I’m usually the last guy to call for a manager’s head, but I’m sorry, when you call out your own team’s toughness and your boss’ construction of the roster, you’re not long for your job. Here’s Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, quoting Mattingly today about what ails the Dodgers:
Don Mattingly pregame seemed to point finger at not only lack of “mental toughness” from his players but also at poor construction of the team. “We gotta find a team with talent that will fight and compete like a club that doesn’t have that talent,” he said, pointing to last year’s team which led the NL West by 5 1/2 games at the end of May despite a far less-talented lineup. “I felt we got more out of our ability (last year). I don’t know about being tougher but I felt we got more out of our ability. “There has to be a mixture of competitiveness. It’s not ‘Let’s put an All-Star team together and the All-Star team wins.’ It’s finding that balance of a team that has a little bit of grit and will fight you. And also having talent to go with it. “All grit and no talent isn’t going to make you successful. But all talent and not grit isn’t going to get you there either.”
Deep thought: if the team is not getting the most out of its ability, don’t we usually blame that on the manager? A manager giving quotes about the team not playing to its talent level is the manager’s version of suicide by cop.
I doubt he lasts a week at this point.
The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.
The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.
For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.
The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.
St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.
The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.
Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?
Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.