St. Louis Cardinals: Turn the page on Jason Heyward


In the week since Jason Heyward chose the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals’ fans have went to sadness to hate to panic. Now, it’s just best if they turn the page.

In case you haven’t heard, the St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Heyward broke up recently. After a blissful year together where Heyward posted his highest career WAR and teased fans with never seen before play in right field and a future draped in red, Heyward picked up his mitts and sticks and carried them to Chicago to play for the Cubs.

Picture Coach Taylor coaching the fictional Dillon Panthers for a year before taking another job and you have the Heyward reality. Yeah, I went there. Comparing a famous TV show to a baseball situation. I’ll make you feel NOT so bad about it here.

Let’s face facts. The minute Heyward was traded to the Cardinals on November 17th in 2014, there was no guarantee he would stay a Cardinal beyond 2015. A 26 year old player of Heyward’s caliber wasn’t going to show his cards and sign a contract in August to a roar of feel good Cardinal nation. That’s not how business works. Heyward finished 2015, waited, contemplated and waited some more.

The Washington Nationals came calling. The Los Angeles Angels peaked in to look at him. The San Francisco Giants supposedly took a look. The Cubs dropped in and stayed a while, making the Cardinals and their fans nervous.

Like nervously waiting to see if your steak is cooked right at Outback on a dead Tuesday evening. In the end, Heyward chose the blue pill. Unlike Neo, he had no intention of swallowing the red pill and returning to St. Louis, supposedly the greatest destination for a baseball player since forever. The reactions weren’t pretty.

Jeff Passan documented the hate in typical Jeff Passan fashion. Mike Matheny is apparently angry. John Mozeliak reacted calm and coolly, like Starbucks messed up his latte. Doug Vaughn thought Red Schoendienst was next.

Fans were mostly hurt and got Lebron James serious, burning jerseys and threatening death like a Vancouver hockey town after losing. I reacted, well, I was at the emergency room with my son, who just swallowed a quarter.

I wasn’t surprised when Heyward left. He didn’t go for the most amount of money. The Cards reportedly offered as many years and more overall money. A safety net for a young player and an opt out to escape it all if he wanted to (or at least until Yadier Molina retired). 

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Heyward chose the North Side. He thought it was safer(never mind the news right now, JHey). He liked the club’s youth(didn’t mention the pitching). He liked Joe Maddon (not the best looking skipper but player friendly). He liked the future of the Cubs more than the Cards.

To Heyward, the Cards weren’t exactly Cocoon old but definitely Sly Stallone like. Capable of a few good hits in the right situation but overall lacking a big future. Heyward lost me when he mentioned losing Jon Jay and Tony Cruz in the same paragraph as Matt Holliday and Molina getting too oldto contribute. He didn’t see Holliday at his best and didn’t notice the gold glove effect Yadi has on a baseball team. To each his own, Jason. You made the wrong choice.

“I wanted Heyward back. I wanted to give him more money than any team offered. But, two opt outs and his proposed lovefest for Chicago later, I am not mad he chose them.”

I’m sorry but when did the Cubs become the Rolling Stones. One wildcard win and one playoff series win later, they are the new thing in town. Surely a force to reckon with but once again, Heyward made the wrong choice.

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Minus a lot of key players, the Cards won 100 games and limped into the playoffs. The Cubs, full heath, won two more playoff games than the Cards, thanks to juiced Kevin Siegrist fastballs and over Lackey usage.

I guess Heyward missed the part where the Cubs also gave multi year contracts to two players in their mid 30’s(Ben Zobrist and Lackey). He thinks the Cubs are better. Let him. When Holliday scolds a baseball at 101 mph over Heyward’s head in 2016, I hope he screams, “NOT DONE YET!” as he rounds first base.

Let’s be straight. Heyward chose the Cubs because of the TWO opt outs in his contract, something Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t too fond of. It gives all the control to the player. The Cubs gave Heyward a guaranteed eight seasons but allowed him escape routes after years three and four.

Mo didn’t go there and I am fine with that. I wanted Heyward back. I wanted to give him more money than any team offered. But, two opt outs and his proposed lovefest for Chicago later, I am not mad he chose them.

Turn the page with me. Heyward wasn’t going to help the 2016 Cardinals offense improve much. What…suddenly he was going to produce more than his .797 OPS in 2015 one year later? Nope. Heyward’s greatness came on defense and would always rest there.

He was marvelous in right field. Better than anybody. He wasn’t a cleanup hitter or middle lineup guy. He wasn’t going to help the Cards score more than 647 runs on offense in 2016. That is the team’s main need. Something they needed more of in the playoffs the last two years.

So don’t cry too long over Heyward. Cry some. Feel sad that a player chose the rival Cubs over the Birds. The image of him wearing a Cubs jersey at the presser didn’t look right but remember, he was here for ONE season.

He wasn’t here for eleven like Albert Pujols or seven like Todd Zeile. He doesn’t have a baseball card where he is on his phone. Come on. Relax. Smell the firepits roasting on this glorious pre-Christmas weekend. 

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  • The smartest thing I heard in the eight days since Heyward made his decision is this. The rivalry got a LOT better. The challenge is there. The ball sits in the Cardinals court now.  Their reaction to this change of pace will make all the difference. I am growing impatient with Mozeliak, but that is only because Jedd Gyorko is a decent player but doesn’t make for a sexy poster.

    It’s unfair to the General Manager. This offseason has gotten so much more interesting. It would be swell if Heyward and David Price signed with St. Louis. The Lou would be drunk right now. When have things gone that easily for the Cards? Never. It’s always a fight. The Central Division just got meaner. Think Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets. Not Gangs of New York.

    The Cards can go out and sign Yoenis Cespedes or Chris Davis(older yet sexier options) and be just as powerful in 2016, especially on offense. They can roll the dice on Carlos Gonzalez or play small ball with Charlie Blackmon. Mo can do nothing and truly gamble on health reports.

    I was disappointed in Heyward’s decision but get over it ladies and gents. Be mad at Mo for missing out but don’t judge him just yet. Wait. I can’t say that enough. Be impatient but don’t get out the red pen yet. The price on these remaining free agents is going down every single day.

    Trust me, Mo is paying attention to all of it. He knows what the Cards have dealt with the past two seasons. A lack of firepower on offense. Subject to weakness if injury occurs in the everyday lineup. Right now, I am trusting Mo’s past more than his daily comments. So should you.

    Forget about Heyward. It will be fun beating him with inside heat and outside breaking pitches. It will be fun beating old friends and new rivals in 2016 and beyond. When Heyward appears on the free agent strip after the 2018 season, The Cards should pass if he wants out of Chicago. Tell him St. Louis is too dangerous and that Jon Jay now plays in California.

    Next: The top ten free agents of all time

    The Jason Heyward obsession is over, folks. What happens next is much more interesting.