Salutations and welcome to another Cardinals chat to be named later here on StlToday.com. After a few weeks away from the chat, I'm back. Thanks to the best colleagues in baseball, Rick Hummel and Ben Frederickson, who stepped in and fielded questions for me while I traveled around the east coast, first to Washington, then to New York, and then a quick side trip to Boston to see the wife run in the Boston marathon. Speaking of marathons. Enough prelude. Let's chat.
At last check, they very much hope to -- and in part, yes, that's because it's a recruiting opportunity, too. Just like any free agent. Robert's people are now in the process of organizing and scheduling those. There is time because according to MLB.com, Robert cannot sign a deal until next month. The real push will be coming at that time, and even in the week after it. The Cardinals see Robert as a rare player available at a rare time for them. Rare player in talent, and a rare time because they feel they are better suited to win a bidding war for him because to the big-spenders are limited. They've already had at least two meetings with him -- one informal chat there in the Dominican Republic, of note -- and they have not hid their eagerness to bid from Robert's reps.
Quite true. Some of the things that the Cardinals did against Milwaukee cost them against the Yankees and Nationals for one big reason -- those teams are better than the Brewers, right now. Better teams don't let such mistakes pass. Better teams don't give more baserunners to make up for the ones picked off the base. Better teams would have taken three of four from a Cardinals team that played like that. This team is playing, at times, a lot like last year's team. Not worse. But just as ragged. That has to improve, or they'll finish like they did last year -- or with a lesser record because power would be there to float them.
This appears to have been solved with a conversation, not a transaction.
There are at least three reasons why this perception holds some truth. 1) The scattering of off days this early in the season has given Matheny the chance to use them as two-day breaks for Molina, and he's already utilized that a few times. 2) Leake and Fryer have been linked, so that gives Fryer an edge when it comes to get a start every fifth or 10 game. 3) Trust. The pitching staff genuinely trusts Fryer, and the manager genuinely likes Fryer's game, and all of those reasons lead to starts.
Absolutely. Wisdom is a different hitter. The Cardinals had pretty much moved on from him as a prospect, and then spring happened. He showed a different success, a different look. Heck, it was Mike Matheny said he looked like a completely "different player." He's on the radar as a result.
Could be even sooner than this offseason. As mentioned in this chat and in our coverage -- are we doing this? is this a thing? -- third base is in flux for the Cardinals. The third baseman to open the season wasn't expected to be the third baseman come June and it could be a different third baseman come August. And so on. That is the position where they will look for the bat that blasts.
It each case, a driving part of the decision would be the replacement. The Cardinals aren't going to open a roster spot for the sake of opening it and just putting a pulse there. But if there is a better option then they make the move you're talking about. They have shown a willingness to walk away from pricier contracts than either of them have, and the one-year deal isn't difficult swallow.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might not even be the best Guardians of the Galaxy movie of this year. Thor 3 probably will be.
The question you ask about Tyler Lyons is good. I wondered the same thing. Lyons is, in reality, the Cardinals' sixth starter right now and keeping him viable as a starter if one of the pitchers in the rotation needs a break or something worse happens, is tricky to do on the job in the majors -- and impossible to do if you're just waiting for a long relief appearance to emerge from the fog. Before long, Lyons will find himself in that Carlos Villanueva role, and while Villanueva was able to figure it out because of his experience, it's a contradiction for Lyons. Why would the Cardinals make such a big deal about the lefty needing innings to get a feel for his breaking pitches and then let him gather rust on said breaking pitches and expect him to keep that feel for a long relief job that may never arrive. The worst role in the bullpen to have is the Emergency Reliever role -- the one whose very use signifies a team is out of the game and just trying to salvage innings. It's a White Flag Role, and that's rarely used because of the message. Better for Lyons to still be on his rehab assignment -- or a middle reliever, lefty specialist, than to wait and wait and wait for innings that may never come. He's too valuable as a backup starter to gather dust.
After about another month or so of proving his durability and his healthy over a stretch of starts, the Cardinals and Lynn's reps will enter into discussions about an extension. They'll see if there's a mutually beneficial landing point, and maybe look at a deal around the All-Star break. The Cardinals may have to get into that Jordan Zimmerman range if Lynn is pitching well, and yes that's more than $100 million -- so the largest pitching contract the Cardinals will have ever done, if finalized. Lynn would welcome a crack at free agency, but if the Cardinals want to head him off before he reaches market with an offer that he could command in market, he'll listen. Those talks are on the horizon.
