So another day in Philadelphia, another big rout. Like they said on the telecast, combining a flyball contact pitcher with home run tendencies in that park against that offense, well, likelihood of you coming out unscathed is pretty low. At least Albert got another longball and Chris Duncan put up another highlight-worthy catch. He’s definitely made good strides toward being an average outfielder, something LaRussa said he’d be able to do with practice.
What really raised my hackels (whatever they may be), however, were the comments by Mark Grace from the Fox studio about the Cardinals. Grace said that the Cardinals “deserved” their fate this year after not doing anything in the offseason coming off their championship.
This has to be the oldest and most tired argument for the year. We have people at the Clubhouse taking this position a lot as well. But in my book, it just doesn’t hold water.
Let’s look at who left. Jason Marquis. A pitcher so reviled in Cardinal Nation that they’d have stormed the stadium if they’d kept him. A pitcher that was left off most of the postseason rosters and didn’t throw a pitch in October. Marquis had shown he wasn’t going to listen to Dave Duncan and the Cards were better off letting him go. He’s starting to revert to form for the Cubs after a strong start, so we’ll see if he steadies himself or continues to self-distruct. But either way, it was time for him to go.
Jeff Suppan. I liked Suppan in St. Louis. He was a good #3 type pitcher who did have a tendency to come up big in pressure situations. He did a lot of good things for the Cardinals, and if they’d been outbid on him for a one or two year deal, that’s one thing. But Milwaukee gave him a lot of money for four years. By the end of that contract, he’s much more likely to be dragging them down than pushing them toward the top. It was a great move for this year on the Brewers part, though he has also struggled lately, but it was just too much for too long.
Jeff Weaver. Everyone remembers his post-season heroics, but remember that he struggled so much that the Angels gave him away and he really didn’t turn it on until the last month or so for the Cardinals either. I thought that he would do well to stay with Duncan here another year, and the Cardinals did offer him a more stable two-year deal. But he went to where the money was, and it looked like a big mistake early in the year when he had a 13+ ERA. He’s had some good outings lately, which is nice to see, but basically the Cards weren’t going to overpay for the chance that he’d keep his October form and he wanted to be paid, no matter his comments about “being wanted” in Seattle. If the stories of LaRussa and others calling him in the offseason were true, there was plenty of love being thrown his way from the Cardinal side of things.
Then let’s look at what the Cards tried to do. They really put all their chips in on Jason Schmidt. A mid-size market can’t afford to do too much, so they prioritized and went hard after Schmidt. They apparently came in second, mainly because he didn’t want to leave the West Coast. If they had landed him, and he’d been on the DL like he has this year, would we be giving management credit for doing something, even though the record likely would be even worse than it is now?
They did some scrap-heap searching, this is true. The Cardinals are on a budget, which teams in their financial situation have to be. Ownership has shown in the past that they will step up–witness the extensions for Pujols, the contracts for Rolen and Edmonds, heck, even the extension for Carpenter in the offseason, two years before they had to worry about it–but they aren’t just going to spend to spend.
In two years, if they have saved the money and make a run at someone like Johan Santana, we might be very glad that 2007 was the year that it was. But let’s end this “they didn’t do anything” rhetoric–it just doesn’t hold water.