Long-time Washington Post columnist Norman Chad had a saying in his weekly Q-and-A column, “Pay the Man, Shirley”. Today I will envoke that phrase.
For the amount of time I’ve been here the one thing that has frustrated me more than James Franklin playing battering ram or Phil Pressey missing again (wait, I’m dreaming, right) is the constant defense of Cardinals fans toward their management staff.
I will concede their track record has allowed them this kind of worship, what with 11 World Championships, 18 National League Pennants and countless division titles. I will also concede that recent moves such as not signing Albert Pujols and Kyle Lohse to long-term deals that would have overpaid them past their prime have, for the time-being, looked to be the right ones.
The latest case is Edward Mujica, who is third-round arbitration-eligible this offseason, meaning in the plainest terms, he can fight for more money if the Cardinals tender him a low-ball offer. The Cardinals, if they were any sort of right-minded organization like red-swaddled fanbase claims they are, would nip this in the bed with a multi-year offer before the season is over.
Someone called The Big Show this week and sang a familiar chorus “I hope the Cardinals don’t overpay for [Player X],” with the X in this case being the closer who has converted all of his 19 save opportunities this season going into Friday’s action. The fact of the matter is, Mujica is making $3.2 million this season, and will command a higher deal if he keeps up this rate of success.
I do realize the Cardinals’ history with this is iffy, and relievers like Franklin, Isringhausen, Worrell, et al have made Redbird fans cringe at the end of their shelf life as bullpen firemen. I also realize the Cardinals have a stable of young arms ready to supplant Mujica if he’s gone after 2014, like Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly and Kevin Siegrist to name a few.
The difference between then and now, is the market value for a closer is not what it used to be, and ninth-inning men are not getting K-Rod-esque deals of $40 million over four years.
I also subscribe to the argument that just because players like Pujols and Lohse are not having success, does not mean they would have followed the same career track had they been offered a fair wage to stay in St. Louis.
If Mujica costs you a couple of extra sheckles, he’s worth it, at this point. If he has no less than 30 saves and two blown saves by August 1, he’s worth my dollar.
Just because it worked to not pay Albert and Lohse, doesn’t make it right or mean they would not have succeeded.
Pay the man, Shirley.