Greetings from Crux Coffee. It's an off day here for the players, but that means it's an on day for the writers. Ben Frederickson is cranking out blogs for StlToday.com. Rick Hummel is thundering away on season preview work for a special section that will advance the 2018 baseball season. That means you're stuck with me for the weekly Cardinals chat. Lance Lynn is a Twin. Mike Moustakas is a Royal. So is Jon Jay. That's a hat trick of chat favorites. I imagine you have questions. Let's get going here a little early, so I can offer some answers -- and then finish up a feature tomorrow about a player who isn't anything like the impression he's given Major League Baseball. Away we go.
Don't know yet. He is set to DH on Tuesday. Play the field? Well, that's got to be on the horizon. But until he does these things, it's not clear at all when/how much he'll be available. He has the time to be ready for opening day. That's for sure. The calendar is still friendly.
Not much. Delvin Perez doesn't turn 20 until November. He'll spend this entire season as a teenager, and is widely viewed as several years away from the majors. And, besides, Paul DeJong can be the Cardinals third baseman if there's a better shortstop for them. There's room on the infield for two players who can play shortstop. No such thing as too much talent.
Nope. Greg Holland's performance in 2017 has not changed with Lynn's signing.
Huh? This is widely reported. The Cardinals offered Lynn a one-year, $17.4 million deal. He turned it down to become a free agent. This was reported at the time. This has been known all winter. And this is true today.
Absolutely, the Cardinals valued that draft pick and the financial purse room that such a pick could bring to draft strategy. Just as valuable to the Cardinals is roster churn. This is something that John Mozeliak has talked about -- and it's something they've often done. Take a look around. Matt Holliday. Kyle Lohse. Jason Motte. All recent players who saw their contracts come to an end and did not get a sniff from the Cardinals for a variety of reasons -- mostly because Mozeliak wants roster churn and uses the expiration of contracts as a natural reason to make a chance. Look, the Cardinals of 2018 don't want to be the Cardinals of 2017 and there are some natural roster moves that were going to happen to make sure that doesn't take place. Lynn one. They also allowed Rosenthal to go. And so on. They made trades of Grichuk, Diaz, and Piscotty. All forced changes upon a roster that finished third in the division. One point made by the Cardinals quietly is that they've seen a rotation with Lance Lynn in it, and they want a different team.
There has not been and likely never will be with Bill DeWitt III as president.
John Mozeliak recently described him as the team's No. 3 starter. Says a lot.
I have to imagine there are going to be very few lucky outings this spring or this season against the Houston Astros. That lineup is the best I've seen. That team is the best I've seen. They are better than last year's team -- and last year's team was the best we saw down in this neck of the Grapefruit League. Mikolas had to be good to get through that lineup. Not lucky. Now, to do that he took some sage advice from Maddux and put that into action. He threw everything hard -- not trying to place or create snazzy movement -- and he threw inside. These were two things that Maddux challenged him on, and he responded. That's a twofold lesson. One he got some real positive feedback on his sinker and his hard split-change and how they play off each other at this level, and two he learned that Maddux has his back, confidence in him, and direction to give him. That bodes well for where they can in the coming starts. What we all saw with Mikolas in that game was the stuff to get outs and the execution to follow the game plan. Scouts say if you see it once, it's there. Consistency has to follow.
He's in the conversation. Right now, it's clear that Harrison Bader has the edge and hasn't done anything to lose it. If Munoz hit lefthanded he would be on the roster. If Adolis Garcia or Bader hit lefthanded they would be on the roster. That is what brings Breyvic Valera into the mix. As a switch hitter he can play the infield and handle the outfield, and that mix works for the last spot on the bench. Munoz's ability to play shortstop and center and the bat that he's shown so far is what gets him on the heels of Bader. Here's how this is likely to work: Don't overstate the importance of being on the opening day roster. There's going to be a rotation going. Bader might be up on the bench for awhile and then down to Class AAA to get playing time with O'Neill bouncing up for a week or so, and then going down so that Munoz comes up and so on. The Cardinals, in the word of an executive, might "wear out the I-55 corridor" this season. And that bench spot is one reason why.
More baseballs in play would make for a better game, yes.
One year. What a weird year. I was just looking up that stuff. Homer Bailey will make $21 million this season. He is still in a six-year, $105-million extension that baseball agreed was an outline of what Lance Lynn could command as a contract, or close to it. Jordan Zimmermann signed a five-year, $110-million contract, and look at what he's done -- or, better yet, how similar he was to Lynn when they reached free agency. Fascinating times. I'm not sure anyone would have suggested that Tyler Chatwood and Miles Mikolas would get larger guarantees than Lynn this offseason.
Collusion is a charged word, and it's entirely possible that it's happening without there being coordination. I think you could make the case -- heck, I would make the case -- that collusion is happening because of math and trends. Teams are always using the same formulas (or similar 'algorithms') to determine player value and player salaries, and if everyone sees the product the same then they are effectively controlling the market prices. There's not outlier, no gambler, no one to tug the market north. They're all just Watson making deals. Put 30 Watsons in the room and you're going to get a lot of trouble making deals. The other thing is that the union has been very forthright with it's comments about tanking and how having 10 teams not trying skews the market. How so? You ask. Well, consider that there were teams out there that could get a four- or five-win bump from signing Lynn, Cobb, etc. Well, the difference between 72 and 77 wins used to matter, but not so in the tanking time, not when teams would rather win 72 -- or even less! -- and not get stuck in the middle. The middle is the worst place to be.
Trick question. Both involve Kashmir at high decibels.
20/80 at this point. There is a spot open in the bullpen at this point, and there might be two depending on Luke Gregerson clearing this oblique concern. He's at the White House today, so maybe he should just be careful when getting that handshake from the president. Trump can be ... vigorous on the oblique. Ask Macron.
I cannot entirely, except for the fact that they are different ages and sought different things from this current contract. Arrieta clearly wanted to max his AAV (annual average value) and did so at $25 million, and Lynn wanted to go short-term, winning situation, favorable division, and a chance to prove that a year from now he's in line for the better contract after this pillow year. Look, Arrieta was going to sign a larger deal than Lynn, but the term is something to keep in mind and it's clear that the players, at their spot in their career, wanted different things. Lynn won't be getting a QO next year, so that's one hurdle out of the way.
Interesting question. Maybe when you look the Arrieta deal. Will be interesting to watch who is better over the next three years and how that plays out considering Arrieta's deal is over after three and Darvish's goes on and on. It's entirely possible that there will be a playoff series in the coming three years between these two teams and watch that Darvish/Arrieta matchup break Twitter.
That's why we have the chat, right? All good.