The Zen of Cardinal Nation

by on February 10, 2011 · 3 comments

At some point, I’m waiting for an outbreak of common sense to strike.  The sky will no longer be falling, and people will stop preaching “doom and gloom” to the members of Cardinal Nation for the sake of page views and ratings.  Ultimately, the factual reality will prevail over conjecture, hearsay, and third generation innuendo created by text/tweet/email from one reporter to another regarding a “highly placed source” within “an organization close to one or more parties involved” with nobody in particular. 

Creating some fluffy article about “blockbuster trades” and Albert Pujols may be a wonderful way to generate site traffic, but it’s lousy journalism.  As a player with 10-5 rights, Pujols isn’t about to waive his no-trade rights to go anywhere.  He’s stated all along that he’d like to remain in St. Louis, and why would he want to uproot himself for 1 season or even part of 1 season only to potentially go through the process again after the season is over?  It doesn’t make sense.  He’s not waiving his no-trade rights, and the point is moot.  End of story.  It’s nonsensical to try to create something out of it, because there just isn’t a story there.

Let’s also give Cardinals fans some credit for being savvy enough to understand that now isn’t necessarily the right time to panic.  The spring training deadline isn’t the ONE deadline to rule them all.  It’s the deadline for negotiating prior to the start of the season.  If a deal isn’t in place by that deadline, the team also has an exclusive negotiating period after the season ends.  True, it’s a very small window of opportunity, but that would give both the team and Albert a full season to reconsider their respective positions. 

Regardless of when the negotiations take place, there is very little that the average fan or media member actually knows about what is going on behind closed doors.  Beyond the most basic of assumptions, it’s borderline irresponsible to speculate and cloak that speculation underneath a thin veneer of “reliable sources” and “people close to the situation”.  If you want to go that route, trying doing so in a more appropriate fashion.  Try writing a facetious perspective article in which you put yourself in Mozeliak’s shoes or Lozano’s position, and then feel free to speculate all you want.  Just do so within the confines of that facetious context and don’t confuse people by mixing an ounce of fact with a pound of fiction.  Spare us the media-manipulated drama.  The situation is dramatic enough without everybody with an opinion tossing an over-dramatic log onto the proverbial fire. 

If you are really interested in writing a piece about how the Cardinals could replace Albert Pujols, then I’ve given you an example in “Mang Overboard“.  It’s pretty outlandish, because it doesn’t involve anything ridiculous like players in their mid-30’s who are well beyond their baseball primes.  It does involve Rickie Weeks who hit .269/.366/.464/.830 with 29 hr, 83 rbi and 112 runs scored in 2010.  He’s 28, a legit leadoff hitter, and he’s headed to arbitration with the Brewers.  If he comes available as a free agent after 2011, he could give the Cardinals some power at the leadoff position, and he punishes left-handed pitchers (.329/.446/.579/1.025in 2010).  He’s not exactly known for his defense, and he does strike out a lot, but he’d certainly help provide some punch from the 2B position.  I was serious about going after Shin-Soo Choo as well.  He hit .300/.401/.484/.885 with 22 hr, 90 rbi, and 22 stolen bases in 2010.  His past 2 seasons have been good for 6.2 and 7.3 WAR respectively.   That 7.3 in 2010 consisted of 5.8 oWAR and 1.5 dWAR, so his defense would certainly strengthen a questionable outfield defense. 

This all probably makes too much sense for some national media people who shall not be named, because I suggest that Pujols doesn’t have to be replaced by a single superstar.  There may simply be too much common sense in the article for others, because Allen Craig represents an inexpensive, in-house replacement at first base.  There is no equivalent to the canary in the coal mine, and I don’t suggest that the team has to spend $25-30M per season to replace an aging superstar. 

