We’re pretty spoiled as St. Louis Cardinals fans.
The home team has not only won its fair share of games over the past 15 years or so… It’s had a knack for winning more often than anyone could have reasonably hoped when the games mattered the most. (Remember this little gem from 2011?)
So it’s all the more jarring to see the Cardinals mail it in Monday night in a must-win game against the lowly Cincinnati Reds. St. Louis lost 15-2 and was out-hit 22-6 by a club that’s in full-fledged rebuilding mode.
It seems the the Birds have decided they don’t have what it takes to make it deep into the 2016 post season, so why bother trying?
I hope general manager John Mozeliak is paying attention.
This is a club in dire need of a retooling. And I’m not talking about the perennial search for low-hanging fruit. The Cardinals are in need of an overhaul of the top of the starting rotation, a makeover of the bullpen and they need to find players who play defense and score in other ways than waiting for a three-run homer. It would also be nice if they could find some guys who make contact a little more consistently than the current bunch of whiffers.
You can’t watch a team quit like this, losing 13 of its last 24 games down the stretch, and then throw it back out there next year in hopes that it will do better when the aging core is a year older.
I don’t know how the Birds are going to rebuild quickly. This isn’t a market like Chicago, Boston or Houston that can afford to fall back on a humongous television contract to pay the bills while the product on the field suffers. St. Louis needs to sell tickets to make money. And to do so it needs to keep interest in coming to the ballpark high. But something big is going to have to happen to turn this negative trend around.
The Cardinals will likely save nearly $30 million by declining contract options on left fielder Matt Holliday and southpaw hurler Jaime Garcia. The team could end up saving millions more if first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss departs for a contract more lucrative than what St. Louis is willing to offer.
So that’s at least $40 million a year to reload the roster. Jhonny Peralta, Lance Lynn and others will come off the books after the 2017 season to add to the spending flexibility, although by that time guys like Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha and Aledmys Diaz will see their salaries escalate. The Birds are going to have to be willing to move outside their free agent spending comfort zone in they’re going to improve greatly for the 2017 campaign. But where and how would they spend that windfall? $40 million doesn’t go as far as it used to. Zack Greinke, a second banana much of the time for the starting rotations he’s been a part of, averages more than $30 million a season in his current deal.
Yoenis Cespedes? Ian Desmond? Dexter Fowler? Josh Reddick? Mark Trumbo? There has to be someone out there who can help this team get back where it belongs.