A change in leadership is necessary for the St. Louis Cardinals. It's been five years of decline, and there are no signs of that decline stopping anytime soon. However, like an illness or disease, you have to catch on to the issues quickly. That's exactly what the Cardinals need to do in terms of Front Office leadership. Now in 2021, it's no longer early enough to stop the regression. They can still control the deterioration before fans stop showing up. They need to change the narrative that they're cheap. It's becoming more evident that ownership is cheap, especially with the pandemic. They're also showing how reliant they are on gate revenue. It's a lose-lose situation for Cardinals fans. If fans stop showing up, the team won't have money to improve the team. If fans show up, it gives the team no reason to improve because people are still showing up.
During the 2001-2005 seasons, the Cardinals had 5 90+ win seasons and 1 season with 85 wins to get into the numbers. So far in the regression years (2016-Present), they have 1 90+ win season. The Cardinals 2020 prorated record would be around 84-78, the second-worst record in that time-frame by one game. To sum it all up, from 2007-2017, when Mozeliak was GM, the Cardinals had 5 90+ win seasons. Since he took over the President of Baseball Operations job, things got worse. The 2017 season was the team's worst record since 2007, with an 83-79 record.
If winning is the ultimate goal, why sit around and do nothing? I get that it all revolves around Bill DeWitt's pockets and budget. However, if he can't support this team financially and live up to fan expectations, why not sell the team? The franchise value has gone up significantly from the time DeWitt bought it for $150m. Even though we all know what was spent was $60m and some parking garages. During the pause, Bill DeWitt made the Cardinals look like a joke. Whether it's his purchase of an $8.25million villa in California or his ridiculous comments saying that "Baseball isn't very profitable..." The way the DeWitt's had recently turned this team is comparable to the Wilpon's before selling the Mets. This is not how the Cardinals should be run. They say they're for the fans and want to listen to the fans, but there's no evidence of that recently. They don't want what's best for the fans. If they did, the Cardinals would be a lot better than the team they are now. Cardinals fans have been asking for a big signing or a big trade. There hasn't been a big trade in over two years now. That's not wanting what's best for the fans. It's selfish, greedy, and cheap. Bill DeWitt has the money to improve this club. He's proving that by continuing to build up BallPark village, rising food prices in the ballpark, the list goes on. If "Baseball isn't very profitable," then why own a team in the first place? Three million-plus fans every year, and there hasn't been one major trade in over two years. The Cardinals need to do something about this, and I have some ideas on how to fix this issue and lack of communication between fans and the team.
I look to the Mets as a prime example of what to do with a professional baseball team. Steve Cohen is doing a great job of communicating with fans. Especially by Twitter, where he is tweeting about things like when the Lindor press conference is. Something that the average fan needs to know. The Cardinals do not have that, and I feel like that is part of the disconnect between the ownership and the fans. Team Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr is 79 years old, so it makes sense as to why he does not have a Twitter. However, his son and Cardinals Team President Bill DeWitt III is 52. It would be extremely beneficial for him to join social media and communicate with the fans.
The Cardinals do not have an utterly local ownership group. If you look at the St. Louis Blues, they have an entirely local ownership group. That allows them to put more time into the city and team. I would never have thought that a team with a salary cap would make more significant moves than a team without one. That's exactly what is happening with the Cardinals and Blues.
Currently, according to Spotrac, the Cardinals payroll sits at $117,766,666 with 37 signed players. With 15 players coming off the payroll next season, the Cardinals must make multiple moves next off-season if they decide to stand pat this off-season. However, if that's not the case and they rely on "internal options," Cardinals fans should expect a long window of lousy baseball. That is the worst-case-scenario and should not happen, no matter what. The team's success should top anything else the owner has in mind, whether that's a new phase of Ballpark Village or raising the price of concessions. Going back to Ballpark Village, back in October, a little over 80% of the apartments were under a lease (per KMOV), it's hard to believe that the number has gone up significantly. I mention this because it has become DeWitt's primary focus. It also seems to be doing poorly compared to most buildings like it. For example, if a prominent figure were to open an apartment building with the benefits like One Cardinal Way has, it should be expected that the building is at least 95% leased. That's not the case for Bill DeWitt and the rest of the ownership.
The NL Central is getting worse. The division could be compared to the NFC East in the NFL. The Cardinals can not keep that narrative going. However, that's the direction things seem to be going. The Reds are a decent .500 team. The Cubs and Brewers seem to be tanking, or at least dumping salary. The Pirates are now worse than they were last season after trading Josh Bell to the Nationals. The Cardinals currently look to be a third-place team. They don't have Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, John Brebbia, or Adam Wainwright. The team will also be without Dakota Hudson after receiving Tommy John Surgery at the end of last season. The Cardinals "standing pat" evidently puts the team's old "win now" mindset in the rear-view mirror.
No fan should be proud of where this team is as it stands. The team has no clubhouse personality. As it stands, they're just a boring below-average baseball team. Meanwhile, the ownership and front office keeps touting John Mozeliak's past without acknowledging his future. By that, I mean how he has not had a losing season. The team looks like a below .500 team, and if his streak does, in fact, end, he has no one to blame for that except himself of ownership.
Three MLB teams changed leadership this season. Whether it's positions like chairman, or owner, or team president, the teams that had those changes are the Royals, Mets, and Padres. All three of them have made decent moves. If the Cardinals want to change the narrative and the club's direction, they need to change the team's leadership aspect. With the pandemic, anything is possible, but it seems we are nowhere near a sale of the team. Since that is the case, they have to open the flood gates and acquire decent players, but this is the Cardinals we're talking about. They will be scavenging for players far past their prime as they do every year.
Earlier I mentioned that Bill DeWitt Jr is 79 years old and turning 80 in August this year. It's interesting to wonder if he'll sell the team in the next 5-10 years or if he passes the team down to his son. The other question is would his son be able to support the franchise and Ballpark Village financially. There's no definite answer to either of those questions, but I feel like it should be asked eventually.
If the Cardinals continue this downward spiral, I would not be surprised if they lose their footing in the St. Louis sports spectrum. The Blues want to win, the persistent rumors of the Jacksonville Jaguars relocating, and Ross Chaifetz sparking speculation regarding a possible NBA expansion bid for St. Louis. There is a real chance the Cardinals will get less coverage soon for those reasons. I'm not sure what the Cardinal's plan is or if they even have a plan. However, I do know that the direction they're going is not the direction they should go.
Thank you for reading!