Jack Clark, who played three seasons for the Cardinals in the 1980s and was the MVP of the World Series squad in 1987, appeared on a St. Louis radio station yesterday and accused the current team of being “quitters” who “have poopy in their pants.”
Here are some quotes from the four-time All-Star first baseman nicknamed “Jack the Ripper”:
I’m really tired of watching the effort, that’s for sure. I’m not seeing a lack of [effort] I’m seeing a pathetic effort. These Cards fans deserve much better. That’s just awful. They won’t admit it, that they’re quitters. If you can’t put a better effort out there on the field, take ’em all out, back up the truck, ship ’em all out and get somebody in here that wants to play baseball. We’ve got one team here [San Diego] going for the title and we’ve got our team going for the toilet. They’ve got poopy in their pants.
For the sake of comedy I’m hesitant to be too critical of any grown man who goes on the radio and utters the phrase “they’ve got poopy in their pants” but the idea that teams have “quit” simply because they’re struggling and underachieving seems a little much. And if you’re going to accuse players of quitting on the team and putting forth “a pathetic effort” shouldn’t you at least have the courage to actually name names?
Which players have quit? Which players have put forth the pathetic effort? Lumping the entire team together means nothing, because clearly some players haven’t quit on anything. Albert Pujols hit .379 with 11 homers and a 1.230 OPS in August, but the Cardinals had an 11-15 record for the month. He’s hit .303/.380/.615 with 18 homers in the second half overall, but the Cardinals are 28-29 since the All-Star break. Obviously he didn’t quit or put forth a pathetic effort, yet he can’t single-handedly stop the team from struggling.
Matt Holliday has hit .324/.396/.545 in the second half. Guys like Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker have posted better post-break numbers than their career marks. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook all have an ERA under 3.50 in the second half. Have those guys quit? Are those guys to blame for the second-half struggles and a disappointing season? Seems to me that would be a pretty tough argument to make, so why lump them in as “quitters”?
It’s also worth noting that Clark made headlines earlier this year for opining that Mark McGwire should be banned from baseball for steroid usage, saying: “He’s a sad excuse for a player. Just seeing him in uniform makes me throw up.” Clark also accused Tony La Russa of looking the other way when he was managing McGwire in Oakland and St. Louis.
UPDATE: La Russa fires back.
Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.