Byrd's eye view (cont.)
Posted: Friday May 25, 2007 12:57PM; Updated: Friday May 25, 2007 12:57PM
From the E-Bag
The people in St. Louis take their ball seriously ...
Your article on my Cardinals hurt like hell. The real problem is Bill Dewitt with extra millions from a World Series championship and Walt "Call Me Lucky" Jocketty not spending money when you lose three starters. I really want to shoot somebody. The most loyal fans in the world [get shafted] again.
I don't think it's an unwillingness to spend money as much as it is the money that he's spent not working for him enough. You're dead-on right in that the GM deserves some heat for letting Jeff Suppan slip away (though not for letting Jeff Weaver or Jason Marquis walk), and maybe he can be criticized for not signing some available free agents (though, as we all know, that was a bear of a pitching market last winter). But the Cards, historically speaking, have shelled out some contracts. They're 11th in payroll this year at something over $90 million, up slightly (about 2 percent) from 2006. The main problem is that Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, especially -- the three highest-paid players on the team -- are not giving the team enough bang for their buck. All should be hitting better than they are. All of them probably will. But when you have that much tied up in three players (more than $37 million this year) and none is producing enough, the team's going to struggle.
Your comments about last year's Cards are exaggerated and unfair. That team started off on fire and lost Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds, David Eckstein and Mark Mulder for extended periods of time. The team got healthy in time for the playoffs and played to its potential. This team is about to start hitting -- there is too much talent not to -- and [pitching coach Dave] Duncan will get this young pitching staff turned around. Give credit where it's due.
In the playoffs, the Cards probably played above their heads (see: Yadier Molina, Weaver, Anthony Reyes) while the competition, especially in the World Series, played quite a bit below. It happens. Teams get hot. Teams implode. Congrats to the Cards for pulling it off. But that doesn't make them any better of a team in the long run, and it shouldn't surprise any of us that they're playing more to form this season.
"Cries of disrespect have quieted" [from the Power Rankings this week] .. just reading that was enough to get my blood boiling (again). The Brewers are 10 games over .500, and have a 5.5 game lead in the NL Central. It's a long season. If the Brewers can bring themselves out of this funk they might make you a fan by the end of it.
If they pull out of this funk, when they prove they can beat a good team (consistently), if they're challenging for a postseason spot in September ... yeah, maybe then I'll become a believer.
A mistake like the Yankees made with Carl Pavano would have buried some teams for a decade. For the Yanks, it's a mark in the ledger on the wrong side of the book. That's it. It's hard to tell what will be missed less: the money or Pavano ... John Smoltz, 40 years old, was hitting 95 mph on the Turner Field radar gun Thursday night in winning career game No. 200. He's the only pitcher ever with 200 wins and save 150 games. Some still debate his Hall of Fame worthiness. Some are idiots. He's a big-game pitcher who has shown an ability to dominate at both starting and finishing -- and in between, too. I hope voters remember that five years after he calls it quits. Whenever that'll be ... I'll be stunned if anything comes out of Bud Selig's office after Jason Giambi's remarks to USA Today. Everybody's so lawyered up in this situation, it's hard to think anyone can move. And, let's face it, Selig hasn't shown any willingness to do anything outside what's called for in the drug policy. He's not likely to put the hammer down on could-be offenders with nothing but nebulous "confessions" and no positive tests ... Oliver Perez (6-3, 2.54 ERA) is having a breakout year for the Mets. He's simply breaking the Braves (3-0, 1.31) ... Sniff any desperation on the part of those Brewers, who promoted third base phenom Ryan Braun on Thursday? They've lost four straight series and have upcoming showdowns against the Padres and Braves ... Speaking of trades (and we all will be, soon enough), any takers out there for Elijah Dukes? Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman ought to be pitching other teams to give him some pitching -- any pitching -- for his troublesome outfielder. The Rays need that headache like they need more seats at the Trop.