Greetings from the press box at Roger Dean Stadium, where we'll start today's chat. It's unlikely that the chat will finish there. A lot of moving around the ballpark and reporting ahead, and you're welcome to come along for the usual array of multi-media fun that the spring chat allows. Thanks for finding me a few days later than usual. Monday's split-squad complicated the usual schedule, and so we went to Wednesday. Hope this works for everyone. Let's get to the questions.
So, here's the situation with Molina. There is actually a mutual option on his deal, so it does't matter if the Cardinals pick it up or not. He has to agree as well. If he says no, he becomes a free agent. That's the reason why an extension is more likely. It works for both sides -- and it gives Molina a reason not to walk at the end of the season. That catch hasn't changed: He's going to want playing time. Carson Kelly exists. How the Cardinals reconcile these two things to his liking is just as important as the salary. It's pretty clear right now the framework financially for a deal. The length is one question. The playing time Molina will want and role he'll want assured is another. Kelly is the top catching prospect in the majors, and still there is a sentiment from some folks with other teams that he's not ready to be full-time, and that he may never be as productive offensively as Molina is even now. This is a tough one for the Cardinals, who it cannot be mentioned enough -- have said they want to keep iconic players, have talked about keeping iconic players, but have yet to keep one of these iconic players to the end of his career except Chris Carpenter.
This is really the first spring that you're seeing the international effort arrive in the major-league camp. Alvarez, the second baseman, has an impressive bat, but is still a work in progress in the field. Lots of big interesting arms, headlined by Sandy Alcantara. I'm bullish on Jack Flaherty, others are high high on Jake Woodford. Both are in camp. Edmundo Sosa hasn't gotten a lot of time in games but he's a solid player, and there will be more time to see him when minor-league camp opens. The player who has really shined so far is Mags Sierra. He had a tremendous game in Atlanta and he's swinging better -- different. It no longer looks like the bat is swinging him. It's a strong system, but it doesn't have that surefire impact position player. Still. Delvin Perez is the closest the Cardinals have. There are other possibilities. Sierra perhaps. Arozarena intrigues. Machado is another candidate. The latter two aren't yet in camp. If the Cardinals get strides forward from Gomber, Alcantara (who could see the majors this season w/ a strong Class AA turn), Perez, Hicks, DeJong and a few others then you're talking about a top five or six organization, up from No. 12, where they rank now. They're probably in that 8-12 range, honestly.
First, the default is that the media is to blame -- either for bringing up the question or for misunderstanding the answer. Whatever. Those are pretty pat responses these days, and not just at the ballpark. You get used to it. Second, Kolten was being honest and please don't misread his answers. Wong said he asked doctors if he would need surgery, and the answer he got was, quote unquote, "Not yet." He was curious. He got an answer.
We were curious, and we sought answers.
The takeaway from that conversation with Wong was that the shoulder trouble dated back to Wrigley, when he played in the outfield. That was obvious a memorable day -- and curious decision for the Cardinals. They were aching for improved defense, and then put their best defensive infielder in the outfield. We did not understand why they would do that without giving him BP and on a rainy day. So, the fact that the injury dated back to then was newsworthy. He did have it addressed this offseason, and he was being cautious coming into camp. So, the recap: Communication is fine, just different levels of candidness. On the same page. Kolten is fine. He just wants to play. No, he's not beat down. Mozeliak is high on Wong. Still. Always. Gyorko was always an option as a righthanded hitting complement at second base. He cannot play second and third in the same game.
You should follow it through StlToday.com, too. That's a good place to get such information. And no, they do not. Cardinals are always first-base line whether they are home or away at Roger Dean Stadium.
They did not, not as far back as January. They were scouting him at that time, and they were able to move toward a deal in the past two, three weeks. The Cardinals made it final a little bit ago with scout Matt Slater there in the Dominican to meet with Garcia, his wife, and his representative. He was not the outfielder the Cardinals talked about adding coming into spring. They were looking for a depth move, a competition move, and that has been answered internally really with the arrival of Schafer and the look of Martinez.
As it should be. The Cardinals don't have the prospects now to make that deal. If they're in it, they're in it because the White Sox would entertain Carson Kelly being a part of the conversation, and they would like to have the Cardinals as a team they can make other teams think they're chasing.
Yes. They can drag this out. It's easy. It's happened before. Teams are waiting, too.
He's got real life in his bat. Won a batting title at Class AAA. Gives the Cardinals a jolt against fastball, late-inning relievers. He's got a place if he can continue this in spring and prove proficient at first.
He is defensively ready to play center field in the majors right now according to some scouts I've talked with. The bat has had to develop, and you can see how that's happening. Eager to see where he's headed. If Adolis Garcia is the starter at Class AA Springfield to start the year, that puts Sierra as the priority center fielder in High-A Palm Beach. What you don't want to see happen is Sierra regress offensively because the Florida State League swallows hitters whole. There is a chance that at some point this season the Cardinals have the following center fielders at their top three affiliates: Garcia, Arozarena, Sierra. And then down below would be Machado. That's four international signees, and three Cubans.
Sierra is a left-left center fielder with speed, and that is going to get him to majors around 2019 and his glove will keep him in the lineup long enough for his bat to develop, if it does. And if it does, he'll be a starter. He's that No. 8 hitter to start, and if that takes and could ascend as a leadoff type.
Been thinking about this, and he'd likely be in the Top 10. Maybe 10th. Right in that Hudson range.
Shrinking with every passing minute. It's really unclear. I spoke to a few people who are familiar with this process and have a pulse for such things and they confessed that Major League Baseball can be difficult to predict with its timing.
At this point, more than they have to offer.
Sure has that feel today. After saying there wasn't any interest in starting Michael Wacha on short rest this week, it's now possible that the Cardinals will go with him on short rest for his next start and have Trevor Rosenthal as his followup. Matheny repeated today that the Cardinals are thinking about "shortening and then expanding" Rosenthal. Best I can tell is that means he'll have another outing of 40 pitches or less, and then, if it goes well, add to that and maybe leap to 60 pitches. He's really going to have to wow to score a spring training, as not much as changed about his or Wacha's situation: The Cardinals want Rosenthal as that flex, high-leverage reliever, and the team thinks Wacha is the better fit as starter, for now.
Manny Machado would be the position player. Clayton Kershaw would still be the pitcher, probably. I could be tempted to choose Noah Syndergaard.
It was not the first time that Wainwright had been that candid. I spoke to him and Carpenter before the opening of camp and they talked about what was amiss with last year's team. Wainwright said "not everyone was on the same page." And it was Carpenter that agreed when I asked if he saw the start of the troubles back in spring training -- when, look, it was just an odd, off camp. As we wrote about at the time. I absolutely thought that it carried onto the field -- and, more to the point, the field carried into the clubhouse. Winning cures all. Losing underscores all. The Cardinals -- many of the long time, established Cardinals -- did not recognize the team last year. It's ragged play. It's feel around the clubhouse. It's style of winning. How it felt after losing. And that manifested frustration on all sides. An unrecognizable team was not comfortable, and it certainly wasn't successful. What was really happening was this transition throughout the clubhouse, as younger players became more prominent, new players like Mike Leake tried to find their way or whether they would fit in at all, and older players were asked to set a tone. It felt ... unsettled, like their play. One became a manifest of the other.
Haven't seen him. Isringhausen is. Hochman is.
Unsure. Schafer plays a part in that decision.
I'd like to see my family, yes. That is true. The games are welcome for now.
Why would the Cardinals do that? Also, Peralta has some no-trade protection.