Many St. Louis Cardinals fans and bloggers today have jumped all over Lance Lynn thanks to a quote tweeted by Cardinals.com beat writer Jenifer Langosch. “I was an 18 game winner last year with an All Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose my spot, in my opinion.” This isn’t the “Cardinal Way.”
In fact, former Cardinals.com beat writer Matthew Leach commented that it wouldn’t have flown under the previous administration. It’s the sort of comment that Tony La Russa wouldn’t have liked. You had to come to Spring Training prepared to work. To earn your spot every spring.
Those are the comments echoed by the veteran players like Yadier Molina who says he has to earn his spot every year. But if you really asked him one-on-one, off the record, I would bet money that he thinks he has a 100% chance of starting on Opening Day as long as he’s healthy. Even if Molina went hitless in March, he’d still be starting on Opening Day.
We enjoy Adam Wainwright‘s “Just happy to be here” t-shirt, but ever wonder why veteran players give the same answers to the same questions. It has nothing to do with their work ethic or their egos. It has everything to do with media and fan blow back It causes a guy like Molina far less hassle to just say, “I’m here to earn my spot,” rather than say “I’m a 5-time Gold Glove winner, finished top-5 in MVP voting last year, and am arguably the best catcher in baseball. If I don’t make the team they owe me $75 million to stay home. I’ve got my spot locked down.”
Everything in that comment is true.
All baseball players have an ego. All baseball players have high opinions of themselves and their talents. It’s a fact and, in large part, it’s why they’re there. Players don’t like being hassled by the media. Also a fact. That’s the lesson the veteran players have learned.
Cardinals fans aren’t used to having a player be honest to them about their roster spot. They’re used to being lied to by players who pretend that they have to earn it every year. Okay. Like anyone honestly believes that a guy like Yadier Molina isn’t going to make the team.
If Lynn is kicking back in a lawn chair sipping lemonade instead of throwing his bullpen session, then yeah, I’ll be first in line to criticize him. If he shows actual evidence of not working hard, I’ll be first in line to criticize him. Just a week ago we were all marveling at how hard he must have worked to lose 40+ pounds over the offseason so that he could perform more consistently over the course of a season. What a difference a week makes.
For one, I applaud Lynn for being honest about his assessment. He did win 18 games last year (led the team). He did make the All Star team (only Cardinals’ pitcher). He does have to do a lot of things to lose his spot in the rotation (we assume he means rotation, but he could just be talking about on the team period). The guy lost 40 pounds in 3 months. Changed his diet and his lifestyle in an attempt to maintain it. But yeah, let’s question his attitude and work ethic. He’s obviously here to kick back and collect a paycheck.