Cardinals chat: Derrick Goold takes your Cardinals questions at 1 p.m. Monday

Cardinals chat: Derrick Goold takes your Cardinals questions at 1 p.m. Monday

Bring your Cards questions and comments to a live chat with Derrick Goold at 1 p.m. Monday

    Greetings. It's been quite a year in the past week since we talked. A week ago, in the Cardinals Chat, I posted my Hall of Fame ballot -- and that dominated a lot of the questions and conversation. But the chat wasn't limited to that. There were so many questions remaining -- nearly 200 -- that I went back in and continued to answering chatters ... right up until had enough questions for two 20 questions mailbags. You can find those still at Bird Land/StlToday.
    There will be movement this week for the Cardinals. There must be.
    Not just because January is the new December, but because there are salaries that must be determined, negotiations with current players set to gain urgency come Tuesday, and also ongoing discussions on what spring training will look like -- if it does start on time. 
    It's time for some of the unknowns that have defined the offseason to become knowns.
    Onward, into the inbox ... 
    Derrick - What's the likelihood the Cardinals make zero additions and trot out the same group that finished the season, minus Waino and Yadi?
    Minimal. The roster is lacking, and they'll need some additions for depth beyond the NRIs they've already signed. An example is catching. If the Cardinals do not sign Yadier Molina look for them to shop for another veteran catcher to share the role with Andrew Knizner. That is something they've kept their options open with this winter, through the slog of the marketplace.
    Any other teams interested in Waino other than the Cards and Royals?
    The Cardinals are. The Royals reached out, but that could be due diligence, that could also be gauging his interest in whether they're a fit. Dayton Moore is a huge fan of Wainwright's -- scouted him, drafted him, signed him with Atlanta. And has admired him from afar. Atlanta stood out with interest, and it's possible that hasn't been extinguished with the signings/moves they've made. Keep in mind the Braves have really done well with the one-year deals in recent years (Donaldson, Ozuna), and that they also may be looking at a minor-league addition that comes to camp off the roster, but is all about a shoo-in for a spot once the roster gains clarity, or the 60-day IL is available. At last check, Wainwright was fielding interest, and now it's time for there to be offers, and at that point the Cardinals know what it will take to sign him as well.
    Your tweet about the chat said this week will force some action/movement from the cards? What do you mean by that?
    There are deadlines this week. On Friday, arbitration-eligible players and teams must swap salaries. The Cardinals have been in contact with their arb-eligible players, like Flaherty, and starting around Tuesday will engage with urgency to negotiate deals with those players to avoid exchanging salaries on Friday and going to an arbitration hearing next month. Any time there is a deadline, there is movement.
    Blues are letting 300 fans into Enterprise for the beginning of the season. I assume the Cardinals would be allowed more since it will be later in the year and outside. What minimum number would allow the Cardinals to come close to breaking even?
  • The Blues are letting 300 frontline or less people into the games. That includes a limited number of frontline workers as well as families, friends that have ties to the team, according to the report from StlToday.com's Jim Thomas. That's quite a leap to go from there to even a 1,000 at a ballgame, or 11,000 ... It's just unknown at this point, and the virus is in control of that. If rate of infections and hospitalizations spike or remain high in the area, St. Louis City has demonstrated how conservative it will be with gatherings. But there's no baseball game next week, or next month, and so there's time for the virus to subside, for our actions to help, and for the vaccine to get widespread. So, hopeful.
    I don't know the precise number that breaks even. I would caution you that break even might not be the goal -- make money would be, have revenue and profit come in would be the goal. The team gets about $450,000 from the TV rights deal per game. If they have a $150 million payroll, that is not yet enough to cover the per-day cost of player salaries -- let alone coaches, infrastructure, etc. Would 20,000 fans do it? Possible. For years, the Cardinals have set their budget around averaging 40,000 per game (and a majority of that in ticket sales, not giveaways) and aiming for that 3.4 million tickets sold. If they're business practices and what we know from Atlanta about how similar the Cardinals' revenue is to theirs (outside of the rights deal) then it's hard to see with that info how a half-full house "breaks even," but it's better than none, and that's where they'll be aiming 2021. 
    The consequences of this past year and this season are going to alter the finances of the team for years to come, and that includes how popular they are coming out of the pandemic and how people spend their entertainment dollar. 
    What substances besides resin are permitted to use by pitchers? If pitchers used resin with pine tar or another banned substance would you consider that cheating? How egregious would you view this cheating?
