Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Bring your Cardinals questions and comments, and talk to Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold in a live chat starting at 1 p.m.




    Hello, everybody. And welcome to another in the unlimited series of chats at StlToday.com. It's almost time for the annual summer spectacular, which is a lot like one of those summer superhero movies without all of the action. Just pop culture side glances, Easter eggs, and long dramatic pauses with post-credit vignettes. It has been an interesting week for the Cardinals -- capped off by Sunday's game, which featured 105-mph heat from Jordan Hicks and the strongest start of the season thus far, hands down, by any Cardinals starter. I'm positioned at Busch Stadium and it's six hours before first pitch and there's Matt Carpenter running and Carson Kelly playing catch. You've got questions. I've got time. You can be the judge if I have answers, too. Away we go ...
    Jack Flaherty was a monster yesterday. Is he done with Memphis?
    Jack Flaherty has nothing left to prove in the minors -- and that was true before he went out and struck out 13 and dominated a game the Cardinals had to have for the bullpen, for the standings, for all of it. If the Cardinals find a reason for him to return to Class AAA it should only be because they've found a better starter for their five (good luck), they need to manage his innings through transactions (reasonable), or they're going to trade him in some blockbuster. That last one doesn't seem all that wise. Flaherty has an important role to play if the Cardinals intend to contend this year.
    DG, you're the man. I could always google this question but you always explain things better; why the 60 day dl with Wainwright?
    The 60-day DL is used to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for a player. It can only be used when the 40-man roster is full -- which it still is for the Cardinals. To get Steve Baron on the active roster, the Cardinals needed a spot and the only way to do that without passing a player through waivers or trading them (as they did with Lucas and Valera) is to put a player on the 60-day DL. The Cardinals have another decision looming in the coming 10-14 days when they need to move Alex Reyes off the 60-day DL and onto the 40-man roster.
    Seems like O'Neill or Bader will get dealt this season for some kind of help at the deadline, right? Both should be starting regularly somewhere...
    I don't think that's a given, no. There is no such thing as too much talent on a big-league roster. And if they're a part of a deal then it's not because the Cardinals are being charitable, it's because the other team wants them -- and the Cardinals have to meet that price to get a deal they want.
    I know the Cardinals front office is averse to being reactionary, but does Dejong's injury add any extra incentive for the team to look into acquiring Machado?
    Not that I can tell. The Cardinals are -- as you put well -- averse to losing leverage. They don't want to be viewed in the marketplace as a desperate team, or a team in need. Look back a few years when Yadier Molina got injured on the day before the trade deadline and all of a sudden the Cardinals are out searching for a catcher and teams, including the Cubs, were like we got one -- but boy oh boy oh boy oh boy are you going to have to pay for that trade. The Cardinals said no. Got lucky with Molina's return. And off they went. That's the extreme example because any deal for Machado is going to pinch, and they're going to want to at least position themselves for traction, not desperation.
    Looks like the batting coaches did a good job w Carp. You agree?
  • It's fair to point that. Matt Carpenter also did a good job with Matt Carpenter. I'm going to usually side with the player here, as longtime chatters know, because it is the batter at the plate. Hitting coaches can help prepare and framing thinking -- but they don't get to swing.
  • Wong is clearly a superlative defender at second base. But how much bad offense can the team stomach from him and still keep him in the lineup (currently a 65 wRC+)?
  • Depends entirely on what the rest of the lineup is producing. It's always a sliding scale, and it's one that a manager/front office must take into account throughout the season. You'll recall that Tony La Russa once said that Yadier Molina could go a whole season without a hit and still play catcher because of the impact he had on a game. Well, that was easy to say with a lineup that featured Edmonds, Rolen, Pujols, Sanders, and Larry Walker. Talk about production. The sliding scale made it possible to carry a glove-first catcher. Just as some teams have a productive center fielder so they can carry a less-than-average bat in RF or elsewhere. It's all about aggregate production at that point, and if the Cardinals are getting DeJong-like production from shortstop, stomaching a glove-first second baseman is possible. If one starts to slip, then the other loses playing time, too.
  • When Reyes comes back is he a starter or reliever? I know in today's paper it stated he might start a game next week.