Seven games ago, your list was probably longer. Seven games from now, it will likely be different.
Depends on the sportcoat I'm wearing.
Moncada, the top prospect who changed the color of his Sox this past winter, received a little more than $30 million, and the Red Sox spent double on his bonus because of the tax penalty. The Cardinals and Padres would be in the same situation, while the Chicago White Sox are under the cap right now but would pay dollar-for-dollar on most of the bonus. So, a $30-million bonus is really a $60-million cost for the Cardinals. Before Robert became a free agent, the way it was described to me was likely being a $50-million+ expense. That's a deal greater than $25 million. Now, the expectations vary wildly once the real bidders emerge. Remember, the pundits/sources had Aledmys Diaz pegged as a $20-$25m player, and he signed for $8 million, and just as often a player has been pegged low and the cost grows because of the team's involved.
Either way, yes, the Cardinals have the money to get Robert and sign an extension for Lynn or go out and get another free agent. They have money. The TV deals kicks in next year, and they've already spent with it in mind. They are in a good spot to do what they want to do financially.
That is an entirely fair argument to make. Siegrist has been pushed and pushed, and we've seen him deal with some use-related injuries in recent years. As Seth Maness 2.0, Bowman is in the same territory yes. Quietly, Oh is also in that position.
They would do it because they know him, like his fit in the rotation, and know how valuable KNOWN QUANTITY INNINGS are. Yes, there are a few young talented arms on the rise, and they'll make an impact, but it could take an aggregate of Gomber, Flaherty, and Alcantara in 2018 to fill the 210 innings that Lynn alone could give the team. Don't dismiss the value of that.
Not at his age, no. The tell is whether the player counts against the international spending limit or not, by baseball rules. For example, Diaz and Oh did not count against any spending limits because they were true free agents. Same with Adolis Garcia. Now, Garcia and Diaz still have the normal control over their careers. As many regular chatheads/readers of the PD will know, Diaz signed a four-year deal that expires at the end of this season, but the Cardinals have FOUR MORE YEARS of control based on his service time. Oh has one year remaining on his deal -- and he becomes a free agent at the end of it because his representative made sure to include that clause, like Cespedes' did. There are other clauses that such players can put in -- one would be that they can opt out of the deal and into arbitration if they feel that arbitration will give them a higher salary than the contract they signed years before. Players who are older and have more experience at a highest international level (can't say pro, as you know) have access to more contract bells and whistles than a younger player than Luis Robert.
I remember talking to Oliver Marmol for the first time -- shortly after he was drafted by the Cardinals. An infielder, he was the Cardinals' sixth-round pick in 2007 out of the College of Charleston. Rather early on in his pro career, the Cardinals saw some coaching potential in him, and that became a more serious conversation as he reached Class A. He was approached about moving from player to coaching, and when the Cardinals did that they saw a younger guy, sure, but also a strong teacher. That was the description of him as he rose through the levels. He worked well with younger players and was a good instructor when it came to the development aspects of the game. I'm not sure that they had him targeted for first-base coach in the majors. He was more angling toward field coordinator and an upper-level role over all of the minor leagues and later a bench-coach type with infield assignments, but that wasn't the job that was open, that wasn't the idea that Cardinals had for his skills. So, they've altered the first-base coach description a bit (for a long time, Dave McKay and then Chris Maloney, handled first base and outfield), and made it fit Marmol's skills, and added Mike Shildt to the staff as well to share in the instruction role both do well. Marmol also spent a lot of spring fastened to Jose Oquendo, and is taking on some the responsibilities that Oquendo had with infielders, drills, and in-game positioning. Aledmys Diaz told me recently that he sees Marmol as Oquendo's rep with the major-league team, passing along pointers and conversation and reminding them of talks and work they did in spring training.
Awful baserunning. Inexcusable, inefficient, inexact baserunning. It's baffling really. Almost like they're being too aggressive for their ability. Or that they've gotten to a point where they run more on sign than on instinct. It's one of the odder things about the team in the past few years.