    Count me in the camp that would like pitchers to have a better grip than a worse one. I imagine this question stems from the lawsuit out in Orange County, and it's an interesting one. In recent years, the seams on the baseball have gotten lower, and you've seen the blisters and issues that have potentially sprouted as a result of that (see: Lynn, Lance). In cold weather, hitters and pitchers both benefit from the pitcher having a grip on the pearl. There are rules about foreign stances -- beyond rosin -- but teams look the other way for the benefit/safety of the hitter when it's cold, when the pitcher isn't getting funky movement, isn't flaunting the rules, etc. The concoction that's at the center of the lawsuit in Orange County was a mixture of rosin, pine tar, and the Manny Mota Stick substance. As you probably know, pitchers have used other recipes that include Bullfrog sunscreen and you'll see that on their forearm, for example, and that got a lot of attention when the memo went out about the crackdown on foreign substance. 
    Baseball should do better to clarify this gray area, but that lawsuit is going to make it less likely at the moment.
    Good morning Derrick, and Happy New Year. We have heard a lot about Jeff Albert and all the technology he brings to hitting, monitors, widgets on the end of bats etc. Does he also work on the mental side of hitting or does someone else handle that? All the technology in the world is useless when a 2 strike fastball down the middle is taken.
    Interesting question. An important part of it, for sure. The short answer is yes -- that is an area of interest for him, judging from the conversations I've had with him, from the conversations hitters have told me about with him, and even from the books/studies that he's looked into. Just from my own observation, this was clearly an area where Budaska excelled, and did so at the Class AAA level for sure with hitters before being a trusted source for hitters in the majors. And you of course know how much of a priority it was with Mark McGwire. John Mabry, by rule, was less forthcoming about anything when he was hitting coach. 
    Albert is definitely a student of hitting -- from tech to philosophy. That comes across even when a reporter talks to him. Now, there's only so much time in the day, and this past year there was so little time in the cage, especially after the outbreak, and the emphasis has been on Albert expanding and modernizing and harmonizing the use of tech for hitters across the organization. 
    The Cardinals did have a mental coach on site a year ago at spring training, and hitters have also turned to former players or personal confidants for that as well.
    Mlb needs to decide soon on when season starts with only 5 weeks away from ST and decide on DH.
    Why? Last year they decided and were up and running within a week and had games going four weeks later. If anything, they need to prepare for a season -- and be ready to pivot. They have to flexible as long as the virus is in control.
    Why doesn’t the cardinals sell jersey or helmet sponsorship like the NHL? Is this controlled by the MLB?
    It is controlled by the MLB. And it is coming.
    (Cardinals wore ads on their batting helmets in Mexico, and if they went to London this past year to the face the Cubs there would have been advertisements on the batting helmets there, too.)
    Any more information about the rumor that the Cardinals are interested in DJ Lemahieu. Surely, there is no way they would spend that kind of money....or is there?
    The Cardinals did what they do -- they reached out early in the winter to agents for a multitude of free agents. They did this in part to get a sense of what the marketplace was going to look like by researching the asking price on players. If they could understand, for example, what LeMahieu was going to try and command, then they could also have a general sense of Wong, LaStella, etc. They also owe it to themselves to check on whether a player is interested in what they could do -- like he really wanted to be a Cardinal, or whatever. They don't know unless they call. But by keeping in touch they can see if the market bends their way -- and also the outlines of what it will take, again, to sign another player in that same area. How aggressive were there? That's the question. Before New Year's I heard over and over again from sources how the Cardinals were asking for patience, or were saying they didn't yet know what they could spend. Some of that was tied to Molina, less of that was tied to Wainwright, and a lot of that was tied to the unknown length of the season ahead and if, when, how many tickets will be sold. They were not described as aggressive, not even when it came to pushing for an agreement with Molina. 
    The market has waited for them, in a way. And it makes sense for them to circle back and see where things stand with the leading player at a position of interest for them. At worst, they get info that helps them frame offers for others. At best, they find they have more to offer than originally believed. At last check, they don't expect to win an auction, and they have continued to position themselves as reducing payroll. 
    After reading Rick Hummel's recent interview with Matt Carpenter I felt like I was in a time warp ... reading a duplicate of your interview one year ago with him 1) he's traveling 3 hours to do intensive workouts-same as last year 2) tinkering with his swing-same as last year 3) different excuse this time Covid but again making excuses for his declining performance over now multiple years. What hasn't changed ? He's a aging player who this team with their offensive woes can;'t afford to carry. Your thoughts?
    My thoughts are that if you don't give someone a chance to improve, then for sure they won't, not in your eyes. Given.
    It's always better to try something anything everything, no?
