Derrick will be here as soon as he finishes with All-Star interview sessions in Cleveland. Thank you for your patience.
Salutations from Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland ball club and tonight's Home Run Derby. The 90th All-Star Game will played here tomorrow with ... one ... Cardinals representative. The Post-Dispatch outnumbers the Cardinals, and that's going to allow us to load up on coverage about the division race, the reasons why the Cardinals aren't more well-represented here, and so on. Rick Hummel is at the keyboard for the Derby coverage. I'm working on a story about Paul DeJong's place as an All-Star -- and how he got here, and why some statistics adore his game so. But now, before plunging into all of the interviews that I was just able to collect from All-Stars, it's time for you turn the tables and fire questions at me. Let's go.
Yes, the death of a teammate is a tragedy and for you to be flip about it is an atrocious way to start the chat. Consider Albert Pujols. This is the fourth time in his career that he has had a teammate die while active on the roster. Darryl Kile, Luis Valbuena, Josh Hancock, and now Tyler Skaggs. He had also worked with Oscar Taveras in the cages of spring training. It is a terrible thing for anyone to die at that young age and leaves a hole with their team and their loved ones that nothing can fill, not all of the wishes and hopes they had for the future. Nothing.
Not the way they've played. I picked them to win a wild-card and if predictions are worth anything these days I need to hold to it.
There are two schools of thought on this, and you really picked at two of the examples that stand out. There's a thought that a player with elite defense at a premium position can keep himself in the majors and keep himself playing in the majors so that he gets the at-bats to improve. Yadier Molina was this player. He was so important to them behind the plate that he stayed in the lineup, stayed in the lineup, stayed in the lineup and was able to build himself up as a hitter on the job. Colby Rasmus was also advertised as this time of player -- one who had the glove in center to be able to stick there, stay there, contribute there, and learn the hitting on the job. Wong went from good to elite at second base after arriving in the majors, and his return to the minors had as much to do with the struggles of the offense all around him and the playing time he wasn't getting as it did his swing. Grichuk went for ample playing time, but he also had to correct his swing and do that in the minors. Bader's glove is good. Bader has to improve at the plate, for sure, and he's been working to make those adjustments. What has to happen for them to give him the time in the minors to sort that out is this: a) there has to be an alternative to start in center field (is Lane Thomas going to force that issue?) and b) the Cardinals have to side with the less-defense in order to get more from Bader eventually.
I appreciate you coming back and clarifying the statement. It's hard to tell tone in the written word -- it's always in the ear of the beholder. And it's on me for not giving you the benefit of the doubt and applying a tone that you did not mean. Yes, an awful road trip that included the death of a teammate -- and the reckless endangerment of a teammate at the plate. I just have a hard time equating the first part there to having anything to do with the road trip. It was just an awful event. A true tragedy.
Two rings. Four pennants. Nine Gold Glove awards. A future statue. And the track record of returning quickly from injuries, including one that sent him to the hospital a year ago after trauma at the plate. That about covers it. I'm not say that it's right. I'm just saying there is a bit of a track record here and it shouldn't be a surprise that he gets deferential treatment. He has earned some.
I wouldn't say that as an answer. It could start with one of the other starters being worse, or struggling more. Ponce de Leon just has to keep doing what he's doing. He could stay with this level of performane and watch things shift around him and be a starter by the end of the month. He's impressed. The Cardinals have taken note. And it wouldn't be a shock if he's mixed into the rotation within the next two, three turns if the current trends continue.
Carpenter will come off the IL on Friday. He will likely start that game. It is unclear if he'll be a leadoff hitter that game. It's doubtful at this point. Shildt is open to having him return to another spot in the lineup.
He works on it yes. Breaking pitches have been his undoing. He's seeing a lot of them.
It's the years of control that has KC interested in keeping him. Just spoke to Merrifield for awhile here about a story I'm working on. His salary really isn't an imposition on the Royals until later on in the deal he signed. He's owed $1 million this year, and something like $5 million next year. There's even a year coming up in his deal where he has a scaled-back salary. Not sure why the Royals would be a motivated seller, and if they were what direction would they want to go in the rebuilding process?
It starts with the lineup. Getting Paul Goldschmidt to be Paul Goldschmidt and Jack Flaherty to be Jack Flaherty -- both of which are things that were the case in San Francisco -- is a good start.
Quiet? I'm not sure what that means. I'm always unsure how to approach injuries. Should we update the injury every day -- even if nothing has changed? Or, should we write once that he's going to be doing "X" for the next week and trust that is enough of an update on the injury until the week is up. Ozuna has been healing back in St. Louis. He was going to require three weeks to heal the fracture, and there is an element of when he can start working on his grip strength and regaining it and the pain tolerance there. Shildt said that this week -- this current week here -- is important to give them a sense of how he's advancing and setting the timetable for his return. This early in the week, it's too early. And that update would be the same for the next few days here. For the Cardinals, they'll re-evaluate him Friday at the ballpark, and that could be the determination of what tolerance he has and what advancement could be taken that day.
Should be. Hasn't been, when I last checked. We'll see if that changes. He'd be a welcome addition. The type of starter who could help. They could really use a starter who would radically change the rotation.
Absolutely his best years are behind him. That's what aging and injuries do. But that doesn't mean he's not an upgrade or that he can't make a difference -- especially in a short burst without the longterm commitment. In effect, the team that gets him is going to be the team that has the best chance of getting the best from him -- best production, shorter window, no harm if he struggles down the road. This season he's an above average league starter and he's a lefty. He's got welcome experience for what's ahead for a team that wants to contend and be in a pennant race. So, yeah, there's a lot of reason to eyeball him as a target for trade.
Fernando Tatis Jr. Period.
That would fit a recent trend in his career. He has been pushing and pushing and working and working for that to happen. Spoke with him about that for a story that will be in Friday's paper, as Arizona arrives to see him for the first time this season.
It could, for sure. Several players here at the All-Star Game -- including Alex Bregman of Houston -- talked about how they see the game changing. Verlander brought that up. That it's going to cycle into another direction as players adjust and pitching has to adjust and contact maybe takes over. Several players brought up how Houston and Boston won the past two World Series championships, and they were hitting for power, sure, but they were contact and go, create action, create havoc teams. Whiteyball? Well, not quite. But ... as close as we get in the modern game. There are some obvious factors working against Whiteyball. First of all, it would take a really athletic team. And while there probably has never been more athletes seeking out baseball -- skilled, top flight athletes, I mean -- that's still a lot to ask for a game that prioritizes the power, the slugger. And that's the second part of this. Power pays. Contact is nice. And we're seeing analytics value the all-around game more and more. But players are going to chase what gets them paid. That's why relievers wanted to be closers -- saves pay. That's why some players sellout for power -- the chance to hit homers is a better investment in big salaries than a strikeout is costly for a low salary. The market dictates a lot of what the game becomes, and we're in the process of things changing for relievers (Andrew Miller helped that) and some thought Jason Heyward's deal would be a watershed moment for the Defensive Value of a player. Hasn't been. But we're going to see some players who don't have the huge power, who don't have the blinding OPS, but have a well-balanced, even nuanced game that will get paid because of their high WAR, for example, and when that kind of player gets paid, then the game shifts again. I see where you're coming from -- especially in the newness to it -- but I think we're seeing some teams play Whiteyball 2.0 and do well with it.
Rick Hummel and I are both here, yes. If you give me a few moments, I have been trying to pass along some multimedia stuff through the chat.
He's on the list. There are options. Bauer would be the real spark addition, one of the higher-end options. Don't get the same reviews when I ask around about Wheeler.