Thursday, January 8, 2009

a minor issue

I feel I should address one particular issue first, and that is the rage. It's just been boiling and bubbling, and it's about to consume us. 

Cardinals' fans are incensed. Bloggers are at the ready with pitchforks in hand and torches burning. The revolution is coming, and it won't be televised (it'll be blogged). 

Yes, here it comes. Wait for it, wait for it.... ummmm.... 

Well, keep waiting while I address some other issues. I may have mentioned somewhere along the way that (1) I'm a Tony follower (and you can take that however you like), and (2) I'm not super-familiar with the farm system. 

Oh, I've heard about the farm system. I'd even go as far as to say that I think it's pretty swell for a farm system (as farm systems go). In fact, I'd buy it a soda if we were at the same soda shop and it realized it forgot its wallet. (And it's always forgetting its wallet, isn't it?) And I wouldn't even expect to be paid back. (Not that it would do any good, anyway.) But other than what I read on the interweb and in the paper (just kidding! who reads the paper anymore?), I know very little about it. 

I'm the last person who should be picked to answer the question about prospects when we're all sitting in the VFW on Thursday night playing trivia for a $50 Wal-Mart gift card and a new set of wiper blades. In other words, is Todd his first name or his last name? That's right. (Okay, so maybe it's not quite that bad, but you get the idea.) 

Anyway, my point is that while I may not exactly be the pitchfork-wielding, hang-em-high type, I do have my reservations when it comes to the ability of the minor leaguers to save us all from ourselves. 

Colby "self-aggrandizing" Rasmus may end up being the greatest outfielder of all time (and somehow incorporate that into his uniform). 

The aforementioned Todd (and, yes, I do know that his first name is Jess) could redefine pitching excellence for our generation. (Ha ha, I even know that he's a pitcher!) 

Brett Wallace could put the likes of Hank Aaron and (forgive me for this) Mark McGwire to shame with his bat. (Completely naturally too, I'm sure.) 

But what if they don't? What if we count on these guys and they don't come through? Now I know that the whole point of Spring Training (besides getting to spend February and March anywhere besides Missouri) is to give them a chance to prove themselves. 

Tony and the staff will put the players through all kinds of tests (probably baseball-related, although who knows?), and they will decide who is best fit to play each position. They will (as Mr. Leach so eloquently explained last night) take into account seemingly extraneous factors such as who has produced and proven themselves in the past, as well as sportsmanship, attitude, and willingness to do whatever it takes. (No, Matthew did not mention these things specifically, but I could tell that he was implying them.) 

Based on performance (and these other factors), Tony and his coaches will formulate an opening day lineup (and fill up the 25-man roster) with (hopefully) the best options available. 

Great. That sounds like a super plan, right? The only problem is, if certain free agent players are available now, what would be so wrong with improving the team now? It's unlikely that we would be so lucky as to find another Kyle Lohse-like situation come spring, and it would be irresponsible to make plans around such a fantasy. 

Now, I'm not saying I don't ever want the young (or rather, inexperienced) guys to get a shot. I'm not endorsing using veteran free agents for every empty spot (and heaven forbid turning into the Yankees). I'm just saying that when September call-ups come around (or if we have room earlier than that, so be it), that would be my first choice for introducing the baby 'Birds to the big club. 

Maybe this should have been done last year for some (not to second-guess anyone), and maybe there will be an injury or other misfortune that allows one of the prospects to come around early (as we saw so many come around last year). 

The point is, it's hard for me to imagine placing all my faith in a player (or players) who hasn't (or haven't) actually played at the show. There are guys in the system who have been up to the show and had that taste of the big leagues. These guys, in my opinion, have passed the most important test, and they deserve a shot at starting. Perez, Motte, Mather, et cetera. (Of course, what do I know?) 

I'm also not saying that I'm disgruntled or enraged or anything. I'm not going to stop watching games if Moze doesn't make a big move soon. I'm not going to burn my BP jersey if he doesn't spend crazy amounts of money on a starting pitcher. I'm not going to light up my torch and march down to the stadium if we go into Spring Training with the team we have now. And I'm certainly not going to write a long blog post about how I would run the team if I were in charge. That would just be silly. 

I guess what I'm asking for is compromise. Just a little balance between the newbies and veterans. Maybe we already have that. Maybe I'm just blowing hot air. (Does that apply to writing?) Maybe we'll go into the season and have exactly what we need. Maybe this team--what we have right now--is the next world champion. And then maybe we'll have this exact same discussion next off-season. 

Okay, I'll stop now, since I probably stopped making sense (or using real words) a few paragraphs ago. If you'd like to explain to me how ridiculous (or just plain stupid) my thoughts are, please do so in the comments section. I promise I can take it.