The St. Louis Cardinals acquired a proven slugger in Marcell Ozuna in a trade that cost them players with a combined 68.1 innings of Major League Baseball experience earlier this month, but that hasn't exactly quenched the appetite of fans waging war with their stomachs between Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas dinner. No, they need, and deserve, more from the Cardinals.
As Don Draper once said, when you get happiness, all you then want is more happiness.
After all, this a fan base who complains when the team isn't aggressive enough, but also pouts when a middle-tier prospect is sent packing. A partial gathering of vulnerable home-schooled kids who didn't get the right kind of juice box always wants more. They keep filling the stands with 3.4 million bodies, which in turn gives the suits nothing to worry about, because after all, it's a business. And Cardinal business, playoffs or not, is good.
But, the fans want action, and they want it now.
So, let's jump ahead, predict the future, project some scenarios and their possible outcome as John Mozeliak and company hinge their bets on Miles Mikolas replacing the likes of Lance Lynn. It's like pouring Tabasco sauce on your eggs or sprinkling chipotle dust on your steak. In a world...
THE CARDINALS SIGN ERIC HOSMER
Jon P. Morosi mentioned a source. Jon Heyman didn't capitalize his name. Ken Rosenthal finalized the confirmation. Hosmer to the Cardinals for five years and 95 million dollars. He will be bringing a glove that cost the Kansas City Royals ten runs in 2017 but was good enough to collect a fourth Gold Glove award.
He'll hit third in the lineup, behind Tommy Pham and ahead of Ozuna. He'll hit 20 home runs, drive in 80, and put up an OPS around .795.
I mean, which Hosmer will actually show up? The one who puts up a 4.0 WAR (like in 2015 and 2017) or the one who slices a 1.0 WAR (such as 2014 and 2016). Scott Boras wanted five years, and Mozeliak didn't win the arm-wrestling match he took handily back in 2010 with the Matt Holliday negotiations.
Hosmer won't help the Cardinals defeat the Chicago Cubs. He'll be the latest nail in the coffin of cementing the fact that Jedd Gyorko will never get 140 games. But, hey, he's only 28 years old.
THE CARDINALS SIGN MIKE MOUSTAKAS
Since you got Hosmer, go ahead and gather the entire Royals infantry. Why not, money is just money, and decent players are the Cardinals thing. Bring in the guy who was bouncing baseballs to Hosmer on a semi-regular basis. "Moose" hit 38 home runs last year, so he can stamp down another claim for 22 in the National League playing 81 games in Busch Stadium. I mean, the exit angle launch velocity of his hyper-kinetic swing pattern prospectus is quite swell.
Moustakas will play 10-15 games more than Gyorko and put up worse overall numbers while making at least 8 million dollars more. Again, another suggestive nail in the "Jedd can't start" campaign. Hey, he looks like a jolly old dude who just bought his mother flowers, so why not? Bring in the Moose, and make Carpenter a super utility guy.
Awesome work. But wait...
THE CARDINALS SIGN YU DARVISH....NO WAIT....MATT GARZA
Instead of rebuilding a bridge with Lance Lynn, bringing in fresh blood in Yu Darvish, or acquiring a former Cy Young caliber arm in Jake Arrieta, the Cardinals sign Garza, who looks like he missed out on surfer #7 in the last season of Jersey Shore. The punching bag of the N.L. Central and unofficial brother of Jason Marquis, Garza has made at least 18 starts in a season since 2008. It's okay that the last three produced an ERA around 5.00 with 51 balls leaving the ballpark.
Think about it, Garza is that typical Cardinals late career rescue.
He's a changed man, freed of the shackles of throwing batting practice after the first pitch. After all, Mike Maddux, aka Dave Duncan Jr., is here and can fix anybody. Maddux already has to translate Mikolas' Japan success to the Majors, find a way to resuscitate Adam Wainwright's career and keep Michael Wacha's shoulder together. Throw in Garza and it's 2002 all over again. Good times. The Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, and Reds know (and love) him well. Hold on...
THE CARDINALS SIGN GREG HOLLAND
Finally, the Cardinals have invested ridiculous money in a closer. Sure, Holland will be 33 years old next year, but who cares, the caution met the wind in a head-on collision. Boras is buying two yachts off the Cards this winter, getting his closer four years. The Cardinals need bullpen help, and Luke Gregerson isn't the answer. Juan Nicasio went to die a slow death in Seattle. Wade Davis got more money and had problems with the Cardinals aging core.
Holland rescued his career in 2017 and should be able to run on unleaded for at least nine more seasons. I mean, throwing repetitive heaters doesn't have a negative effect on pitchers past the age of 32, right? Nope. By 2020, there will be bionic Altoids-ish type limbs available.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 2018 St. Louis Royal Cards
Let it settle in. Hosmer, Moustakas, Garza, and Holland will bring the Cards back to the front of the line. They won't finish nine games or 17.5 games behind the Cubs. Let's make it a cold hard seven games. Pham may regress a bit, Fowler will miss 50 games, and the rotation will finish with a 4.45 ERA. Wainwright will get hurt midseason, and the Cardinals will commit a few errors, but man, look at Paul DeJong swing.
Mike Matheny will start adopting Steve Spagnuolo lines in the post-games, talking about pillars, humanity, and goodwill towards others. He'll pull a Jeff Fisher golden oldie, saying they will fix things soon. There's nothing like a clueless manager making patchwork fixes on an aimless train.
Sure, people will read this and think to themselves: "is Buffa serious? Will the Cardinals get all these guys?"
The answer is clearly a large NO, but instead of pouting about spending too little or much money on free agents or not giving up enough young talent for the likes of Josh Donaldson, I went the other way. Let's be honest. Toronto and Baltimore aren't letting go this winter, so think west, and point your beaks at Kansas City's for sale lot.
It's the season of giving and accepting. When the first pitch is thrown next spring, will Mozeliak be confident he did everything possible to fulfill Aug. 1's destiny, and catch the Cubs?
I'll ask him in three weeks. In the meantime, happy holidays and enjoy the Christmas baseball.