ATTENTION KMART SHOPPERS, WE HAVE A BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL GOING ON RIGHT NOW FOR MLB PLAYERS IN ISLE 5.

As Cardinals fans, don’t you always get the feeling that the team is always shopping at Wal-Mart for their free agent players? While all the other teams do their free agent shopping on Rodeo Drive?

I can’t be the only one. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with shopping at Wal-Mart or KMart. They provide some good quality products that everyone needs and uses for generally lower prices. But after a while, don’t you get the itch to go check out that shiny new Target that just opened down the block? I know I have scratched that itch, and now do a lot of my shopping at Target. Not because I like paying .50 cents more for deodorant, but because they provide me a better overall shopping experience. I come out of there knowing I probably did pay more for the same product that WallyWord sells it for down the street. But I feel betterabout what I buy at a Target over a Wal-Mart or KMart. Why is that? All three stores sell the same products, but two sell them for cheaper. While the one is pricier, but not by much. So why do I feel better about myself after my by-monthly trip to Target, than when I make a quick run for toilet paper at the closer Wal-Mart?

I think what I suffer from, is exactly what the rest of Cardinal Nation is yet again suffering with in what has been a very frustrating off season of little to no action from Walt & Co. It’s not like they are trying to not do anything, it’s just that the free agent market this off season is the craziest one since the 2000-2001 free agent markets. Players like ARod, Jeter, Manny, Giambi, Hampton, Brown all cashed in on $100+ million dollar contracts. Only Jeter, ARod and Manny can honestly say they have held up their ends of the contracts they signed. Giambi had to go off the juice after the feds got to him and he had a *growth* in his man region. Hampton and Brown each had one or two good years. But age and injuries forced Brown out of the game. While Hampton is still trying to come back from his injuries.

Since Walt & Co learned from the very recent past the danger of over paying for players, they have wisely stayed out of the insanity that’s gone on this winter. Sure they did make runs at all the major players. Soriano, Schmidt, Zito, Eaton etc. But all have chosen to go elsewhere for bigger bucks and longer contracts than the Cardinals were comfortable offering. And this brings me to one of my main points. Just like when you hear the words Wal-Mart and the first word that comes to your mind is *cheep*, it’s also the first word that comes to MLB players mind when they are sitting across from Walt & Co. They know Walt & Co don’t have the deepest pockets and are shopping for a deal. The players know they will get a better deal somewhere else. And in this day and age of professional sports, money talks.

And that brings me to my second point. Despite the fact that you hear all the time that we have the *best fans, manager, GM & owners*, to play for. And one of the best cities to live in. Each and every time when it comes time to sign, they all go play for other teams who can offer more zero’s on their deals. Taking Adam Kennedy’s decision this year out of the argument, when was the last time a free agent took less to play for our team, just so he could experience all the great things that come with being a St.Louis Cardinal? And Carp does not count since we were the only team who was willing to pay him $300,000 grand to rehab.

Think about it, all our superstar players have come to us by the trade route, or were home grown. Jimmy and Scotty were traded to the Cardinals. Albert, Yadda, Chris Duncan, AWesome, Anthony, all home grown. Eck is not really considered a *superstar*, in the true meaning of the word. And in fairness to him, he was cut loose when the Angel’s and the rest of MLB thought he could no longer play at the high level it takes to be a starting short stop in the major leagues. Looper as well was not that highly sought after. In fact, the last *superstar* player to come here on the cheap was, IZZY. I know I was surprised to see that. Shocked is a better word for it. How can that be? How can it be that the only *superstar* Walt & Co are able to convince to play here in this last 10 years was a guy from east central Illinois who wanted to play here?

It’s not like Walt & Co are low balling every big time free agent. By all reports they are always close in dollars and years when it comes to what the other teams are offering the free agents. But each and every time, all the free agents pick the cash over playing for a winning team, and a rabid and very faithful fan base. Why is that? Is it greed? Sure, that’s a easy conclusion to come to. Who among us when presented with two very similar offers would not pick the one with the larger dollar amount? Or could it be that the MLBPA will not allow a player to take less than *market value*? There have always been rumors that the *strongest union on the planet* has forced players to take the bigger deals, so that in the future, other players like themselves will get larger deals as well. But so far, they are only rumors that no one is willing to come forward and state as facts.

So if it’s not greed, and it’s not the union forcing the players to take the biggest deal available, what is keeping all the big time free agents from signing with the Cardinals? Why is it when it comes down to the biggest free agents on the market, how come the Cardinals never able to sign the ones they go after?

