The St. Louis Cardinals have become the most respected organization in baseball. Often times we refer to the “Cardinal” way when discussing the Cardinals. The “Cardinal” way refers to the way they run their organization and play the game, top to bottom. They teach their prospects to play the game the right way, and to respect the game as well, the latter of which many organizations fail to do. They don’t hang onto aging players either.
Prior to the start of the 2012 season, they let the best hitter of his generation, Albert Pujols walk, rather than give him 250 million dollars over 10 years. Pujols of course signed with the Angels for 10 years and 254 million to be exact. Guess what happened? The Cardinals didn’t fall apart because they let the best hitter in the league walk. Instead, they went 88-74, were the National League’s second wild card team, and made it all the way to the National League Championship Series before losing to the Giants in seven games.
So how can an organization, that once let the best hitter of his generation walk, do the exact opposite with their franchise catcher five years later?
In the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Cardinals selected Carson Kelly, a third basemen who had signed with Oregon with the 86th overall selection, with the intention of moving him behind the plate to eventually replace longtime franchise catcher Yadier Molina. The move has been flawless for Kelly, as his defense has improved dramatically and his bat gets better with each season. Last year, he batted .289 between AA and AAA ball before being called up to St. Louis late in the season for 10 games.
Pundits such as myself spent the entire offseason talking about where Molina would end up via trade before the 2017 trade deadline, as Kelly’s 2017 performance turned that from pure speculation, into reality, or so we thought.
Then Cardinals screwed up in their moment of truth.
Literally one day before the start of the 2017 season, the Cardinals handed Yadier Molina a three-year, 60 million dollar contract extension, which even surprised Molina himself. I was not happy about the move at the time, and I still am not. I am not a fan of the Cardinals, but I do have a lot of respect for an organization that does not bow down to aging athletes in 2017, which has become an serious problem for just about every sport and team in America. I thought the Cardinals were better than this! I thought they were above this!
Carson Kelly, that poor kid. He did EVERYTHING they asked of him the last four-plus years, and now, when it comes time for the change at catcher, you take it out right from underneath him, and decide to do the very thing that you as an organization have told world you don’t do. To make matters worse, Kelly is tearing it up to begin the season in AAA, batting .327 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs. The Cardinals are going to regret this, unless that wild rumor of moving Molina down the line to first base becomes a reality.