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 11 a.m. Monday.

    Apologies for the brief delay here. I'm up and running. Found a coffee shop here near the old haunts of Pearl Street in Boulder. Ready to chat away the lunch hour in the weekly Cardinals Chat to be Named Later. A fair warning. We're going to try to keep the peppy pace here today and see if we can get to as many questions as possible. I've been invited to speak to a class at a friend's school about this zany baseball writing business -- and there are still questions to get, I'll plunge back into the chat at that time. Enough prelude. I've got my coffee. I've got wi-fi. Away we go.
    I'll ask the question without concern for a jinx...how to the Cardinals match up in a 5 game series with the Braves?
    Fairly well because they have Jack Flaherty pitching in two of those games. When it goes awry for the Cardinals is when they have to get through a one-game playoff to reach the NLDS -- against the Dodgers -- or if they draw Washington in that NLDS instead of the rolling Braves. The Cardinals are going to have a starter edge in a few games of a five-game series against the Braves, and that's a good place to, ahem, start.
    Before I get to my question I want to say that all of Cardinals nation hurts over the loss of Chris Duncan. I can’t imagine how his family feels. I hope they know they’re all in our thoughts.
    Well said. Chris Duncan is a St. Louis baseball treasure.
    Do you think Hudson (being a rookie and not used to this workload) and Mikolas (fairly sub-par season based on expectations from last season) would be dependable starters in any given playoff series? They are solid options, no doubt, but have either earned that #2 rotation spot on a playoff roster? Hudson has earned that to this point, but perhaps innings and fatigue may come into play in his case.
    First off, there are still a few weeks for them to make this decision for the Cardinals. Second, I find the workload question interesting for rookie Hudson and it's one I've looked at and talked through with folks around the team. Hudson, having thrown as much as he did last season (almost 140 innings) comes in with a good platform workload, as they say. So he's ahead of the game in that regard. Also, he's a sinkerballer. The general sense is that sinkerballers find away. There's a durability there and some sinkerballers feel they pitch better, have a bit more movement on that pitch when there arm is a little tired. Either way, Hudson and Flaherty didn't come into this season with much of an innings ceiling and the Cardinals have massaged their starts a few times through the season to make sure they're viable for October, not Strausburg'd. As for Mikolas. Yes, he can claim that spot. The Cardinals are going to side with track record, and there are examples this season and some stats that suggest he's certainly much much better than his record. His style of pitching will translate well to October.
    Hey DG, thanks for the chat. In your time spent with Jack Flaherty, do you feel that he has enjoyed his time with the organization? Also, do you feel that the contract renewal this off-season will hold weight when the time comes to keep him here long term?
  • Yes, sure, he digs it. He's taken cues from Molina in strong comments on what St. Louis means to him, and he's called it his home, his city.
     
    And somewhat yes. I think the contract renewal this past season allowed him to express his views of the market -- and hint at how he knows his value and how that value can only be reached in an open market, i.e., when other teams -- hello Dodgers! -- can bid on his service. Now, Flaherty gets the security that comes with a multi-year contract and how it defends against injury. So, where that leads us into this zone that Lance Lynn last inhibited. He had no interest in giving up free agency. He had interest in a multi-year deal. The Cardinals and Lynn arrived at an extension that took him up to the brink of free agency. No option. No spillover. No sacrifice on his part -- except on the possibility that he outpitched the rate and would have gotten more through arbitration. The Cardinals, in exchange, got cost certainty. Flaherty has shown a strong interest in the union, the financial structures of the game, and he references the research and suggest he and his "team" will do. The Cardinals are going to approach him but Flaherty has already given us a window into how he sees those conversations.
    On a scale of "Never going to happen" to "that's the plan", how likely is it that the 2020 Cardinals rotation is Flaherty, Mikolas, Hudson, Martinez, and Reyes?
    Squarely in the middle. Sorry, there's just too many unknowns there, and we're still not clear on what the Cardinals expect from Reyes and how they want to get him there. As discussed in last week's chat, Carlos Martinez will return to the starters' track this offseason, and if he's not traded he'll come to spring training with a chance to pitch in the rotation or the bullpen -- depending on his performance and the team's need. Other moves this winter will have an impact on this answer, and the Cardinals are going to look at the free-agent starter market.
    Really liked your articles on Shildt;s use of the bullpen and on the e shift in approach for the defense. Keep up the good work.
    Thank you. The bullpen one is interesting, no? No righthanded reliever is likely to get 70 appearances this season or rank near the top of the majors after many, many years of Maness, Rosenthal, and Bowman being a given in that group.
    Derrick, with the advent of the "Opener" and the fact that starters aren't going as many innings does MLB need to rethink how a Win is awarded? I believe it is up to the Official Scorer to award a win when the starter goes less than 5 innings but I don't believe I've ever seen a "starter" get awarded a win when they've pitched less than the 5. Should they rethink this?
    Yes, absolutely. Or they could get rid of it as a stat. Either way. But, yes, it does need a re-imagining that maybe backs off that 5-inning requirement or gives the scorer better direction when it comes to these odd bullpen games. I don't mind the "win" stat as much as other folks, but I don't see it as a qualitative (performance added) or predictive (performance expected) start. It's merely a narrative stat. It tells you about the performance that was, and that has been diluted by the short appearances of starters.
    Hey DG I wonder if you might comment on bring people up from the minors. Bring a pitcher up too early could be harmful to his career. Edman was a great call but what was it about him that he got the call over other that have been down longer and have as good a track record. Interested to see the thought process.
    Thanks for the question. I don't agree with the premise that bringing a pitcher up too early could be harmful to their career. There might be anecdotal examples of this, but I would ask if that's the chicken or the egg. Flaherty, Hudson, Martinez, Rosenthal -- so so so many pitchers have been promoted by the Cardinals at a young age and some from High-A or even Class AA and have done fine. Heck, Luis Perdomo was in Low-A one year and able to hold his own for a non-tending Padres team the next year through the Rule 5 process. 
     
