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Cardinals news and notes: ZiPS, top teams, and Stars

Stuff happened while you were probably avoiding driving

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Listeners to the Viva El Birdos podcast may recall multiple occasions on which I have noted that I don’t follow very many baseball player Twitter accounts. There are very few players that I find consistently insightful or entertaining and therefore I feel like I’m not missing very much. Plus, I follow Heather and she pretty much has me covered.

I follow even fewer official team accounts. I follow the St. Louis Cardinals, I follow the St. Louis Blues, and I follow the Chicago Bulls, though the latter has been on thin ice since they signed my mortal nemesis and I consider myself more of an NBA generalist than a fan of a particular team.

The Cardinals account had been criticized for years for being a bit boring. They would provide you with score updates and press releases and such but they were notoriously low on fan engagement.

At some point in 2016, however, they answered the call of many fans and became a bit more personable. They started liking tweets and retweeting fans, they engaged with fans directly, and such. They did not, however, do a thing which many team Twitter accounts have done, which is take on a life of their own. To act as though the team is an autonomous being.

And I am eternally thankful for that.

A sports team is, at its core, a faceless corporation. And this is fine. I like a lot of faceless corporations. That the Taco Bell Twitter account spent much of yesterday afternoon tweeting out pictures of tacos to people isn’t why I eat their food; it’s because I can get half a pound of mediocre cheese and meat for a nickel and have it taste the exact same across the country.

As a #millennial, I know that I am the audience to which these companies are catering—people who purportedly want to associate with certain brands as being an extension of themselves. Maybe the companies are on to something (they certainly spend a lot of money on marketing and it seems weird that they would do so to land on a wildly incorrect conclusion) but it just doesn’t work for me.

The Los Angeles Kings are one of those Twitter accounts that shoots for personality. They don’t just tell you what’s going on—they strive to be an integral part of your experience as a fan. And a lot of times, it works out really well. And other times, it’s a complete disaster.

The account, two years to the day after making a joke about suicide the day after an NHL employee took his own life, decided to mock its team’s 2-0 lead over the St. Louis Blues. Seems innocent and harmless enough, right? What are they supposed to do, apologize for the team’s success?

There’s a weird trend in social media where teams, owned for profit by billionaires, consider mocking fans for losing their team because of the actions of an owner acting for his own benefit. The Chicago Bears did it too.

Sure, Philip Anschutz probably isn’t writing the tweets himself, but the account is certainly an extension of his company. And while on Wednesday night, the sentiment was largely negative towards the latest NFL-to-LA move (and rightly so: while some St. Louisans tried to justify the money grab undergone by Chargers owner Dean Spanos as less bad than what Stan Kroenke did in St. Louis a year ago, at least people are dragging NFL owners are money-grubbing scum eventually). And as such, team accounts lobbied against this greedy, calculated form of ownership which puts the profit of an absurdly rich person ahead of the well-being of millions of loyal f...haha I’m just kidding they started making jokes about a logo.

Because when you represent an organization that literally abandoned its city overnight and then voted to deprive two cities of their football teams so that incompetent owners could be bailed out, making jokes is a fine, fine tone.

Please, @Cardinals, never change. Be boring if you must; just don’t be that.

Anyway, here’s some baseball stuff.

Arbitration

In the annual ritual of arbitration-eligible players receiving one-year salary offers, two Cardinals players received offers yesterday. In 2017, Trevor Rosenthal will make $6.4 million and Kevin Siegrist will make $1.9 million—while each reliever has had down stretches in their careers, each has also pitched at a high enough level to make these salaries a potential bargain. Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha remain unsigned, though their expected salary demands do not appear to be leaps and bounds above what the Cardinals have offered, and there is still time for the Cardinals to work out deals before an arbitration hearing.

St. Louis Stars

I wrote about the St. Louis Stars, the former Negro League team which played in St. Louis, about whom I was woefully under-informed before writing it. This is a sabermetric-leaning blog, and stats are great, but in an era before statistics were as prevalent as they are today, there are some amazing stories.

The greatest Cardinals teams

Alex Crisafulli wrote about the greatest teams in Cardinals history by various statistical measures, despite the obvious fact that the Cardinals attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.

ZiPS projections

ESPN.com writer and friend of Viva El Birdos Dan Szymborski published his 2017 projections for the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, and Craig Edwards did some analysis of them. Like Craig, I was largely happy with the projections, and it was a welcome reminder that despite the inherent pessimism surrounding a relatively slow off-season, the Cardinals are still a very good baseball team.

Seung Hwan Oh

Seung Hwan Oh will be pitching for Team Korea in this year’s World Baseball Classic, and Josey Curtis wrote about this, including the gambling-related entanglements which made the inclusion of a pitcher whose ability was never in question something less than a slam dunk.

Enjoy the weekend, and if you’re in Greater St. Louis, drive safe.