Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Bring your Cardinals questions and comments, and talk to Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold in a live chat at 1 p.m. Monday..




    Salutations from St. Louis and welcome to the weekly Cardinals chat. Torches lit? Swell. Pitchforks sharpened? Dandy. It was a ruthless Sunday in the Lou as Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final went sideways on the local checkers and the archrival Cubs completed a weekend sweep of the Cardinals on the north side. Both STL teams lost by the same score, 5-1. I'm sure some of you have them to settle. We'll do our best to answer what we can -- and stare into the blowtorch of angst the Cardinals have invited. They've got 99 games to play, and as Flag Day approaches they're a losing team -- and they have more than half of their longest road trip of the season yet to play. Rick Hummel is there in Miami to bring you news and coverage. I'll be manning the keyboard from the home offices in St. Louis.
     
    Buckle up.
    Hello Derrick, if the Cardinals continue to play with mediocrity. Do you see a more aggressive overhaul of the current roster. Nothing major, but trading players such as Ozuna, The Martinez's, Wong or anyone else?
    The Cardinals started spring training with this as a real possibility. They had so many expiring contracts -- and had some of them in that place on purpose. Think back to those early days of March when Carpenter, Gyorko, Mikolas, Wainwright, Ozuna, Goldschmidt and Wacha, for example, were all entering the final year of their guaranteed contract. Extensions to Carpenter, Mikolas, and Goldschmidt spoke to how confident the Cardinals were
     
    a) In those players.
    b) In this mix of players
     
    And it took away some of the flexibility they would have had to abandon this roster and move on and away if it didn't work out. That did come as a surprise, but again it spoke to how eager they were about this roster leaving spring training. Come mid-June, the roster has less flexibility, less moving parts, and the results are starting to demand to change. It's bind the Cardinals have put themselves in -- and it didn't have to be this way.
    I can't help but go back to May 2nd in Washington, going for the four game sweep. Shildt seemingly concedes the game by resting what felt like every starter. We lost. Going into that game we were 20-10. Since then we're 11-22. Turning point or I'm over-reacting?
    Seems like a fine line of demarcation. The Cardinals had a compelling offense at the time, too. They got better as the game got going, they had many ways that they could score. They showed off all facets of that against Washington. I would hesitate only to make the same leap on the cause as you have. It's tidy. It's clean for storytelling. But it ignores the fact that they went the next day to Wrigley Field, rolling and rested and ready -- and got swept. To me, a few of those games were close, and it was the spillover from that series at Wrigley that led to this slip and slide int the standings.
    Mr. Goold have you heard any talk of extending or resigning Ozuna?
    Only that he would be open to that discussion. He has expressed that he enjoys it in St. Louis, that his level of comfort here has grown, and he'd like to explore staying. That's where things were the last time I checked. There has been no acceleration of interest on the Cardinals end at last check.
    I’m not a baseball guru but you’d think a team with five #1 pitchers might be over .500 in early June, yes?
    Show me that team, and I'll show you the one team like it. Show me a quote from a manager that says that, and I'll show you 29 other quotes just like it.
    Derrick - Does not over or under reacting sound like status quo?
    It often does, yes. It often is, too.
    Do you anticipate big shakeups if these next 10 don’t go well?
    I don't think it's a matter of anticipation. It's becoming a matter of necessity.
    Any word on anything about Cecil?
  • Throwing program has continued. He's into the middle of spring training, I guess it would be. Had eyeballed the All-Star break as the possible time for return.
    Were the Cardinals ever a legitimate player in the signing of Dallas Keuchel? If not was it due to lack of interest from the FO or the player?

    I find it absolutely mind boggling that after the draft compensation disappeared that Keuchel was never linked to the Cardinals since their rotation has been struggling this year and he has been a top 30 pitcher over the last 3 years. It really makes you wonder if the FO is properly assessing their roster after and how to improve it after the season starts.
    As discussed last week, the Cardinals remained aware of the Keuchel market, and his agent had made the pitch to them often about what a fit the lefty would be for the Cardinals. That dates back to the winter, and there hasn't been anything that has happened since that would stop that pitch from making sense. The Cardinals had always expressed hesitance. They were unsure of his health, unsure of what he would provide or could be counted on to provide in the coming half of the season because they wondered if some recent erosion of his performance was due to workload/use/health. 
     
