One thing our listeners and social media followers made clear following our report from John Mozeliak’s 2018 exit-press conference: There isn’t a lot of faith among Cardinal Nation the team will be aggressive this winter.
This isn’t completely fair, as the team did make a run at Giancarlo Stanton last offseason, but it’s certainly understandable. John Mozeliak himself said Tuesday the team hasn’t had that ‘face of the franchise’ talent since Albert Pujols, and from what we’ve read of your comments, you’d like to have another big name fill that void sooner than later.
Lack of a marquee name and three years out of October have driven several among Cardinal Nation baseball-psychotic. Fans are going through nasty postseason withdrawals and are grasping for anything to get some sort of fix. They didn’t get it during Mo’s presser, but as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold told ‘The Kevin Wheeler Show’ Wednesday, there was only so much that could be said.
“If Mo had come in there yesterday and said, ‘We’re going to go after the biggest bat available,’ and slammed the table and said, ‘This is unacceptable, I’m gonna put my job on the line if we don’t make the playoffs’…Which is what some people want to hear…If he said that and then done nothing, what’s it matter?” Goold said.
Goold noted this winter’s one where actions will speak louder than any words, which is a sentiment many fans share.
“Maybe it’s time to change the dial a little bit and say, ‘Hey, that’s great,’ because these words float out there and they’re written in ink and they’re worth as much as the page they’re printed on, but the actions are far bigger,” he said. “And I think this is a winter where, like last year, the opportunity to make a huge action that sings out beyond all the words; it’s a big deal.
“That’s what people want, right? They want action. They don’t want bluster.”
Even if fans may think otherwise, Mozeliak knows this, too, and mentioned as much Tuesday.
“The way we go about the next two or three months is going to really be like, ‘Are these opportunities making us better?’ And I will say, obviously you’ve heard Mr. DeWitt speak and he’s not happy with where we are. He wants us to do better. He wants us back in the postseason,” Mo said.
“I understand it, I hear it and we’ll try and look at ways to do that. Is it going to be necessarily the most exciting or popular decisions? I don’t know,” Mo added. “It’s too hard for me to guess and as I look at the next few months, I certainly understand there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Reading that could certainly make one think Mo’s setting fans up for a soft landing when the team doesn’t sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado this winter. He did mention more than once Tuesday the club’s success building from within without mortgaging their future, but also admitted this is a tougher road than one involving a ‘face of the franchise’ player.
Harper and Machado are ‘certainties’ as far as ballplayers go, which Goold and Wheels noting this as something the Cardinals haven’t ponied up for in a long time, but will have an opportunity this winter.
“The most expensive commodity in baseball is certainty; it’s the sixth tool,” Goold said. “And it’s one of the things that the Cardinals have — really with the exception of pursuing Giancarlo Stanton, or back in 2011 the signing of Carlos Beltran — it is really one thing the Cardinals have not paid for.
“It’s something that they’ve bet on,” Goold added. “They’ve bet on Brett Cecil’s consistency, but relievers are volatile. They’ve bet on Marcell Ozuna’s career year. They’ve bet on Dexter Fowler’s career year, but they haven’t upped the ante to pay for certainty.”
“This winter offers not just the two big-name guys, but there are players out there who bring a lot of certainty and will command salaries to relate that. That’s the move the Cardinals can make.”
You can hear all of Derrick Goold’s chat with Wheels below. Stay connected with 101 ESPN for plenty of Cards offseason chatter throughout winter.