Like any fan group, the St. Louis Blues have plenty that are never happy. They always want some mega deal that was never likely to happen or to have the team sign some superstar they could never seriously afford.
That’s the life of a fan. You’re never truly satisfied unless your team wins it all, and even then there are some that wish it happened in a different way.
With that said, the truth of the matter is that the Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is widely considered one of the better in the sport. He has consistently made a mid-market franchise a contender, with only a few hiccups.
The interesting thing is that Armstrong may have now passed his neighbors down the street in terms of being a quality steward to the franchise. In case I wasn’t clear, I’m saying that Armstrong is now better than those in charge of the St. Louis Cardinals.
The 2023 Cardinals season has been a mess. All-Star and potential Hall of Fame caliber players have not performed with consistency and a pitching staff that had to be on point just to be in play for a division has been absolutely horrendous at times.
There have been bright spots, for sure, but the reality is that the team the Cardinals’ front office constructed has not done its job. Blues fans know all about that.
The 2022-23 Blues squad did the same thing. Individually, the talent should have been there, but as a collective, it got downright embarrassing at times.
So, if both teams have taken a giant fall, how does the man in charge of the hockey team get the nod over the baseball giants? Oddly, for me, it came down to one deal.
The Cardinals traded Genesis Cabrera, a relief pitcher, to the Toronto Blue Jays. In return, they got a 19-year old catching prospect.
I have friends that are far more versed in baseball than I am that said the deal is fine. Someone that is 19 will take years to develop, so you don’t know what your team will look like by then.
However, that is kind of my point. The Cardinals need help right now and they need pitching.
Instead, they went after a catcher. I scratch my head at this because they have Wilson Contreras signed to a long-term deal and have Ivan Herrera as their next big thing on the cusp.
If you have confidence in either of those players, this seems like a wasted trade. You could have selected any other position, other than outfield, and it would have made more sense.
For comparison, it would be like the Blues trading one of their pending free agents at the end of their 2022-23 season for a goaltending prospect. St. Louis has Jordan Binnington on a long-term deal, has high hopes for Joel Hofer and is also still reasonably excited about the upside of Vadim Zherenko.
Trading for another goaltending prospect would not have made sense. It would have felt like grasping at straws just to get something instead of making the best deal you could.
Again, I will openly defer to people that follow the Cardinals with the kind of passion that I do with the Blues. They may have a different perspective.
For me, even if there are better trades coming, it just felt like John Mozeliak was grasping at straws. Conversely, it felt like Armstrong did about as well as he could at his 2023 deadline.
Sure, it would have been nice as fans to see NHL-ready talent coming back. But, Armstrong stocked up on draft picks and there is reason to think a couple of them might turn pro sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to make an apples to apples comparison since baseball doesn’t have the same kind of regular international competition, but Armstrong is regularly named the GM of Team Canada for World Cups and World Championships. He was also an assistant GM to the Olympic Squads.
If nothing else, think about how many trades Armstrong has missed on. Who has exploded with another team after the Blues got rid of them?
Tage Thompson seems like the only name that may be on that list. The Blues got Ryan O’Reilly and a Stanley Cup out of that, so you take that swap.
The Cardinals have lost out on Randy Arozerena, Adolis Garcia and Sandy Alcantra. Compounding those players’ ascension is the fact what the Cardinals got in return has either not worked out or is no longer even with the organization.
Maybe you give Mo a pass on Garcia since he was on waivers before he broke out. That meant no other team wanted him either.
Still, you just don’t see those kinds of swings and misses – no pun intended – from Army. He has not hit a home run (sorry) with every deal and has made some gaffes with his contract extensions, but you still feel like the Blues are doing everything they can to win.
Armstrong tries to put the best product on the ice every year and spends up to the cap. The Cardinals pull in as much money from attendance as any team in the league, but often say they can’t spend up to the level of the big markets.
Yes, there’s a cap system in hockey, but it’s still just another knock on the way the Cardinals are run compared to the Blues.
Cardinals fans will always bleed red and live and die with baseball, no matter how much they complain about Mo. I’ll take the Blues and Army any day of the week though.