Sunday, January 25, 2004

Speculating on Scott

Underwhelming roster additions. A front office that wants to tighten the belt while a new stadium gets built. Deep-pocketed division rivals boosting their lineups with bold offseason moves. As Jim Salisbury writes in today's Inquirer, Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen may be having some bad flashbacks to the end of his tenure with the Phils:

. . . [T]he situation in St. Louis is a lot like the one Rolen lived through in Philadelphia.

The Cardinals have a new stadium coming in 2006, and they are footing a big portion of the bill for its construction. This winter -- and probably next, as well -- they are watching what they spend, not only because they will have a mortgage to pay, but because they have to deal with the big contract of a star player at the same time.

As the Phillies' plans for their new stadium got off the ground several years ago, they were always mindful of budgeting to re-sign Rolen. (Obviously, it didn't work out, and Rolen became Jim Thome.) Everything the Cardinals do these days is played out with Albert Pujols in mind.

Armed with salary arbitration rights for the first time, the 24-year-old superstar recently let it be known that he won't take any hometown discounts, that he expects to be paid and paid well. . . .

Huge financial obligations to Pujols and Rolen, as well as the team's role in paying for the new stadium, could prevent the Cardinals from bringing in the final pieces needed to keep up with the Cubs and Astros not only for this season, but over the next couple of seasons as well. Things could change when the new park opens and revenues increase.

Stop us if you've heard this before, Scott.

Salisbury's piece is interesting initially, but ultimately becomes meaningless without any kind of reaction from Rolen himself. Yes, Rolen famously accused the Phillies of failing to upgrade, but surely he wanted to leave Philadelphia as much to escape blustery management types -- Larry Bowa and Dallas Green -- as for any other reason. By most accounts, Rolen has the kind of temperament better suited to a family-oriented Midwest team than a chronically underachieving Northeast club with a demanding fan base. In other words, he may be cutting the Cardinals much more slack than he did the Phillies simply because he enjoys playing in St. Louis more. By not even attempting to find this out -- by instead writing such phrases as "Rolen must feel. . ." and "Wonder what Scott Rolen is thinking. . ." -- Salisbury engages in the same kind of sloppy journalism that makes Stephen A. Smith largely unreadable.


Post a Comment

<< Home