    As for Edman. He was playing better than the others. He plays more positions than the other candidates. And he was a switch-hitter. He had a .869 OPS at Class AAA before the promotion. Was hitting better than .300, had an OBP greater than .350, and had a slugging percentage better than .500. That's a legit performance. And he was helped by the fact that, unlike say Randy Arozarena, he could also play third base and there was an opening for him in the infield due to some injuries. He did many things that translate to the majors, and at the time of the promotion there was a need and he was playing well. I will repeat because it's important: He's a switch-hitter. Shildt like switch-hitters.
  • Carp seems to have upped his intensity: turned a single into a double and then scored from 2nd. Am I overreaching, or has the lessened playing time either improved his health and/or raised his level of urgency to perform?
    I haven't seen any wavering in his interest, intensity or anything. Heck, it wasn't too long ago he was taking a bruising for getting thrown out when he tried to take the extra base in what had to be a consider show of intensity. Say what you want about his swing or his batting average or his approach at the plate when it comes to taking pitches -- but there hasn't been a time in his career that his urgency, intensity, or effort hasn't been at 500 rpm.
    Are you expecting any trades (from MLB or 40 man roster) this offseason? Who do you think would be most likely to be dealt, and for what (generally speaking)? Obviously the answer depends on other offseason moves, such as if a starter is signed or if Ozuna stays or leaves
    You gave a good outline of it. Yes, the Cardinals will explore trades this winter, just as they have in recent winters and winters before that. They have some tightening of the 40-man to do with three, four additions they'd like to make, and they would like to get some return on the players they're going to move off before they do. The Cardinals are going to look at the available pitchers (starters and relievers) and try to move from their depth to address that opening. They'll also try to find a lefthanded bat, perhaps for the bench. Those are trades that they're going to be interested in making, same as it ever was, really.
    Hey DG, do you think having a manger like Shildt who is not shy about pulling a starter (thank goodness), makes it any harder to sign free-agent pitchers? If all else equal, wouldn't a pitcher prefer a manager that let's him try to work out of his own jam?
    Nope. Not at all. Welcome to 2019. This is what the pitcher is going to get anywhere else, and the simple answer is: Pitch well enough to make the decision for him. See: Flaherty, Jack.
    I just wanted to comment that you last podcast with Wheeler was some really great discussion, keep up the good work.
  • Thanks. I enjoyed the chance to catch up with Kevin Wheeler. It was something we had discussed doing and then he was a part of the news and then we had the reason that neither of us wanted at all -- a chance to talk about Chris Duncan. You can find this podcast right here: https://www.stltoday.com/sports/columns/best-podcast-in-baseball/best-podcast-in-baseball-the-one-with-kevin-wheeler-unplugged/audio_68288ba2-d265-11e9-ad82-83ccbfaee1b2.html
  • Carp gets a couple hits and Edman went 0-4 yesterday so the odds are Shildt starts Carp and sits Edman next game
  • This past week says differently.
    If the playoffs started tomorrow would Carpenter be in the lineup?
    Who is the opposing pitcher? Who is the opponent? Who is healthy?
    Enjoyed your description in the most recent chat concerning the difference between the jump from AA to AAA and the jump from AAA to the Majors

