I was at my work Christmas party on Friday when I found out that Jason Heyward had signed with the Cubs. While waiting for the server to bring me a beer, I was going to open up Twitter on my phone when my husband called me to tell me the sorry news that Heyward had signed with the Cubs. “The Cubs?” I asked. “You have got to be kidding me.”
Unfortunately, he was not kidding, and like other Cards fans, I have been alternatively angry and sad most of the weekend. It felt like a stab in the back that Heyward would choose the Cubs over the Cards. Indeed, there were lots of fans on Twitter Friday that called Heyward a traitor, although some of them could not spell and called him a trader instead. The Cubs-Cards rivalry has taken a darker turn. Next year’s Cards-Cubs games could be very interesting indeed.
Heyward’s contract with the Cubs calls for two opt-out clauses. If Heyward exceeds certain plate appearance thresholds, he can opt out in year 3 or year 4 of his contract. The Nationals and Cardinals offered Heyward more money, but the opt-out clauses were probably more important to Heyward, so he could leave the Cubs and make even more money. But I’m wondering (and I think others might be too) whether there was something more going on that would make Heyward sign with the Cubs and not with the Cards.
Now that my emotions are in check, it’s time to look at the Heyward situation more rationally. I am reminded of how the Cards lost Pujols to the Angels in 2012. Everyone thought that it was the end of the world then, that the Cards wouldn’t be any good without Pujols, etc. But one player does not a team make. The Cards have done well without Pujols. They have made it to the playoffs three years in a row and the Angels have not. I think in the long run we should be thankful that Heyward didn’t sign with the Cards. The front office can use the money that would have been offered to Heyward to sign other players – that is, if they will sign other players. The front office hasn’t seemed to be in any hurry to sign any free agents.
The Cards do have some excellent young outfielders that should help fill the gap left by Heyward’s departure. The front office obviously thinks so too, because Mo said that the team will not pursue a big name outfielder in the off season. Mo should start looking this year, however, because Matt Holliday’s contract is up at the end of 2016. Holliday has an option year for 2017. Stephen Piscotty played in left field last season, so he would be an option there. Alex Gordon would also be a good signing; he could platoon with Holliday in 2016 and could take over left field permanently in 2017 should Holliday decide to retire after the 2016 season.
I am concerned, however, that there are no plans to upgrade the first base situation. Platooning Moss and Adams is hardly a solution. Adams was injured most of the last season and he was not hitting well even before the injury. Moss is not an everyday player, even in a platoon situation. The Cards need an everyday first baseman with some power in his bat. Chris Davis is still available and would be a good fit.
Starting pitching is a big issue that Mo needs to address. As you know, Lynn is out for all of the 2016 season due to injury, and Lackey signed with the Cubs. The Cards need a fifth starter. Johnny Cueto might have been a good option, (even with bad feelings from Cardinal Nation about Cueto having punched Jason LaRue out of baseball forever) but he signed today with the Giants. There are some other free agent pitchers still available, so Mo, please get a move on and sign one.
In closing, I’m tired of hearing my husband whine that the team is not going to spend any money and it’s getting old fast. The only money I see being spent is for the new scoreboards at the stadium, and those aren’t even up yet. How do I know? I can see the empty framework from my desk at work. So Mo and Mr. DeWitt, please make some moves quickly. Cardinal Nation and I have faith that the front office can whatever needs to be done to make this team even better in 2016, but we are impatient.
Thanks for reading! See you next time!