Salutations, and greetings from lovely Old Town Pasadena, the gateway to Dodger Stadium. Going to grab some coffee, find a seat, and get to chatting here this morning several hours before first pitch tonight at the Ravine. Cardinals vs. Kershaw. It's worked out well for them in October. Not so much in the summer months. You've got questions. I've got time before the start of the game. Let's see how this go. Fill the hopper. I'll fill my cup. And away we go ...
Short answer: yes. Yes, again. Yes, a dozen times. This was the lesson of a past winter, and its reinforced here for a teenager. So, yes. But here's the difference between this weekend and any winter --- Luis Robert was the kind of elite, hype, huge-watt amateur the Cardinals rarely get their chance at. They, by design don't want to --- because they want to contend, they want to be in the playoffs, they want to draft late in the first round. The stars and money aligned for this to be their shot. And they will say they feel better about spending more than $50+ million on an established player than a prospect. Hold them to that.
Naturally. That would be preferred.
Great question. First, it's incredible. Easy too five for me, and one of the most incredible views in baseball. It's right there with Wrigley when it comes to wow/history factor. What keeps it around? Well, location and the value of land around here, for one. See: Kroenke, Enos. And the bigger reason is Dodger Stadium has been aggressively updated. Its guts have been improved, modernized, and enhanced. It was ahead of its time once, and now it's scrambled to stay up with the times.
He will have to hit his way back --- or have someone hit their way off.
OK, now we're up and running with a quick access to questions. Time to pick up the pace.
Lyons is on the horizon, and it makes sense for the Cardinals to refresh the bullpen a bit for Coors Field. They'll let this series play out and see what it means for availability. But, goodness, if they have to go to nine relievers (!!!) then something is amiss. Truly. The Cardinals right now are carrying eight relievers for two reasons, whether they acknowledge it or not: 1) They are being ultra cautious with a few of them, chiefly Trevor Rosenthal. 2) Brett Cecil's struggles has put them in a situation where they are throwing arms at at the role and trying to find him spots to get right.
Oh, and bonus 3) They still want to carry that long reliever, the Behind Glass Reliever, we call it around here, the pitcher who only gets used in emergency -- and thus, never or rarely gets used.
They put on a full-court press that involved recruiting like you would a college basketball athlete. The Cardinals should have enlisted the advice of Cuonzo Martin. The White Sox had all parties involved. The Cardinals did sign Luis Robert's pal, Adolis Garcia, and the Cardinals officials met personally with Robert (we're told it's pronounced "Robber") and tried to make an impression on him there with the history of the team, the place he'd have in it, and so on. But there's a general sense that the White Sox sales pitch -- especially from the big leaguers and big-league staff -- was strong.
Superunkown. Someone stole my copy from the dorm in college. I know who it was. I haven't forgotten.
Though, since, we're near LA, permit a moment to tell you an amazing Chris Cornell story? So, back in 2009, the Cardinals played the Dodgers in the NLDS. Remember? We all jetted out here to cover the workout day and preview the series, but with time zones being what they are we had to be meet deadline 2 hours earlier than normal, and that meant that there would be one brief free evening in LA. MLB.com's Matthew Leach tipped me that Pearl Jam was playing Gibson Amphitheater and Universal City, Calif. The place holds 6,100 people and I think it's been demolished to make way for Harry Potter. Any way, can't beat the venue, couldn't beat the chance to see Pearl Jam in such a setting, and so I tried to find a couple tickets. Former ESPN.com and Daily News Mets beat writer Adam Rubin agreed to come along with me, and what a show we saw. Pearl Jam played nine encore songs. Ben Harper joined in for one. Jerry Cantrell joined for "Alive." And there, toward the end, out of the audience or back from back stage emerged Chris Cornell, and they sang "Hunger Strike" live for the first time in years. Incredible.
We have also referred to it as the Shelby Miller Honorarium. Yes. Or, the Shelby Miller Scholarship, as the late Joe Strauss might have dubbed it. He liked the term "scholarship."
Front offices have not soured on that type of power hitter at all. Look around. Those type of power hitters are in demand. But they're also cranking out 25 homers a season. Adams had not yet done that. He had shown potential, he had hinted at it, and then never maintained (or received) the playing time. That's a big thing. I, too, am a little unsure of the return. The Cardinals explored the market for Adams this past winter, and while they got some bites -- Royals, but they were more interested in Wong; Rays, but I never got a real sense of the veracity of their offer -- they didn't find a deal that gave them the return they wanted at that point, and the attempt to make him part of a larger deal didn't satisfy, say, the White Sox for Eaton. So they held onto him, and they recognized at some point down the way they could make the move still. This past weekend they found themselves in a spot where it's a real question who had the better leverage:
Braves in need of 1B with Freeman injured. (Loney had signed.)
Cardinals in need of a roster spot for Piscotty. (Relievers maintained.)
I've looked at that two sets of factors over and over and tried to solve the equation that would lead to the Cardinals trade a major-league bat, their backup for Carpenter, and cash to the Braves for a 19-year-old, who yes is ahead of his level and yes shows sign of being a bat that plays a level or two ahead of his age, but, at this point, isn't a top 20 prospects, from what I can gather. Tells me the answer is actually the Braves. The Braves had more leverage. And they knew it because of the Cardinals insistence on keeping that extra reliever. Good job by Atlanta's scouts, in that regard.