    Would it be fair to suggest a minor leaguer's batting line again formerly successful MLB pitchers or a rehabbing MLB pitchers (while pitching in the minors) would be a better indicator of predicted performance in the Majors?
    Not necessarily. It could be worse. I'll give you an example. When a major-league pitcher goes down to some of the lower levels for rehab, he inevitably expects to have a bruising ERA. You can check out some of the starts made by big-leaguers in the minors -- or the stories of guys who hit homers of Kershaw on his rehab assignment. There are a few reasons for this. One, the big leaguers talk about how the young hitters come up there geared up to swing, looking to whack the big leaguer and hard, and they're not taking their usual at-bat. Meanwhile, the big leaguer's purpose is to do more than get an out there -- he's trying to get healthy, trying to find his stuff, trying to make sure all of his pitches are right and his mechanics are right and his arm right and all of it for when he starts a game that matters. See, that's the rub. For the minor league hitter that at-bat is what matters. For the pitcher, it's where he's going in another start, or in a week, that matters. It can skew the results. 
     
    Instead, look for what the hitter does with his strikeouts, with his walks, how he compares to the league average, and how he compares to the other hitters who call that ballpark home. An outfielder who spends his home games in Memphis and has the same numbers of an outfielder who spends his home games in Reno is a standout, and if you look at the strikeout rate, goodness. Oh, and check out the doubles. Especially in Class AA. If a player hits consistently and consistently hard and has a bunch of doubles -- think Colby Rasmus -- those doubles are a sign of power on the way, power that will arrive as he gets stronger and older and will be there in the majors.
    Hey DG, who do you think is the most influential cardinal other than Jack Flaherty from now until the postseason ends? Who can influence the stretch run the most with their play (good or bad), doesn't have to be the best player.
    Still going with Paul Goldschmidt. That offense is going to go where he takes it -- or where the opponents allow others to take it because they're constantly avoiding him.
    A comment before a question: If you're a fan of chocolate and haven't already tried it, Piece, Love & Chocolate at about Pearl and 8th has a fine selection. Also, The Boulder Book Store (Pearl and 11th) has a fine selection of chocolate bars opposite the registers

    Question: How do you rank Bader's defense when compared to the rest of the league? Might you be willing to call him a future Gold Glove winning defender as you did with Wong so long ago?
  • I grew up coming to Boulder Bookstore and mining the stacks for goodies there, and then often spending the money I got busking on Pearl Street at the Boulder Baseball Card Store, which was a little farther down Pearl Street and had a basement location. And don''t get me started on Time Warp. Thanks for the tip, and I'll take any excuse to get back to Boulder Bookstore.
     
    Bader is an elite defensive player. He has a claim to being the best center fielder in the NL when it comes to defense, and all that he's missing this year is the innings in the field and he would be a surefire top-three vote-getter for the Gold Glove. He might get there anyway. He's saving runs at a rate others are not. According to Bill James Online, he's a plus-22 in center field, and that ranks second at his position and third in the outfield. Only Lorenzo Cain has a higher rating, at plus-25. And Cain has played 300 more innings in center than Bader has this season. Tease that out a bit. Similarly with DRS -- Defensive Runs Saved -- Bader is at a plus-12, and Cain is at a plus-16, and given more playing time, Bader is on a pace that would put him atop his position for that advanced stat.
  • Would either Flaherty or Hudson been included in a Stanton trade last year?
    Good question. Hard no on Flaherty. That was something the Cardinals wanted to avoid and was a non-starter for the Cardinals. They also wanted to avoid Hudson in any deal, and I was told that the deal for Ozuna looked a lot like the one for Stanton -- and may have been sweetened a bit because the Cardinals were taking on far less salary and thus Marlins had the right to pull a bit more talent. My understanding was that Alcantara was the centerpiece of both deals.
    At the risk of counting the chickens before they're hatched, if the Cubs continue to fall and the division is secured early, can we expect some of the young outfielders to get some good looks in September?
    Maybe. But I doubt the division is decided -- and the Cardinals will have something to play for up until the final weekend given how home-field advantage now works in the playoffs. I don't see the upside of the young outfielders unless those final goes cannot determine anything, anything at all.
    Derrick: Chris Duncan once opined on his radio show about the temptations players encounter in cities like Miami, New York and LA. In your capacity as beat writer, are there any incidents you recall where a newer player(s) had to be counseled or demoted because his night life was affecting his ability to play ball?
    Many. On all of the beats that I've covered -- from hockey to NBA to baseball. And not just confined to those cities. Montreal can be a doozy, and veteran players will often counsel players on where to be when and what to do. They're human. In many cases, they're college-aged and no different than you or I at the same age. I know of young sportswriters who have to be counseled or demoted because of the challenges of the road and the availability of late nights. And how hard it is to sleep when bouncing from city to city, game to game, and so on. This is something that every player has to learn, whether they learn to avoid it or learn to manage it or insist on enjoying whatever city has to offer. And you bet -- as it is any walk of life, yours, mine, theirs -- their habits away from their job can cost them at the job.
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