Stay Off The Bridge It’s A Long Way Down

I see a lot of panic in Cardinal Nation.   There is very little reason for it this early in the season, but every year like clockwork it’s there.  Something is always not quite right, whether it’s the starting rotation, the bullpen, the offense or any combination thereof. Fans panic, and start screaming for change.  The problem is real baseball is nothing like fantasy baseball, and a major league roster is not a chessboard.  There are rules and consequences to making roster moves.

“Send player X down”!  is a common cry.  It ain’t that simple.  If any or all of several rules apply to Player X, sending him down may be difficult and have unwanted consequences.   If Player X has no remaining option years, he will have to be placed on irrevocable waivers; if some team claims him, he gone.  If Player X has 3 or more years of service time, he has to be placed on revocable waivers; if a team claims him you can pull him back, but you have essentially foreclosed trying to send him down again for the rest of the season.  If player X has 5 or more years of service time, he can refuse to go down at all, and elect to be a free agent.

Even if none of the foregoing rules apply, sending a player down for other than a rehab assignment means possible roster changes for the minor league team you send him to and also for lower level minor league teams as well.  It’s a domino affect.   When the Cardinals called up Tyler Lyons, they had to promote Zach Petrick  from AA to replace Lyons at AAA. Sending down Pete Kozma required demoting Luis Mateo from AAA to AA. Sending Mateo to AA required sending Matt Williams to Palm Beach.   Like I said, dominoes.  So doing this kind of thing every time something goes wrong at the major league level creates chaos, and is a poor way to run a baseball franchise.

Most things that go wrong on the major league team resolve themselves over time.  Having the patience and self – discipline to wait for that resolution is what many fans find difficult.   Even when a roster move becomes necessary,  there needs to be much thought and preparation.  This kind of planning and strategy requires an expert behind it.  John Mozeliak knows what he is doing, and even if his actions (or non-actions) aren’t what you personally want, you need to understand there is a purpose behind it.  I don’t always like every move made, but I accept that it is what the organization thinks is best. They want to win as much as I do.

Now what the manager does from game to game is another issue entirely.   Managerial strategy can often be a mine field.  Moves can be head-scratching at times.  We all like to second guess the manager, and there is nothing wrong with that.   Managers make mistakes.   They also make decisions that rely on the execution of the players, and if the players don’t accomplish that execution that is hardly the manager’s fault.   Knowing the difference is the hard part.

Regardless of the issue, panic at this point in the season really accomplishes nothing.  Won/loss records are fluid and where the standings are now are likely nothing like what they will be at the end of the season.  It will get better.


Thank you for reading.



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1 Comment

  1. Jerry Modene

     /  April 22, 2014

    For many years, I have referred to this phenomenon as the “Steinbrennerization” of baseball, ever since “The Bronx Zoo” detailed how George would have a pitcher who had a bad game sent down to the minors before the shower got cold. It’s grown worse as the NFL/Fantasy aspects of fandom have taken greater hold.

    Goold addressed this issue well in Monday’s chat, pointing out how foolish it would be to trade Holliday, a multiple-all-star, to make room for a AAA player with no track record as yet.



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