Letter to Cardinal Nation: Have a Little Faith and Patience

Most of my pieces written on this site have been analytical, or speculative, depending on the subject or time of year. Rarely do I ever feel like addressing off-field narratives, but this time, I can't let it go. You see, the Cardinals fanbase is usually one of the most supportive in baseball. And while it doesn't go for everyone, because of a non-playoff season, and the Cubs finally winning a World Series, most fans are very frustrated.

Since the start of October, all over any Cardinal web-content, I've seen a flurry of angered comments. And not just angry, but outraged. People have called for Matheny's job, which though not unusual after an unsuccessful season, has been over the top throughout Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media platform.

People have called for any player who's had a down year to be traded or cut; Wacha, Garcia, Rosenthal, Peralta, Adams, Wong, and many others have been ridiculed for their lack of performance, even though peripherals suggest many of these players to have bounce-back 2017's.

But what was the last straw for me, personally, is people calling for General Manager John Mozeliak's head.

If you want to let out some steam by criticizing Mike Matheny's managerial skills, go ahead. There have even been times when his overuse of players, or his loyalty to a certain player (ie Trevor Rosenthal), have led to blown leads, and loses. If you want to let out some steam by criticizing former Closer Trevor Rosenthal's control and inability to pitch effectively, that's fine too. Him, and players like Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk, have had mental mistakes that have cost the team runs, leads, and games.

But the second you criticize the St. Louis Cardinals' front office, we have a problem. Since the beginning of his tenure at the start of the 2008 season, John Mozeliak has maneuvered the Cardinals to a 814-497 record. That's a .621 winning percentage, and averages out to be 90 wins per season, over the last 9. In the past 9 years, the Cardinals have also made it to the postseason 6 times, including a World Series championship, and 5 straight years of being postseason-bound from 2011-2015. And on top of all that, hasn't had a losing season (Below .500), since he has held his position.

Now, most of this you probably know. But to my astonishment, many people seem to disregard these facts. And since they can't rip him and the DeWitt ownership over the last decade of success, they pivot to another grievance; Greed.

This is the one that has been flooding the internet for months; Mozeliak and DeWitt are greedy. They take from the bargain bin in Free Agency. They let themselves get outbid. They don't pursue any high-profile trades.

Well guess what, folks? That's not exactly what's been happening for the last 9 seasons. For one, they have traded for many valuable players. During the 2009 season, they traded for Matt Holliday, sending prized 1B prospect Brett Wallace (and more) to the Oakland Athletics. Many people thought of how bad it was to send a young, potential star away for a Free-agent to be, who may not resign. So what happened next? The Cardinals inked him to a 7-year deal, and became the heart of their lineup, posting a .288/.377/.486 slashline, in which is arguably the most productive signing of the 2010 decade.

in the 2010-2011 offseason, STL signed aging slugger Lance Berkman to a 8 million dollar deal, despite the ridicule and negativity that followed. What happened next? Over the two seasons he played (After signing another 1-year deal), he slashed .295/.408/.533, and helped lead the team to a World Series championship in 2011.

Speaking of 2011, in July he traded another highly-touted prospect in Colby Rasmus (and others), in a 3-team trade with the Blue Jays in White Sox, receiving Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, and Marc Rzepczynski. Again, many asked why trade a young valuable asset for 3 pitchers who weren't elite in any form of the word. Marc Rzepczynski and Dotel, both proved worth it as their usage out of the bullpen also aided the Cardinals to a World Series win. And speaking of that win, one of Mozeliak's first moves was trading beloved OF Jim Edmonds, to the Padres for a hometown kid named David Freese. And once again, critics baffled to why the F.O would do such a move? But now we know, without that trade, the Cardinals wouldn't have won in 2011.

After 2011, Mozeliak offered future HOF and Cornerstone Albert Pujols a contract, which he declined to go to Los Angeles. Many people were frustrated, thinking they needed Pujols to even be competitive. So what did Mozeliak do? Sign Carlos Beltran, who was another aging OF, to a 2-year deal. Same as before, Beltran put his critics to rest by slashing .282/.343/.493 in his two seasons in St. Louis, while helping the Cardinals back to the World Series in 2013 (In which they lost to the Red Sox).

That following offseason, in another set of 'questionable' moves, the Cardinals traded a productive and loved 3B David Freese to the Angels for defensive guru Peter Bourjos, and some B prospect named Randal Grichuk, and then signed former-PED User SS Jhonny Peralta to a 4-year, 53 million dollar deal. Both acquisitions at the time we're questioned, especially signing an aging SS who tested positive for steroids. But like a broken-record I'll say it again; Peralta so far has lived up to the contract slashing .267/.330/.423 in three of the four seasons of his contract.

Most recently, the Cardinals traded for Jason Heyward, a Gold Glove OF trying to find his identity at the plate. And also traded for Brandon Moss, a career slugger that thumped his way to a .484 Slugging percentage in 2016. And as far as Heyward goes, yes they did lose Shelby Miller. But they wouldn't have even made the playoffs in 2015 if it wasn't for his .293/.359/.439 slashline and Gold Glove defense.

And in all of this, I'm not even mentioning the fact how Mozeliak managed to extend key Core players like Allen Craig, Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong, while keeping the prospect pipeline healthy, and ready to produce, with Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Luke Weaver, and Alex Reyes all being key cogs to the next core for the Cardinals.

Which brings me to my main point; Don't just have a little faith, have some patience.

Yes the Cardinals are entering a transition period, where the Cubs just ended a 100 year curse, and the Cardinals missed out of the playoffs for the first time in 5 years. But as I've laid out, Mozeliak and his team's track record speaks for itself. Through all the diversity, injuries, and outbidding that's happened the last couple of seasons, the Cardinals have found a way to stay competitive. They didn't resign Jason Heyward, or catch the fish they wanted in David Price last offseason, but that doesn't mean they're greedy. They have money, and to a certain extent, want to spend it. They have prospects, who they covet, but will trade when necessary to add to the core of players.

This offseason will be an interesting one, because of the sense of urgency that has risen. The Cardinals clearly need an impact CF, who has defense and maybe speed. They also need to solidify bullpen due to injuries to Zach Duke and Tyler Lyons. But if there is one thing we've learned from watching Cardinal baseball, and watching the front office work, is that they always find a way to extract value. They may not be the big-name players, but they're the right ones.

So as we venture towards the Winter Meetings, and towards a new year, Mozeliak and the ownership will make their decisions. Do they target a FA Center Fielder like Ian Desmond or Dexter Fowler? Trade for a big-name player like A.J Pollock or Jackie Bradley Jr.? Or pursue a lesser name because of the cost/benefit of the acquisition? Only time will tell.

But one thing is for sure: The Cardinals know what they're doing. They have for a long time, and will continue to do so for even longer. So the next time you read a rumor or headline, and clinch your fists in rage, take a deep breath and remember what team this is, and who's running it.

Come Spring 2017, we will have another exciting, contending team to root for all year. And we wouldn't want it any other way.