., weapons development doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Any given program is subject to change given technological breakthroughs of our foes and when those changes come about, they aren’t cheap.

            Thanks again for your reply. Am not out to change your mind and only am offering some added perspective.

            There is always room for improvement and absolutely the public would be better served if our laws were changed to treat public equity as though it were private equity and shared in any upside on an equal basis of their investment.

          • W Mahan

            Warren Buffett is not even close to being the world’s richest man. Bezos is worth over 100 billion. And there are quite a few between Buffet and Bezos worldwide. But I get your point. On the other hand, a LOT more than 1/10 of 1% share in the gains of the stock marker, even if they don’t own individual stocks. Many workers enjoy the gains of their 401Ks and almost everyone who works for a company can and does contribute to a 401K. Personally, my checking account wouldn’t pay Buffet’s monthly laundry bill, but the gains in my personal investments over the last 10 years have been amazing. Sure, they could all go south tomorrow, but to say that my portfolio hasn’t increased vastly would be hypocrisy. When Buffet and Bezos are making money, most likely so I am.

            I do agree that we should not be subsidizing billionaires, but let’s don’t confuse the issues.

    • Robb St. Louis

      Sounds like your argument is personal, with someone in particular and you are now just taking it out on us. Public schools? Socialist? Just because people around you don’t know economics or seemingly basic math and that makes you feel really smart and clearly full of yourself doesn’t mean that we do not or that you should be so smug. This is a good thing! This deal paying for one superstar is a good thing … considering that we do not currently have a superstar. Maybe you don’t realize that when a player signs a $200 million contract the money isn’t paid up front, so this works out perfectly. When you take this new TV deal into consideration along with our reasonable payroll obligations, Waino’s contract coming off the books after ’18, our strong farm system, our excellent attendance and the fact that we already have a competitive team with a winning record there is no reason to look 5-10 years down the road and no reason not to feel good about our present situation. As for the suggestion that anyone expects the organization to drop $1.2 billion on payroll this offseason, it is just asinine.

  • Mike French

    I would agree with Bernie for the most part on this article but with one caveat. The Cardinals currently enjoy a winning culture, but that can disappear in a hurry. After Herzog left, the Cardinals went 12 years without making the playoffs. Prior to Herzog, the Cardinals went another 12 years without making the playoffs. Prior to the ’64 World Series, the Cardinals went 17 years without making the playoffs. Two years missing the playoffs can easily turn into 4 years, 5 years, or a decade. I think it’s a safe bet that the Cardinals won’t be pulling in three and a half million attendees after 5-10 years of losing baseball. Winning cultures in sports are not a permanent thing, as we in St. Louis can certainly attest. The Cardinals better start making the playoffs again soon or this winning culture could turn into a losing culture.

    • George Belt

      There really is no way to compare Cardinal baseball success, or lack of success, in past eras with the current situation. There are just too many differences. The DeWitt ownership and the front office management of the past 20 years have been the biggest reason for their success…and I can say without any reservation that this is the best 20 years of my long baseball lifetime…and I first became a fan in 1946…which is longer than most posting here have been alive.

      While there is no way to guarantee consistent winning…there is a way to build a consistent contending culture and the Cardinal management has done that. No sports team wins championships every year and the draft and playoff system will keep it that way.

      • Mike French

        I respectfully disagree, partially. I agree that there is no way to guarantee success and that this has been the most successful twenty years arguably ever in Cardinal history. However, I still hold the belief that winning cultures are important parts of long term success.

        Between the glory days of Whitey Ball and LaRussa, the Cardinals simply played bad baseball. And it wasn’t all due to a lack of talent. LaRussa came in and changed that whole atmosphere. Initially he did it with retreads and not much help from the minor leagues. But he rebuilt the belief in “the Cardinal Way”. Matheny has been squandering that legacy.

        If dynasties was just about draft picks and free agents, other teams would be more successful too. What the Cards did was being in a Hall of Fame manager and built an atmosphere of confidence and sound play. Without that we would not have seen 20 years of success. It is rare that minor league call ups will turn around a losing atmosphere. Typically they play to the level of the club. Waino did so well because he had Carp. Molina because of Matheny, etc..