    The Cardinals were "linked" to Keuchel many times in the days leading up to his signing with Atlanta by various reports, especially on Twitter. I did my best to provide readers where they really stood, and as the bidding appeared to be coming to a close, I was told the Cardinals weren't in it at that point.
    Dylan Carlson's stock is rising fast...and that means that other teams will want him in trade talks this July. On a scale of 1-10 (1 being untouchable and 10 being on the block) where do you think the Cardinals are when it comes to including him in a trade to impact this season?
    I think this question has been asked just about every week, perhaps in order to see if my answer remains constant and I can remember the number I assigned chat to chat. Well, you've got me. I don't remember the number I put on it. But it was low. Cardinals like Carlson. Cardinals plan to have Carlson be a part of the mix for the outfield competition next spring. The Cardinals' decision with Ozuna is, in some part, hinged around how soon and what they plan with Carlson. If he's involved in a trade, it better be for some pitcher that brings in huge impact at a high-value. Like an elite starter, otherwise they shouldn't really be eager to move one of the rising bats in an organization that has produced DeJong and now is in need of another contributor offensively.
    What kind of trade price would Max Scherzer command, and would the Cardinals explore that?
    Depends entirely on how much of his salary the Nats would be willing to take on. The more they cover, the better the players they'll get in return. Think of something along the lines of Paul Goldschmidt's deal if they don't cover much of his salary, and then ramp it up well above the Ozuna did if they do. Going to take a pitcher, for sure, and likely two, one that is ready and one that has a high ceiling. Yes, the Cardinals would have that conversation with the Nats.
    What is the cure for this Cardinals team? Fowler is up and down. Players underperforming. No balls hit in the air. Hitting approach a miss? They wanting to tank or get first round draft pick? Club is too friendly. No edge
    All of that, except the whole tanking thing. The Cardinals would be the most expensive tanking team ever given their payroll and that they spent prospects to get Goldschmidt and Ozuna and all that. That's the reverse of tanking. But, yes, too many groundballs. Too many strikeouts recently. Too few adjustments. Jon Lester shouldn't have been able to do what he did Saturday. Kudos to him. But he seemed just as surprised as any of us. And, yes, the Cardinals could use an edge.
  • How bad does this team have to be by the end of July for us to be talking selling scenarios, and if so, what does that look like for them this year? (I realize we're only a game below .500, I'm not trying to be melodramatic, just curious).
    It's not how bad, per se. It's how good is the division. Are the Cardinals still in the race with a losing record -- today, they are. In July -- are they? That's going to be a big part of it. If they're 10 games under .500, three games under .500, at .500, all of that matters less than if they are 10 games out, three games, or right there in the mix for the division, and how many teams they have ahead of them. If the Cardinals are in fourth place in the division and playing like this the climb is steep and the consideration to sell gaining steam as July 31 approaches.
    It seems evident that in the past few years that the Cards sugn some very good AAA players that just cant get over the hump in the Bigs. Is it time for ownership to take a hard look at FO/scouting/draft to possibly make changes?
    Candidly, I'm not sure if this assertion is as true as it may seem. In the past 10 years, the Cardinals have had a higher success rate of graduating pitchers from the draft to the majors than any other team in baseball. I took a look at this for a recent story, and here are the direct pitching WAR contributions to the teams in the NL Central from pitchers they drafted since 2007:
     
    Cardinals 29.7
    Cubs 0.3
    Pittsburgh 20.0
    Cincinnati 10.4
    Milwaukee 0.8
     
    That fits right in with how we've seen these teams built over that time. The Cubs turned their tanking years into high draft picks and position players like Bryant and Schwarber, and they've long held that there's no such thing as a pitching prospect so they just go out and purchase pitchers, from Lester to Chatwood, Darvish to Hamels (trade and sign), and so on. And now Kimbrel. After Morrow. The Cardinals shifted some under Flores to high school position players and went with Delvin Perez, Nolan Gorman, and Dylan Carlson in recent draft. Carlson and Gorman are stormin' up the ranks. Perez has found his footing at Low-A. But judging where they finish is still TBD. Paul DeJong has made it to the majors and asserted himself. Harrison Bader has made an impact defensively, as has Kolten Wong. Dakota Hudson has contributed as a starter and he's been one of the Cardinals most consistent starters for the past six weeks. Jordan Hicks exists, though you haven't seen him much recently.
     
    These are not lightweight contributors that have come from the draft for the Cardinals.
     
