Big Game Hunting for the Cards by Bob Ryan

It’s hunting season now…maybe not in the outdoors but definitely in the MLB.  It’s a bit different type of “big game” hunting….it’s not huge wildlife….it’s bringing down the “big game” players in the MLB.  Obviously, they don’t shoot them down with guns or bow….they bring these “big game” guys down by shooting with guns that shoot them tons & tons of money. Even with these “big game” shots, some of the elite players still manage to escape to another day…and maybe….a different big game shooter. The two largest targets for these”Big game” shooting are Bryce Harper & Manny Machado. I feel like the Cards aren’t even going to take any shots @ Machado.With the money demanded to bring down these MLB stars…they can’t afford for the stars NOT to be stars with their fan base.  Machado’s attitude and style of play lets him run loose as far as the Cards are concerned. Harper’s demands may make him too elusive for out gungs to have the power to bring him down. Soooo…where does that take these “big game” hunters…..

…I suppose that these hunters begin stalking somewhat smaller “prizes”….that requires less $$$ to be bring down the target….Josh Donaldson ….is that type of star –one with question marks….he’s already been brought down by the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta….btw…has been out of the big game hunting expeditions for several years so bringing down Donaldson was stirring to the fan base.   Donaldson was a particularly attractive “catch” for the Braves. It’s a 1 year contract (he’s a free agent next year) for $23m sooo…Donaldson who has struggled with Injuries since 2017 must prove again that he’s worthy of the big bucks…Of course if the falters like in 2018, he’ll be sent packing. 2015 was really robust for Donaldson-it was he “caree” year.  As a member of the Blue Jays  he won the AL MVP as he pounded 41 HR, 122 RBI, .297 with an OPS .939 and played in 158 games. In 2016, he still played in 155 games with 37 round trippers, just 99 RBI’s, but his OPS moved upward to .953. In 2017 he dipped to 33 HR, hit .270 with 78 rbi’s.  last year…he split time between Toronto & Cleveland as his batting mark slipped to .246 and only played in 52 games. The Braves are hoping that the 33 year old will bounce back in a huge way as the regular 3B for a team that he rooted for as a youngster. The 1 year contract suits the Braves well as they have several young players who will be arriving at their “big money” time in a couple years.

….Sooo…how does this affect the Cards…who seemingly are still out buying their “big game” hunting gear …..with Donaldson off the table…the TWO big targets left are Bryce Harper & Manny Machado. you can “x” out Machado…his style of play & personality do not seem suited for the Cards fan base. Harper is about as young as any superstar could be to enter free agency at 26 years of age. Somehow, I just don’t think that the Cards will break their mold of loading up their MONEY GUN with millions & millions of bucks to bring down a super free agent. I’m already hearing, “we gave him a solid offer but just not enough” response from MO…who claims not to be the GM but really is the director of operations…who do hear representing the Cards on these free agent “hunts”….the GM or MO? Soooo Cards must take over their hunting gear and move to the trading waters.  Paul Goldschmidt seems ideally suited to wear a Redbird uny… go ahead part with 2, 3 or even 4 “prospects” and an everyday player to get him for 1 year. I’d even trade Carlos Martinez as part of the package to get Goldschmidt. Let the fans “bag Goldschmidt on the hunting grounds” with their appreciation and adulation for a super player. Take the chance that you can resign him after next year…. Without a major signing, I predict a drop in Card attendance next year.

…in other “big game” player moves or possible moves around the MLB….

…Mets & Mariners started the ball rolling as they exchanged some “big game” players….if not presently.. surely from the recent past…the Mets obtained Robinson Cano and Cano’s huge salary commitment (due $120m over next 5 years) &  closer Edwin Diaz. Going to the Mariners are aging Jay Bruce, veteran mediocre relief hurler Anthony Swarzak and 3 prospects (2 of whom were #1 picks by NYM). Cano might be the best known of this group…but from my view, Edwin Diaz, just 24 was absolutely terrific last year. He had 57 saves in 61 appearances, 1.96 ERA, 0.79 whip, 124 strikeouts vs 17 walks in 73 1/3 innings. The Mets clearly “won” this big-game deal…Diaz ALONE is worth what Seattle received in return. Seattle does get salary relief as they push off Cano’s salary obligations. Meanwhile, NYM hopes that Cano will get a bit more recharged  in a familiar environment (he played for the Yanks for several years). Cano has also put his 80 game suspension of PED use behind him. NYM also received $20m to offset the huge Cano contract…heck, that’s almost worth the last of the 5 year commitment to him. I’ve stated very often my feeling about “prospects”….they’re like prospectors digging for gold…how often  did they actually fine gold?…..a steal by NYM.

….in the Cardinals recent history, signing the highest level “big game” Free agents has rarely been done…so with that in mind…and with the idea that MLB “big games” have now become bullpen games…2 attractive free agents to me that are former Cardinals – Joe Kelly & Adam Ottovino ..each would both benefit the bullpen and immediately provide experience and depth for the growing number of bullpen games in 2019 MLB action.

