Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold takes your Cardinals questions and comments in his live chat beginning at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

    Results are not the same, no. Means are. Ends haven't been.
    Assuming the ASG no longer determines home field advantage, does the extra game in the WS go to the team that has the better regular season record .?
    Bingo. As it should have been.
    Great chat again Mr. Goold,
    Oscar Mercado seems like a candidate for the Cards to trade for a high strikeout power bat with questionable defense. Am I off-base on this?
  • I'm not sure why they wouldn't just have Mercado stay in the organization then.
    We’ve all heard about the guys the cards would love to have. Brett Wallace for Matt Holiday deal days are over, they need to pick someone who can make a real difference in the direction of this franchise and go after him with everything they have. An Ozuna without the up and down career line.
  • Absolutely. Absolutely easier said than done. But absolutely something that would change the team.
    So Moz was promoted to focus on gaining/regaining St Louis' competitive advantage(s). How's that project going?
  • Good question. It has started, for sure. Mozeliak has been involved in the ongoing development of the Department of Performance and he has recently talked about the Pitching Lab the Cardinals want to create/expand in Jupiter, Fla. The performance of the team has, as you would imagine, commanded a lot of his attention this year, so he still seems to be doing as much GM'ing as ever. He's stepped aside from the roster management (meaning: transactions), but was still a presence in the draft. Girsch has long had a role with talking to the manager, getting his opinion, going over games, providing the data to influence/inform future decisions so that hasn't changed, unless it's Mozeliak on the road or Mozeliak who wants to deliver something different than Girsch. Mozeliak always described his move into that role as more gradual than immediate, and we're seeing just that -- gradual.
  • What do you think it would take for Matheny to move Ozuna down in the lineup, and who on the team would replace him as the "most feared bat" in the lineup? Is there a move like that that could help stabilize/anchor the lineup (at least more than it currently is) in the organization, or does every other bat pretty much make it look the same as far as how a pitcher would approach it?
  • Given the recent interviews with Matheny where I have asked this exact question I get the distinct sense this is not on the table. "It's where he belongs," Matheny said at one point, essentially ending the discussion. I don't know. The only way I could see it happening is if Ozuna has some sort of soreness that sidelines him or gets some sort of three-day, find-your-swing retreat and during that time one of his teammates goes berserk in the cleanup spot. A teammate like DeJong or Martinez or someone with that power. As far as striking fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers? Not sure that's going to happen without Ozuna going on this tear his former teammates talk about him being able to do, and it's clear that is what Matheny and the Cardinals are banking on. That it's coming. And when it comes they want him batting cleanup. When it comes. When it comes.
    Can you please clear up, once and for all, the relationship between Dexter Fowler and Mike Matheny, as you understand it? As in, do they text, or no. Was that video of Matheny not congratulating Fowler in the dugout actually what happened? Is their beef beyond a big addition struggling mightily and a rookie rising behind him?
    I'll do my best, to the extent of the reporting and questions that followed. From what I have been able to tell from asking around and also being there, some of this traces back to Minnesota. In Minnesota, you might recall, there was no text message about the lineup. The players didn't get one. Fowler said he didn't get one, and the joke was that he must not have been on the text chain or blocked from it. That was the joke. Turns out, no player got one. Matheny was trying something new. Wong told me about it. Matheny confirmed it. 
    (It's important at this point to mention that Mike Shildt sends out the text with the lineup, players say.)
    There was a report, in the The Athletic, that Fowler and Matheny have not talked in months or that they barely do. A subsequent report on the radio mentioned that Fowler had blocked Matheny's texts. I want to stress I respect my competitions sources and scoop and that I did what reporters then do, ask the followups to try and ascertain what comes next. I asked Matheny what role he could have played -- should have played -- in sharing the clubhouse's backing of Fowler or reaching out to Fowler, and he said Mozeliak and DeWitt took care of that. Asked about his communications with Fowler, he went on:
    “We just have our normal conversations — giving every guy every chance every day to come in and say what’s on their mind or if they need to get anything sorted out,” Matheny said. “But that (issue has) been sorted out. I try to figure out if anything is going on with anybody whether it’s personal or professional. Usually the questions are whether it’s an issue with me, whether it’s an issue with anybody in the club, in any capacity, and what do we need to sort out? What do you need to hear? I’ll give you the truth. We’ll talk things out.”
