– Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Cardinals’ fans are spoiled. Cardinals’ fans carry a “Holier than Thou” attitude towards fans from other teams. Cardinals’ fan can be downright dreadful to talk to. I know this because I am one of them, and I love it.
What has us so spoiled as fans? The answer, continued success. For those that follow the Cardinals’ prospects, we know that success is not going to end any time soon. The Cardinals are currently in a position to add a big name, front line starter with their current payroll flexibility. Max Scherzer, David Price, Cole Hamels and James Shields will all demand huge money. Money that the Cardinals have. However, do they need to spend the money? It’s nice to play the role a General Manager and play with money that isn’t yours. Constructing a “Dream Team” is always fun. But, those high priced teams aren’t guaranteed to win.
Let’s dive into this by looking at the biggest name on the market, Max Scherzer. Scherzer is rumored to be asking for $200 million. Having him stack up with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn in a five game series would be filthy. But, would it be $25 million per year better than Wainwright, Lynn and Michael Wacha. The answer is no, and here’s why. In Scherzer’s seven years in the big leagues, he’s only posted an ERA below three just once. He’s a high strikeout guy, but doesn’t do the one thing an ace needs to do. He doesn’t go the distance. In Scherzer’s career, he’s only tallied one complete game. Yes, you read that correctly. One complete game. As dominant as he’s been over the last couple of seasons, he is not an ace.
James Shields will be seeking approximately $20 million per season from whatever team signs him. He might make the most sense out of the bunch. Like Scherzer, Shields has only posted one season with a sub-three ERA. However, Shields has thrown 22 complete games and can definitely be the guy the give the bullpen a break. He can put away a batter with a strikeout and doesn’t walk a lot a hitters either. He’s going to command “Wainwright money,” but is he worth that much to Cardinal Nation?
David Price is most likely going to command more than Shields per season, but he won’t be a free agent till after the 2015 season. Meaning if the Cardinals want to acquire him, they are going to have to part ways with some prospects. The same thing goes for Cole Hamels. Hamels is owed $94 million, but is under contract through the 2018 season. If St. Louis were to obtain Price or Hamels, we can kiss Stephen Piscotty goodbye, along with others.
What I’m getting at is this. If St. Louis acquires any of these hurlers, they’ll be getting away from what’s made them great. Matt Holliday is under club control for only two more season. Jason Heyward is guaranteed to be in St Louis just for one season. The Cardinals are going to need outfield help in the very near future. If the Cardinals throw big money at one of these guys, that could be the first step towards becoming just another larger market team that underachieves. The Cards have plenty of options. As of right now, Wainwright, Lynn, Lackey and Wacha are the Cardinals’ top four starters. The fifth spot will go to Carlos Martinez, Marco Gonzales or Jaime Garcia. None of those guys are slouches.
I’m not saying the Cardinals are better off with Martinez in the rotation over Scherzer. I totally understand that Scherzer and Price are Cy Young winners and Marco Gonzales is not. However, all of these big name free agents were unproven prospects at one point. If your fifth starter wins 10 games, it is worth shelling out twenty plus million dollars for a pitcher that might only win eight more games? In a perfect world, we could deal for Troy Tulowitzki, sign Scherzer and not have to worry about paying the bills. However, this isn’t MLB 15 The Show. Let’s leave those deals for the PlayStation. Let’s start the season with what we already have in house. Maybe Marco Gonzales becomes a premier pitcher or Carlos Martinez figures it out and become elite. We will never know that if we bury them behind a big name starter.