To the St Louis Cardinals manager, coaches and front office,
We seem to have hit a hard spot as a franchise. I don’t see us dog-piling on the pitchers mound at the end of October any time soon, and I don’t see us amidst a rebuilding project full of promise for the future either. The mood and tenor around the St Louis Cardinals is incredibly boring, uptight, and lacking any sort of optimism. To make matters worse, I woke up this morning to Mike Matheny telling me how to be a fan, someone who as seen the Cardinals play over fifty times in person, in eight different ballparks, in multiple different states, despite never living within four hours of St. Louis.
Comments like these below really don’t motivate me to make long treks to the Gateway City, let alone turn on games on Fox Sports Midwest:
Warning: this could be hazardous to your future fandom. #22 with a lecture on how to enjoy baseball. pic.twitter.com/UOhESF9You
— Scott (@TexasCardsFan1) July 31, 2017
Fans across Missouri and throughout the Twitterverse cite 2011 as a reason to maintain faith, as the level of Cardinal stagnation reaches noxious levels. Layers this thick of pond scum should only be found outside of Citi Field in New York, but here we sit sifting through it as though we’re at fault for the Cardinals’ lack of vision or direction for 2016, 2017, 2018, or even 2022. Constant negativity from the clubhouse, including Yadier Molina’s comments last week about playing time, show a level of disrespect in the clubhouse for Manager Mike Matheny. To make matters more unnerving, the complete lack of movement from the Cardinals’ front office shows a franchise lost in the wilderness.
Sitting and stagnating is not a valid course of action for a baseball franchise steeped in tradition, especially with a passionate fan base as good as Cardinal Nation. The Cardinals have two potential options moving forward, as it seems the Cubs will take hold of the NL Central until 2020.
Option 1: Spend money and compete with the Cubs. The Cubs have built a powerhouse on the North Side of Chicago, and look poised to take the NL Central once again. However, the Cubs have been far from world-beaters in 2017, and can be challenged in a playoff run. The Cardinals have not only competed with teams in their prime in recent history in this division, but have often held serve against them. Adding a couple bats and/or a relief pitcher to this lineup, coupled with an already stellar lineup of starting pitchers, and St. Louis can return to the heat of the division race. The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals hit some similar bumps in the road during the regular season as well, but Tony LaRussa was willing to leave no stone unturned to find a win, and the front office made pivotal moves to keep the team in contention.
Option 2: Rebuild. As mentioned above, the Chicago Cubs seem poised to be atop the NL Central until 2020, unless other teams make drastic moves to dethrone the Cubs from their plateau. Accepting this fact could be a frustrating reality for Cardinals fans in the short term, but a tangible vision for contending again by 2020 provides a sense of optimism for a strong future once the Cubs’ window closes. Getting rid of fan favorites on this roster could prove difficult for many fans, however, seeing these legends playing on a team that is a shell of its former self loses its luster eventually as well. Providing a clean slate for the next generation of Cardinals’ greats could provide a solid restart for the franchise, instead of holding on to memories from the past. Clearing the roster now can also provide a lot of space for monstrous free agent markets approaching in 2018 and 2019.
There is no Option 3: The Cardinals have seemingly picked stagnation as their vision moving forward for 2017. Its obvious the Cardinals do not have the firepower to compete in the current NL Central, and its obvious that many of our legendary players on this roster have gone past their prime. Opposing managers continue to coach around Mike Matheny, and his negative presence in the clubhouse suggests he’s more willing to be an old curmudgeon than a positive influence on the bench.
Doing nothing on either front tells fans its not worth bothering to support this club, and tells fans there is no optimism for the future. If the St. Louis Cardinals want to maintain a stranglehold of baseball fans in the Lower Midwest, the franchise must develop a strategy for competing today, or a vision for tomorrow must be developed and sold. Stagnation simply doesn’t sell tickets or keep fans interested. Coupling this stagnation with a curmudgeon of a manager unable to understand who pays the bills shows the Cardinals have a mess on their hands. If this mess can’t be fixed, its probably time for those of you in leadership to find a new franchise.
Its time for the Cardinals to be the franchise of Musial, Gibson and Brock again; not a sluggish shell of itself, lacking direction or excitement. Winning clubs don’t “stay the course” when things get rough; winning clubs have a sense of urgency when tough times hit. Its time to show the fans you still care.
A Disgruntled Cardinals Fan