Helmets on? Seatbelts buckled? I can only imagine the turbulence ahead. The Cardinals' 125th anniversary has come to an end -- and once again there will be a postseason without the team that has made the postseason part of its brand. Changes are ahead. The team, the players, the front office, the ownership, and the fans all want them. Let's do what we can to set the table for the winter ahead. This chat, as ever, will go where it takes it. I've got some water handy, some popcorn nearby, and the iPod just started playing a little "Battle Without Honor Or Humanity" from Kill Bill.
If this chat had a live studio audience, maybe that would be appropriate walk-in music.
Away we go.
Nope. He spoke to us before Sunday's game, and he held court again after the game Sunday. Yadier Molina was there, too. Unless a player has a pressing family reason or a medical reason or he's not on the active roster -- they were all there and a quick head count saw all of them pop out of the dugout for a brief goodbye to the fans as well. Fowler included.
Do the odds really matter? They better be. They need to be. This team is unacceptable. They said so. Hold them to their word.
This is an interesting question, and it's one that I asked of the manager on Sunday -- though in a slightly different way. I asked if Fowler's play in center this year -- a career-worst, by the metrics -- meant a move or if the team was willing to accept his side of the story that he was physically compromised by injury. Here's the likely scenario: Barring a trade for a better center fielder or a trade of Fowler, the Cardinals come to spring training and give him the chance in March to prove that health was what held him back. That's fair. He's earned that with his career and his contract and his status on the team. The Cardinals know what they have in center ahead of him defensively. Pham. Sierra. Bader. O'Neill will get a run there. And so on. They can let give him the stage, so to speak, in March and see where it takes them as a team.
Fowler has a career-best year in 2016 with the Cubs and there are two parts of this that are interesting. One, he credit the "nerds" with helping his positioning. So were the Cubs' numbers better, or the Cubs' understanding of their ballpark better than the Cardinals and what they know about Busch? Perhaps. But here's my bet:
He had Jason Heyward to his left. That meant the most.
I'm chronically skeptical of any "showcasing" notion. Matheny wanted to get Piscotty some positive vibes going into the offseason. He was trying to give him a run to build on and the at-bats to build on. Notice when something good happened he never appeared again, and Grichuk returned.
Oh, they had the opportunity, if they thought of it. They could have sent him into the on-deck circle, had him swing a bat, and then had a pinch-hitter replace him as he walked to the plate. That would have given him the curtain call -- and it would have done it within the parameters of the game without much fuss. Why they didn't? No clue. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest they didn't think of it. Lynn shrugged it off. He said he wanted to win not get "moments." Can't say any of us should be surprised. This was a team that didn't sell a Lynn shirsey until, what?, 2016? He was already the team leader in playoff appearances at that point. He'll get his ovation when he pitches against the Cardinals, no doubt.
Depends entirely on what they can get in return. That's it. That will govern a lot of this offseason. Yes, the Cardinals are prepared to give Piscotty another run of playing time next year and dismiss this year. I asked Mozeliak if this was a "mulligan" year for Piscotty. He didn't like that word choice, but he said the organization was willing to see past it to better years ahead. They have already looked into what they could in return for him at least once this season, so there's every reason to believe they'll do that again for him -- and for anyone else who plays outfield for them.
There is somewhere in the middle of those two extremes that is more likely. You are describing the ends of a bell curve.
How much time do you have? The Cardinals will look the trade an outfielder (or few) and they'll consider trading from their pitching depth. They want to simplify and streamline that roster. There will be ample coverage of the contract issues and the roster concerns in the coming days. And in Sunday's paper there will be a complete breakdown of who is leaving because of contract, who could be, and who won't be. So you can check the status of the players on the 40-man roster that day.
