Greetings. And welcome to another in the ongoing series of weekly Cardinals chats here at StlToday.com. Or, if you prefer The Chat to Be Named Later. Or, the mosh pit. Whichever. Baseball was greeted with sad news today -- the death of Don Baylor touches many franchises. He was a hitting coach for the Cardinals. He was a beloved manager for the Cubs. And, of course, he was the first major-league manager in the Time Zone Baseball Forgot. There in the clutter of baseball items I'm trying to organize is a ball from that first year of the Colorado Rockies, 1993. Baylor was the face-forward of the team, the baseball man who was bringing baseball to a region and city starved for it. He will be missed.
There's no good transition from that intro into your questions. So, I apologize for an abrupt one. Rick Hummel is with the team in Kansas City as I try to hide a little bit after the trade deadline. The chat still found me. So here we go ...
The Cardinals never had a chance to get Alonso. I know this can be confusing, so let's try to walk through the waiver process together. After July 31, every player on the 40-man roster must be passed through waivers before he can be traded. There are a few things that can happen when a player goes through waivers.
1. A team can claim him, and the original team can say, ok, he's yours.
2. A team can claim him, and the original team can say, ok, let's work out a deal.
3. No team claims him, and he can be traded to anyone.
In this case, obviously No. 2 happened. And here's where waivers get funky. They don't work in the opposite order of the standings, not entirely. First a player passes through the league in which he plays. So, Giancarlo Stanton will go through all of the National League teams before he goes into the American League. That means the Dodgers will have a chance to claim Stanton before the worst team in the AL does. With Yonder Alonso, he came from an American League team, and thus all of the AL teams had a chance to claim him before the NL teams did. So, even though the Cardinals had a worse record than say Seattle they didn't have first dibs on him.
Not that they would have tried anyway. Not from what I understand.
Homegrown. That's my gut reaction. But let's put this working theory to work. I'm going to define superstar player as the WAR leaders for the past five seasons, let's call it the Cardinals' Matheny Era (2012-present). And let's look at how each team obtained these titans of production:
1. Trout 52.6 -- HOMEGROWN
2. Cano 35.6 -- FREE AGENT
3. Donaldson 34.6 -- TRADE
4. Goldschimidt 34.1 -- HOMEGROWN
5. Beltre 34.0 -- FREE AGENT
6. Posey 32.3 -- HOMEGROWN
7. Votto -- 30.7 -- HOMEGROWN
8. Cabrera 29.7 -- TRADE
9. McCutchen 27.9 -- HOMEGROWN
10. Machado 27.2 -- HOMEGROWN
And from there the list gets even thicker with homegrown stars such as Harper (14th), Pedroia (15th), K. Seager (17th), Arenado (19th), Stanton (20th), Freeman (21st), Betts (23rd), and Longoria (24th). In that mix you have a Rizzo, who was a move of genius for the Cubs because they got a rare middle-order hitter to move before he reached his peak and under an absurdly team friendly deal. So, I think there you have it: homegrown the best way to get a superstar.
Depends entirely on who you ask. Allow me to offer you some examples from the clubhouse Milwaukee after the third game there this past week. I asked around a bit about that -- and even had some players mention it to me because their view is on their mind:
Wacha -- he said the record was the goal. Get to .500 to contend.
Piscotty -- he said games back mattered, because that's the race, the division.
Matheny -- he said that day's game matter, just win it. Don't look at standings at all.
Veteran pitcher -- he said the games back matter because the division has kept them in it.
Veteran player -- he said the record matters because you can't be a losing team and a contender.
Front office -- the record says what they've been for 2/3 of season and indicates something drastic has to change for them to be something different.
It varied from voice to voice.
It's responding to what people are reading. That's all. It's an attempt to keep the look of the page fresh. For example: The Cardinals Insider from this past weekend ran on Sunday, but Sunday isn't exactly a day that a lot of people rush the Web site. But a Monday! Oh, a Monday! There's a chat. There's people at the web site looking from their desk at work. There are more people checking their phones. So, why not refresh the site a little bit with a story that took some time to produce and maybe could get a new, online audience that it didn't have on Sunday. That's the idea. And Mike Smith is very responsive to what people want to read, constantly shuffling and presenting the stories that get the most response -- or should.
1) A local radio station here in St. Louis recently asked me if Carlos Martinez was having the most disappointing season of the five starters. It took me a moment to think about it because, in reality, he is. If you consider the expectations coming into the season, Wacha has certainly exceeded them, Leake and Lynn have met them, Wainwright's ERA is out of whack with what he wants to be, but Martinez was supposed to be getting Cy Young Award votes this season. He was supposed to be in that mix. He's not. He's been far too erratic to put together a season that his talent would allow. He's the one who is the farthest from the expectations. A lot like the team.
