Salutations. Welcome to the weekly Cardinals chat, hosted here at StlToday.com. The Cardinals are close/finalizing a deal with first-round pick Nolan Gorman, and there will be other deals done in the near future. That's the news, as we get the chat revving. We'll go where the chatters he take us. Already there are dozens of questions piling up. This will be a multimedia fest as I take you to the ballpark -- that does mean a slight pause in the chat as I relocate venues and a few pauses for reporting. But we should have a good pace here, and you will be rewarded for patience with some news -- and video. Away we go.
At some point, you have to respect the notion that people are still alive. I can speak here from some experience as a newspaper writer who sometimes has to work ahead on obituaries. One time, while trying to work on an obit for someone who was still alive, I called a friend of theirs and had to assure over and over and over and over and over and over again that the person was still alive. That is a difficult and awkward conversation. Take into account how much Schoendienst meant to so many people at the ballpark and in the organization -- and maybe, just maybe they didn't want to plan ahead on a memorial patch so they didn't have to think of a memorial. I don't know about you, but I'm not racing to write a headstone for a loved one. I may have to some point. But I'll confront that when I need to.
Sure. If they have an option and the team asks to use it, that player can OK it. That's his right, too.
Started off the chat with one. There are others coming in the near future, as well. Cardinals have agreements in place -- or already finalized with most of the draft picks. I'll be checking around more throughout the chat here, but after the first pass last week there didn't seem to be many signability concerns and there was optimism on both sides for most of the picks expected.
They have the pitching staff -- particularly with the rotation and possibly with the bullpen -- to be the best team in the division and survive the long haul. The Brewers, the Cubs, and the Pirates all need help covering innings at some point that the Cardinals don't have. The Cardinals pitching rotation is better positioned to win consecutive series because of its depth. That's not the case with other contenders. One caveat: It would be good for the offense to carry the Cardinals for a week or two -- is that too much to ask? -- so that the pitching and run prevention isn't doing all of the heavy lifting.
Sure seems that way with certain players and when the Cardinals have certain pressures to win. I am always struck by how the team's current success -- in the standings, winning streaks, etc. -- sometimes guides the hand with when a player returns. We've seen a few times this season when the player has said he's OK, the team wants him to be OK, and that trumps everything. Carlos Martinez maybe stands out as the chief example. His rehab start was geared toward getting him ready -- not getting him tested. In a way, that becomes a self-fulfilling evaluation, right? If he's there to get his pitches in and fine-tune, then the results aren't going to be looked at, and that was clear before he threw a pitch. If he says he's good to go and the reports say he threw healthy, then up he comes. Performance is a factor, but maybe there needs to be given greater credence to that. Reyes is separate from this. His performance harmonized with how he was saying he felt.
Command. Hesitation. Tentative. Scattered attention to detail. A hodgepodge of things.
All of that. And really, that's not all that unusual. Remember, for years Lance Lynn had that one inning mushroom cloud on him. I remember one day at Wrigley Field, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch and I split up all of Lynn's career starts and found that a shocking percentage of his runs allowed came in these one-inning eruptions. That added statistics to anecdotes, and we have seen other things with pitchers. Take a look at Carlos Martinez in the first inning at some point. Wacha the third time through entering this season. The runs come in starbursts like that for pitchers, and what contributes to it -- inflames it, really -- is the nibbling and picking and going to the edges like Weaver has done at times, like he did a lot during his first turn in the majors and has improved upon, improved upon, improved upon with each passing month.
They're comments sure seem like it's playoffs or change. What that change would be has not been clarified, but the manager has been candid about the pressure on him and his coaching staff to return this team to October, no matter the detours the season takes.
They'll, of course, check on the price. That's obvious. They have before. They will again. They probably know right now what Orioles want from them. The expectation is for Baltimore to try and pry one of the elite pitching prospects from the Cardinals as a centerpiece for the deal. Hicks, Reyes, Flaherty -- these were the names that the Orioles brought up this winter as the starting point for a Machado deal. No reason they would move off that ask now, with the exception of Reyes, who has the injury.
The Cardinals say play. They're committed to him as long as the plus/minus is plus. And with his current hot streak at the plate, it's plus.
They should have traded him last winter, yes. That would have been wise for them to do. However, the owner of that team doesn't operate like that. According to reports out of Baltimore, there wasn't a clearance from ownership to make that move because he wanted to contend or sell tickets or something. That team, obviously, does not follow the trends, can be hard to predict, and sometimes misses the mark on deals like this because of the ownership factor. I'm not sure his "value" drops with each passing day because the Orioles really need to create a frenzy to trade for Machado -- and not one team bidding against itself. That is a way to drive the price up. Big bet on the O's part that they can do that.
Not from what I can tell. The front office -- collectively -- does not.
They see it. They agonize over it just like you. Maybe even more so.
Have not yet had a chance to ask. Was not in Cincinnati with the team -- and there hasn't been access at the ballpark yet this afternoon. I imagine this will be discussed, and I'll report back.
Good questions. 1) Yes. Chronic and recurring blisters have led to longer shutdowns, in part because it gives the pitcher a break from the piling up of innings and also because it gives a chance for the blister to callous or fall away or toughen up or any number of things. Bowman, in this case, also got a chance to work on his changeup, which had failed him because of the blister. Rich Hill with the Dodgers is one example of blisters leading to long stays on the DL or recurring stays. 2) The Cardinals and Norris have had talks about this availability, and you'll remember that Norris pushed into three consecutive days meant that he was not available for the next three because of the irritation he felt in his arm. There has been a hesitance ever since to push him into such usage. Why Hicks was? Not sure other than the rush to get a win and how he insisted he felt. I wonder if we'll ever see such a thing again outside of October.
I did not pick the Cardinals to make the playoffs. I have no reason to step back from that preseason prediction. Why make it if I wasn't going to stand by it, even if wrong at the end of the season. There are better teams.
Measured in weeks, not months or years.