Reds - General

The Nation Reports: The Cardinal Way

Ed.: Occasionally, we like to surrender the front page to guest authors. Today, loyal reader Daniel Matthews is making his second appearance; in January, he reported from the Reds Caravan stop in Louisville. Today, he had a few things to say about “The Cardinal Way.”

If you’re like me, you are not only irked by the Cardinals, but you are even more so now that they are playing in their fourth Fall Classic since 2004. Their recipe for success seems to be traveling along at a pace that will not soon be unabated.

After moving to Louisville from Southwest Ohio a few years ago, I’ve run into more of the self-proclaimed “Best Fans in Baseball.” I teach them. I work with them. I go to church with them. And the worst part is going to GABP and seeing bunches of them scattered throughout the seats during a series v the Redbirds.

Additionally, a friend and I took a ballpark tour this summer, and Busch was our last stop. During a few of the in-between inning bits of entertainment, the fan cam actually had the words “Baseball’s Best Fans” on the jumbotron.

No wonder such self-made titles creep into the gullible brains of Redbird Country. They hear it from everyone, including Big Brother on the big screen.

But all these heart-warming feelings toward the BFIB can’t compare to what the real issue is: I think, deep down, we are jealous of the success of the Cardinals franchise. I know this is not an earth shattering theory here, but we must admit it. We abhor them because the Cardinals are not our club, and they do things ours doesn’t.

They just win…
90+ wins nearly every season.
Playoff games (60+ since ’96 compared to two for Cincy)
Playoff series.
NL pennants.
And world championships.

Eleven rings to be exact and maybe a 12th here in about a week. At this point, I’d cheer for the Yankees over St. Louis because when you almost have 30 rings, what’s another?

The amazing thing is that the Cardinals win – and have kept on winning – despite losing what most would call our generation’s best hitter. Carlos Beltran came in, and not only did the lineup not skip a beat, but in a lot of ways, it improved. Allen Craig emerged; Matt Adams is filling in nicely now. Can you imagine what would happen to our boys of summer if JV was no longer in the lineup?

For years, especially since Bill DeWitt Jr. purchased the Cardinals in 1996 and then hired TLR, St. Louis has owned Cincy and the NL.

The good news is that the Reds have Bryan Price in charge now. Dusty Baker never treated games v STL any different than games against the Cubbies or Astros, but I think Price will. He knows what this team needs, and more importantly, he knows who this team needs to dethrone.

I don’t foresee him throwing games away like DB did. Remember all those times he admitted that when a game was over, he conceded and waited until the next day to win or was at least saving pitchers and players for the next day just in case? EVEN in Game 4 v SF last year?

I believe those days are over in Cincy. A new era begins March 31, 2014 against none other than St. Louis.

And it can’t get here soon enough.

30 thoughts on “The Nation Reports: The Cardinal Way

  1. Well said….I myself must admit that a big reason I dislike the WLB’s so much more than any of our other rivals over the years is that they seem to be so darn good. The system they have in place with the professional attitude is one to be admired. Grrrrrrr……I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth after saying that. Looking for a change in attitude for our Reds next season. Go Reds……….and red sox…..

  2. The moniker “Best Fans in Baseball” doesn’t bother me so much. But it could also be said the Yankee’s and the Braves and a few others could also be the best fans in baseball. It’s subjective so there is no point arguing or dismissing it. Great baseball fans are good for the sport no matter the city so I don’t care about that.

    The “Dismal Decade”, “Missed Generation” whatever you call it, combined with the Bungal years, UC and Xaviers failures in March, Brian Kelly’s exit, Butch Jones’ abandonment and pretty much everything else that has happened sports-wise in the city of Cincinnati since the demise of the ABA has ruined the fan base. The city’s favorite sports commentators like Marty and other past WLW talk-jocks have poisoned the well and the fans now over-react with every little problem with sayings of “fire them” or “trade them” or “I will never go to another game again”.

    The people of Cincinnati are in general good, good people. Somehow the good nature of Cincinnati doesn’t care over to our sports teams. It truly bothers me.

