You may be familiar with the word 'precipitous'. As an adjective, it means steep, and is typically used to describe long drop-offs (like half-dome at Yosemite). An alternate meaning for the word is 'extremely rapid, hasty, or abrupt'.
I was introduced to this word while stationed onboard my second submarine, in a critique of a evolution gone bad (not one I was involved in, mind you) by our XO. His point was, just because you have to take action doesn't mean you should do the first thing that comes to mind; there is time to think (albeit a short time) and consider options.
As the calls get louder for Mozeliak to make a move and improve this Cardinals team, I'm reminded of that event. And word.
We had a spirited discussion during the UCB radio hour about this, both on the air and in the chat room. Bernie's post today gets more into the argument. Losing 9-3 last night, with Lohse leaving after 39 pitches, doesn't help the mood, and in effect turns the heat up a little.
There are real holes to fill on this team. Third base is an offensive vacuum. Schumaker, bless his heart, is one of the worst defensive second sackers in baseball. Our outfielders aren't hitting. We have two and a half reliable starters at the moment (Carp, Wainwright, and the Mr. Hyde personal of Piniero). So what should we do?
Most analysts believe Mo has been working the phones and trying to get a deal done. It is a good assumption. His whole job revolves around his ability to field a winner. I have not been a GM; I've never even walked through a Major League team's front office. But I know how my office would be set up if I sat in the big chair:
- On this wall, would be my current 4o man roster.
- On that wall, would be every minor leaguer I controlled who was projected to be ML-ready within 2 years.
Then there would be binders. Oh, lots of binders. Who will be free agents at the end of the year, organized by position (and in position, organized by age). Each organization's 40 man roster. Each organization's farm system, highlighting guys we think could help us. And most importantly, each organization's weak areas - so I know what players to offer in a trade. Because, with rare exception, we're not dealing with idiots out there, and you're not going to get Babe Ruth for cash anymore.
So I'm sure Mo's done his homework. And I'm sure he's as frustrated as we are with the team's skittishness recently.
Bernie makes the case to make a move now. I got into an argument on the chatboard last night - although I can't remember which blog Tom writes for - concerning when a move should be made. Tom advocated 'soon, very soon.' I don't.
Because here's the point: the Cardinals are only 1 game out of first starting play tonight. One. As bad as the offense has been since 1 May, with the defensive holes we have, with only 2 reliable starters, we're only 1 game out. Clearly this team, as currently built, isn't going to make a deep run in October - or perhaps not even make it to October. But we certainly aren't in a 'make a move now or we're completely buried' position. At least, not yet.
Remember 2004? The Cardinals got swept in the World Series. By and large, one of the reasons cited (in addition to scoring 3 runs the last 3 games) was the lack of a power pitcher in the rotation (remember, Carpenter missed that post season due to a nerve injury in his pitching arm). There were calls for the Cardinals to make a move.
Then on 16 Dec that year the Braves traded for Tim Hudson. I happened to be home visiting my family when that happened; it was the lead story on the news. KMOX talk shows lit up with people clamoring. What's Jocketty doing? Why haven't the Cardinals made a move too?
Two days later we traded for Mark Mulder. Anyone out there still think trading Dan Haren for Mulder was a good move?
That was a precipitous move.
We don't need to repeat that mistake again.
Take your time, Mo. Make the trade that makes us better for the long term. Flip one of our mediocre outfielders for a third baseman or starting pitcher. Please don't trade Mitchell Boggs for 4 months of Joe Crede's bad back (as an example).
(And, if you're not tuning into the Wednesday United Cardinal Blogger Radio Hour, you're missing out.)
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