Frustration has been simmering among Cardinals fans for years, and recently, it’s become a full-on boil.
The prevailing thought is that the front office is too conservative. Some would argue ownership is cheap. Others claim the people running the organization simply aren’t good enough at their jobs.
For years, the Cardinals have taken a pragmatic approach to building and managing their roster. Overall, it’s been successful. The regular season records and frequent trips to the playoffs have made that apparent.
Of course, missing the playoffs the last two seasons has further skewed how many view the organization.
After trading for outfielder Marcel Ozuna, the Cardinals have once again gone quiet on the roster-building front. Along with Ozuna, the Cardinals signed a middle-of-the-rotation starter, Miles Mikolas, and a bullpen arm, Luke Gregerson. There have been other, less significant moves, too.
While landing Ozuna temporarily appeased most of the naysayers, the freshness has worn off. They want more.
To be fair, the Cardinals almost certainly need more. The pitching staff has question marks, and there isn’t a clear choice for a closer. The lineup, while improved, could still use another piece, too.
The silence since the Ozuna trade isn’t unique to the Cardinals, though. It’s actually part of the slowest-moving offseason in recent memory.
Thus far, only nine free agents have signed MLB contracts that span at least three years. They are Justin Upton, Mike Minor, Carlos Santana, Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, Wade Davis, Zack Cozart, Tyler Chatwood and Jay Bruce.
Of those nine, only three – McGee, Davis and Cozart – were likely on the Cardinals radar. Davis stands out as the biggest potential miss, as he would have filled the vacant closer role nicely. Cozart was coveted by some, but his addition would’ve required a potentially unnecessary shifting of existing infield pieces. McGee, although he has more experience as a closer, isn’t too far off from Gregerson.
Other than those three, the market for free agents isn’t exactly passing by the Cardinals. It’s just been slow to get rolling. There are big-time players, headlined by J.D. Martinez and Yu Darvish, still looking for a home.
It’s unlikely there’s much movement before those big chips fall. That includes the trade market. With the Winter Meetings in the rearview mirror and the free agent landscape slow to develop, it adds uncertainty to every front office.
Teams aren’t going to be willing or able to make creative trade deals until they know where they and others stand from a roster-building perspective.
While it’s possible the Cardinals are content with their upgrades, it’s just as possible, if not more so, that they are waiting this thing out. If that’s the case, they’re not alone. Basically every major league team is biding time until moves start to happen.
Considering how the market is playing out, Cardinals fans should be pleased. Still, almost every MLB team’s offseason grade is incomplete.
If the Cardinals’ position doesn’t change between now and spring training, that could be a reason for dissonance.