Let’s suppose that Allen Craig isn’t the answer at first base.  What about Lance Berkman?  No, not THAT Lance Berkman.  Think about a younger version of Lance Berkman who plays for the Yankees and goes by the name Nick Swisher.  He’s a switch hitter who can play both outfield and first base.  The Yankees have an option on Swisher for 2012, but he could be available after that.  He hit .288/.359/.511/.870 with 29 hr and 89 rbi in 2010.  Sounds a bit like a young Lance Berkman, doesn’t he?  He might be a useful stopgap measure for 2-3 years until someone from the minor league system is ready to step in and take the position full time.  Let’s just keep open minds.

That’s the wonderful thing about Cardinal Nation.  While some national media writers are trying to stir the pot, we’ve already moved to another pot.  When they are trying to blindfold the shepherd to lead the media-fed sheep astray, we’ve become the shepherds.  We don’t read their columns for insight; we’re proofreading for mistakes.  To paraphrase a man with a mullet and a shirt with no sleeves, turn around, and they’ll be two steps behind.  It’s all part of the zen that comes with your membership card as a lifelong fan in Cardinal Nation.  Believe that.

TIDBIT:  I’ve heard several fans say that the Ryan Ludwick trade doomed the Cardinals 2010 season.  Maybe, maybe not.  The team was 12 games above .500 with Ludwick and 2 games below .500 after the trade.  The Cardinals averaged 4.46 runs per game prior to trading Ludwick and 4.69 after the trade.  Go figure.  It’s all about the pitching and WHEN the team scores runs.  Who knew?

MORE BITS OF TID:  I’ve stated this on Twitter, but it’s worth repeating here.  Where the Cardinals are concerned, I’ll put our local Stl. sports people and Cardinals bloggers up against the national sports people any day of the week.  We absolutely do work.  Bank on it.  Check out the United Cardinal Bloggers, Baseball Bloggers Alliance, and links on the PH8 main page for proof. 

EXTRA BIT OF TID:  Great to see that Jon Morosi at Fox Sports is one of the few who isn’t proclaiming the end of the world is at hand.  Kudos to Jon for his piece about the Pujols Deadline.

Like it?  Still afraid the sky is falling?  Follow gr33nazn on Twitter, and I’ll blast you with Def Leppard lyrics!

Cardinals fan since I could hold a fishing pole steady. Accidental blogger. Opinionated. I could care less about what you think of me. Constantly confounded, bemused, and confuzzled (ie I'm a pc and a mac). I'm an IT infrastructure analyst with a penchant for breaking tech toys. I ate a sabermetric primer for breakfast. I love playing "All-powerful GM of MLB". The 2010 Cardinals represented a good, practical definition "cognitive dissonance". The 2011 version got by on duct tape and a prayer, and I'm fine with that. They just need new tape for #12 in 12.
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Jon Doble February 10, 2011

I completely agree that the Cardinals do not need to spend the whole $30 million and they can still improve the team post-Pujols. I’ve always been a proponent about spreading out talent and not becoming too reliant on one player to provide the offense. Which is better? One 40 HR hitter and two 20+ HR hitters or four 20+ HR hitters? It’d be nice to have that go-to guy in the lineup, but he’s rarely up when you need a punch and almost anyone in the lineup would be capable of something big.

I’ve honked it before. Giants had no go-to guy in their lineup. They just got big hits when they needed them. That’s what a good offense comes down to.

Dennis February 10, 2011

I’ve definitely fallen into the “four 20+ hr hitter” camp over the years. I’ve enjoyed having the big hitters in the middle of the lineup, but it’s a shame counting the at-bats just to get around to those guys each time. With men on base, a double will often do the trick. I’d rather see a lineup full of doubles hitters than 2 bombers trying to compensate for a lineup with some holes in it.

A lot of Albert’s home runs are solo shots anyway, so I’d like to see more high OBP guys. Putting pressure on the opposing pitcher to execute in more innings would make for a more exciting game in my opinion as well. It’s possible with the team they have, but most everybody has to have a good-to-great year. That’s asking a lot.

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