Max Scherzer, Joe Kelly and the "Cardinal Way"

Are the St. Louis Cardinals still the kind of team that players wants to come and play for?
Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros
Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros / Bob Levey/GettyImages

This conversation between Max Scherzer and the press at the trade deadline got quite a bit of buzz in the MLB universe.

“I talked to Billy,” Scherzer told The Athletic. “I was like, ‘OK, are we reloading for 2024?’ He goes, ‘No, we’re not. Basically, our vision now is for 2025-2026, ‘25 at the earliest, more like ‘26. We’re going to be making trades around that.’

“I was like, ‘So the team is not going to be pursuing free agents this offseason or assemble a team that can compete for a World Series next year?’ He said, ‘No, we’re not going to be signing the upper-echelon guys. We’re going to be on the smaller deals within free agency. ‘24 is now looking to be more of a kind of transitory year.’”

This statement from John Mozeliak was made at about the same time:

“Usually when you’re having a year like this, it’s more than one thing that went wrong,” Mozeliak said, before a game against Miami. “I feel like where this club’s at right now, we just know it’s not working intact. We do know we have to make some changes.

“If we can find talent that we think can help emerge in 2024, that’d be great,” Mozeliak added. “2025? I wouldn’t rule that out either. But 2026 seems a long way away.”

That got a lot less buzz.

One problem with both statements is we really don’t know what to believe. Did Mozeliak mean that 2025 would be a better target than next year? He has been all over the place when discussing the Cardinals’ plans. The Cardinals were going to be buyers this year right up until the time they weren’t.

Right now there is a lot of discussion on how much it will take to sign the big-name, top-of-the-rotation starters this off-season. My question is what it would take to get a pitcher to want to come to St. Louis?

Every pitcher traded at the trade deadline that waived their no-trade clause did so only if the team they were going to had a chance to win the World Series. Not just to get to the playoffs. Will they get that here? For years the mantra has been just get to the playoffs and let’s see what happens. That mindset must change.

We are also seeing a lot of cracks in how others view us.

We now have an ex-Cardinal, Joe Kelly, a player that is so much fun to watch, saying this about the Cardinals during an interview with the Boston Herald about his new book.

“I feel like I’ve done this, like my whole career since 2012, being a St. Louis Cardinals, right? I think I did maybe a little bit too much back then, being myself. It probably got me traded to Boston,” he surmises. “That’s probably one of the main reasons I did, because I think, you know, the ‘Cardinal Way,’ follow the rules and do all this, that was never my style. So it was like, let’s ship this young guy out while he’s still got value, because he’s just messing around.”

This year we had the manager and the front office throwing their players under the bus for various reasons. First, it was Tyler O’Neal getting publicly called out. Not getting ahead of how to fit Jordan Walker into the lineup to the point of even sending him to the minors for a bit after saying that would never happen. And don't forget the Wilson Contreras fiasco.

We have a young manager and a very inexperienced coaching staff that doesn’t seem to be getting the most out of their players.


If I am a free agent I have to ask myself at this point do I really want to go to an organization that some players say isn’t fun to play for, wants to just get into the playoffs not the World Series, and will that goal be next year or the year after, and when I do get here is there a better chance of getting put into a position to succeed or getting thrown under the bus if I don’t.

Next. 5 things. 5 things to watch for the remainder of the Cardinals' season. dark