In some different types of “big game” action….Saturday was college football championship day…

….some may not have enjoyed the low scoring 10-3 victory by #10 Washington over #17 Utah in the Pac 12 Championship….many, many fans have come to expect the pin-ball type scores in the 50’s with offenses running past the defenses as if they were little brothers in a family “touch” game…. Washington  ran the ball and ran the ball ..often inside the tackles….and played tremendous defense—it was really “old school”….Washington played ball control….consistent run plays, several short passes to backs behind the LOS to eliminate sacks and pick up 3-5 yards per catch along with  a tremendous defense—especially the defensive secondary…in fact, it was the Huskie defense that scored the only TD of the game. In an interception as strange as the game…Byron Murphy (Wash U d-back) reacted to a pass to Utah WR Siaosi Mariner…the pass was low, Mariner got his hands on it…but it slipped through them…hit his upper leg as he was falling…bounded up a bit in the air, Murphy grabbed it outraced the pursuit for a 66 yard Pick. Washington has the ball for almost twice as long as Utah (38:32 minutes) and had drives of 6:40 and another over 10 minutes!!! (there’s only 15 min in a quarter!) Murphy had 3 picks for the day in a “big game” when defense ruled.

…Everyone’s eyes were on the Bama-Georgia game…the Bulldogs played a brilliant game but Alabama just had too much depth…especially at the crucial QB spot…. as Jalen Hurts enters the game after an injury to Tua Tagovailoa and rallies the Crimson Tide for the win and the #1 seed overall. Funny how things work….last year in the same game, Tua Tagovailoa had replaced Hurts to ignite Alabama to beat Georgia in a similar way….what goes around…comes around sometimes…but it won’t happen unless a coach can recruit superior players constantly over the years as Nick Saban has done.

….while we’re in the football “big game” section…I’m staying with my Final Four that I’ve had for a few weeks now, as I write this on Sunday morning…..1. Bama  2. Clemson  3. ND 4. OU. The NCAA show will be later  today.

…in the Nearly Forgotten League (NFL)….there aren’t any “big NFL games” in the Lou any more but..
with many of the usual frontrunners leading  their division…in the AFL its New England, Pittsburgh, KC and Houston….the NFL has Dallas, New Orleans and the Rams on top with things seeming  like the good ol’ days…the status quo…. but… lo and behold…the Chicago Bears are in 1st place by 1.5 games over Minnesota. Is Mike Ditka still playing? George Halas on the sidelines?  Dick Butkus & Gale Sayers as star players? Nope… Go ahead tell me any 3 players on the Bears.. I can’t.
  Where is Green Bay you say?  They’re behind the Lions in 3rd place..ouch!

…In the basketball world, it’s very unusual to have a “big game” prior to Christmas….or even prior to February…but St Louis U made a national footprint with their stunning, convincing win over Butler 64-52. Butler has been the model that the Billikens hope to emulate…..a small, private school that has become well-known and accepted as a national basketball power. It brings recognition, pride, donations and… students to the school. I didn’t see this game but heard Ramer & Earl (Bob Ramsey & Earl Austin) rooting them home on the radio….it was fun hearing each possession with such passion as the game winded down. Kudo’s to Head Coach Travis Ford who has recruited top level players and packed the Chavitz house and made a mark…for at least a day….on the national map…now….the climb to higher rankings continues  as more “W’s are required. I think the Bills will find many of the A-10 games a different caliber than these Butler type games.

….In HS basketball it’s too early in the season to have any real “big games” but Principia’s 5-11 Jordan Frederickson has definitely placed herself as  a “big game Player. At this point, she leads the area in girls scoring as we begin the 1st full week in December. Frederickson , a Junior, carries a 32.5 average through 4 games. She’s displayed outside shooting– 15 3-balls; free throw shooting %– 4th in the area as she shoot 91% (51 of 56 FT). Further, she’s also 3rd in the area in rebounds as she carries a 13.3 reb/gm mark. The Panthers (3-1) can afford to play Frederickson outside (1st of all because she can REALLY shoot) because they have additional height to play inside with Sophomores Makenna Kibbe is 6-0, at 5-11 is Aria McMullin and Sr Georgia Rather is 5-10 to supplement Frederickson.

….to wrap up the ‘Big Games” week…congrats to CBC (now ranked #10 in national polls)in Class 6, Vianney  won Class 5, Ladue is Champ in Class 4, Trinity in Class 3 on winning Missouri State High School Football Championships over the past 2 weekends.

….now it’s time wrap up the “Big Game” week….

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Joe Parisi says:

    The MLB Winter Meetings begin next week.
    I can’t help but thinking back to previous winter meetings… Pujols, D Price, Heyward…0 for 3.
    If we are to believe the team, Cards offers were equal to teams these guys ultimately lost out to…
    StL fills the stadium 81 games per season; Players are treated as Gods, as StL IS a baseball town. …a pretty fair media….So, if it’s not money…. what’s the issue? The image of StL?
    Or, could it be the messenger? I see many GM’s on the MLB Network who seem to be real people guys…. guys you’d like to have a beer with…. young, contemporary guys. Perhaps the bow tie guy from Ladue is a bit too square to relate to today’s players. Was Matheny a bit too rigid ?
    Will playing for Mike Schildt be attractive enough to draw top tier free agents?
    Memo to the DeWitts….acquire via trades. Part with some of the farm team studs. Fans will not tolerate another lackluster, B Team signing.

  2. Great article! Like Goldschmidt & Harper …..Machado Not worth …..
    Drama players in the Locker room are trouble
    Mets got great deal getting Cano who still has pop
    Congrats to Vianney football. Two of the three last years State football champioship
    Coach Paul Day is a great coach and Kyren Williams special player 278 Yards in State Game
    He’ll be a STUD @ ND! It will be Bama & ND In the Final in Santa Clara
    Have a great day! MB

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