While I have relocated to Little Rock, Arkansas, some things haven’t changed. The trek towards getting my three year old son potty trained is still active and ongoing. He still trashes the house. I can still have St. Louis coffee at an arm’s reach and the St. Louis Cardinals don’t drift far from my mind. Well, that last part is only half true. I haven’t paid too much attention to the Rogues in Red since the end of the National League Championship series. A break was needed. That moment at the end of the race where you drop the log off your shoulders and simply walk off the race track. Stress levels of a different kind grow out of the ground(moving, adjustment, job hunt) and the sports side calms down. However, I must check in on things. Make sure fireworks are being kept to a minimum and the home team is securing another long deep playoff run for 2015. I trust John Mozeliak like I trust my espresso maker to jolt me out of a zombie state in the morning. He’s got it covered. I’ll just do a fly over here.
*Pat Neshek Signs with Houston
After an amazing out of nowhere season with the Cards, good guy Pat goes down to Texas and joins the rehabbing Astros bullpen for a two year, 12.5 million dollar contract. That right there immediately informs every Cardinal fan that the man wasn’t coming back under the arch. That’s expensive money for a guy with zero real closing experience and one brilliant season. Let Houston stray down inside that barrel. Neshek bought the permit for that shiny new gold boat with his work here in 2014 and I wish him the best of luck. He earned it.
*Jon Lester Signs With The Cubs
10 year. 155 million. Small Bears Club affiliated. Lester goes from the Red Sox to the A’s to the Cubs. Formerly cursed club to Beane’s Moneyball turmoil to a seriously cursed group of dreamers. Lester picked the Cubs over The San Francisco Giants, who have won three World Series in the last 6 years and always find a way. I am sure they didn’t woo him with Old Style advertising or Train tickets but something got Lester to sign on the dotted line in Chicago. Dollar bills? Sure. I believe the man wants a challenge. The reason I like the deal is it completes the Cubs makeover. They have the young talent, hungry general manager who brought a World Series to Boston in Theo Epstein, and they went out and signed Joe Maddon to a 5 year deal. Now they have a legit ace in their rotation, and can pair him with good young arms. This makes the Cubs relevant and gives them a heartbeat. It sparks the rivalry with the Cards, which has died since Sammy Sosa, Dusty Baker and other Cub employees wandered off. It makes the National League Central even better. I like it. The Cubs like to spend money. Let’s go out and spoil the party again.
*Lance Lynn Will Get A Raise
As Teddy KGB(John Malkovich) said in the underrated poker classic, Rounders, to a room full of bookies, gamblers and gangsters, “Pay the man his money. He beat me straight up.” Lynn has earned a raise straight up. He climbed the hill from alright 4th starter to a possible 2nd arm or ace in the making. His 2014 season didn’t raise Cy Young flags but the people who watch all 30 plus starts with this durable young kid every season, a change was evident. He pitched to contact, seemed more democratic and didn’t fly off the handle when a building showed a crack in the foundation during an inning. Lynn’s earned run average went down with his run support and he still won a healthy amount of games for the Cards. When Adam Wainwright broke down with a dead arm or Michael Wacha had a stress reaction that ended his season(effective pitching wise at least), Lynn stabilized the rotation. He doesn’t smile a lot, carries a sharp wit and answers questions in short bursts, but he’s paid to pitch and not practice being a politician. I don’t think the Cards should trade him while he is hot. I think they should lock him up. Look at his career. Consistency doesn’t show up like that often.
*Finding a Bat
This isn’t an easy area to dance around in. You can support the big guy at first base with a bat or you can supply the outfield with a safety net. There is also the bench bat problem and the backup catcher weakness. The Cards can still locate a bat on the market. Rickie Weeks? Mark Reynolds? There could be an internal option. Something. All I know is the late night threat needs to loom larger. Randal Grichuk could be the guy but it wouldn’t hurt to bring in a veteran. Make him earn his playing time. Mo still has some work to do.
*Carlos Martinez Makes the Best Tribute to Oscar
Martinez taking over Oscar’s number #18 is a perfect way to remember the young slugger. That number shouldn’t be handed off to anybody and it shouldn’t be left alone in the vault. It needs to live, breathe and create more signature moments. Forget the grass cut outs, the small statue or the other memorial plans. Just seeing the #18 on Carlos’ back as he takes the mound in the first or runs out of the bullpen will be a good reason to sit back and acknowledge the legacy of Taveras. The exuberant energy of Martinez and his strong friendship with Oscar makes this the perfect move by the club. Every time I see that number I will instantly picture the huge Arch sized smile on Oscar’s face. A smile that never dimmed.
That’s a wrap, folks. The winter is slowly rolling through. Temperatures haven’t gotten drastic yet but a new year is upon us. A year that will include more turmoil, surprise, excitement and a heavy dose of drama that is only served best by the Cardinals. A signature blend of sports blues.
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