    BUT… I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Things are improving. The Reds are good. The Bengals are good (WHAT?!). Clifton has been renamed Tuberville. Lance McAlister (though I know some of you disagree) is slowly fixing the fan base. Great blogs like Redlegnation and Cincy Jungle are educating fans and converting them in to “super fans”. The times they are a change’n.

  3. One thing is for sure, the Reds have better Super-fans. These are fans that arise out of the abyss, out of the darkness of despair, out of the murk of failure and loss to become the fanaticus summus. This town knows the type of pain necessary and is a veritable petri dish and we gather here, our daily Mecca.

  4. The only thing I don’t respect about the Cards is their whining. However, I have dealt with people like that before. And, there’s 2 aspects to it. First, if simply trying to get their way on calls, they are being simple childish and need to grow up. Like with the rubbing up of the balls here. If so bad, then our pitchers would be affected, also. Thus, it’s a moot point. Second, if intentional, then why? The reason being it can really get into the heads of other players. Just look at what it has done to us. It obviously affected BP. We are letting one of the most childish antics get into our heads. Simply put, we can’t let that happen.

    Frankly, past that, the only thing I can see about the Cards to like is we aren’t them and want to be them, which we were at one time.

    As for letting games go, I wouldn’t mind a manager blowing away some games over the season. But, when would you? If anytime, for me, it would be, for instance, when we win the first two games of a 3 games series, or we win the first 3 games of a 4 game series. Then, I could see the manager putting in the bench for playing time in the last game, win or lose.

  5. Daniel, you are correct. Whether or not we admit it, much of our Cardinal disdain comes from the fact that their team accomplishes what we want our team to accomplish. I’ve been playing the same woe-as-me card as TC, identifying the Cardinals as the Steelers of baseball when it comes to sustained success and the tormenting of Cincinnati fans. We are repeatedly forced to confront “rivals” that have been to the top multiple times while we scratch and claw our way to a couple division titles here and there. Unfortunately the only effective coping mechanism is to accept it and move on.

    What I’d like to know is… it’s been said before, but seriously, how did ALL these guys just get plugged in and all of sudden they’re great. I remember looking earlier this year, and like 6 of the their top 10 prospects coming into this season have or are playing significant roles. That’s just absurd. And that’s on top of guys like Lance Lynn who did the same thing last year, and Matt Carpenter who came out of nowhere to be the most valuable 2B in the National League. Tell me this isn’t because the Cards are that good at developing. I have to believe there is some luck in play here, or else I just give up (ok I don’t really give up, but you know…)

    • @Aaron Lehr: I think that it IS because the Cards are that good at developing (and retaining)talent. That’s why I react so negatively to suggestions that the Reds empty the farm system for whichever player we think might help next year. Sustained excellence is possible only through developing a strong organization top to bottom unless, like the Yankees, Sox and Dodgers, there’s enough money floating around to buy endless free agents. I don’t root for the Cards, but I certainly admire them. The fans might not be baseball’s best, but the organization has got to be close.

  6. As much as I hate to say it, the Cards seem to never miss a beat no matter who they let go in free agency or who goes down with an injury. The amount of depth their organization has is absurd. They are awesome at scouting, developing, retaining, and making sounds baseball decisions. Seems the Cards put success first and everything else second, and its hard not to respect that. Hopefully, we can continue to develop our farm system as well.

    In the mean time, here are some right handed bats I think we could reasonably obtain that could help “even” out our lineup and provide some more pop. Looking by OPS:

    1) Jose Bautista .856, Toronto needs pitching, we have Leake to trade, Bautista is under contract for 2 more years at 14mm each year which is reasonable. Coming off of a down year (for him) the Jays might try to unload him.

    2) Michael Cuddyer .919, Rockies also need pitching, they have already said Tulo and CarGo is off the market so maybe they would deal Cuddyer.

    There are not a lot of right handed hitters out there that are not already faces of their respective franchises but I believe both of these players could be had. Both play the outfield and would be upgrades over ludwick by far. Thoughts?