        “The Cardinal Way” is beginning to show signs of erosion. That has to be addressed lest it turns into a freefall.

      • We’re glad your so happy George. But you keep living and dwelling on prior successes, while ignoring the recent train wreck that is this org. But you’re not alone. My wife’s father still talks about the Dodgers, and planning a trip to see them at Ebbet’s field– THIS coming spring. Shall I book you a ticket alongside him, lol? I’ll call my friend, Walter O’Malley, expect front row seats, lol.

        • George Belt

          Your comments never make much sense…must be a result of where you have your head positioned.

          • Why am I not surprised you struggle to not only assimilate, but comprehend. You’re a senile old twit, who should resume taking the medication you were prescribed.

      • Big T

        George, All great points. I concur this is without a doubt the best management the Cards have ever had. Perfect? No. But ALWAYS have the large picture in mind for the best of the franchise. Looking forward to what this FO/week will bring us.

  • The Cardinals and particularly this GM Mozeliak, have done a poor job of assessing the situation over the last couple of yrs. The NLDS loss to the Cubs occurred in 2015. That should’ve been the first early indicator, that strong moves had to be taken then. An important decision on the proper team direction needed to be made. Do you try to keep this current aging group of players intact, or do you look to the future? Do you try to milk what few good yrs special players such as Yadi & Waino have left, or do you dismantle that club, trying to win 3-5 yrs from now?

    Mozeliak’s problem was his misguided strategy, which was to do something HALFWAY IN BETWEEN. It also represented the more riskier strategy, one far more difficult to execute. As usual they tried to bid on the better player/free agents to come here. But in those days unlike the recent Stanton offer, they simply did not offer enough money for a guy like Scherzer to ever come here. And those failed top tier offers, were then subsequently replaced by blueprint plan #2. In almost every case, Mozeliak’s 2nd plan proved to be a disaster, hurting the club far more than helping it. Without question they appeared to greatly fear the ramifications of breaking an aging team down. Either that or they simply miscalculated how much this existing club still had left. Either way, or either mistake, has led to what we’ve witnessed the last couple of yrs. My guess is, they were too intimidated by how attendance records, and those precious profit margins would be effected by a rebuilding stage.

    These last couple of yrs more than any IMO, have firmly displayed how this GM is NOT the right man for this team and its current direction. Apparently everyone but Mozeliak could read the tea leaves at that time as they were, after 2015. It was more than obvious, players such as Lackey and Heyward could readily see that direction, wanting no part of being with this team.

    The tragic death of Oscar Taveras also greatly contributed to our downward spiral. Mozeliak’s fool hardly choice to fill Taveras’ slot in rf by trading Shelby Miller, for the soon to be free agent Heyward hurt big time also. It did nothing but magnify the damages sustained by the loss of Taveras. And the subsequent fiasco of the Heyward free agent negotiations, were as much as any an indicator of Mozeliak’s incompetence. He willingly traded Miller for Heyward, believing he would NOT lose Heyward to free agency. Say whatever you want about what a mistake it would’ve been to sign Heyward. The ONLY point that matters is, they WANTED TO SIGN HEYWARD in the worst way. And there’s irony in that. The only thing worse than Heyward saying no, was if he were to say yes. This was the behind the 8 ball situation, this incompetent GM placed this org in.

    They had other alternatives to the Heyward trade. But bear in mind, Heyward had an incredibly reasonable 8 mil salary, his one and only yr with the Cardinals. That amounted to about half of what the quality free agents were getting in salary that winter. The thought of what they lost in Taveras, a player who was still years away from making the big money, was a definite bitter pill for them to swallow. It was also a completely unexpected alteration, a major increase to the payroll structure they envisioned. Hence, they saw a bargain in Heyward, or a delayed/deferred “pay me later” solution. And that slow pay way of addressing issues, unfortunately is the most frequent path this team, this Gm, this ownership, more often than not chooses.

