(Photo Courtesy of zimbio.com)
With #HeywardWatch2016 in full swing and the Winter Meetings drawing to a close, the Cardinals have yet to make a big splash in the free agent market. There are quite a few viable options left on the table and St. Louis has some holes it needs to fix. Besides the obvious lack of power in the offense John Mozeliak has also looked at upgrading the pitching rotation.
Lance Lynn will miss the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, bonafide ace Adam Wainwright and fireball phenom Carlos Martinez are coming off an injury plagued 2015, and we’re not quite sure what we’re going to get out of Jaime Garcia or Michael Wacha.
It was the issue the Cardinals faced last season and one they’ll face again this season if they don’t add some depth and talent. St. Louis doesn’t have a guy like Chris Carpenter where you know exactly what your going to get every fifth day, a win or at least a damn good shot.
Lynn and former Cardinal John Lackey were the brute innings eaters that can go deep into ball games, but with neither in the rotation everyone else has to step up.
So after missing out on the ace and prize of the draft David Price, who signed a seven year deal worth $217 million with the Red Sox, why not go after Johnny Cueto?
Now before you go off bashing me and criticizing, hear me out. Obviously what happened in the 2010 brawl in Cincinnati will never be forgotten. If you live under a rock or don’t know what happened you can’t consider yourself of a Cardinal fan.
However, if you are a newer fan essentially what happened is as follows – Brandon Phillips tapped the shin guard of Yadier Molina upon coming up to the plate during a game in Cincinnati, a move Albert Pujols is known for. Molina took exception, the benches cleared, and a brawl ensued.
In the brawl, Cueto was pinned up against the backstop fence and started kicking with his metal cleats. Cueto kicked back up catcher Jason LaRue in the head, which ultimately ended his playing career.
This started what became the Cardinals new NL central division rivalry, while the Cubs wallowed in mediocrity. I understand fans frustration with Cueto because what he did was very wrong. I get that people are mad that St. Louis would even consider signing him.
But let me ask you this. Hypothetically speaking of course, what if I told you the Cardinals were going to win the World Series if they chose to sign Cueto? You’d be on board. Of course there’s no way of knowing that, but Cueto gives the team a much better chance.
He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball right now and the best free agent pitcher available. We all have seen what he’s done within the division and this past year in the playoffs with the Royals. Aside from Ben Zobrist, Cueto provided that extra push for Kansas City to make a World Series run.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on Twitter and other social media of fans saying they’d stop watching Cardinals games if Mozeliak signed Cueto or they’d at least turn off the TV if Cueto were pitching. If that’s your attitude then you don’t deserve to be a Cardinal fan.
There’s a reason so many hate the “Best Fans in Baseball” and it’s for reasons like this. If a fan of any other team were to hear their beloved baseball team had just signed Johnny Cueto, they’d be ecstatic. That’s because the dude is electric and he can flat out pitch.
You’d be tone deaf not to accept Cueto as a Cardinal. He doesn’t have to be a fan favorite by any means, that spot is always reserved for Molina, but at least be open and willing to the idea.
St. Louis is built on success and the Cardinals are the team we have to count on to continue that success. If a guy is going to help the team get closer to achieving the ultimate end goal of a World Series, I’m all in, regardless of his past.
It’s not like this guy is a clubhouse cancer like Jonathan Papelbon. He screwed up one time in his career and I don’t think that’s grounds for his execution. Luckily Mozeliak is above the high school drama many of the BFIB are still caught up in from five years ago.
He’s not going to overpay for the guy if the price is not right, but if it’s there he has to make a deal. It would only help the club. Cueto’s market isn’t as demanding as some of the other top pitchers like Price or Zack Greinke so the price could be more favorable.
While teams like Arizona and Boston already have their prize piece, teams like San Francisco and Los Angeles remain real possible landing destinations for the former Royal pitcher.
In a statement released yesterday Cueto’s agent, Bryce Dixon, said a marriage with St. Louis could happen.
Cueto’s agent addressing past incidents with the Cardinals. Whole article is worth a read. https://t.co/swd4ZxRsnc
So while we wait for the Heyward decision, let’s make it clear. Johnny Cueto is a great pitcher and would help any team he joins. What he did in 2010 was awful, uncalled for, and flat out unprofessional.
But this is baseball. This is the sport so many of us grew up on and this is the team we love. If you can’t see past the brawl of 2010 to see what Cueto could bring to this team, then you simply aren’t thinking logically. Obviously emotions run high and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
But if it comes down to Cueto on the mound in October in St. Louis or an early exit because the pitching wasn’t as dominant, give me Cueto 10 times out of 10.
Look at what happened this year. The Cardinals had the best record in baseball and lost in the NLDS. No one will remember the Cardinals 100 win season because at the end of the day, they had nothing to show for it.
Sports isn’t all rainbows and daisies and you’re not going to like every player, but when they’re putting up W’s, everyone quickly forgets the ugly memories. You’d be foolish not to welcome Cueto because at the end of the day it’s not about the Best Fans in Baseball getting their way, it’s about winning.
So go ahead and criticize me all you want for liking the idea of Cueto to the Cardinals or maybe you agree with me, but either way I assure you Mozeliak isn’t reading the Twitter feed and that’s exactly how it should be.
Feel free to vent your sentiments at me on Twitter @NickYahl. I’ll gladly discuss in hearty conversation.