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James Shields and St. Louis Cardinals Non-Rumor Surfaces

As is often the case this time of year, a unfounded rumor starts and then spreads out of control before someone thinks to question it.

Behind Max Scherzer, James Shields is considered by many to be the top free agent pitcher remaining on the market.

The night before last, Ken Rosenthal reported on FOXSports.com that Shields, late of the Kansas City Royals, has received an offer of $110 million for five years from an unnamed club (a so-called “mystery team”), but is looking for even more money.

Rosenthal also noted that his two sources both suggested that if Shields really has such an offer on the table, then he should take it. For what it is worth, I agree. It definitely seems like an overpay in both money and years.

In the same story, Rosenthal did NOT mention the St. Louis Cardinals among Shields’ potential destinations.

This morning, a Cardinals blogger posted that he heard Rosenthal say on MLB Network that Shields will land with the Cardinals.

What resulted was the blogger posting his “news” article on his site with this tasty title:

“Ken Rosenthal says James Shields will sign with St. Louis Cardinals”

(I am not including the actual link as I don’t want to give the site more traffic.)

Apparently wanting to appear to be in the know on this breaking story, another Cardinals blogger immediately responded with this tweet, while calling the first source “trusted”:

“Shields/#stlcards deal not in stone. I know insurance is key but not sure I like this deal, especially if it is long term.”

The initial blog post was picked up by Sporting News among others, and all of the sudden, it became a full-blown rumor, with all the appearance of being backed by the national credibility of Rosenthal. The requisite hand-wringing by many Cardinals fans ensued.

Sporting News’ headline:

“Cardinals expected to land Shields”

SN wrote it up like a legitimate news item, analyzing the ramifications of the move to the Cardinals rotation.

The only problem with all of this is that Rosenthal was taken entirely out of context.

When Rosenthal was asked via Twitter what he actually said and meant, he was very clear. (The links to the actual tweets are included for reference.)

From Rosenthal: “That was simply my speculation, not an actual report”

From BirdsOnTheBat13: “so you’re pulling that out of the clear blue sky? No rumblings from the Cards FO at all?”

From Rosenthal: “correct. I didn’t tweet it or anything. We were merely guessing.”

In other words, there is nothing that Rosenthal is willing to put in writing as having been a rumor even hinted by someone. Instead, he was simply making a wild guess.

After this discussion and much more on Twitter, the original blogger changed his headline from “says” to “speculates,” but of course, the damage was already done. SN does not allow reader commenting and still has the erroneous report up, with no correction made 24 hours later.

Once again, the internet wildly overreacted to a misrepresentation without applying any common sense filters.

Taking a step back, if anyone really thinks the Cardinals are going to commit to more than $110 million for five years or more plus forfeit their first-round draft pick (and cap money) in June for a 33-year-old good-but-not-great pitcher, they are only kidding themselves.

Update: MLB Network posted the segment that started this whole mess. Watch it for yourself and see if you think it is newsworthy.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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One Response to “James Shields and St. Louis Cardinals Non-Rumor Surfaces”

  1. crdswmn says:

    It was Redbird Rants, my former place of blogging. I know you didn’t name it, but I am. One of the reasons I left (not the only reason) was because the place was just too much like a news site rather than a blog. It was write about every tiny little thing involving the Cardinals, no matter how insignificant or boring and do it immediately if not sooner. I was never pressured to do this, but it was done by others. I got in to blogging to talk about baseball from my perspective and with some thoughtfulness, like writing a newspaper column or editorial. I didn’t get into it to churn out mindless drivel to get page clicks. It got to the point where I just couldn’t stomach being attached to the site anymore, I was embarrassed.

    I am not indicting the blogger who did the piece, he does what the powers that be at headquarters wants. When you are told to churn out quantity, quality suffers. So as soon as some tidbit becomes known, no time is taken to ascertain it’s credibility, you just write it up and worry about it later if something is wrong. I guess it works for them, but it doesn’t work for me.

    Anyway, the talk is still out there, once an idea is put out on the twitters, it almost never dies.

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