 Lucky for us this has yet to come back and bite us. In fact, the opposite has happened. The team keeps winning despite all the big time free agents  taking the cash and playing elsewhere. And because of that, I think everyone of us fans  need to show Walt & Co some major league love. Because they did not listen to our demands to mortgage the farm for a high priced quick fix. They didn’t ship off our soon to be big league stars for higher priced vets. (They Mulder trade not with standing. Heck people, nobody’s perfect.) The team just keeps winning. And no matter what Puff Daddy says, it ain’t *all about the Benjimin’s baby!* It’s about wins and rings. And without Walt & Co wisdom and knowledge of the game, we would not be the 2006 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!!!! And folks, that’s a world I don’t want to live in.

And now a few words about the Winter Meetings.

As usual, they were a bust. Walt & Co had high hopes of landing one number two starter to fit nicely behind Carp. And a number three starter to slide in behind him. All the while keeping a look out for a power hitting corner outfielder if one became available. Well, that didn’t happen. As usual the Cardinals were shut out again at the Winter Meetings. Unlike most of you, I expected this. And why shouldn’t I? We get the same speech each and every winter. Walt & Co feed us a line about how they are going to land a big time free agent to fill the biggest need the team has. And each and every year, they come home empty handed. And each year they then hit Wal-Mart and find a good solid, not at all flashy player to fit that need. And that’s what’s going to happen again this winter. Walt & Co reached for the stars, but fall just short. So now we are forced to consider that Looper might actually be made into a starter, because for some reason, they can’t land one of the 58 dozen below average starting pitchers that are on the free agent market. When are we fans going to start to wonder if all the talk about how great a place St.Louis is to play, is just that, talk. Meant to blow smoke up our butts to convince us into thinking we are something that we are not. And that is a highly attractive team that all the big time players would love to play for. At some point and time, we have to start wondering just what the heck is wrong with our team? Why is it each and every year no big time free agent wants to play for us?

Now that Walt & Co are shopping in the clearance isles they better be careful. Don’t go batshit crazy and sign some scrub just to fill a hole. Our bullpen is full now that IZZY seams to be well on his way to showing up at spring training ready and more importantly 100% healthy. So they need to bump AWesome to the starting rotation in front of Anthony, who according to Tony & Walt & Co has to fight for a starting spot. I just don’t get that. Unless they can get Dream Weaver, Suppon and Mulder to all come back, I can’t see how they think Anthony has to fight for anything. Maybe, and I hope this is the case, they don’t want Anthony to get complacent and think no matter what kind of shape mentally or physically he shows up in at spring training, he is guaranteed a spot. But as I write this, we only have Carp, Kip Wells,(who I am NOT SOLD ON as a good #2 starter) and Anthony. What, do the Cards think Looper will steal Anthony’s spot? Man I hope not. At what point does the kid get the nod from the organization that he is a full time starter? What else does he have to do to make the team believe he can do it? Anyway, I say move AWesome and Anthony up to the #2 and #3 spots, put Kippy as the #4. And pray to GOD that the combo of Mulder, Suppon or Dream Weaver comes back. I still say They can’t give up on Mulder simply because they gave up so much for him to come here that it would be a waste for him to leave after only one and a half productive seasons.

Suppon’s agent said yesterday in the Post Dispatch that Sup is feeling no love from the Cardinals. Something both Matty Mo and Mike Matheny said as well when their time as Cardinals came to a end. I think that’s a bit of a desperate move by his agent to once again get the Cardinals talking to his client. I think Suppon is shocked at all the crazy money being thrown at terrible pitchers, all the while here he is, a two time NLCS Game 7 winning pitcher, with hardly any offers on the table from teams that can have a chance at going to the playoffs next year. I really hope that Walt & Co see it like that as well and start talking to him again. I think that if they show Suppon that they are willing to pay him, but just not as much as say the Royals are, that Suppon will resign with the Cardinals. And if Mulder does as well, then we have a pretty good starting rotation of

Carp

Suppon

AWesome

Anthony

Wells/Mulder.

And after all of last years crappy regular season pitching, isn’t that just the rotation most of us Cardinals fans wanted to see? One that had AWesome and Anthony right in the middle showing the world what they got?

One other bit of news, apparently Juany finally had his left wrist worked on last week in St. Louis. He and the team believes that’s what caused him to fall off the planet come September and October when he couldn’t get a hit with a little leaguer throwing strikes, let alone major league pitchers. Both feel it had nothing to do with the fact that he swung at every singe pitch low and away, low and in, and up and away like he has always done his entire major league career. I am begingin to now think he and Anthony will be packaged in a trade for a big bat or good starting pitcher depending on how many of our three pitchers come back. The way the team talks about Anthony I just can’t see them fully trusting him to start 30 + games for us. I have nothing to go on but my gut here. I just take what the team says about Anthony in the press as they have little to no faith in the guy. And that’s something I just don’t understand.

Well, that’s all for now. Enjoy the rest of you week and the upcoming weekend. Have fun picking out all those last minute Christmas gifts, and watching crappy, slow, sloppy played NFL games. Man, if there is a worse time of year than early to mid December for sports, I don’t know when that is. Have a good one people. Till next time. I am out.  

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