Don't discount the factor his back/side may have in this, and how worried the Cardinals and Carpenter were about him hurting his side and missing time during spring training. Wouldn't at all be a surprise if he's still limited by caution or by an ache of some type.
Depends entirely on who is available and who is pitching well. Gonzales has dug his cleats in the ground and asserted himself as a starter. That's a good thing. The Cardinals have long wondered what he could do as a Lyons-type or even, shoot-the-moon Andrew Miller type, out of the bullpen, and Gonzales warmed to that role way back in 2014. Now he's getting the innings as a starter. He's doing well as a starter. And it's worth noting that the Cardinals wouldn't mind throwing a lefty starter into the mix at some point -- even for a cameo. The Cardinals' pitching depth today is threefold better than it was three weeks ago, and that's because Gonzales, Weaver, and Gant are all back, pitching well, getting ready.
One would think. When I mentioned in the chat that I thought Jhonny Peralta would return to a role like a righthanded Matt Adams, I meant as a complement, not a replacement. Now he's the replacement.
Lyons is part of that, sure. You'll see a carousel of relievers to a certain extend. But the Cardinals have really put themselves in a roster bind. Lyons cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers, and there's every indication he won't. Same with Socolovich. He's a righthanded reliever, and in that way has a better chance of slipping through waivers to Memphis, but it's not a guarantee. Bowman has options, but is pitching too well and is too valuable. Tuivailala has an option year here so he could go down, but again he's a role now that is actually being used. Broxton has service time and protection, so a move with him would mean a move away from him. And so on. There isn't the usual flexibility in the bullpen that has been a hallmark of past Mozeliak rosters. Might need an Adams-like move to alleviate some and hit that refresh button with some power from the minors.
I am not a license therapist, nor can I make that call. I really try to avoid telling fans how they should feel because I cannot always relate. What I hope to do is inform them, offer my view of things, explain the team's view/stance on things, and then allow the fans to come to an educated decision on how they react, how they spend, how they support. That, in the end, is how the fans will share their opinion: their attendance and their spending on the team.
Just, regardless of what happens, still read StlToday.com and visit the chat, OK? No need for frustration about the team to spillover into not wanting to read about the Cardinals. Thanks.
Writing! That's funny. I enjoy catching up with friends here. Had a chance to meet one friend yesterday afternoon, and then visit another friend and his family for dinner. Dinner! At a house! That rarely ever happens on the road, and is a true treasure. So, if that friend is reading this, thanks one of the best treats on the road of the season. I also try to wander a bit. I like to find independent bookstores and little cultural hubs whenever possible. My new year's resolution this year was to write a postcard a day to a friend or family member or just an acquaintance. So, yesterday, I actually made a few trips just to get a specific postcard. I read about a bookshop along the beach at Venice, went there, raided the racks of postcards they had there, found a coffee shop and wrote out a few postcards. Then I drove to a local university to get a postcard from that specific school for a friend, and then just drove one of the winding roads through the hills here for the view. Today, I'll chat. Tomorrow, I'll blog. Paperwork one of those days, too. So not much adventuring ahead, to be honest, outside of Dodger Stadium -- one of the best sights to see here in LA.
I have not received a good answer for this because of all the reasons you outlined -- and the one I mentioned earlier in the chat: They, by design, won't have access to a player of this caliber in the years ago because of where they intend to be in the standings. Simple as that. The closest -- and most salient -- explanation I have received in the wake of the Robert signing is that the Cardinals did weigh the cost of $60m for him (tax included) and say, $90+m for a more established free-agent type. To think of this in another way: Would the Cardinals be more likely to spend $80 million on Fowler or $45 million on Robert. What investment has the higher probability of working out given the cost? The answer is going to be Fowler, right. Track record. Known quantity. Higher cost. Age. All of that, but proven -- a higher probability of being productive. It's all probability. So, when Mozeliak told me that the money could be "redeployed" elsewhere, and there was all this angst about how the Cardinals spent $30 million on Cecil, and that could have been given to Robert or some such other argument -- remember it's not a point-to-point redeployment that he's describing. He's suggesting that the money for Robert could be scattered to a lot of international signings with the idea that more quantity might results in one quality (the powerball approach) or that the money for Robert could be pooled with other available cash (and they have it) for a bigger move. And a larger move. A move for a major-league player. A Fowler-type move. That's the one that fans should now see if the team can pull off.
While some of the points you make are fair, please keep in mind that some of the changes were driven by the player. Carpenter and Piscotty both sought out a more powerful swing, and they sought out help from coaches and experts beyond the world of Busch Stadium to do so. They showed initiative. Piscotty and Carpenter both have a reputation for that.
ASIDE: Tyler Lyons activated from DL.
Sam Tuivailala has been optioned out to Class AAA Memphis. Lyons will be with the team in LA tonight to face the Dodgers. So there you go. Move made. Eight relievers, still.
Back to the question about hitting ... I don't recall the team urging Kolten Wong to hit for more power. Quite the opposite, actually. And, what you said about Randal Grichuk is true, but he got a lot of his work on that done in Class AAA and was better for it having worked with Mark Budaska there. Grichuk needed to be more disciplined in the strike zone -- needs to be -- for his career, for his production, for the betterment of the Cardinals' offense.