Excuse my smugness please, because oh, what a satisfying headline that is. And what fun it is for me to follow up with this: The St. Louis Cardinals are cybercriminals, ladies and gentlemen. There are felons in the Redbird nest.
Here’s hoping that Rob Manfred comes down hard on the Cards when the Feds are finished with them, because the scandal won’t affect the club’s bottom line. St. Louis can rationalize just about anything, from Jhonny Peralta’s post-PED $53 million contract to the annual All-Star Game ballot stuffing – look closely; it’s almost as bad as KC’s – to the lionizing of drug cheat Mark McGwire. The pitcher batting eighth? Give me a break.
Cardinal Nation will have no problem with a little a gamesmanship between hard drives. In fact, they’ll probably insist on a standing-ovation-first-ball-ceremony for the desk jockey who inevitably turns himself in at Jefferson City.
Since I’m nothing if not accommodating, I thought I’d chime in with a few punishment suggestions for the new commish. A walk of atonement for a team executive is a nonstarter, unfortunately, but I understand noogies have been cleared by the CIA as a comparatively harmless enhanced interrogation technique.
No? Well, ideally we go back in time, undo the Lou Brock-for-Ernie-Broglio trade and send Stan Musial to the Cubs instead, for Len Gabrielson. Of course, if we had the technology for that, and since the city has some experience with teams splitting for greener and more discerning pastures, we could ship the Cards off to Baltimore in place of the old St. Louis Browns.
Draft pick penalties? Child’s play. Speaking of which; forget the computer flunky and sentence the big boys – Cards owner William DeWitt Jr. and GM John Mozeliak – to scribble “the Cardinal Way” on a chalkboard till their fingers are numb. And their toes. This chalkboard.
The San Diego Padres could not possibly be more clueless. But I’m confident they’re going to try.
While I don’t have a personal attachment to Bud Black, and am therefore disinclined to play the blame game, I do admire the outgoing skipper and would like to defend him: The mess in “America’s Finest City” is 100 percent A.J. Preller’s doing. Fine, 95; Jedd Gyorko’s $35 million gift of a contract was Josh Byrnes’ bonehead move.
We’ll dispense with the obligatory Murphy’s Law joke in reference to Pat Murphy’s hiring as interim skipper because it’s a past-tense thing: Whatever can go wrong already has gone wrong at Petco Park.
Gone to Atlanta in the Craig Kimbrel trade is San Diego’s top prospect, starting pitcher Matt Wisler, along with Cameron Maybin, who is enjoying a career year as the Braves’ center fielder.
Gone to Atlanta in the Justin Upton trade is Jace Peterson, currently impressing as the team’s leadoff-hitting second baseman, outfielder Mallex Smith, third in the Southern League in hitting at .337, and top pitching prospect Max Fried, now recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Gone to Washington via Tampa Bay in the three-team winter deal for Wil Myers is heralded shortstop prospect Trea Turner and Joe Ross, who is already pitching in the Nationals’ rotation.
Myers was never going to work out as San Diego’s center fielder, with the experiment essentially ended before a recurring wrist injury sidelined him altogether. Meanwhile, Maybin is no longer available to fill in at center and the Padres’ black hole at short reaches year number God-knows-what.
Gone to Los Angeles in the Matt Kemp trade is controllable-until-2019 catcher Yasmani Grandal (.277/.389/.477 and on pace for 20 home runs) and touted pitching prospect Zach Eflin, who was later flipped to Philadelphia in the Jimmy Rollins trade.
Taking Casey Stengel’s line that “you have to have a catcher, otherwise you will have a lot of passed balls” to heart, Preller responded to the Grandal vacancy with Derek Norris, at the cost of Jesse Hahn, already a mainstay in the Athletics’ rotation and a winner against his old club just the other day. Oops.
Arguably as important as the prospects lost is the salary committed to in Preller’s dealings. The Pads are stuck with roughly half of the $75.25 million owed to Melvin Upton, acquired in the Kimbrel trade, over the life of his contract, all of what is remaining of Kimbrel’s $42 million deal through 2017, and $87 million from 2016-19 for the rapidly declining Kemp.
In what was billed as a win-now season following a big-splash winter, San Diego ranks 19th in team fielding, 26th in pitching, sits depressingly between third-place Arizona and cellar-dwelling Colorado, has issues at almost every area supposedly addressed by the new general manager and could easily lose the booming bat of Justin Upton to free agency come November.
And the firing of the manager is all Preller could come up with? Bud Black should be commended for a 32-33 beginning to the 2015 campaign.
I can’t believe I just wasted 15 minutes of my life on the San Diego Padres.
The Puig Lights. I will happily defend Yasiel Puig from finger waggers who lack an understanding of the fundamentals of cutoffs – and bat flips don’t offend me – but my patience for shenanigans such as the breaking of dugout lights or the showing up of a teammate (but good that he showed up on time) has thinned. Also thin is the notion that the skipper bears no responsibility.
Don Mattingly’s job is to manage his 25 players (or “charges,” as I call them). Not 24, not 23. Leaders such as Bud Black don’t get a pass and neither should Mattingly. It’s called manage for a reason. Be a man, and just take care of it.
Conveniently, Los Angeles has a man in the organization who might be able to counsel Puig on the joy’s of playing of a kid’s game. Guy by the name of Magic Johnson.