    • @Greg Wollenhaupt:

      Both play the outfield and would be upgrades over ludwick by far. Thoughts?

      Of all the possible moves to consider during this offseason, Ludwick and Broxton present the most frustrating and challenging circumstances. The Reds owe Ludwick $13MM for 2014 and Ludwick is coming off a severe shoulder injury and a completely non-productive season in 2013. No one is going to take Ludwick with that contract, even if the Reds offer him for a bag of batting practice balls. I think the Reds simply have to hope that Ludwick comes back healthy and strong for 2014, because he will be the Reds LF in 2014. The Reds have no other financial alternative. They just can’t afford to eat that kind of a contract like the large market teams do when faced with injuries or bad decisions.

      • @Shchi Cossack: While I agree that it will be hard to move a player owed that much we have about $103mm in payroll on the books for 2014 for 23 players including ludwick. 2013 payroll was ~$107mm. If we can get a team to even take on a little bit of his salary for nothing in return we have room for Bautista or Cuddyer, both are relatively affordable. I’m guessing the payroll grows to about $116mm assuming an 8.5% growth rate since thats the average annual payroll growth since Castellini took over the Reds.

        As for Broxton, he may still prove valuable if we move Chapman back to the rotation and move him back to closer.

  7. If this has already been posted, I apologize, but I just read an article that Topps has issued a baseball card for Reds batboy Teddy Kremer. It is a limited edition. E-bay has buy it now prices which exceed $100. The article says that Teddy was offered a job in Accomodations for the Reds. Bravo Tops, Reds, and Teddy.

  8. The Cardinal Way is to develop players, not trade them. The Reds have traded prospects to add good players to the roster. This is why the Reds are missing depth in the minors. Trading for an outfielder for this year and maybe next means that you halt the advance of some of the Reds best prospects. If you are going to develop players you need to let them play at higher levels. That would mean Hamilton needs to come up at some time this year. Earvin would need to move as quickly through the minors as he can, and Yorman has to be in AAA this year.

    If the Reds are thinking of trading pitching, and Arroyo walks, then Stephenson, and others must move up the ladder because depth will be a problem. At this point, Cueto has a problem, Cingrani has a problem, so that leaves you with Latos, Bailey, and Leake; Chapman if he is a starter. What if Cueto cant go? Who do you turn to for a starter, LeCure? A free agent cast off?

    • @redmountain: Yes, we traded for Votto, Bruce, Cozart, Frazier among so many others. And, the Cards developed Holliday, Beltran, Westbrook, Furcal, and Choate. Obviously being sarcastic, neither are true. But, also obviously, the Cards have had a lot of success with their youngsters this season like we had a lot of success with our youngsters last season.

      It does seem to me that the Cards have worked more on developing their minor league system in recent years. And what do teams, most any team, use minor league systems for? When a player is ready to step up to the big time, the big club either uses that player, trading off the player on the big club, or trades off the minor leaguer to fill in another hole on the team. No team (except for seemingly Tampa Bay) exclusively holds onto their minor leaguers nor trades them all away for actual major league talent (except for maybe the Yankees).

    • @redmountain: The other aspect of the Birds modus operandi is to add the occasional FA to fill a significant hole and maintain continuity within their farm system (see Beltran & Holliday). They are also very savy in decisions regarding extending or letting players walk (see Molina & Pujols) to keep valuable, productive players and avoid being shackled by enormous, unproductive contracts.

  9. St. Louis has trained its pitchers to perform at the top level, not the next level. The only Reds prospect I’ve seen come through the system is Cingrani (Leake aside). We have guys who rot away in the minors while we spend still another summer using 5 or 6 guys in left field and signing marginally useful former starters who can maybe become situational relievers when the wind is blowing in.

    Cincy has created its own mediocrity. Now we will go into the 2014 season without a leadoff hitter, pondering whether Votto ought to hit 2nd, evidently ahead of Bruce who is the 2nd-best hitter … or as somebody else opined … Ryan Hanigan in the 2 spot, even though Mesoraco would catch.

