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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals rumor control getting out of control

Erroneous news on a supposed new Matt Holliday offer from the St. Louis Cardinals is amplified all over cyberspace before being pulled.

I opened my mail this morning and checked the Scout.com Cardinals message board to find a number of items asking about the new eight-year offer at $16 million per year supposedly tendered by the Cardinals to Matt Holliday. The source of this information was an MLB.com article posted Tuesday evening.

Mark DeRosa (AP photo)After dealing with the shock of Cards GM John Mozeliak apparently having lost his cool in bidding against himself after having been so in-control of his dealings with agent Scott Boras for so long, I went to check out the article for myself this morning.

Turns out nothing is said about eight years or any years, for that matter. It says nothing about $128 million. In fact, the short article says nothing new at all, though it does repeat the Tuesday Buster Olney $18 million per year asking price rumor.

I figured I had been given the wrong link, so searched all over MLB.com looking for the smoking gun. There was none.

Broadening my search, I then found several references to the article elsewhere, including this headline from NBC.com, also from last evening, which links back to the same MLB.com post:

UPDATE: Cards reportedly offer Holliday 8-year deal

    UPDATE: MLB.com is reporting that the Cardinals have offered Matt Holliday an 8-year contract for about $16 million per season.

    The story also speculates that if a mystery team were to enter the Holliday mix it could be the Seattle Mariners.

    Wednesday’s apparent re-write of the MLB.com article does not mention Seattle, either.

    Here’s my guess at what happened.

    Dependable and knowledgeable Cardinals MLB.com beat writer Matthew Leach is out on vacation and “Joe Fill-in Guy” wrote the Holliday article. He cited old information that included a reference to eight years that Joe Strauss mentioned several weeks back. Shortly after, additional information came out that the base proposal may be four or five years with perhaps some options, but nothing more about eight years has been mentioned recently.

    Once someone at MLB.com realized the eight years news was older than Thanksgiving’s left-over turkey, it was edited out of the article, as was the writer’s Seattle speculation. By then, this supposed new news was all over cyberspace, as evidenced by the NBC post that summarizes and links to the now-neutered MLB.com article.

    Unfortunately, in making their corrections, MLB.com made no reference to the tracks they apparently covered up over night.

    What can the reader learn from this? Be careful.

    In case you haven’t noticed, it seems like 99 percent of the news being posted is just a rehash of what someone else said, so take the time to check the source. For example, sites like MLB Trade Rumors and Rotoworld do not break news – they just aggregate and re-report what others said. I am not picking on them, as these kinds of sites have a place for those who don’t follow this stuff closely and want a quick fix. My advice is to keep your wits about you, however.

    These two sites almost always link back to the original source, which is crucial. I highly recommend you actually click on the original link to be sure something was not lost in translation, because sometimes that is exactly what occurs.

    Tuesday’s Felipe Lopez “news” is a great example. Derrick Goold said directly that he had no new information on the players the Cardinals are pursuing now that Mark DeRosa has signed with San Francisco. Goold mentioned Boras client Lopez among a list of names in whom the Cards had reportedly shown previous interest. He also suggested that given how Boras works, it is likely the agent will focus on getting Holliday placed first.

    In other words, the Cardinals interest in Lopez was a repeat of old news and was clearly represented that way. Yet others latched onto it and made it headline fodder as if Mozeliak had called Boras about Lopez yesterday morning in his remorse over losing DeRosa.

    The Post-Dispatch also updated their report on DeRosa. After having said the player had received an offer from St. Louis earlier in the off-season, they corrected that in later articles as more information that a firm offer was never tendered apparently became available. Certainly, nothing malicious was intended. It just happens as part of the difficult job of reporting on rumors.

    The thirst to be first results in mistakes which are quickly amplified in today’s instant news world. Been there, done that. Lessons learned. You should expect it too and act accordingly.

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