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Why don't free agents want to sign with the Cardinals?

An article that definitely wasn't hastily rewritten at the last minute

Let's get Ben Zobrist real drunk and ask him. Then we'll get the truth!
Let's get Ben Zobrist real drunk and ask him. Then we'll get the truth!
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This is an article I just wrote last night. I definitely didn't write it before the Giants signed Johnny Cueto and then make tiny edits to make it relevant again in the hopes of avoiding doing any more work than was absolutely necessary. Ha ha, no sir, I would definitely never do that. I have a work ethic, after all.

When you think about the best reasons for a free agent to choose a team, the most important are generally thought to be money, opportunity to win, and clubhouse culture. And yet, you look at a big-budget, popular team full of veterans that's led by a well-regarded manager that's been a consistent winner over the last few years, and they're having a real tough time giving money to baseball players for the purpose of playing baseball. So why don't big-time free agents want to sign with the Giants Cardinals?

It's the question that's been on everyone's mind all offseason, especially since they missed out on Zack Greinke David Price, and didn't even put in an offer for David Price Zack Greinke. The Giants Cardinals were said to be finalists one of the more interested teams in Ben Zobrist, but they didn't really turn out to be a threat to take him away from the Cubs. And even though the Giants Cardinals beat the offer for Zobrist Jason Heyward by a significant amount, in the end he decided he preferred Chicago.

It's tough to imagine that the problem is personnel. After all, the Giants Cardinals have a bona fide ace in Madison Bumgarner Adam Wainwright, one of the absolute best catchers in the game in Buster Posey Yadier Molina, and a farm system that seems to spontaneously generate all-star infielders. And obviously the guys who come to San Francisco St Louis like it just fine; when an All-Star outfielder like Hunter Pence Matt Holliday signs an extension to stay in his new city after coming over in a trade, it's a good sign that his new team is really appealing in a lot of ways. But for some reason, the news doesn't get out to the rest of the league.

Of course, just because Pence Holliday felt that way, it doesn't mean that everyone else does. Just look at Pablo Sandoval Albert Pujols, who was a huge star for the Giants Cardinals, but felt disrespected by the organization and decided to take his talents to Boston Southern California. Sure, he hasn't lived up to expectations there, but he still chose to leave. And yes, they can re-sign bullpen guys like Sergio Romo Jonathan Broxton and bring in aging veterans like Tim Hudson Carlos Beltran, but what's the use if they can't attract big-ticket talent?

So what is it that drives free agents away? Is it the San Francisco Midwestern values that they can't stand? Is there a backlash against the region because of high state taxes having to live in St Louis? Do they not want to be associated with a team that tolerated a notable steroid user like Barry Bonds Mark McGwire? Or do they just think that the Giants Cardinals have used up all their luck over the last few years and won't be winning again anytime soon? It's tough to know for sure.

The Giants Cardinals are a talented team with a proud history. There aren't a lot of organizations that can boast of a historical pool of talent that includes Willie Mays, Mel Ott, and Christy Mathewson Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, and Bob Gibson. Obviously the fact that no one wants to sign with that kind of team is a permanent situation based on one important factor instead of a series of individual decisions made by different players for different reasons. The important thing for their fans to do is react appropriately: curse the front office, bear the burdens of free agent martyrdom, and accept that this won't ever change. It's been a good run, being a Giants Cardinals fan. But now it looks like that run might be over.