    I asked Fowler about this and he told me that he gets "texts from him all the time." That answer was printed in the next day's newspaper and online. He even pointed to his phone and offered to show them. Matheny does send out motivational bits, thoughts, instructions, whatnot via a group text, and Fowler and other teammates confirmed that Fowler even replies.
    The video: It was 20 seconds in time that caught Matheny in a weird spot. Two things were in play. Ozuna had just slid home and come up hopping and limping. He appeared hurt. Fowler did not take the staircase closest to first base as expected, instead walking the length of the dugout back to the staircase where the manager was. So Matheny turned to see how Ozuna was as Fowler arrived, and when Matheny went into the dugout to find Fowler, it turned out Fowler was behind him -- and then congratulated him. We watched this happen in the dugout. Not sure if the camera or the gif did. I asked Fowler about this -- and told him about the social media tempest -- and his reaction was this:
    "C'mon. Are you serious?"
    Now to the crux of this: Since his arrival and throughout this season, Fowler has always had most of his conversations with Mozeliak. They have rapport. His conversations with Matheny have been more limited to the player-manager type that say Wong had with Matheny or Lynn would have with Matheny or Edmonds would have at times with La Russa, for example. Look no further than who zipped off the Vegas to meet with Fowler and his wife about the move to right field, and during that time also asked him if he was comfortable in St. Louis or looking to move on. That was Mozeliak. That has continued. That's part of why Mozeliak's comments stung -- and why Mozeliak was so bothered by how he misspoke. When Fowler approached Matheny -- and, yes, they have talked about this -- about playing time, one of the people who came to Fowler afterward was Mozeliak. They chatted. In the clubhouse. It wasn't a secret. Media were there interviewing other people. Mozeliak pulled up a chair, and the two of them chatted for awhile. I don't know what the topic was, only the timing. The camps here are clear.
    Fowler would like the trust of the manager that with playing time he could pull out of this funk in the same way he got the faith from the Cubs in 2015, and that trust is given with starts.
    Matheny cannot ignore the production of a rookie and has established that production plays, especially as pressure mounts on him to produce a winner.
    The tension exists there.
    No, but an honest and I hope detailed description of last week's maelstrom. Had to take the time to write and explain all that I knew as clearly as I could.
    Pham -- mechanics or eyesight? Which is it?
  • He insists it's mechanics. He's had difficult during day games before.
    Do you expect DeJong's injury to sap him of the power he has shown for the remainder of the year like Yadi's thumb injury did a few years ago?
    This is a possibility -- one DeJong and the Cardinals recognized and then structured his rehab to do all they could to avoid it. He had his grip strength tested in spring training, and throughout his recovery he had his grip strength tested and compared to that base line number. He got it back to 100 pecent, he said, by the time he got clearance to get in the game. That was important to the Cardinals and it may have been one of the reasons why his return was oddly delayed for a day or three. One unknown is how the plate in his hand behaves. DeJong still has the metal plate in his hand, and he'll have to have that removed in another surgery this winter.
    Derrick, outside of you misspelling your name we have a few interesting parallels - Colorado, Chicago Bears circa 1987, Cardinals, etc. I miss Colorado and the Cards play of late is making me miss the Cardinals baseball I'm used to. What are the chances Mo makes bold moves to thin out the logjams/redundancies (outfield), move challenges (cmart), and set us up for success in 1-3 years? The pitching depth is great and just needs experience. They could really benefit from a fixed roster if they stick with Matheny. Even better in my opinion if they move on from him as well.
  • My parents misspelled my name. I had no say in the matter. As for the Cardinals and Mozeliak: In a way this was what he and Girsch attempted to do this past winter. Look at the move for Ozuna and then the trades of Grichuk (for Leone) and Piscotty (for Munoz, Schrock). They were trying to take from a surplus to add impact (did, at the time, in Ozuna; we all agreed) and then trim down the excess at that same position while getting depth of middle infield and relief. It's not hard to see the logic/strategy behind those moves and they only look different now as Ozuna hasn't provided the power, Leone has been hurt, and well Munoz was essential when you think about staying alfoat while DeJong recovered. To your point, yes, they need to do that. To their point, yes, they tried.
    At issue, is that they have ended up at the same place. Would a simplified roster just be the same thing too? After three years, the trend is hard to ignore.
