When it comes to pleasing fans of the St. Louis Cardinals, aka Cardinal Nation, the job is far from easy.
It takes one browse of Twitter to see fans screaming at the team to sign a marquee player like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but at the same time, warning the team against crippling the franchise with a big contract.
They will urge John Mozeliak to make a big trade but would hate to lose top prospects.
Word to the wise, it's not that easy...pleasing you, that is.
Here's the thing. You can't improve the team without a cost. The cost may come in players or money, but there will be a cost. Machado won't be gift-wrapped and dropped off in November with a thank you note attached. I won't be able to pick up Harper at the airport without a truckload of cash attached to my car. In the modern era of baseball, owners must pay up to truly upgrade their lineup.
It's a good thing that the Cardinals ownership brass, as documented in the picture above from the gifted Master GIFS, aka @cardinalsgifs on twitter, is sitting on a large amount of cash heading into the offseason. Unlike last winter, this year's pursuit should only require the checking account number instead of a few prospects. The Cardinals will need heavy action to get back into the thick of the divisional race.
The Cardinals finished 7.5 games behind the National League Central Division champion Milwaukee Brewers. I don't care about the wildcard deficit. If your goal in November is to contend for a wildcard, you start out the season as a loser in my book. Aspire for greatness or stop acting like a contender. The Cardinals haven't finished less than seven games behind the division champ in years. If they want to get back into the game, buying a 5-to-7 WAR player is vital to that task.
I don't see Mozeliak handing over a lot of prospects in a trade. It's not his way and I don't expect that aspect of his strategy to change. The team did show a willingness to spend big recently with their offers for Jason Heyward (whew!), David Price, and Giancarlo Stanton. Each contract they were willing to take on was closer to $200 million than $100 million. They want to spend. It simply depends on the player.
Harper and Machado each fit the bill. I'll dive into each at a later date, but I can comfortably say that Harper would be the King of the Busch Stadium Throne instantly if the Cards signed him. If he craves attention and a true baseball town clothed in red with aspirations of October, St. Louis is his joint. Machado has the big name and ability to change a roster and lineup. Either of these guys work in finding the 7.0 WAR player. Their reputations precede them and they will each start the 2019 season at 26 years of age. That's sweet action.
So please stop with the double-edged sword routine. If you want the Cardinals to get back into October, they will need to spend. In order to acquire a big-time talent, there will be a cost.
Here's the cool thing. It won't cost you individually. You can stop going to games and buying $12 beers, and the team will still put 3.4 million in the seats, making boatloads of cash in the process. This is a baseball town that has contended in its off years, so that won't change in 2019.
Trust me. Bill DeWitt Jr. won't be coming door to door asking for Harper donations. It won't be like Catholic Church with the men in suits dangling baskets over your grandmother's purse for five bucks. It doesn't work that way.
The Cardinals have money to spend and should throw a lot of it at one of these two guys. I like Harper more, but either one sets the Cardinals up as serious contenders for the next eight years.
Don't worry about the cost, because it's not your money. It really isn't, folks. Relax in knowing that the money required to acquire Harper or Machado is already in the DeWitt Jr. vault. It's ready to launch.
All the Cardinals have to do is not finish second in the sweepstakes. No, you don't need to trade four prospects for a year of Paul Goldschmidt. You just need to spend money on a guy. Money only. The way Mozeliak, Michael Girsch, and DeWitt prefer to do their business.
Now, enjoy the rest of the playoffs, or go see one of those great movies in theaters. There'll be plenty of time to drool over free agent fantasies and futuristic settings involving playoff baseball in downtown St. Louis. For now, just work on understanding that your bank account won't see a transaction if the Cardinals sign a superstar. Well, at least not until you buy season tickets and a new jersey.
Thanks for reading,
*Thanks again to Cardinals GIFS on the article posting picture. When you want something special done for a piece, you call GIFS. Catch more of his brilliance over at birdsontheblack, where they have great content and state of the art visual artistry.