    My bottom line. If they truly wanted to make Yadi & Waino’s few yrs they had remaining worthwhile, they should’ve made a hellvua bigger effort than carrying the 15th highest payroll. These half arsed attempts we’ve witnessed, amounted to nothing but waste. Mozeliak’s numerous blunders for the players he did choose to sign, literally did waste what few yrs these players had left. It would’ve taken a far smarter GM than Mozeliak, to accomplish keeping this team in the playoffs. They chose the wrong direction. Rebuilding was the ONLY CHOICE, if Mozeliak was the GM you chose to go with.

  • James Berry

    I’d say that there is always a “window” for any sports franchise. Maybe that window is larger for some, but it is a window none the less.

    Also, an obvious window is there for Bill DeWitt Jr. to win 1 or more trophies before his time ends. Either as the majority owner or on this planet.

    There are “windows” for every goal in life.

  • Tim

    With all due respect Bernie, even the Yankees retool and the Cubs retool. Now the Cardinals have been lucky ( because they did not sign Pujols) but going through cycles is a good thing even for the existing player to rest physically and mentally.

    • geoff

      Tim, the Cubs retooled for 108 years…that’s one heck of a long window.

      • Tim

        No they retooled from 2012 – 2015 . Before that , they had no plan

        • Mark Lee Arbogast

          Oh they always had a plan. Those plans just didn’t work. They tried hiring trendy managers like baker and Baylor. They tried old school guys like Zimmerman. They tried expensive free agents galor. They spent lots of money on payroll too.

  • silencedogoodreturns

    i agree with your bottom line, but my impression is that the “window” refers to 2018 only. The team as currently constituted is no World Series contender, and there is just a short “window” to acquire the talent that would enable them to become one in 2018. The clock ticking is the approach of opening day with a roster that still needs help.

  • LawrenceKScardsfan

    This idea of a window feels like another snow job to me. Just like last year when the Cardinals said they were going to make major upgrades and then settled on trying to convince the fan base that by signing Dexter Fowler they had hired someone who would take the Cardinals back into the playoffs, the Cardinals appear to be trying to sell the fan base that Ozuna will have a similar transformative quality. While Ozuna offers the promise of more power, he doesn’t address the weakness of the bullpen closer or a thin rotation.

    What worries me is that the Cardinals will most likely try to shoehorn Reyes into the closer role (just as they did with Rosenthal). I’d like to see Reyes potential as a starter and cannot for the life of me understand why the Cardinals aren’t doing everything to secure a closer via free agency if nothing else. At least with Reyes positioned to move into the rotation in May (or whenever) next season, we have a bonafide potential arm available as a starter. Right now we have no one. And to make Reyes a closer is a limit on his potential greatness. And I don’t understand the move at all – except as a move based on budget (re: cheapness).

    • Tarzan

      I agree with your Reyes analogy.
      Using the big, powerful Reyes in a closer-type role, when he’d bring more horsepower and in the right situation, aka the starting lineup, especially on an already thin SP core is not in our best interests.
      We can/should buy a closer and leave Reyes where he is.
      Using Reyes as a closer is akin to using a race car in the 1/4 mile drag races. We more realistically need someone who can contribute more “laps” in the long 162-game/9-inning race. Yes, we need a dragster to finish out many games – and we’ll get one, but the season is an Indy 500 and I’d rather be using Reyes to fill that role.

    • Robb St. Louis

      First and foremost, Reyes has way more talent than Rosenthal has/had … whatever. They may use him out of the bullpen for a while when he comes back and maybe for the remainder of ’18 for that matter. They will say they are working him back into shape or some variant of that I’m sure.

      Not to diminish your concern but I feel Reyes just has to much talent for that to happen long term.

  • Big T

    Happy New Year to all!!

    Most of this article is spot on and I would like to enlarge a few points. The Cardinals way of developing their talent via the draft, owning and managing their farm system, and emphasis on drafting and developing pitching is a winning system. Coupled with being consistent in value driven deals, role playing FA acquisitions, along with players desires to play here (and they do still.); and now a significant presence in the international pool (both Dominican and Asian ) as well as the rich tradition of St Louis baseball fan support and their owners commitment all reflect a bright future.

    All these have allowed the Cardinals to have won and appeared in more post season games in the last 20 years than any other franchise in baseball. Twenty years of those results makes for a impatient fan base after missing Red October times 2. This I understand. I do not believe in this 2 year window non sense. I believe it is fake news.

