A few years back, the biggest shock in any off-season I can recall was the announcement that there was now going to be more than just the Birds on the Bat for the front of the jersey. And while the St. Louis for Saturday home games might feel gimmicky to some, the reality is the Cardinals no longer have an advantage over the rest of baseball. Today’s announcement (nothing official just yet) puts the team under the Arch squarely in the middle of an arms’ race with more than a few bats thrown in for good measure.
Gone are the days of ‘hometown discounts’ and wanting to perform in front of a packed house every night. Baseball prints money now so it makes perfect sense for David Price and Jason Heyward to follow the dollar signs to bigger markets. Today the entire management team for the Cards should be applauded for getting Dexter Fowler because going forward everyone is on a level playing field. That’s not to say Carlos Martinez will sign a deal in the next few months that is perceived to be team-friendly but if he does, good on the player and team for having mutual interest.
What I hope beyond hope happens going forward, though, are that the two most recent signings put St. Louis in a better place going into the NEXT two Winters. Everyone agreed that this free agent class may have been the weakest in recent memory which also coincided with some of the wildest trade scenarios possible. Whether or not a play for Tara’s pick (see Blackmon, Charlie) was truly an option is a post for another day as one thing is for certain – the Cardinals were tired of being used as leverage and finishing second.
Celebrate today for what it means moving forward, especially as the build-up left a bitter taste after watching the Cubs and Nats get stronger. They chose to deal away prospects and will have to make more moves to counter the dreaded luxury tax that someday might even come into play for the DeWitt family. Yes I will have less to do come May and June since today also marks the biggest change in strategy to date. Mo sacrificed a first-round pick to make the big league club stronger, and that should be applauded in my opinion.
We have been spoiled the past two decades with some amazing teams and more importantly, future Cardinal Hall-of-Famers. Instead of worrying about a prospect who may or may not matter in five years, let’s give Molina and Wainwright the proper send off to their historic careers. Fowler was the right fit at the right time but make no mistake about it – the price will be higher than anyone predicted. Starting with the Mike Leake contract last December, St. Louis found out that history is great but the present requires more than red jackets or Ballpark Village.
For those of us who anxiously await the start of the season from the final out, the future is brighter today than it was yesterday. And no matter how you feel about the player, that is a cause to be happy this brisk Winter morning.