The 2015 season is upon us, and while visions of World Series Titles have been dancing in the heads of Redbird hopefuls, the opportunity to sign a huge potential contributor to present and future success is closing. I wanted to take the time to shed light on some of the clouded perceptions of Cardinal Nation. They COULD sign Max Scherzer. They COULD sign Heyward as well. But do I personally believe they will open DeWallet for each player. Unfortunately not.
RUMOR: The Cardinals would cripple future championship runs by over paying Scherzer.
ANALYSIS: Absolutely not, the Cardinals have very few future obligations as you can clearly see on various pages on this website that would show evidence that not only could they take on 1 core player, if they were creative enough, they could add 2. Mozeliak knows "the price of poker" and elite pitching is not going to get any cheaper in the near future. Wainwright isn't getting any younger and the Cardinals championship window could be bridged through the time period of losing the old core (Waino, Molina, Holliday) to the new core (Wacha, Adams, CMart, Wong). Adding Scherzer creates flexibility, and another elite presence, where you could trade a player like Lynn/CMart to continually replenish the farm and keep costs down. Creativity would be key when you have players like Garcia coming off the books and Holiday/Molina leaving on the horizon.
RUMOR: Lance Lynn wouldn't get an extension if they signed Scherzer.
Analysis: Touched in the paragraph above it's a simple solution, take Lance Lynn up to his free agent year and trade him before free agency. Lynn was outstanding in 2014 and isn't showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. I'm not disagreeing with the fact that he is our only pitcher without question marks this year, and I'm not advocating for a trade right now. But when you have options like Carlos Martinez, and with Marco Gonzales showing serious poise and potential in storming through the minors and in his cup of tea in the big show, (.151 BAA 1.02 WHIP in the 2nd half) showing that he could be worked into the rotation, he makes Lynn that much more expendable.
RUMOR: But, Jason Heyward is going to get 200 million? How will they afford it?
Analysis: Jason Heyward will not get 200 million from the St. Louis Cardinals, and they will let him walk or flip him at the deadline (pending Grichuk/Piscotty development) despite all the years of cost controlled pitching they traded for him. The only way I see the Birds on the Bat dishing out that much cash for Heyward is: he has a stellar 2015 in terms of OPS, shows improvement vs. LHP, and he's moved to CF full time and proves at least league average.
RUMOR: What about Cmart's development?
Analysis: I think that Cmart is going to be a superstar for the Cardinals. He's only 23, He has stuff comparable or better than successful young pitchers in the Majors already (Jose Fernandez, Yordano Ventura) He just has to prove he can do it. His FIP is already as good as Max Scherzer (3.08 to 3.12) albeit in a much,much smaller sample size, at much cheaper. He's filthy that's all there is to it. But, inconsistencies against LHB have left most critics thinking he may be doomed to a relief role. Another year of development being used in spot starts and high leverage situations could be best for him as a pitcher.
RUMOR: The pitching is fine, the offense is garbage.
Analysis: The Cardinals at the plate in 2014 obviously struggled and I have very few counter points for that. The team line drive rate and BB rate were both very healthy and with a slight uptick in power they could end up more towards the top with zero more additions. Peralta, Heyward, Holliday, Adams, MCarp, Wong, Molina, Jay can be very lethal if they perform up to standards.
RUMOR: Scherzer isn't that good.
Analysis: Scherzer is a strike out machine who has seen his FIP fall over the past 3 years heading towards a flat 3. BABIP suggests he was slightly unlucky in 2014 (.315) and a move to the NL Central could help facilitate a season that could even best a Clayton Kershaw performance. Adding another pitcher of Wainwright's caliber would be a giant piece to the 2015-2018 Cardinals and could possibly help shape a dynasty by giving them another shutdown pitcher in the playoffs. If it weren't for the historic decline in offense last season, it would be even more impressive the level of consistency he has shown. Although he has seen a small velocity drop, his numbers suggest he is learning to pitch more efficiently and is still generating strikeouts above 10 per 9 innings. Barring injury, he's going for his 6th consecutive season with +185 innings. He would be the Ace of staff and could help eat up the innings that Shelby left behind, that Wainwright is likely to shed, and that Wacha won't be able to reach, at a very,very high level.
Bottom line, I don't see the Cards busting out the big bucks needed and will it give them more flexibility in the future?Definitely. Will it make them a better team in the future? That is yet to be seen. Of course, there is hundreds of millions of reasons why signing anybody to an extremely lucrative contract could be bad for a club. But in an already extremely competitive division where each marginal move could be the deciding factor on who gets in and who doesn't, I could see Max as a piece that keeps the streak of Red Octobers going strong, and maybe, immediately help them bring home the only thing that matters. A World Series Title.
Site Manager's Note: I got my start writing at Viva El Birdos in the Fanpost section of the site. I still read the community-member-authored posts in this section of the site and, on occasion, will promote posts I find interesting, well-written, and or thought-provoking (even if I don't necessary agree with them). This is one such post.