    For example the near future and certainly in 2020: DeJong, Wong, still anchoring the infield (maybe Perez or Sosa), Kelly catching, A. Garcia in right field along with Pham and a resigned Ozuna or even a Grichuk, Bader or Oneill. The resigning of Carp and Gyrko. The rotation of Martinez, Flaherty, Weaver, Hudson, Hicks, Gomber, and Helsey. Wacha in the pen?? That is what 2020 is shaping up to look like.

    Cards future is brighter than any team in the Central Division. We have the prospects, payroll flexibility a huge TV contract and the developing of ball park village to anchor our storied franchise. One that will never have a window. Our coaching staff is reinforced along with our analytics and the pitching controlled by Mike Maddux.

    All good full steam ahead. Go Cards!

    • James Berry

      The fact that you included a Carpenter re-signing, Grichuk and Gyorko still being with the club doesn’t exactly scream “a brighter future”. Carpenter will be older, slower and very likelier to be a worse defender than he is now. Why would a competent FO even consider re-signing a 35/36 year old player that is regressing each year that can only hit lead off? Grichuk has no chance of sticking around with the club for 3 more years if he can’t cut down his Ks and raise his walk percentage. That would devalue him even further. Gyorko is going to want to play every day and by 2020 he will have lost that opportunity with the Cards, if any of the rumors from this off season are true.

      You failed to even mention our best pitching prospect in Reyes.

      • Big T

        I appreciate your pointing out that I missed Reyes. Wow huge oversight. He is a formidable ace in the making. I also did not mention those we will add via trade or draft. My point was Cards have a bright upside.

        I read too many of your past posts on your opinion of Carp. He is an all star. His stats say otherwise so i will just agree to disagree with you here.

        • M W

          People keep saying they aren’t done. I think they might be. It fits their recent MO. One “big” move and that’s it.

          • Big T

            They are frugal no doubt and sometimes it comes off as over conservative especially when they finish second in the bidding (Pujols, Price, Luis Roberts to name a few) I left off Heyward and Stanton because IMO they never wanted to sign here. Their business model has excelled in value driven trades and acquisitions. That is what has placed them in the enviable position to have a flexible salary schedule and a farm full of prospect highly sought after by others.

            Hopefully they aren’t done because they need another pitcher for me to feel comfortable. It also would let them use Reyes in the pen and save his innings for October and insulate for injury possibility

        • James Berry

          I’m not for our FO to rush foolishly in and sign/trade. I have patience. But, that said, this is an odd off season. Many Cards fans are all up in arms over so little done by our FO, but evidently they have tunnel vision, because no FO of any team is burning the wires getting things done.

          There have been 4 major, in my opinion, moves made thus far this off season. 3 made by the Marlins(Stanton, Ozuna, Gordon) and the Rox signing Davis. That is a VERY light off season, to this point.

          Carpenter is not a lead off hitter. Just because he has to hit there because he can’t hit elsewhere, doesn’t mean he is one. He’s atrocious defensively. You are posting past numbers to prop up the future. He’s declining pretty rapidly and that is why he needs to be in the AL to DH.

          • Big T

            James, Here are the most recent of numbers for Carp. from the 2017 season:

            139 games started (played in 145).384 OBP, .451 SLG, .853 OPS, and a 2.7WAR
            He led the team in Walks (109), doubles (31), and total bases(224) while finishing 2nd in HR (23) and third in total hits (120).
            His defensive numbers were 13 errors in 965 total chances for a .988 fielding percentage.

            Given all this happened while playing with a bum shoulder I don’t think he is “declining pretty rapidly”. In fact I believe these are good numbers for someone who has been asked to move around defensively so often to accommodate the needs of the team.

            I do concur that on too many occasions he had baserunning blunders. These along with costly errors (that cost you a game) make his shortcoming seem more exasperating than I believe they are. Hopefully these can be coached thru as it was not a problem of his before last year.

          • James Berry

            The fact that he moves around makes him even less of a need, imo. He has 1 position he can play without complete embarrassment and that is 1st. Base running is instinctive. He has poor instincts and that can’t be coached out of him.