  • Yes. He's both. The Cardinals aren't going to have spent all this time building up his pitch count, extending him for innings, and then not use him as a starter -- when there are openings in the rotation. But over the course of this season he'll likely see time as a starter and as a reliever. The Cardinals will use a term like "hybrid" and you're going to see games where he starts and one of the other young starters relieves him, or you're going to see games where one of the other starters goes three, four, five innings, and Reyes handles the rest as a reliever. That's how the Cardinals are going to work this. The goal is to get him to that 100 inning-ish area so that next year, as a starter starter starter, he isn't pressed to double or add 60 percent to his workload.
  • Do the cardinals starting pitchers, including Reyes, have an innings limit for the year? What will Reyes innings/pitch count limit be per game?
  • Flaherty and Weaver are both under an umbrella for innings management, and it is entirely possible they will see breaks built into the season like Michael Wacha did in recent years. Reyes will be in that 100-range as previously mentioned, and they won't be turning to him for 120-pitch outings. That's not in the plan. But the Cardinals don't just track raw pitch totals or ran innings, they also look at "Stress" innings -- which are those that have high, single-inning pitch counts. Remember, the Cardinals still operate with some pitchers under the rule that if they get to 40 pitches or near it in a game, that pitcher is out. No questions. Just out. And it would not be a shock if that rule is in play for Reyes.
  • Wong has a track record of playing better when he plays regularly. Matheny has a track record of taking Wong out of the lineup if he starts to struggle. It seems like the optimal solution requires the front office to make a move. Have you talked with either the GM or POBO about this dilemma? thanks
  • I have so so so so so so so so so so many times through Wong's career here. Heck, it was discussed the day he signed his extension and thus the team was committing to him financially -- so I wondered if they could do the same with playing time. He's a momentum player, no doubt. The more he plays the better he plays, and he builds to that playing better by getting regular starts. They're not going to reconcile these two things -- not with comments, not with answers to questions, not even with statements or non-statements. It's going to be with action. Wong's glove has a place in the lineup everyday, and he can contribute offensively -- when there are others carrying the team. He's likely to always take the hit when the team's not hitting. So, he's worked to change his approach and not be so reliant on regular starts, and he hopes that then has the benefit of giving him starts. He's trying to find a way into the taffy pull you've described, because in the end the answer really is probably his to give: he can produce in this situation or he'll need to go to another team and try.
  • Derrick, with Reyes coming back at the end of this month the bullpen is going to get a little crowded. Would trading Holland help alleviate this? What could we realistically get for him? If not for Holland we could have won 3 out of 4 this weekend. It’s not until the end of the season and you’ve finished 3 games out of a playoff spot that you look back and with you had these games back. They might not seem important now…. but wait.
  • I cannot see another team rushing to make a deal for Holland at this point, not without the Cardinals eating a huge lump of his salary and getting little in return. It wasn't like the market for Holland was buzzing through spring training. He did sign on opening day. Granted, he was attached to a draft pick back then and isn't now, but his performance also isn't a secret and his search for consistency isn't a secret and what kind of team would be itching to take that on? The Tampa Bay Rays? Thinking he might one of their "openers"? I just don't see how this alleviates anything for the Cardinals, and if they're willing to eat the salary at this point and not find a way for him to work -- yikes. That's telling.
  • During the various STL PD chats I have been VERY vocal about the lack of production from Carpenter this season but the past 5 games he has looked different at the plate and the stats back it up: 10/20 with 2 walks and 3 RBI. He has raised his average from .140 to .194 and seems to be on track. Have you noticed the difference and has he mentioned whats clicking for him right now?
  • It's hard not to notice the difference. I went up to him in Minnesota this past week and suggested to him that I've seen him play a lot of baseball -- and those swings during the day game were as close to vintage Carpenter as I've seen this season, maybe in more than a season. He was connecting and driving -- an aggressor at the plate, not a jeweler. His timing has been off for much of the season -- and you could see that with his swings that produced foul balls, some of them hard hit, but fruitless as they bent or rocketed foul. Trying to find that timing led to othre changes in his swing and choices about what pitches he would take and what pitches he would drive -- and then he found himself taking all the time. The strikeouts mounted, and he was often behind in the count. He gave control of the at-bat over the pitcher over and over and over again. That's changed as well. He looks more himself.
  • Carpenter spoke about some of those changes here: 

