Greetings from Jupiter, Fla., and a short walk away from the Cardinals complex at Roger Dean Stadium. Pitchers and catchers are busy reporting today on the eve of the first official workout of spring training. One pitcher is not here, that's Michael Wacha. He's up north in the Tampa Bay area for his arbitration hearing which starts ... right ... now. (Not that we're supposed to know that, mind you, but we do.) It's not clear if there will be a ruling today, or if that will come tomorrow. The front office sent at least two representatives up there for the hearing. General manager John Mozeliak remained back in Jupiter to meet with Mike Matheny and his coaching staff. They started their meeting early this morning. Matheny has said he'll talk to the media for the first time Tuesday.
Enough prelude. Spring has sprung. Let's get chatting.
It can be if the high-ceiling teens that the Cardinals signed on the international market in the past year all pan out. Delvin Perez will be the leader for the Cardinals, and as he climbs so could their overall ranking. There are two things that will be a drag on them. First, the graduation of Alex Reyes to the majors. Second, the lack of a high draft pick in the coming draft. That will hurt the Cardinals' system's sex appeal and name recognition. Here's betting they fall shy of being a top five, but find a home in that Nos. 8-11 range for the next several years.
Around 20 percent, maybe rising to 33 because of he intrigues at two roles. There are a handful of guys who are going to get a run at a spot on the bench. Pham is the incumbent. Garcia, too. Chad Huffman, a boyhood pal of Matt Carpenter's, and Todd Cunningham are also in that mix with Schafer. Then there is Harrison Bader, a prospect who could impress to a point that the Cardinals give him a call at some point this season. Schafer has to emerge from that group and overtake one of the returning bench players. He has an edge with the pitching factor.
The Cardinals' web site has a roster with all of the numbers on it. There are no real surprises this year. Dexter Fowler is at No. 25. Alex Reyes right now has No. 61. Mitch Harris' No. 40 was not given out to anyone in camp.
Why in the world would Michael Wacha to sell himself at a low point? The players who do that are getting security in return -- but they are rarely selling themselves at the lowest point of their value. Especially not at his age. I would question an agent that agrees to a deal like that without some hidden reason. Wacha can do what many have done: use this year to prove where he belongs and really make huge dollars next year.
I would like to see them throw an actual pitch in competition before predicting if that's OK.
I imagine he'll make his MLB debut at some point in 2017. He's at the doorstep.
Would be entirely reasonable if Cardinals brought back same team as they had in 2016 and quarantined the inexperienced players as they did in 2016. They don't align with the 2017 team fans have been promised. Maybe PECOTA is tired of the boy who cried wolf and doesn't expect a change at all.
Let's all join hands and hope not. The game is lovely.
Better than most. He draws comparisons to Maness, and he'll be dueling Matt Bowman for that spot in the bullpen.
I wasn't aware that we've had a chance to meet, Austin. I wouldn't leap to any conclusions about you based on the questions you send him. Hope you appreciate that. Thanks.
It's entirely fair to argue that he'll have some regression offensively. He went out last season and rapped more than 45 extra-base hits and earned an All-Star nod for his offense. He was one of the most productive rookies in the majors last season, falling shy of some of the best players in the game at one of the hardest positions in the game. It's natural to expect that the slip a bit, if for no other reason than he'll be less lucky on all of those infield hits he got. There are some things that he has going for him. He drives the ball and he makes contact. He struck out very few times last season. (Also walked few.) Still, he's going to put the ball in play, and he often does that with authority. He's also going to be sandwiched between two OBP monsters, so he's going to be hitting with Fowler on base and Carpenter behind him a lot. The opponent is likely going to want to face him vs. facing Carpenter with two on, so that could influence the pitches he gets, the location they are, and so on. That is, if Diaz continues to hit second.
Excellent question. The part that has been expressed to me is that the fielding comfort and reliability is there, and that Peralta offers a total-threat at the plate if he's right, while Gyorko is more of the power/mistake hitter. We'll see. The Cardinals have increasingly allowed for the idea that Gyorko could swat his way into the starting lineup.
This is a great question, and it shows the steeper climb that Adams has. Adams is an adept first baseman. There's every possibility that Carpenter will be the superior defensive player there, with Adams just a notch below him. Peralta has the ability to be a better third baseman than Carpenter does, but that could also be a slim margin. At that point, the Cardinals are looking at a sliding scale. Let's try to illustrate this in scout terms, using the 20-80 scale, with 40 being average.
Let's say Carpenter has the upside of a 60 at 1B, and Adams is a 50.
Let's say Peralta is a 50 at 3B, and Carpenter is a 40.
If Adams brings 65 power, Peralta 35-40, and Carpenter 55 then where's the edge?
What's the best grouping of those options?
If the Cardinals stand by their pledge to have the best defensive team out there, then the answer is made for them. However, is the defensive tradeoff so minimal that the offensive option -- if Adams thunders away -- is the great boost? It seems like a complex question, right? Here's the best part: production will be the answer. We'll see on the field who is doing better, who is more reliable in the field, what is most necessary for the Cardinals, and then we'll know.
We're going to expand and enhance BPIB, I hope. That's the plan. There are a host of guests and guests hosts down here in Jupiter that I want to really take advantage of this spring.
White Sox don't bother answering until they see the name Reyes in a text message.
Best part about an opinion like this is we'll all get to see when the games start. Yes, he can slim down and get strong, but it's the shape of his swing that will win him playing time.
According to the computers, yes. But here's the thing about projections and predictions: They are always wrong the moment they are out of the mouth. Some are closer than others. Some get lucky. But the projections are based on where the team is right now. An elbow pops, a rookie emerges, a Diaz happens, and the team looks different. Here's a prediction I will make: The starting lineup the Cardinals have entering the season will not be the one they're relying on come August, and the bullpen that starts the year for the team will not be set up like the one the Cardinals use to shorten games come June.
Entirely possible. The spectrum of outcomes for Reyes goes from starting the year at extended spring training to get his arm built up for starts or Triple-A rotation for the moment and big leagues in the near future. Or, he could just go to the WBC and not be used at all and be back to compete with Wacha for the position. Wacha could finish the spring as a starter or as some hybrid reliever chucking changeups out of the bullpen and sharing that HELP role with Trevor Rosenthal, possibly.
His chances are excellent. He has incumbency. And he fills a valuable role. He also has the manager's trust, and the front office knows the many varied roles he'll play for an NL club.