As far as the coaches go: The Cardinals have advertised a rethinking of Mike Matheny's coaching staff all season. They rearranged some assignments during the season and added Pop Warner to the dugout. All of that was interim, the front office said, and they wanted to revisit the makeup and assignments of the staff at season's end. At least a few of the Cardinals coaches have contracts already for 2018. Oliver Marmol and Mike Shildt, the base coaches, are expected back. Derek Lilliquist's contract ends in a month, and he told me he would like to be back. There has been no word on the hitting coaches. As you know, Bill Mueller took a few leaves of absence during the season to return home.I did not get a chance to ask him about his plans, and that's a miss on my part. Matheny said Saturday that he had not yet spoken to his coaches about their hopes or plans, and he expected that to be part of the meetings today.
Not necessarily in that order.
He's about to make more money via arbitration, and the Cardinals see some overlap between him and the other outfielders they have coming. There is also a Matt Adams-like feel to what could happen. Grichuk may never get the playing time with the Cardinals that will allow him to be the best player he can, so might as well try to find the best deal and see if he can get that elsewhere instead of complicating the manager's bench/lineup.
I would, if I had them beyond the obvious Judge, Bellinger rookies and Scherzer Cy and Kluber Cy stuff. I think Black should get a long look as manager of the year and that the voters shouldn't dismiss what Craig Counsell did with a young Milwaukee team that won't produce an MVP candidate while Black's team will have two. I am going to dig into these things later tonight after the chat, after writing for tomorrow's paper, and then I actually have to finalize my NL MVP vote. I cannot share that until the award is announced, by rule.
Carlos Martinez most surprising.
Probably Randal Grichuk at this point. Hard to see how he's back given all the factors. But we'll see.
All of them will get a look. Every last one of them. Alcantara intrigues the Cardinals as a reliever. Hudson has long been advertised as the slider-fastball classic righthander out of the bullpen. Flaherty is more of a fit as a starter -- though a Wainwright-like apprenticeship could be in the works for him. Right now, the way the roster is, he'll be needed as a starter, even if that means he starts in Memphis.
Now to the more serious way you began your question ...
Yes, what happened in Las Vegas is horrific, heartbreaking, tragic -- and all too familiar. Consider that people born in the months after April 20, 1999 are now eligible to vote. That was the day of Columbine -- a word that has been replaced in the years since by Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, San Bernardino, Orlando, and now Las Vegas. Along with prayers, action would be welcome, too.
First Baltimore swoops in and takes Bird Land. Now, the Cubs go and grab -30- from me. What this tells me is that I need a lawyer. Yes, it means the same for the Cubs and for me. -30- is shorthand for "the end." Reporters would put it at the end of their stories so that the copydesk knew when the transmission at reached its end, and in the old days they could rip the copy and get to work. When I started you would put a -30- at the end of the story so that they knew it had not been garbled by the process of sending it through the phone lines -- either by cups fastened to a phone or over the line itself. That let the desk know that the whole story ahead arrived.
I did not get that sense, no. Not on either side. That's subject to change. But the Cardinals are far more likely to turn to Sherriff for that role and bid farewell to Duke.
The Marlins can do whatever Stanton is comfortable with. They can come to him and ask for a list of 10 teams that he'd accept a trade to, or seven, or 12 or 27, and then only focus their talks on those teams. They can go into the market and get a sense of what teams can really make an offer and then when they get that list down to two, three, four that they would accept go to Stanton with those teams names and say, hey, which is the one you want. Sirius XM broadcaster Craig Mish tweeted during the season that the Marlins didn't believe that Stanton would accept a trade to the Cardinals. That did not come directly from Stanton, best I can tell, so I'm not sure if it was a guess or if it was passed along by a middleman who got it from Stanton. I attempted to answer those questions and in talking with people who know Stanton and who know the Marlins was unable to get any indication he has directly said he would not accept a trade to the Cardinals, that he has no interest in St. Louis. That could be coastal-fueled speculation about fly-over opinions.
Pretty low on the list of problems.
I would radically alter how replays are handled and redirect them to their purpose: To get the call right, every call, and not just the silly challenge play nonsense stuff. We have the tech. We can speed up the game. Just put an official in the box with the monitors of the game and have him/her replay and review on the go. Not that hard.