2) That ought to be the idea. Easier said than done. But it's time to be done. This roster has had its chance.
Why not offer way less and just see what it looks like? Shouldn't even cost that much.
There was no "substantive" pursuit of Martinez because of the cost that Detroit set to get from the Cardinals. And this is a little different than what he ultimately netted from Arizona. The Cardinals have run into this before -- and they are not alone. You'll remember a few years and scores of chats ago when there was the Cardinals talking to Arizona and the White Sox and a few other teams about the available starting pitchers, and neither team would come off Carlos Martinez. That's who the other teams wanted. And while they would have taken less from other teams, they wanted Martinez from the Cardinals or no deal. So it was. No deal. That's how deals work. A team will try to get the most possible from each team interested -- not necessarily just try to lineup the prospects. I'll give you an example. Team X wants to trade Pitcher ABC and Teams F and Q are interested. Team F has two top 100 prospects, Nos. 72 and 93. Team Q had four top 100 prospects, Nos. 4, 22, 44, and 56.
Team X demands that Team Q gives Nos. 22 and 44 for Pitcher ABC.
Team Q goes: That's bonkers.
Team X then trades Pitcher ABC to Team 5 for 72 and 93.
Now, Team Q could go wait, we had 44 and 56 and would have offered that to you.
Team X shrugs. Wasn't the best they could offer, so the deal wasn't done.
That's an oversimplified version, but what I want it to illustrate is that prospects are all relative. And teams will want to get the best they can from individual teams, not always comparable from team to team.
In the end, the Cardinals didn't want to pay the freight for a rental. They wanted to make a move for a bat that would have solved the problem for 2018 and 2019, and not just delayed the inevitable at a high cost.
There has been little action on Bruce. That is surprising.
It's the responsibility of the coaching staff as a whole. All of them run the PFP drills. And it is something that shouldn't slip through the cracks, even though the Cardinals no longer have that quality control coach, per se. It's on the whole coaching staff and the person responsible for the coaching staff. That's the manager. The buck stops there. Or should.
Been trying to write that for several years now. The market has moved ahead.
Will depend on what the standings look like. More than half from your list are likely.
Is it? Adam Wainwright has made more than $100 million. So has Yadier Molina. Allen Craig would have been fairly costly for the production if that deal had not been unloaded. Piscotty is making good money, Wong too, and Carlos Martinez will. There's a good debate to be had about investing so much money on the future of a young player vs. spending more on the known quantity of an older free agent who has a longer track record.
Tyler O'Neill is certainly one to watch here as September approaches. He's got to go on the 40-man roster this winter anyway so the Cardinals can put him on, call him up, and not burn an option until next spring training. And there's no roster harm in that. Some will depend on how deep into the playoffs the Redbirds go and what the Cardinals' standings look like. Mike Matheny raved about Harrison Bader. Raved. And in the end it's probably his opinion that matters.
The production of the players the Cardinals imagined as their top three hitters has been the biggest part of this season. Supposed to get OBPs greater than .350 from all three. How'd that work out? Toss in the fact that neither Grichuk or Piscotty has blossomed into the hitter the Cardinals hoped one would be for them season -- cleanup-type -- that further slows an offense. No offense, and all their flaws are heightened. Baserunning. Defense. Bullpen. As rickety as those have looked at times, it's mainly because they work without a net.
Some members of the New York media absolutely agree with you. They'd like to see him in pinstripes. Here's the most compelling part of their argument: That the Cardinals are going to waste 600 innings of his best years when they have cost control. The point from the outside is that the Cardinals' aren't contending this year and don't look like a contender for the next two years, so why burn Martinez's best. Most him now. Hasten the rebuild. Now, the Cardinals have a different view. They think they can contend next year, and a trade of Martinez would be somewhat an admission that they don't buy that anymore. Their better bet is to reshape the roster and make it so Martinez is pitching for a contender in the coming years.
The Cardinals believed he would be the next core bat to build a lineup around.
They have spent the past few years looking for how to move on without that bat -- or find that bat.
These are directly related, yes.
Sure. Sierra. O'Neill. Mercado. Adolis Garcia. Randy Arozarena. These are all players with strong performances this season and upside. Eliezer Alvarez had a strong season last year that should not be so quickly dismissed.
I mean from every corner of the industry. It's just odd. The Mets are clearly selling. He's clearly slugging. And yet he's not been traded. Don't you find that odd? Not just from the Cardinals' perspective but from across baseball. I asked around if his contract was just based on the past when power was not as available as it is today. It's everywhere. He was once paid for it not being everywhere. So, there's that. I just find it interesting that 10 years ago Jim Thome could be picked up as a lefthanded-bat off the bench for September by the Dodgers and while Bruce isn't Jim Thome, I get that, there's usually room for a power lefty option who plays the positions he does. And yet ... no movement.