"The way I approach it is it's my spot," Lynn said. "That's just the way it is. It's my spot to lose. I was an 18-game winner last year with an All-Star appearance. I have to do a lot of things to lose a spot, in my opinion."
That quote in Jenifer Langosch's profile of Lance Lynn definitely took no time getting through the Twitterverse. Fans seemed to be divided on whether Lynn was just telling the truth or needed to be more circumspect. Blog posts on both sidessprung up. The note had more of an arrogance than we are used to in Cardinal athletes.
For me, personally, I think the first sentence informs the rest of the quote. With that clause in there, it makes it appear that he's more talking about his mental approach than the decisions that Mike Matheny is going to make. Whether that's accurate or not, I don't know, but when the quote started with "It's my spot to lose" it seemed more harsh than the full quote seems to be.
Even if those cushioning words weren't in there, there's no doubt that Lynn is right. With Chris Carpenter down, it seems pretty obvious that he'll have a spot in the rotation. (I think this approach might be a bit more dubious if a healthy Carpenter was available, but that's a moot point and there's no reason to get into it.) It's true that Lynn had all the stats he pointed out last year also, though it was quickly brought up that he slumped in the second half, was removed from the rotation temporarily, and was ineffective in the playoffs. If you focused on that portion of his season, you might think his grip on a rotation spot wasn't quite as secure as he let on.
Look, athletes are in a no-win situation. Spout cliches and you'll get criticized for not being interesting, for saying the same things everyone else says. Say what's on your mind and you'll get slammed for self-centeredness or other cardinal sins.
That said, pride does go before a fall. 18 wins doesn't mean anything--look at Kent Bottenfield before he was shipped to the Angels for Jim Edmonds. Bottenfield never did anything close to his 18 wins in 1999 again. Just because you've done it once doesn't mean you can repeat it.
For better or worse, for whatever indictment of the fan base you'd like to assess because of it, if Lynn had tempered his remarks a bit, it'd been no story. What if he'd said the following:
"The way I approach it is it's my spot, that it's my spot to lose. I was an 18-game winner last year with an All-Star appearance. However, that's last year. I've got to keep working hard to hold on to that spot and that's what I'm going to do."
Would there be any outcry at all? It's basically the same thing, with the caveat that nothing is going to be handed to him. I think the biggest problem for many was the last sentence, which indicated a bit more arrogance than we've seen out of players. Not that he's wrong at all--it seems fairly improbable that he doesn't open the season in the rotation--but truth doesn't have to be laid out unvarnished.
Lynn's comments overshadowed what might have been the bigger story on Tuesday, that negotiations between Adam Wainwright and the club have broken off, at least temporarily. Neither side seems too concerned, though the quotes from Wainwright could be read as a bit of frustration about the pace the Cardinals were setting. That said, it still doesn't have the doom-and-gloom feel of the Pujols negotiations and, as Derrick Goold's story points out, last year when Yadier Molina's negotiations were put on hold, the deal got done just over a week later. The Cards want to keep him, Waino wants to stay, it still feels like things will get finalized somewhere along the way. A interesting tangent might be discussing whether, being that Wainwright is coming across more reasonable, if the club would take a bigger PR hit for him leaving than Pujols, but that's a discussion for another time.
The reports out of Jupiter say that Jaime Garcia is looking very good right now and the team is confident he'll be healthy enough this season. There's still going to be some doubt about that shoulder until he gets into games and even some beyond that, but if Garcia is actually healthy this season, it can be a big deal for the rotation. Especially if he can figure out how to pitch on the road. (On a side note, apparently Garcia has done some work with the Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team, because how else do you beat #2 by 15 at home and then lose to a team you've already beaten at home by 15 at their place? The Hogs are unbeatable at home and unwinnable on the road, so Garcia MUST be involved!)
Don't forget to get your input into the Cardinal Approval Ratings. I'm hoping for the 60 or so we had last year and right now it's at 25, so get to it!
On the promotion side of things, I was honored to be asked to contribute to Big Leagues Magazine's season preview issue. You'll find an excerpt of my Cardinal section over here and you can buy the whole digital magazine for $4.95. Lots of great internet writers contributed to this and it'd definitely be worth your while. Also, don't forget to get your copy of the UCB Annual if you haven't already!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball