I kinda hate titles like that. But I couldn’t not. Sorry.
By now, Chicago Cubs fans are pretty well familiar with Tommy Pham, the 29-year-old breakout St. Louis Cardinals outfielder who put up huge numbers this year, and then somewhat infamously disowned Ben Zobrist as a friend after the Cub said he wanted to clinch the Central in St. Louis.
Well, it seems that Pham’s outspoken ways go beyond possibly-half-kidding barbs at the Cubs.
“It’s a familiar thing now if it’s back-to-back years,” Pham said when asked about the Cardinals missing the playoffs again this year, per the Belleville News-Democrat. “It’s not unfamiliar anymore because it’s back-to-back seasons.”
Pham added that the Cardinals have a lot to work on to get back to the playoffs: “We have to find ways individually and as a team to get better and be more well-rounded. Nowadays, you look at these teams that are clinching, they’re very well-rounded. They’re doing everything now. Great defense, they hit the ball, they hit the ball for power and they run the bases well.”
On the scale of things you shouldn’t say, in my view, that probably falls somewhere closer to the innocuous and funny “we stinks” than the “ooh, Miggy is about to get dumped” end of the spectrum. It’s probably more than most would say, but, hey, I like it when guys offer an honest assessment of their situation, and given Pham’s success this season, he seems uniquely qualified to offer up a take.
But the Cardinals were not pleased. Here’s GM John Mozeliak’s response, also to the Belleville News-Democrat: “I guess it’s too bad he was never with us those previous five years [when the Cardinals made the playoffs]. And I don’t want him to be our spokesperson.”
Ouch. Wow. Harsh, Mo.
Setting aside the fact that Pham did spend time with the big league team in 2014 and 2015 (and probably could have helped those teams more than he did, given that he’s always hit), I would say that Mozeliak’s comment was much more aggressive than Pham’s. It suggests either that Mozeliak is way too sensitive to the implication that the roster had issues, or that there are other issues in the background with respect to Pham that we outsiders haven’t yet seen.
Whatever the case, the chances that Pham is dealt this offseason just skyrocketed. And they were already pretty high: Pham broke out, but is already 29, and is on a team that is overloaded with outfielders. He comes with extreme cost control, and probably has a lot of trade value (these comments notwithstanding).
It’ll be interesting to see what the Cardinals do here. They had weird clubhouse issue stuff all season, it seems, and that’s probably largely due to the fact that *is* very strange for the Cardinals to miss the playoffs two years in a row. It hasn’t happened since 2007-08, and before that it hadn’t happened since 1998-99.
And hey, I’m not out here throwing stones just yet. The Cubs are in the playoffs for the third year in a row, but it’ll be a while yet before they match the recent success of the Cardinals, in terms of getting there virtually every year for nearly two decades.