Jason Heyward, a strong good baseball man who left the aging team he was with for less than a year for a new team in a better city with other strong baseball men, is not popular around St. Louis. Earlier this month, a bunch of angry mouthbreathers said mean shit about him online (which happens all the time always), and today, the Cardinals themselves expressed a rather paternal disappointment that Heyward wouldn’t take their overpay to ball next to some injury prone old guys.
Heyward told reporters at his introductory press conference that he chose to turn down the Cardinals offer in part because the core that St. Louis has is injury-prone and old. This is a perfectly sensible baseball reason, and while the Cubs did offer him less than the Cardinals, it was a pretty similar offer. Yet Matheny and the Cardinals continue to carry themselves with a sense of entitlement, and express amazement that someone would make a sensible baseball decision and spurn the mythical Cardinals Way:
“I told Jason this before. I’ve got a lot of respect for Jason as a person. He’s got to go make the decisions he’s going to have to live with. If that (core group comparison) is a big deal to him, he’s just being honest with people.
“But I don’t think we have anything to apologize for in having a group like a Holliday, a Molina, a Wainwright. Those are the kinds of guys everybody wants on a club.
“I see where he’s coming from. I mean, look at what Chicago’s done. It’s very unique in this game — to have that many impact players at that young age. And he’s a young player. But I can’t say I’m in any kind of agreement with that (Chicago) core being better than any kind of core that we have.”
For one, Matheny is wrong, but you expect managers to trump up their own team, especially to the press. But what’s strange is that he felt the need to speak out and correct Heyward. It’s a fairly passive aggressive position to stake out, and it sure reads a lot like a sneaky way to talk down to Heyward for making his own choice, the correct baseball one at that. Matheny continued:
Matheny offered, “Say if we hadn’t won. ... That would have made a difference. Say if we hadn’t created an atmosphere where he was a major part of what we’re doing. ... Neither of those is true.
“Say we hadn’t made an offer. We made a terrific offer. With all that being said, it comes down to what does a guy want? (Staying in St. Louis) just wasn’t what he was looking for.”
This is all true, sure, but still, Matheny is coming in hot and implying that the Cardinals deserved Heyward, which is the real crux of the issue here. The Cardinals history of winning and organizational stability, as well as a $200 million paycheck, are appealing, but Heyward was forward that the actual winning of baseball games was the most important reason why he left, and the Cardinals can’t stack up there. Talking down to players who choose other teams is not a good look, especially if the Cardinals want to continue attracting free agents.
Photo via AP