    Maybe train your eye elsewhere on the scouting spectrum and that's where you'll find the area the Cardinals must audit -- and that's free agent acquisitions, and that's additions via trade that struggle, and that's the talent that is thriving elsewhere after trade. If anything, the Cardinals do well in the draft because it fits in their wheelhouse, and they're willing to take risks in the draft that they aren't in free agency, etc., because a) the dollar cost is less in the draft and upside is greater and b) there's a chance to dream on players there. The Cardinals could be less risk-averse in acquiring talent that is going to help now, and never have the chance as you suggest to stall at Class AAA.
    Derrick; just finished The MVP Machine by Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik (great read). I'm curious, based upon your observations, how does the Cardinals FO rank in terms of embracing analytics? Top, bottom, somewhere in the middle of MLB teams? More importantly, how do the players rank in terms of acceptance of the analytic information presented to them?
    Picked this book up this morning on the way home from the airport. Really looking forward to reading it. The Cardinals are in the top third when it comes to use and acceptance of analytics. That ranking comes from talking to other teams about them, talking to other teams about their level of use, talking to the Cardinals about their use, and talking to agents about what they find out when talking to the Cardinals. They are devoutly data driven these days, and they've made some advances that have been copied and added upon by some of the most successful teams in the game (ahem, Houston). In the industry, the Cardinals are widely considered strong at using analytics and their development to identify pitchers and enhance them. That is why their recent draft has other teams intrigued to see how many of those many many many pitchers work out for them. 
     
    The Cardinals players are receptive to the analytics, especially many of the young pitchers, like Flaherty and Mayers and Hudson and that group. They devour the advanced tech that is being used now to help pitchers. The Cardinals are provided as much data as they want, and many of them leaf through sheets of scouting reports and info in hopes of finding ways to get outs from the other team or stop making outs themselves. Yadier Molina has this deserved reputation for calling an excellent game, but he's doing that because he's swam in data and video for hours before the game. He soaks it in and synthesizes it fast, and then uses that to inform his instincts on the field.. DeJong is a student of these stats, and many of the veterans, like Matt Carpenter, has gone to them to for support -- or suggested changes. Hitting coach Albert is big on using metrics to illustrate to the hitters what is happen, and they all found a buoy in the tempest of May there. Where they rank compared to other teams? I'll be honest: I'm just not around other teams enough to know. I'm usually in the Cardinals clubhouse, not theirs. I get to see all this activity with the Cardinals and talk to them about it, but I so rarely see the Twins, so rarely get a sense of what the Orioles are doing that tossing out where the Cardinals rank would be wrong the moment I did it. They're engaged with the stats, as the above examples show.
    I was reading about Tommy Edman and the type of player he is, kind of old school. Does the little things that help you win games. Why not plug him in at 2nd base for the next week and see what he can do. Don't let him rot on the bench. I know he's not going to be able to turn this around himself, but it may be a refreshing spark for this team.
    Primarily -- and stick with me here -- because Kolten Wong is the starting second baseman. Wong has 9 Defensive Runs Saved this season, which is tops at his position according to Bill James Online. Jog over to FanGraphs, and you'll see that Wong's 2.7 defensive WAR ranks second at his position and his 1.9 Ultimate Zone Rating ranks third at the position. He's sixth in WAR at second base with a 1.9, according to ESPN.com. His .704 OPS isn't what the Cardinals or he would like, and that ranks 14th at his position in the majors. It's sweetened by a .326 OBP, which is ninth best at 2B in the majors. Care to guess where that ranks on the Cardinals these days? Seventh. That's not ideal either. With his defense, though, Wong has been the second-most productive player on the roster, behind only DeJong, by several measures. I guess it depends on your goal here. If you want new just for the sake of new, then do this and see what happens when a team that is struggling removes one facet of the game that it's actually doing well -- and the guy who drove in a run at Wrigley this past weekend.
    You're no longer covering the Blues, so are you rooting for them to win Wednesday night?
    I would like to see it for the city of St. Louis for some of the people I know who have given hours and hours and some of their health to that organization. I would like to hear Chris Kerber get to call a Stanley Cup Final winner, to read Jim Thomas cover a Stanley Cup-winning game story, to see what Jeff Gordon, an advocate for hockey and that fan base as passionate anyone who has picked up a pen at The Post-Dispatch, had to say about history happening. I cannot wait to see how The Post-Dispatch rises up to capture that moment -- and gives readers something to pin on their walls, or fold into their scrapbooks -- commit to the amber of their keepsakes for years to come. That stuff is awesome. And it's hard not to watch how the Blues have energized this city -- from downtown to Clayton, Tower Grove to even the STL stronghold in Hollywood -- and now want to see that pay off for everyone. 
     
    Root? No probably not. Cheer? Nope. Watch? Absolutely -- with one eye on the Marlins-Cardinals game. I'm a constant disappointment for people in this realm. Sorry. But hope for that to happen, sure. The city could use it. The fanbase deserves it. And what the Blues players and coaches have done this remarkable season has earned it.
     
