Chris Archer pitching under The Arch for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 seems too good to be true-and right now, it is indeed a dream. So, please don't tell me to get my head out of the clouds just yet, because I don't want to.
It's February after all, a time where hope and dreams have several cups of coffee while baseball players congregate before the launch of an extremely long season of competitive play. Every team is 0-0 and doing lots of smiling while telling the closest reporter that they are in the best shape of their life. While the fungo bats go to work and the soft toss begins to take shape, allow me to think about Archer in Cardinal red. I did in back in December, but I felt the need to do it again. Call it a reiteration if you'd like, but I'm going ahead anyway.
In case you don't read me here or follow me on Twitter, I don't have a lot of faith in the Cardinals rotation holding up over six months. You can push your red Jack Flaherty and Austin Gomber poker chips into the middle of the table all you want, but I can't buy in just yet. What they have in talent, they lack in experience, and the Cardinals need proven commodities.
Adam Wainwright can hold special media gatherings where he tries to pull a magic trick and convince the notepads that he isn't 36 and close to the end of the road. Michael Wacha can dream about 200 innings. Miles Mikolas can attempt to translate Japanese success to the Major Leagues. Luke Weaver can grapple with the idea of being a #3 in the rotation. It all sounds good, but there's a lot of "if" action.
An exhibition pitch hasn't even been thrown yet, and Mike Matheny has called Carlos Martinez an emotional kid, which is just great. It may be a wise idea to take your mind off ordinary real things with the team and look up at the blue sky for a minute.
What if Archer became a Cardinal? The 29 year old (does that qualify for emotional kid status?) would arrive at Lambert International Airport with smiles across his face. For one, he would be going from a surefire non-playoff team to a credible wildcard and division threat. Can you imagine the first tweet out of Archer's updated Twitter account?
"I cherished this Busch Stadium soil as an opponent, and now I get to make it my own cathedral."
Okay, perhaps he wouldn't sound like a writer putting together a Morgan Freeman health insurance advertisement, but he'd be excited nonetheless.
The Cardinals rotation would be Martinez, Archer, Wacha, Weaver, and Mikolas. Sorry, Waino. If winning is everything to #50, he'd take a backseat in a heartbeat. Maybe the Lizard King becomes a jack of all trades. I don't care. Chris Archer is here. When a proven artist walks into the studio, you make room and pull out a blank canvas.
Archer would dazzle in his first start in front of a sold out Busch Stadium, and the road wouldn't seem so weary. Keep in mind this kid pitched in the American League East, where they practically give home runs away. He wouldn't win the Cy Young award in his first year, but he'd contend for it. It would be an annual battle between Martinez, Archer, Weaver, and a guy named Alex Reyes.
Oh yeah, Reyes would come back and be ready to fill in for the first man down. If Wacha's shoulder acted up, Reyes would be there. If Mikolas didn't cut it, Reyes steps in.
Imagine a rotation with Martinez, Archer, and Reyes. Three power arms who can throw the baseball past any bat, including Kris Bryant, Joey Votto, and Christian Yelich. It almost wouldn't be fair.
Why the hype over Archer? I'll explain it to you like we are five year olds at a candy shop with a handful of quarters.
Archer strikes guys out, like a lot. He's topped 230+ strikeouts in three straight seasons, averaging 11.1 per nine innings. He's made 30 or more starts four seasons in a row, which includes three straight seasons of 200 innings or more. He doesn't give free passes out that often, striking out four batters for every walk given. The man is stubborn, greedy, and quite nasty with a baseball. The 3.63 earned run average is nice, but the 3.46 fielding independent pitching is even better.
When someone asks you what's the big deal about Archer, just show them the internet. It's all there. Or you can simply mention strikeouts.
I like strikeout pitchers. A democratic arm goes a long way, but a masterful fascist on the mound can be quite painful for bats. If the Cardinals are going to beat the Cubs and keep the Brewers at bay, they need strikeout arms.
What do you give up for him? A couple pitching prospects and a proven bat? I don't care. Archer has a super-friendly contract that includes a couple cherry sweet options seasons. If you want assured results, you pay the price.
The Tampa Bay Rays traded Jake Odorizzi on Saturday, so trading a 29 year old pitcher may be a wise idea. They even designated All Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment. The Rays are rebuilding, so why stop with one young pitcher? Archer could be next.
If the Cardinals and John Mozeliak are wise, they will make a play for this stud. Call the Rays GM until his phone is dead. Stop cultivating prospects like they are bottles of fine wine. Get some peace of mind, and keep the phone handy.
In case you haven't heard, the Cubs loaded up and signed Yu Darvish to a ridiculously long contract. They want to win another World Series, and are stopping at nothing to achieve that goal. The Brewers are hunting for pitching as well. Don't call it a reaction, Mozeliak, but the Cardinals need Archer in their lives right now. This is one move that would put the Cardinals right next to the Cubs for the division favorite.
Will the Cardinals actually acquire Archer? Probably not, but that's not what I'm paid to do. I am paid to write what I think and dream about endless Archer (the FX animated show) references with the North Carolina native on the mound. I'll leave the reality crisis to the suits.
Dreaming about Chris Archer doesn't mean the Cardinals rotation is doomed. It means that the rotation has more questions than answers and Archer would relieve some of the pain.
Just think about it. It's officially spring training after all, which is the best time to dream big.