Alright. Many apologies for the delay. I had phone issue that needed to be resolved before I could a) cover tonight's All-Star Game and b) participate in this chat as planned. It still is not corrected, so we'll try to go here for a bit and them hopefully make the most of the afternoon. Greetings from Miami! The 88th All-Star Game is tonight and already the coverage has been spilling out from StlToday.com. Rick Hummel and I are here to cover the game for the site and the paper. But I'm here now to take questions leading up toward some reporting this afternoon ... Let's go.
Yep. And for that I apologize.
Not likely, no. It's always good to have a good-hands fielder on the bench. That's a plus.
It's a fair question. A lot of it has to do with injury history. The Cardinals have been high on Pham before and then had it sidetracked by a leg injury, a shoulder injury, trouble with his contacts. There was always something that was one day away. There is another reason, too. It's his streakiness. That is always on the mind of the Cardinals, and we've heard it before. Get Tommy Pham when he's hot and playing well and he carry a team, Matheny said. But you have to be aware when that chill could be coming. That is always in their mind, and the manager and the front office have mentioned it before as something that gives them pause before going into a season thinking Pham is the starting outfielder. Now, with each passing day here and each opportunity to play here he's pushing that caveat away, proving he can improve, he can minimize the cold spells, he can be the starter. But he does have to get over a few more hurdles than others -- and while that may not be fair or even reflective of his production, it's the reality.
Over Jedd Gyorko, who has been one of the team's best overall players? Hardly. This is a conundrum that I don't know how they're going to solve. The team plays well when Kolten Wong is on the field. The team has looked good with Voit in the lineup. Matt Carpenter is the trigger for the offense. Something has got to give. Let's fill the chat with suggestions.
Better question is why Aledmys Diaz was demoted for such a thing, right? The Cardinals are clearly high on Stephen Piscotty and they have more trust in him finding a way to contribute -- offensively, defensively -- than the others. I think it goes back to the notion we just explored with the hot streak/cold streak. There's a sense that Piscotty comes out of his quicker, or has more ways to contribute while the other guys are going to go into a deeper drought. The Cardinals are holding fast to their bet that Piscotty can be a productive part of the middle of the order -- hence all the appearances until recently at No. 3 -- and that he'll help push the offense forward. The Cardinals gave him the heavy investment at the start of the season in the contract, and we're seeing the investment in playing time that followed.
I don't understand why this idea persists.
I asked about this and was told it wasn't a direction the Cardinals were prepared to head. That was the week before the All-Star break.
Been there. Done that. Got the injury to prove it.
Nope. That's not the deal teams are looking for.
A friendly heads up that someone is prank calling from your cell phone, Rick.
He may not get one in September, though his play is really hammering away at the door to the majors. Bader does not yet have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him, and let's go inside the transactions why this matters. First, to be in the majors a player must be added to the 40-man and then promoted to the active roster. Second, any time that player is then sent to the minors after the promotion he burns an option year (players have three option years, and can be optioned as many times as necessary during that year). Third, with little time left in the year that would be burning an option for him if he returns, and then possibly burning a second option next year if he doesn't make the team out of spring training. Now consider for a moment why that matters for the Cardinals -- and other teams. For the Cardinals, they have tons of outfielders and he might join the hot-hand roulette but not stick. For other teams? Well, if you're looking to trade for an outfielder, wouldn't you like one you don't have to add to the 40-man right away? You can add at your timing? When he makes the team? Or when there's a slim probability that the option will be burned.
Hence, trade from strength to fill a need. Lots of outfielders.
Highly probable. He expects to.
Interesting question. I'm not sure Matt Adams would have gotten the playing time that even Voit has gotten recently. He just always seemed stuck on the outside of being regular -- like the Cardinals found reasons and he didn't play to the point where he made the decision for him. He might be that classic change of scenery guy. Where as Voit has made the most of what could have been a short stay. He outplayed Jose Martinez to stick in the majors. No doubt about it. And he's done so with big splash, timely hits. I think the Cardinals are happy to have that, and the bounce that he seems to bring, and that has been missing.
From the people I have interviewed and asked about this, I have not heard one substantive word that suggests Stanton is a possible trade acquisition for the Cardinals. Either I'm not talking to the right people or they're misleading me or there is only smoke, no spark.
They will try. There are few options, but they are pursuing them, or will be in near-term. At last check, this is the kind of move they expect to go into the final week of the deadline, when there is a clock ticking and pressure to move.
Hey, time to go see if my phone is ready. I'll be back shortly. Keep the questions coming. We've got a few hours to go. And I appreciate your patience. Wish me luck.
No luck. So you get to wait with me here for awhile. Oh, run late for a meeting. Good times. Let's pass them together. Fingers crossed phone is up and running soon.
They have just committed more to Piscotty, even though you can see the parallels right between Wong struggling, losing playing time to another player (Ellis one year, for example), and then being stuck on the bench. So they send Wong for playing time, just as they sent Grichuk, as they sent Diaz, as maybe someday they'll Voit, and so on and so on. What makes this interesting now is Bader is pushing from behind. We've seen what Sierra can do. They aren't the same player as Piscotty, and the Cardinals see greater upside and experience in Piscotty at this point. But, yes, he's been given a greater latitude than the players mentioned above, and as mentioned below you cannot ignore how the investment in playing time and investment in where he hits in the lineup mirrors the investment made in him.
Regardless of how it works, Pham should play. He's been a revelation for a team that needed one.