    He's chasing ways to improve, and it is clear that this past year, the shortened 2020 with its COVID-19 interruptions, did not offer much of a referendum on the work he did. The hitter that Matt Carpenter was in spring training 2020 was visibly different than the one that was getting limited playing time toward the end of 2019. Lance Berkman said he would be in my interview with him a year ago -- and he was right. You could see it in the way that Carpenter went about his prep for games and how he approached those exhibition at-bats in Grapefruit League play -- and then everything stopped. Everything. And when it started, he had 60 games to figure it out and 11 doubleheaders, and all of it. So many hitters didn't start hot and never got hot (see: Yelich, Christian and so many others), and it's not like 2020 had any forgiveness. The schedule just wasn't long enough. I'm not sure any of us could say what kind of hitter anyone was in 2020 -- and that goes for Ozuna to Carpenter to Bader to DeJong to Cody Bellinger. We know what they were in a snapshot, and we would be doing the numbers a disservice not to also include the previous year in the evaluation. Carpenter complicates things because he was working to change things.
    Which brings us back to the answer: Would you rather he surrender and not try? That's not really the route of a professional, let alone a professional competitor, and it's certainly not what the Cardinals want from him as he enters the final guaranteed year of his contact. 
    Just for hot stove fun, can you put together a package of Cardinals players/prospects similar to the ones that that Mets sent to Cleveland in the Lindor/Carrasco trade? Its obviously apples to oranges from team to team, but in general what would that look like? Thanks!
    I found this trade fascinating because you could definitely see the outlines of what each team wanted to get. During the newest episode of the Best Podcast in Baseball, SNY's baseball reporter Andy Martino talked about how Carrasco was important to the deal from the Mets standpoint because they were looking at a free agent pitcher that would command about the same salary over the next three years, or maybe more, and clearly getting out from that salary commitment was important to Cleveland. 
    Let's get into this question, because it's fun, and it also comes with disclaimer: Remember that what a team asks from one team is different than what it asks from another; there have been times when teams have not moved off of wanting Carlos Martinez or Oscar Taveras or Jordan Hicks from the Cardinals, regardless of what they eventually get from another team ...
    I like to look at trades in terms of dollars moving and control years.
    METS
    Carrasco $41m for 3 years of control.
    Lindor $20+m for 1 year of control.
    Draft pick value as comp for Lindor’s FA.
    vs.
    CLEVELAND
    Rosario $2m-ish and 3 years of control.
    Andre Gimenez minimum salary and 5 years of control
    Josh Wolf prospect, six years of control
    Isaiah Greene prospect, six years of control.
    So, Mets now have $60m (with some relief) for four years of control.
    Cleveland is now spending less than $3m for 20 years of control.
    That's a lot of years of control on one side of the equation, and the Cardinals haven't made that kind of deal all that often. Think back to the Matt Holliday trade, and that might be the last time they put that many years of control into a offer for a one year return. And they were super-optimistic they'd resign him.
    Even the Goldschmidt deal didn't have that many years of control.
    So, let's look for what a similar deal would look like from the Cardinals.
    DeJong is the closest to Rosario that the Cardinals have in the sense of a starter at shortstop with control, but he's guaranteed $22 million over the next three years (including buyouts on team options), and that doesn't balance the money for Cleveland. So, it's more likely that it would be Tommy Edman (five years of control, not yet arbitration). If Edman is the Rosario in the deal, then I don't have a sense of who the Cardinals' Gimenez would be. They don't have that shortstop prospect on the cusp, not like the two Mets have already been, Likely would take one of the third basemen the Cardinals have -- Mendoza? Or, Gorman? The other two are top 10 prospects, so you're likely talking a mix of major-league ready pitcher to compensate the lack of a shortstop (Gomber, Ponce de Leone, Oviedo?) and then to lineup the last top-10 piece a Jhon Torres, who Cleveland traded the Cardinals, or ... Tre Fletcher. That would lineup right.
    Edman (5)
    Gomber (5)
    Mendoza (6)
    Fletcher (6)
    Still not quite sure how the Cardinals match the answer for Cleveland at SS. But that adds up to minimal salary commitments -- and 22 years of control in return. It gives you a sense.
    The Cards are expected to be big spenders in 2022. What realistic moves do you see in the future?
    They are? Let's not get ahead of things. They will have $60 million, or thereabouts, melting off the books following 2021, but there are many many months ahead where they might not sell tickets, might not recover past losses, or might make moves that reduce that amount coming off. They could be in position to spend, and there will be free agents worth spending on, but let's not start predicting the Cardinals WILL BE something they haven't been and just suggest that they CAN BE.
    How does Jeff Albert factor into '22? What I mean is, if the offense is down again this coming season and they let Albert go does the team come back and say "we still believe in these young hitters but think a new hitting coach is the answer"? Or do they dismiss the young hitters and back Albert's approach regardless of the production? Can you see where, from a fan's perspective, this team seems tied in knots?
