Salutations, from Busch Stadium. The Cardinals open a home series against Milwaukee, and they're coming off a noncommittal April. They've won 12, lost 12, and arrive at Game No. 25 only a game back of the defending World Series champions. As Rick Hummel pointed out deftly in the paper this morning, the team started 3-9 and ended the month 9-3 to get to 12-12. Seems about right. Last week's chat offered myriad of topics -- and some welcome challenges and new ways to think of things. High bar. With the team in town and reporting to do, this will be a multi-media chat. So keep those questions coming, even if there's a lull in the responses because we have all afternoon. Away we go.
From earlier in the week: Luke Weaver (lower back) has been throwing in Florida and is expected to rejoin Class AAA Memphis imminently. Marco Gonzales (elbow) is expected to follow him to Memphis in the near future -- early this month -- on a rehab assignment. He's been throwing well, building strength. John Gant (groin) had some progress this past week and John Mozeliak said the team intends to "start pushing" him this week to get him into and through a more robust throwing program.
He's like any of his teammates, really. Most of them. Rare is the player who can go and force the issue on the bases -- like a Hamilton, for example . Now it's all based on opportunity and when a pitcher gets lax defending against the run. They're all more opportunity runners than true base-stealers.
Let's fill the hopper. I'll give you a moment. Going to do a quick hit on MLB Network --- while answering your questions.
That may just be a contrarian position for the chat, on Twitter, or in the message boards. It's difficult to know how contrarian that is for the Cardinals fans, writ large. That said, what you see is the outgrowth of necessity, and that has driven a lot of decisions that work out well. Gyorko is starting so much because Peralta isn't an option. Now, Gyorko has made the most of it -- and even Peralta expects to return to a situation different from the one he left. Garcia, Adams, you're starting to see them used in roles that maximize their matchups and their appearances, while not leaning on them every day or losing them as effective hitters late. This something we've seen in seasons past, particularly with the bullpen. Matheny is responsive to performance when pushed. That's not unusual. Many managers respond to the same forces, and sometimes require a lack of access to one familiar name-recognition player (injury, performance, trade) to rely on another that takes off.
Fine. It is clear that the veterans who saw last year's team idle and, in some corners, sour made a dedicated effort to set a different tone this year. You can look around the room for evidence of that, and it's not just Fowler's arrival. Sure, he helps. So too does Mike Leake feeling more comfortable, and Gyorko having another year and a larger role and Wong and Grichuk knowing there's a commitment to them that doesn't mean the next oh-for-four is a ticket to Memphis and so on ...
Who is injured, and what is the need?
They have considered when this year that it would make sense to bring up Bader, yes. That has usually been based on health and production for the players above him on the depth chart, and that would mean a September promotion. There's no need to just add him to the 40-man roster for kicks at this point.
There is honestly no way of knowing. I could guess -- but it would be wrong because such moves are usually based on injury. If you're asking who is pitching and playing well? Well, Pham, DeJong, and Bader have done nothing but position themselves for a promotion if there's a need at their position. DeJong has really stood out, and that was before he slugged two homers on Sunday. Pitching wise ... well ... The Cardinals are going to need some health because they're thin on depth, right now. A dip into the Class AA rotation is possible if there's an immediate need.
Guess not. Mistake not to protect him, especially given the recent removal from the 40-man of Anthony Garcia. Seems like that spot could have been used better to give it away so quickly.
Increasing prominence for Trevor Rosenthal and building the bullpen around him, his availability.
This is a Mark McGwire question, of course, and it's a fair one. I would point out that the fans voted him into the Cardinals' Hall of Fame. The fans had the say here. I continue to be perplexed why there isn't more support for Ray Lankford. But, there it is. The fans had their say, and McGwire is in. So, yes, apparently, if you have the acclimation of the fans when it comes time for your candidacy into the Hall of Fame then you get to go into the Hall.
Having spent the past few Januaries defending my Hall of Fame ballot and hearing all about the argument that fans should make the choice, here was your chance, your call, and you did.
No chance. It's harder than ever to hit for the reasons you mentioned.
Luis Robert wouldn't vault from negotiations into the major-league lineup. That's not the kind of player he is right now, not the kind of player teams think he is right now. He's a first-round draft pick, and would be positioned in the minor leagues accordingly. I've heard comps to Soler. There has been a few arguments that he reminds people of Puig. I'm always hesitant to make comps -- let's never forget the Derek Jeter/Tommy Pham quotes from officials that unfairly hung in the air because they happened to play the same position, once -- and especially hesitant when the only comps you hear share the same ethnicity. FanGraphs had an interesting comp: Alex Gordon. Here's what is clear: Whatever team signs him will quickly have a new No. 1 or No. 2 prospect, and Robert would immediately be a top 20 prospect for all of baseball. Perhaps even higher.
Yep. Same topics. Different day. I doubt GAC is the reason, or a measurable stat.
Wild card contender, in part because it's not like the teams around them have really done all that well, and if anything they're in a better spot than the mess that's the Mets and the scuffling Giants.
He should. And look at the return. This is a litmus test, I think, for the season. Wong has tried to find many ways to contribute -- and often done so -- but not without a few hiccups. Right now, he's playing through those hiccups and look at what is building. That's what he has always said, and what other evaluators have often described about him: he's a momentum player. He gets better as he plays more, and we're seeing that.
Completely agree. He's an asset that could be utilized for this bullpen, and it's not like there isn't room for an effective reliever to be utilized. The dust gathering on his arm is detrimental in many ways for this team. Use him. Don't find a role for him that, by definition, will never be used.
It doesn't change it at all. That acrimony you describe doesn't exist. They know the game.