    So I guess Hanigan plays left field and bats leadoff …

    Meanwhile, St. Louis just used 3 rookie pitchers in the World Series and held Boston to 2 runs in their own ballpark.

    • @Johnu1: Reds are not exactly mediocre. Disappointing, yes, but they have some talent and reason to hope that they will improve, if not immediately.

  10. What’s there to say about the Cardinals other than they have a great system and have had that overall since their first WS win in 1926, then the Gas House Gang of the thirties with Dizzy Dean, the great teams centered around Stan Musial in the fifties, followed by Bob Gibson, and up to today. They always seem to have a pitching ace or two and a cleanup hitter that sparks the offense. I’d call them the Yankees of the NL.

  11. The Red Birds obviously do something different than the rest of the league. I don’t really believe in luck especially when it happens over and over again. There are two ways to defeat a successful system: 1) copy it so they become just like everyone else or 2) define a better strategy. Following tried and true best practices (ala Dusty Baker) only engenders mediocrity because everyone else is doing the same thing. Its the safe play. To make option #2 happen, our beloved Reds need to do something different than the rest of the league or do the same activities in a different way such that they create a competitive advantage. For example, they can find a new advanced stat to more effectively evaluate players or they can use the same stat or combination of stats to more effectively evaluate players. This is the essence of Moneyball. It wasn’t about OBP it was about a new strategy that allowed them to buy wins more cheaply than other teams.

    I don’t like the Red Birds either, but we should learrn from them so they can start hating us!

  12. I hate the angry birds because they are winners and because they are whiners. But mostly because they are whiners.

  13. Good afternoon Redleg Nation. First time poster, and…a huge Cardinals fan. I’m not trolling, please don’t think that I am. I just love talking baseball, and the one thing that I wish the Cardinals had that the Reds have is a blog such as this one. This is by far the best team-based blog out there. I read this blog daily, some of it is schadenfreude-y, but like I said, this is the best team blog going. Enough of the manual stimulation…

    I’ve heard a lot about the Cardinals plan when it comes to the draft. Putting the emphasis on college pitchers over HSers. They’ve also put a lot of resources in the Latin countries getting Taveras and Carlos Martinez. I’d LIKE to think that the Cardinals are JUST THAT GOOD, but you can’t ignore that there is an insane amount of luck going on in the draft. Albert Pujols, Matt Adams, Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter…they were all drafted in the 13th, 13th, 23th, and the 8th rounds. In those rounds, only 1 or 2 of the 30 picks ever get a cup of coffee in the league, much less become a regular for even a season. THAT is luck.

    Drafting pitchers is a little clearer. Wacha, Lynn, Miller, Wainwright (w/ ATL) were all drafted in the 1st round. But again, for every Miller and Wacha, we’ve had a Adam Ottovino or Chris Lambert.

    What is impressive to me, there hasn’t been one player they’ve traded away that I wished they’ve had back.

    And that is where I think they may differ a bit. They realize a year or two after drafting them, if they are going to become who they had hoped. Adam Kennedy, J.D. Drew, Brett Wallace, Zach Cox, and Colby Rasmus. They didn’t fit or the minor league coaches noticed “something”…they’re gone, and they are gone before they’ve lost any trade value. They brought back Edmonds, Wainwright, Holliday, Mujica, and the 2011 WS.

    Jocketty does THAT very well. He may deplete the system in his “Win-Now” mentality, however he never traded away a superstar in waiting when he was with STL. (ok…maybe Haren) Anyway, you’ve seen it already, Stubbs for Choo?! Really? That was astute. The Reds aren’t that far off. You got rid of the biggest problem already. A little luck…and it’ll be there.

  14. Price inadvertently revealed he’s considering batting Jay in the 4-hole. Talks as if Choo may still be in the lineup.

  15. I hate STL because they continue to hammer Cincy year after year! I will admit they do it the right way by building their own farm system after each passing year and can afford to move big money players and not miss a beat and get even better!!!! No matter what arm goes down it never seems to bother this club! Even when Molina went down the Cards still won! Cincy should look at their model and copy it!!! Let’s hope Price brings the attitude of not waiting til tomorrow, never QUIT on a game!!!!!!