            He’s a dead pull hitter that wants to hit a homer or walk. Not my kind of player because he can’t/won’t do the little things needed.

      • Patricia

        Goo-g-le is paying $97 per hour,w-i-th weekly pa-y-outs.Y-o-u c-a-n also avail this.
        O-n tuesday I got a brand n-e-w Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $11752 this last four weeks..with-o-u-t a-n-y doubt it’s the most-comfortable job I have ever done .. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive your-s-elf if you don’t check it
        !wx203d:
        ♥X♥W♥E♥A♥D♥B♥A♥S♥Y♥R♥E♥B♥G♥G♥F♥G♥X♥X♥W♥B♥T♥F♥X♥H♥L♥F♥C♥O♥J♥M♥G♥A
        >>>>> http://GoogleDailyConsumerMediaJournalsJobsReport1/easy/jobs ♥X♥W♥E♥A♥D♥B♥A♥S♥Y♥R♥E♥B♥G♥G♥F♥G♥X♥X♥W♥B♥T♥F♥X♥H♥L♥F♥C♥O♥J♥M♥G♥A:::::!wx203!jwehf

  • rightthinker4

    Let’s hope MO hasn’t closed “the window” with the Ozuna trade.

  • BradW

    It seems like our winning teams of the past have been made up by very good core players. Who are the current very good core players? Carp, Molina, and Martinez are probably it. That is not a great core. Baseball lives and dies with good starting pitching. I think until we establish some new workhorses in the rotation, this team is going to continue to be in re-build mode. I think we are two or three seasons away from having a fully re-built reliable starting rotation. Thus, we are in a re-build mode now, I would say. The window has probably closed on the team until that foundation has been re-established.

  • Mark Lee Arbogast

    They are finished making moves folks. You heard it right from MOs mouth…”there’s just a lot to be excited about how this team looks today”.

  • geoff

    Speaking of windows, I opened the window the other day and influenza.

  • Curtis Price

    ESPN is becoming irrelevant since they started with all the political Bullshit I was a big fan right before they let Ditka go because he said he was for Trump. They will keep fading. If you piss off half the fans you only have half a chance at success.

    • M W

      1) Ditka is still working for ESPN.
      2) He should have been fired for his moronic recent comments.

      But that doesn’t fit your paranoid narrative.

  • M W

    I wish they would act like there is a two year window in the hopes that they might do what’s needed to get this club back on top. Ozuna was good but this has been a bad off season so far

  • Katie Coyle

    What a great article. Lots of valid statistics and excellent points. As a long time Cardinal fan, I have become really disgusted with the owners of this wonderful franchise for being so tight with a dollar. They have squandered the fan base and they may be looking at a spring season with less attendance than previous years. I certainly won’t spend my money to go, especially since there has been increasingly less access to the players and the dinner with “selected members of the team” ends up being rookie players I’ve never heard of and some broadcasters. Paid extra for onfield batting practice & none of the players came over to say hello or sign an autograph. Very disappointing. Not sure how many games I will buy this season. My attendance record was 15-1 last year, seeing our final loss to the cubs. Pathetic season for most fans. Hope the owners wake up and open their vault to make this season and future seasons winners.

  • Scott

    We can say that the Cardinals have PLENTY of money to spend all we want, but until we start seeing it, I am not going to believe it!

  • dan

    The Post is nothing but a mouthpiece for the Cardinals. They back every move and do their PR spinning for them. They’re a total joke. I live in Chicago and the criticism heaped on underperforming teams here by fans and media alike would make Mo and Matheny wilt. If they’re done this offseason they deserve to be slammed right and left and called out for a woeful offseason AGAIN and yes, even with the Ozuna signing. Granted, he’s a big signing (and a good one), but this team has a mountain of money so no excuses. If this rotation is the one that starts the season we’re in huge trouble. Mo and Girsch gushed about “a very different team” taking the field next season so let’s see it. Either that or shut up and admit that 3-5 games over .500 is just fine as long as 3MM come through the gates.

  • flood21

    I can’t believe you think they still have a window open Bernie. Did you forget they still have your favorite punching bag MM. in charge?

  • ken

    yes. the cards have positioned themselves uncommonly well for perennial contention.