  • Tell me how the offense looks in 2021, and I'll tell you Jeff Albert's role in 2022. There is a lot of pressure on the team throughout baseball operations to improve offensively, to change the vibe, look, and trajectory of the team and that exists from the front office into the batting cage. 
    Without any knowledge of how 2021 goes for the Cardinals, I don't have any idea what coaches will be around for 2022. Neither do they, honestly.
    Regarding the Francisco Lindor trade, what are the pieces that the Cardinals could have offered that would have been analogous to what the Mets did, and is there any merit to the idea that Lindor would be easier to extend in this particular moment given the uncertainty around what next year's offseason market will look like?
    Just took a dive into this questions moments ago. Please scroll back. Thanks.
    Where will Wainwright end up if not a Cardinal in 2021?
    It is entirely possible that Adam Wainwright is not with the Cardinals on opening day, but Adam Wainwright is a Cardinal by season's end.
    When will Molina be signed? He is the heart of St Louis. Without him the Cardinals are not the same.
    He would like to know the same thing, but the market hinges on the teams interested in Realmuto getting that deal done, so that Molina has new leverage from other teams that could be interested in him. Say, San Diego gets in the mix, or is in the mix, but now there's no leverage to pry open a better offer. The Cardinals could end the waiting by going to two years, meeting his request, and call it a deal. But they too would like to see what that market forces to them to offer.
    Hi Derrick,
    Think there is any chance MLB will consider dissolving the two central divisions, moving those teams into the west and east in order to encourage a higher level of competitiveness?
    No. Time is a flat circle. The AL West was once awful, too.
  • I opened the STLPD sports page this morning and started scrolling down. Aside from the announcement of this chat, which is baseball-centric, there was not a single thing about the Cardinals on the first 2/3rds of the main page. That is not an indictment of you and your colleagues but more of a statement about the state of baseball in this town. Covid or not, this team has zero "sizzle" right now. Selling the same vanilla roster for the second straight year does not help but neither does being completely dormant in free agency. There is just nothing to hang your hat on and get excited about this roster going into '21.
    To be fair, the paper is dominated by the National Championship game -- which is of interest to readers -- and the imminent arrival of the Blues' opening day, and last I checked the Blues have a championship more recently than the Cardinals, and it is there week. Toss in the fact that I had the pleasure of getting several days off this holiday and had some chores around the house to take care of ... and gutter guards to install for my father and holiday parties NOT to attend and friends NOT to see on annual trip that I didn't take to Colorado ... but it is true that I took time off. It was delightful.
    And now I'm back. They keyboard is humming. And you'll be asking for less baseball coverage from me before you know it. 
    With no further additions to payroll and limited attendance would the Cardinals suffer financial losses this year? Assuming they would suffer a loss would signing Waino and Yadi help them reduce this loss? Would this come from making the playoffs that would allow them to receive enough to recover their salaries? or is there another way they could generate more revenue having those players on the roster?
    All teams are braced for financial losses again this year. We need to be quite clear here that teams are talking in terms of revenue. Now, that likely means a loss in profits, but that does not mean they lose money, for example. They just have less profits than in previous years. If they're clearing 10 percent in a normal year and they clear 1 percent in the coming year, that's still a profit, it's just 1/10th of the normal. But, yes, all teams expect to lose revenue in the coming year when compared to a normal year -- and that could be because of a number of factors:
    -- Reduced schedule.
    -- Severely limited ticket sales.
    -- TV fees paid per game.
    -- Paying salaries based on pre-pandemic markets.
    Those are the big ones, and it's unlikely to see how teams get to full houses in the opening months of any seasons to get as much revenue as they're used to. The expanded playoffs will help get some of that back. But let's also remember that some of the coming TV rights deals are going to shrivel, too. 
    I think you've said in the past that JT Realmuto's movement/market will set the tone for Yadi's. Are you surprised that he has not signed anywhere yet?

    Also, can you envision the Cards signing a DH-type player even before that decision is made, if only to not get left without a good option later?

    Thanks for your time. Hope you and your loved ones are well
    I am not surprised. Going into this winter, any team official or agent or player that I talked to was clear to send up the notice that it was going to be a long, sluggish winter, and that was going to be true with the top of the market players, too. And check it out. How many have signed? Springer, nope. Realmuto, nope. LeMahieu ... nope.
    The Cardinals are reluctant to commit big dollars to an ideal DH candidate without knowing that he has a place in their lineup. It's more likely they make a move like they did last year for Brad Miller than to bet on the universal DH at this moment and get one of the high-dollar candidates for the role.
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