StlToday.com wrote:As an era ends, Cards should be straight with the fans
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
12/17/2007One of the biggest problems the Cardinals have is the perception that they're running a bait-and-switch operation.
Team management goes into every offseason proclaiming the willingness to spend money and raise payroll and acquire meaningful talent. But over the last two or three winters, little has happened to back up those pledges.
Here's a suggestion for the Cardinals: From now on, try to be candid. Try to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Your fans are intelligent. Give them some credit for being capable of understanding the problems at Busch Stadium, and why it will take some time to intelligently replenish the roster.
The Cardinals knew they would head into this offseason with limited options. And anyone who viewed their situation with a cool head rather than hot emotion understands the obstacles.
In a lean free-agent market, few viable choices made sense for the Cardinals. Why spend $60 million (Aaron Rowand) or $80 million (Torii Hunter) on a free-agent center fielder when No. 1 prospect Colby Rasmus is so close to taking over?
Trades? Well, after years of farm-system neglect, the organization is short of desirable trade pieces. That made it virtually impossible to jump in on the blockbuster deals that involved Edgar Renteria, Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Dan Haren and Miguel Tejada.
Basically, the bills came due, and the Cardinals are paying the price for failing to develop enough quality players to be promoted to the big-league club or used in trades. And throwing money at mediocre or ill-fitting free agents is no solution.
After a terrific run of reaching six postseasons (including two World Series) over the last eight years, the Cardinals were nearing the end of an era. And they have some rebuilding to do. They're in transition. It happens. It isn't a crime against humanity.So why can't the Cardinals just offer some straight talk? They had an intelligent case to be made to their fans. Instead, they played dodgeball.
Chairman Bill DeWitt kept repeating how he's willing to spend money and raise the payroll. But there wasn't much to spend it on this time around, so why amp up the fans? Why vow to land an impact bat and a viable starting pitcher when the odds are very much against that happening?
All it gets you is bad public relations.
DeWitt and GM John Mozeliak should have just laid out the accurate and realistic nature of the franchise's predicament, and ask for understanding as they maneuver from an old era to a new one.
What's wrong with having a transition year, anyway? It doesn't mean a bottoming-out, a surrender, or a lack of desire to win. Like it or not, this team must retool its roster by getting younger, and part of that is holding off on short-sighted moves that will only worsen the situation.
The Cardinals are stuck until the farm system regenerates, some old salaries are dumped, the pitching health of Chris Carpenter and Mark Mulder turns around, and the overall flexibility improves.
Cardinals fans love their team, love baseball and love the social experience of going to ballgames. And I believe most Cardinals fans — if properly enlightened and treated as adults — would be willing to bide their time until management has a chance to rework the roster. It's not as if this franchise is headed to a sequence of 100-loss seasons, and years of futility.
For all the great baseball we've watched over the past 12 years, a down period was inevitable.
So why don't the Cardinals just explain that — and then make a good-faith gesture by cutting ticket prices by a couple of dollars? (OK, now I'm really getting crazy.)
Instead, the Cardinals pumped their fan base with false hope. They assured customers that it would be a proactive winter of wheeling and dealing.
It isn't going to happen, and the fans understand that now. But, of course, the realization is setting in only after 2008 tickets went on sale.
And now some fans believe they've been deceived.
Do you blame them?