The St. Louis Cardinal General Manager John Mozeliak could be making the biggest mistake of his career. How, you ask? Well, he is looking to make a big splash in the free agent market this year by reeling in who he believes to be one of the premier power hitters in Major League Baseball, Giancarlo “formerly known as Mike” Stanton. A trade of this magnitude could cause St. Louis Cardinals baseball as we know it to come to an abrupt end. This could be the type of trade to cripple a franchise for years. With the current World Series drought at 6 years, they most certainly can’t take any chances. Just picture, just for a second, a world where the St. Louis Cardinals don’t win a world series for 10, 20, 30, or 108 straight years. I believe I can safely speak for all baseball fans when I say I shudder at the thought of it. Luckily there is a mighty group in St. Louis that can make their voices heard before all comes crumbling down.
Cardinals Nation A.K.A. the Best Fans in Baseball (BFIB) have an opportunity to save their franchise by speaking out against this trade. There are a couple of key reasons why Stanton is wrong for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the BFIBs need to show Mozeliak what everyone else can so clearly see.
First, let’s talk dollars. Money is a language that every front office can speak. So, what better place to start. Stanton is currently in the midst of a heavily back-loaded 13-year $325 million-dollar contract. Going into the 2018 season, Stanton will earn $25 million of guaranteed money and that will jump to $26, $29, and all the way up to $32 million in his age 34, 35, and 36 seasons. Where would a team like the Cardinals even dream about finding that kind of money? They could barely scrounge up enough money to hold onto their 35-year-old superstar catcher, Yadier Molina, with $20 million dollars a year. Let’s not forget Adam Wainwright will be 38 when his contract ends after 2018. Just enough time to squeeze out a few more years. You can’t afford to lose a talent like that; he could provide some real versatility on the back end of the bullpen by returning to his closer role of old. You just have to have a doc go back in, and tighten up that UCL, and he’ll be back to throwing the mid-eighties heat and that beautiful looping curve. An absurd contract such as Stanton’s could pull that right out from under the good people of St. Louis. That could be just the beginning of the struggle though. Who knows where ticket sales could be in the upcoming years with the millennials watching every game on a mobile device? The BFIB’s currently show up in droves with a per-game attendance hovering around 43,000. But a front office blunder like this trade could send them back to the days of the early 90’s where they could barely reach 30,000 a night. Some may point to a $1 billion, 22 year, television rights deal with Fox Sports Midwest set to begin in 2018, but come on... that just sounds unrealistic when you have a 40 man roster and countless front office and game day staff to divvy it between.
Second, this franchise was built on a little thing called the Cardinals Way. For those that don’t know, this is a philosophy held in high regard in St. Louis. It is created and compiled by years of managers, coaches, and others within the organization. The Cardinals Way is known to be a philosophy of hard-nosed traditional baseball. It is a brand of baseball that focuses on mastering fundamentals and manufacturing runs, but also a blueprint for the franchise to build from within, seeking homegrown talent, and avoiding costly free agents. This is exactly why a trade for Giancarlo Stanton is so wrong for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is a part of the new “Millenial Baseball” which is slowly tearing down the walls of the great tradition forged by many great players before him. If you need proof look no further than his most recent National League MVP award winning season of 2017. He hit an abysmal .281 at the plate this year. That’s 50th league wide, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who considers that to be an MVP year. Some may argue, well, he had 132 RBI’s, but may I point out that 59 of those were just him crossing the plate himself after a homerun. Now please tell me, what place does that have in a team sport like baseball? He may have had a league leading slugging percentage of .631 and the fourth best OPS of 1.007, but just remember with that power comes over 140 strikeouts almost every year. Nobody wants to watch that.
I, for one, would rather have a guy who isn’t afraid to drop down a great bunt to move the runners and challenge the defense. Now, I hate to do it because every true baseball fan knows the best gauge of talent is going with your gut, but we need to look at a sabermetric statistic as well. John Mozeliak may look at the numbers and see Giancarlo Stanton had a wins above replacement (WAR) of 7.56 this year placing him in the top 5 in Major League Baseball in 2017. For a player who is seemingly in the prime of his career, you may easily fool some general managers around the league with a stat like that, but the BFIBs know better. You easily can match that kind of production with about five Nick Punto like players (2011 World Series champion) or just four David Eckstein’s (2006 World Series Champion). That leaves your team financially flexible to build up a great pitching rotation to shut down offensive teams keeping runs and excitement for the opposing team to a minimum.
It is really up to Cardinal Nation to plead with their front office, and ask that they carry on the tradition of this storied franchise by preventing such a disastrous trade. Let me end this by reminding Cardinal Nation, the best fans in baseball, of the good times that could slip away if they are not careful. When you think of the greatest Cardinals of the past few decades you wouldn’t think of McGwire, Edmonds, or Pujols. You think of the young talent formed by the Cardinal Way the Skip Schumaker’s, the Chris Duncan’s, and Rick Ankiel’s. These players are true homegrown type talents that were the heartbeat of the clubhouse in their time. That is really the type of player you risk losing in such a trade. Will Cardinal Nation allow Mozeliak to mortgage the future of their franchise?