  16. For one thing, the Cardinals consistently have a higher payroll than the Reds and don’t mind throwing that money at a problem to fix it. I don’t care how well you grow talent in your system. When you have another $20-30m (or more) than the teams chasing you every season, you can sign Carlos Beltran or Lance Berkman or whoever you want (that isn’t named Albert Pujols, who started his decline pretty much as soon as he put on a different hat).

    When you don’t spend that money that way, you can throw it at signing and developing guys. How else does a dominant winning team consistently get excellent drafts? Scouts are part of it, but you have to throw money at those guys they draft.

    When your GM is a former Oakland guy, you can bring in Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan and Mark McGwire and dominate for years to come, long after the GM departs.

    Also, you have to admit they have enjoyed some extraordinary luck. Pujols was a AA player no one had heard of, and all of a sudden he became a world beater.

    Plus, when you get the benefit of ridiculous calls like that Atlanta game this month, that’s not just “a superior run franchise.” At some point, it starts to look fishy.

    They consistently win year after year, but when you peel back a layer or two, it’s not a team that deserves much respect because of the lengths they go to win. They’re still a bunch of WLBs. The only silver lining to them winning playoff series is that we don’t have to listen to them whine all winter.

  17. like others my disdain of Cardinals is both elements of the team and the fans.
    When votto won MVP, i read many blog entry how horrible it was to pick him over Pujols, those newbs complaining Votto padded his stats hitting in bandbox GAB. Which was a crock, Votto was best road hitter in the league and performed better on road than at home.

    then the team whining about being pro’s and all above board and dont get excited or show up the other team. Yet Carpenter, Wainwright, Molina all get panties in a wad when a player hits a HR that they dont think is “worthy” of doing so.

    Other than that, there can be lots to like about thier team. Strong hitting, deep lineup, power pitching, lots of young power pitching. I get so “irked” when I see Beltran playing for them, when i thought Reds were getting him and thinking how awesome he would fit for Reds.

    and its going to be tough for Reds to tangle with them the next few years. Cards have such a loaded farm system, that if Reds were trying to get in theory Stanton, Cards can one up the Reds easily. or other trade rumors, David Price, or Tulo to fix thier SS hole. of that I envy them and gotta give props for drafting right and catching the breaks to go thier way.

    Grrr the Cards and BFIB still suck! lol

    Go 2014 Reds!

  18. I simply love Bryan Price the manager. Now that he is the front man for the Reds, he is completely open, honest and forthright. There are no more tired and antiquated cliches. I have no idea how many interviews Price has given, but every time I’ve turned around he is talking to someone, even on social media.

    “There will be some changes on the coaching staff and we knew that as the season was ending. There will definitely be some guys that return.”

    Do you plan on making Aroldis Chapman a starter?

    “That will probably unfold in the next couple of weeks. I’m not going to be commital on that one.”

    What aspect of the offense would you most like to see improved?

    “I’d like to see us scrap a little bit more with our at bats. I think we need to put the ball in play more often, have a little bit more strike zone command as a group and not stretch the stike zone early in the at bat.”
    Do you feel Billy Hamilton showed enough the last month of 2013 to prove he’s ready to start with the Reds in 2014?
    “I think Billy’s got to come and have a good spring training. I think we have to look at his season as a whole. We’re very optimistic this kid’s going to be a great player. We also have to put him in the best position to succeed. We want him here when he’s ready and we’ll help to find that over the course of spring training.

    What are you most looking forward to as our skipper?

    “I’m looking forward to unifying the group and feeling like we’re a unified group that goes out there and plays the game the right way. I’d just love to be part of that.”

  19. It’s simple- I want the Reds to be better than the Cardinals – and that’s definitely a tall order. But the Reds should be right there with them Cards in 2014 with a few additional adjustments during the off-season (new hitting coach, power RH bat, install hard nosed leadership and cut bait with the disruptors).

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