    Thank you, by the way, for always taking the time to give the details/nuances/facts around a situation. It is greatly appreciated, even though it may not make for shocking headlines.
  • You're welcome. It's always my aim. Twitter can be confining. I get that. So this chat offers a forum for those questions asked of me -- sometimes spat at me -- on Twitter, and I wish more of the critics came here to allow for deeper discussion on what are fair questions. They don't like the arena, I guess.
    We've seen the Cubs supplement their cost controlled young lineup by signing the biggest FA pitcher on the market. The Cards attempted a similar move by trying to supplement their cost controlled young pitching staff with the biggest contract in MLB, though he declined to come to STL. What are the chances we see further attempts to take advantage of the young, cost controlled, exceptional pitching staff by going above and beyond to finally land that star, long term positional player?
  • The route for the Cardinals to take seems a little different at this point than the Cubs, who have gone the Darvish, Lester, Chatwood direction for pitching. The Cardinals, with their depth of pitching and their ability to develop it still, may need to actually deal from that "bucket" to get the bat they want and then seek a starter as a free agent. There are more starters than big bats, obviously, and whether the pool is deepest the Cardinals are likely to have their best luck. If they traded young pitching then you ge tthe bat that has years of control -- and isn't coming via free agency.
    If you didn't write on baseball, what topics would you write about? Other sports? Politics? Novels?
  • When I started at Mizzou I believed that baseball writing jobs were like Supreme Court positions -- for life and hard to get. So, I went there specifically to study and prepare to cover politics. That was my focus. That is my other degree, political science. When I studied abroad, I did not study journalism, I studied Civil Liberties in a law class. Go figure. So, I would cover politics and preferably courts, if not baseball.
    Or, I would still be drawing and trying to write comics or comic books. I've done one of the latter and need to try again. That could yet be a path I take. Some people email me about how my writing is a joke anyway. Might as well prove them right.
    Maybe this is a silly question, but who can you positively predict will be in the starting lineup Opening Day 2019? The only ones I am comfortable saying will be are DeJong, Carpenter, and Molina. Everybody else has the potential to be moved.
  • Hard to argue with your prediction. DeJong might be the only certainty.
    "Matheny has established that production plays"*
    *Unless your name is Marcel Ozuna or Jose Martinez
  • Jose Martinez leads the team in many hitting categories.
    It stills saddens me they didn't sign Scherzer when they had the chance.
    This will go down as the miss of the era.
    The numbers say Cards d isnt horrible, but this team is atrocious. “Eye test” can these guys get better or is aquiring someone like Arenado make it look a hell of a lot better.
    Anecdotally it certainly will, and reputation-wise it obviously will. Statistically, it will, too, but not by as much as you might thing. Carpenter has played a strong third base this year. Pick your defensive metric -- even the eye test -- and he's been solid there. Wong has been the best fielder in the lineup whenever he plays, no doubt. And Carpenter at first does improve the whole horn with Gyorko back at a position he handled superbly a year ago. So, yes, Arenado is an upgrade because unless the team's third baseman is named Brooks or Rolen he's going to be an upgrade. (Maybe, Chapman?) But otherwise, for the Cardinals this season the play at first and the anecdotal moments do seem to give the defense a rep that the statistics don't match.
    Is Ozuna still physically compromised by the shoulder that bothered him this spring? If yes, did that show up in the physical he took before the trade finalization?
  • The Cardinals knew about Ozuna's shoulder issue when they made the trade. They even planned his spring training around compensating for it. I've asked him and the Cardinals if it is enough to compromise his power -- and all parties say no, no, no. The numbers say otherwise, but it's hard to pin down that as the only reasons for the issues. He's hit a lot of groundballs. He's hit a lot of hard hard hard groundballs. Now, if the shoulder is limiting his "launch angle" then it's the root cause. Or it's his swing. But one thing is true: He's not going to hit many homers on the ground.
    Derrick,do impending free agents hope to be traded? Relocating for a few months to remove the quailfying offer.
    According to Nick Piecoro's reporting in The Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks contacted the commissioner's office to ask about that possibility, and they made the case that it would be his normal day to throw, his bullpen day. This has been argued before, and an allowance has been given. Mikolas would, of course, be allowed to seek the same thing, if he and the Cardinals agreed.
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