    Messages received: Carpenter, Fowler 'click' in Cardinals' win

    stltoday.comBoth reach base at least twice for the first time since April 17.
  • How reliable is the radar gun? Does MLB hav4 quality control there, or, could someone looking to create a buzz calibrate it generously? 105 was out of the blue, but so was Bob Beamon's long jump in 1968...
  • I think it's important to note that, yes, the 105 mph showed up at the stadium and thus people suggest well it came from the "radar gun." Maybe. But that notion is as old as a screwball, really. Teams now use hyper-sensitive radars that are stationed up and above behind home plate. You can see them at Busch Stadium. The same radar giving you the data on exit velocity -- which no one seems to question and everyone seems to celebrate -- is the same radar that read 105.1 mph for Hicks' pitch yesterday -- and yet everyone seems to want to question that or claim a hot gun. Major League Baseball has ballparks outfitted with all of these scanners and trackers so that they can provide teams/networks with data like route effeciency, exit velo, launch angle, spin, and so much other stuff. Yes, this data is standardized for one big, huge, enormous reasons.
     
    TEAMS ARE MAKING PERSONNEL DECISIONS BASED ON THIS DATA.
     
    We're no longer talking about a scout with a hot gun or a ballpark that dials up the data to thrill the home crowd. No. You'll find that in the minors, and you might find dats like that when the tech is off or needs to be recalibrated, and then it is because this information is guiding decisions and decisions are worth a lot of money. This is why I was careful to point out that Hicks' 105.1-mph sinker was identified by Statcast. It's not the "radar gun," it's not the scout or scoreboard, it's the best tech at the park.
  • I respectfully disagree with your opening comment about "if the Cardinals are going to contend in 2018." They're clearly not tanking, but let's offer a little clear-eyed skepticism. They more focused on building for 2019 and 2020 around a strong rotation, and 2018 -- not so much.
  • Then they are wasting a lot of our time and they are false advertising to fans when they say they intend to to win this season, and you should be peeved. Why stand for that?
  • Mr. Goold, Big night tonight with Jon jay coming back home. Are you going to wear your Jay jersey at the game tonight, or is that against the team rules for media members?
  • The only jersey I own is a Robin Ventura jersey given to me as a gift by a dear friend. That's it. Believe it or not, I had forgotten Jon Jay was going to be here at the ballpark today, and just after Pat Neshek was here. What a week! Too bad you won't be able to enjoy it, stuck like you are in the past.
  • How long are the Cards going to put up with Martinez's defense at 1B? I know he's working with Oquendo but it's not getting better.
  • As long as his bat plays. He produces like a first baseman, he plays first base.
    What is the likelihood the Cards are heading towards a Leake-like move of Dexter Fowler?
  • It’s not imminent. It will be the play of the Bader, O’Neill, and a few others that force that issue. Fowler has a place here, as Ozuna struggles and a Pham replacement should he get injured. This team, this year is still better with Fowler’s best. The answer may not be the same as the team looks to 2019.
    Do you think if Cards make any moves at trade deadline it would be for bullpen help over another bat?
  • At this point it’s almost impossible to forecast. It’s easy to see how a bat would fit into this lineup — and less easy to see how another reliever would without just forcing more unnecessary movement. To me, the bullpen has depth and velocity and ability and there’s no reason for it not to be a strength. Use and injury and execution are all that would hold it back. The lineup has struggled. A boost there makes sense. That’s also the harder deal to pull off. Relievers are widely available. And one or two injuries changes the entire thing.
    Thanks as always for your efforts with these chats, DG. How much emphasis do you think this front office, manager, etc. put on having as close to possible of a balance between LH and RH bats for position players? Obviously, this team leans heavy to the right.
    Ideally, they would have more balance. But they cannot be ideal at this point. They really have few lefthanded-hitting outfielders in the minors, too, and they really don’t have a lefthanded-hitting Bench bat other than Garcia that’s MLB-ready. It’s a hole. But, the point the team will rightly Make, is that they’ll take the better lineup over a balanced lineup every day.

    About to do the hit with MLB Network. Tune in now.

    Nice job on MLB DG. Great reporting-and you look pretty sharp for an old guy!
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