    I respect that.
    Hi Derrick, the Cardinals are a talented bunch. They have some very good hitters and lots of good pitching. Yet the results are consistently bad. I’m curious of your take on this club. Why do they consistently underachieve?
    Shildt called a question like this, when I asked it last night at Wrigley, "the million-dollar St. Louis question." The frustration of not having an answer has taken root in the clubhouse and, as Paul DeJong described, even thrown the team out of whack because they're not operating as a team so much as independent heroes, trying to each save the season from a burning building and just bumping into each other until the roof collapses on them. 
     
    What will take to pull them free? There are some things they could do with the lineup. They could move the CF to leadoff, they could move Ozuna up in the order, they could side with speed at the top and see if that shakes things up for a bit. They could draw names out of the hat for a different look. All of that is on the table. But I'd suggest they had their moment to get out of this rut. It was Saturday. They had a 4-0 lead. They needed a pitcher to stand up, stand tall, and take over that game. They need that pitcher to emerge from the rotation. They have the talent to do it. It just hasn't happened. They say it's execution. Fine. It probably is part execution. But at some point it is also constitution. 
    DG,

    Let’s talk about accountability. Often, when fans ask you about this, it’s in relation to people losing their jobs. Whether that be a player or someone in the front office. I want to talk about it in a different way. I want to ask you about what the Cardinals are doing to hold themselves accountable for the team’s 4-year malaise. I understand they went out and made two impact moves this offseason. I would assume most fans were very happy about Goldschmidt and Miller. However, what fans may be frustrated about is the lack of any movement after that, and the lack of urgency in adding from outside of the organization. (side note observation, Mo seemed awfully smug during PG’s press conference). The team could very well end up not making the playoffs for 4 seasons in a row, and although they have had a great run over the last 20 years, the organization preaches annual contention. Meanwhile, the Cubs and Brewers have been aggressive in improving their teams and on-field product shows. I am not asking for people to lose their jobs, but I am asking for an explanation from the team as to why they have not shown the aggressiveness and urgency that their competition has, and what their reaction is to the moves that they have made not working out?
    I appreciate you using accountability and explaining how you are using it -- that it's not always a euphemism for firing someone. I don't understand why it's become that way. Like it's a polite way someone should get red-slipped. Just say fired. If you mean it, say it. And you've added an interesting layer to this. Permit me to tell you a story.
     
    Want to know why Mozeliak was so aggressive with his text messages to Arizona's GM when he heard/realized that it was possible to trade for Goldschmidt? Because he was charged with pulling off a big deal, and that was the deal that he wanted to make. As you probably know from the coverage over the winter, the Cardinals saw an opportunity with young free agents like Harper and Machado available, and they had discussions with Boras about Harper. The front office preferred Goldschmidt be their big add, but ownership was clear that it was not thrilled with the series of runnerup finishes. Ownership had pushed the team into the trade talks for Stanton because ownership felt that was a singular headline player who could add a lot to the team and its lineup and its brand. The front office, as discussed often in here, preferred to try for Yelich. We don't need to re-litigate that. And don't byinto the boardgame notion that they could "offer something the Marlins couldn't refuse" for Yelich. Miami was positioned to consider that offer, say thank you, and demand it for Ozuna. Nice strategy there. 
     
    And so there has been accountability in the way you describe. Bill DeWitt Jr. has said succinctly the purpose of this team is to win the division, and that it's too long out of the playoffs. Bill DeWitt III told me the Cardinals made a big miss by not chasing Scherzer, and that such a miss should teach them a lesson for future pursuits. The front office grew so tired of the "bridesmaid" tag that Mozeliak used it preemptively in a press conference because he knew it was coming from the media and other corners. Back to the beginning of this story: They bet big on Goldschmidt being the big acquisition -- the one they have been reluctant to make via free agency because of the high cost and future pinch, and the one they needed to make to elevate the team like the other moves made by the rivals. The Cardinals saw Goldschmidt as their proven addition, what Yelich became, and so did almost anyone you talk to in baseball. He's got that ability. As you know. But if the struggles of the team continue, then the accountability you describe also -- they've changed players, they've fired the manager, they've added coaches (at high salaries and with mandates), and one would think eventually they will also hold their approach accountable, and see where a conservative, data-driven, process-oriented has taken them. 
     
    So far, it's put them in the worst spot to be in modern baseball: The middling middle. 
    I know as someone who covers the team, you're excited about the London series. But from a fan perspective, it kinda stinks that they just gave away two homes games, against the Cubs no less (the only place where we actually play them decent). Do they take their fans for granted?
    Aside: Wainwright to the DL. Helsley back with club. Wainwright will miss at least one scheduled start -- originally set for this week in New York. If you're one for sentiment, it means he may not get another start in Queens, where he launched himself to stardom.
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