You're Fired
Donald Trump (AP Photo)

Posted Dec 10, 2005


Fail to accomplish your goals in the last two winter meetings would only mean one thing at the top of Trump Towers, "You're Fired"

Probably one of the first things Donald Trump would do, if he was running things around here, is cut the funding to Brian Walton's Time Machine. There is no need for a another Cardinals Spin Machine. The St. Louis market is saturated with them.

Walton's article this week "Time Machine: Destination, December 2004" is an attempt to defend or cover up for what I consider the very poor performance from St. Louis Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty, for now, the second season in a row, at the winter meetings.

Mr. Walton goes on to cast those of us who are not happy with Cardinals' management and their handling of player personnel to date, as whiners and fans with very short memories.

I would think if I was Jocketty and Walton, I would want us to have short memories.

In his article this week Walton writes;

Walton "I caught a gallows discussion about a Jayson Stark story from ESPN in which he called out the Cardinals as being among the Winter Meeting’s losers.

In my book, that is like calling a team "May Losers" when they play from April through October, so what? We're taking a small sample size. It's like clocking a sprint while running a marathon."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The winter meetings are over, the arbitration deadline has passed and the performance of St. Louis Cardinals GM, Walt Jocketty and his staff has been a major disappointment so far.

For the second season in a row, the Cardinals have gone into the winter meetings failing to meet their objectives or accomplish their goals, regardless of how misplaced or misguided they were.

We didn't need to sign Edgar Renteria in 2004, or A.J. Burnett or Brian Giles in 2005.

Unless the Cardinals are given permission to offer arbitration next week, the first leg of the race is over and it cost us. We lost, A.J. Burnett, Brian Giles, Javier Vazquez, Matt Morris (likely), Reggie Sanders and Mark Grudzielanek.

The pursuit of A.J. Burnett was ludicrous from day one. In spite of Brian Walton's report "Burnett Deal Almost Done", the Cardinals were never even close to signing Burnett. Unless you think missing the mark by $17 million is close.

Report these results back to Donald Trump. "Here was our goal Mr. Trump, here was our plan A. We failed, we missed the mark, but by only $17-million." Tell that to the “Donald” and I can hear Trump bellow out that famous line from the popular TV Series, The Apprentice "You're fired" Mr. Jocketty and take the messenger with you.

I don't blame Walton for his report, he only can report what his sources are telling him, but based on the insider's track record, the Cardinals don't have a clue on what is going on and this should be of some concern to fans.

It's not the first time, as a the publisher here I have been burnt and had to deal with this. I went through this last season, when I reported that Edgar Renteria was going to sign with Boston within 24 hours and Brian Walton came back with a report from within the St. Louis Cardinals' organization that the Cardinals had agreed to terms with Renteria.

I can tell you this, it is embarrassing as a publisher to have two stories running at the same time telling your readers two different things. Based on Walton's source, I guaranteed his story that Renteria was going to sign with Boston and offered a $100.00 to a reader if he didn’t sign with the Red Sox. The rest is history, I gave a Cardinal Fan who won the drawing a $100.00.

Again, I don't blame Walton, but it would suggest to me there is an internal problem in terms of how business is being conducted leading up to and throughout the winter meetings. The ability of those conducting the business in assessing the market and the progress of negotiations is subject to question.

If you are a regular reader here, you often hear me say “Who are you going to believe, Walt Jocketty or me?” looking at the past results from the winter meetings the last two seasons, I'll go with me. I don’t want any more information from any insider sources until they know what they are doing.

I had some readers complaining that the Toronto Blue Jays Scout.com site was providing better coverage of the winter meetings than we were. Well, folks it’s lot easier when you have a general manager that actually goes out and does what he said he’s going to do and that is exactly what Toronto’s GM, J.P. Ricciardi did. The Blue Jays signed starting pitcher, A.J. Burnett, first baseman, Lyle Overbay, and reliever B.J. Ryan.

The Cardinals were after A.J. Burnett and Brian Giles. They lost out on both players, yet managed to trade Ray King for a couple of career minor league players, to quote “fill the holes”.

I think the holes actually just got deeper with this deal.

The best deal the Cardinals have made so far this winter is still the $2,000 they got for a used urinal.

The Cardinals taking the wait and see attitude this winter again allowed other teams to set the market.

Instead of making the market react to your early deals and signings, St. Louis is now forced to deal with the market forces created by others. I maintain you should try to get your own players signed before the winter meetings if at all possible.

The Cardinals offered arbitration to only one player, Matt Morris and good luck with that deal happening. The Cardinals have dropped the ball in dealing with him and he’ll likely reject the two year offer for $13-million with an option for a third year that could pay Morris up to $20-million.

As the first leg of the race came to an end, the Cardinals had dug themselves into a very deep hole. My old grand-pappy use to tell me, “When you find you are digging yourself into a hole, stop digging.”

In my opinion, the Cardinals have appeared clueless in the winter meetings for the last two seasons in that they;

04 - Mismanaged the Edgar Renteria deal and misread negotiation progress.

04 - Mismanaged the Tony Womack deal, leading to him signing with New York.

05 - Spent too much time and focus on A.J. Burnett, costing us Matt Morris likely in the long run.

05 - Misread Brian Giles’ position as a FA and desire to remain with San Diego.

05 - Continue to talk with Millwood who’s asking for 5+ years for more money than Burnett -- ?????

05 - Mishandled Ray King in postseason and traded him for two career minor league players.

05 - Mishandled dealing with Matt Morris, an offer that may have been accepted weeks ago, will now be turned down.

05 - Failed to make a deal for Javier Vasquez (to date) , here is where throwing in a Ray King might have help seal the deal.

05 - Failed to take advantage of Florida’s fire sale.

05 - Failed to address the need for a power hitting outfielder and quality second baseman, early.

 

Priorities changing? Today in a story in the Post Dispatch, Cardinals General Manager, Walt Jocketty said that the club may now commit resources otherwise earmarked for a starting pitcher to an impact outfielder. "We would prefer to allocate more for a hitter, whether it's a second baseman or an outfielder," he said.

I can only wonder where has Walt been? This has always been the top priority for the team.

Have we signed that front line starter? No and yet we appear now just to be getting our priorties in order.

The Cardinals may want to focus on a power right fielder and the bullpen, they could live with what they have already to play at second, if they had to.

Walton’s take is that the Cardinals will recover from the repeat dismal performance in the winter meetings before the season starts.

They probably will. I have the utmost respect for Walt Jocketty and in spite of this criticism, I consider him the best General Manager in all of baseball. I understand that his hands are tied to some degree, by the owners, but if anyone can get the job done, he will.

The Cardinals will be in the post season when October comes around next season, but that doesn’t excuse the inept off season performance to date, of the St. Louis Cardinals.

If St. Louis doesn't want to win the first leg of the race, they may be better off just staying home.

For the record, I'm not filled with rage or anger, (after two trips around the block, Wednesday) and my memory is fine. (for my age - I'm sorry I forget how old I am)

The bottom line is, I still maintain confidence in Walt Jocketty and St. Louis Cardinals management, but “I don’t give people medals for putting out fires that they start.”

Donald Trump, if you are listening give them a break or at least another week.



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