Cardinals chat with Rick Hummel

Bring your Cardinals questions and comments, and talk to Hall of Fame baseball writer Rick Hummel in a live chat from Jupiter, Fla., starting at 11 a.m. Monday.

  • Hi Rick: Are the Cardinals spending the new TV revenue on Ballpark Village instead of improving the team?
  • So, apparently you do not think trading for an outfielder who hit .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs is an improvement?  I'm not saying this is enough to win the championship but at least Ozuna provides a fear factor in the lineup.
  • Commish -- Great chat as usual. I want to draw on your historical perspective in my two questions.

    1) What are some of the biggest changes in covering a major-league team compared to when you started? I know it's a different world, but pick out what you think are the most significant and how it has had an impact on doing your job. I know at one time, writers could pretty easily reach players on the phone, if needed. That's pretty much gone, right?
    2) Was there a period during the last 40 years when covering the team wasn't as much fun? I can imagine some of those teams in the early 1990s, when you knew the brewery was not going to make a move for a needed piece, weren't too fun, but maybe there were other times I didn't notice as much.

    Thanks. I will hang up and listen.
  • Second question first. It's always been fun but there was a day when it likely was more fun. There are many more responsibilities these days with the web and travel isn't nearly as easy at used to be. Nor are the players as readily available as you'd like them to be. That's probably the biggest change, relatively to question No. 1. With so many new media members, the players often are uncomfortable dealing with those they don't know. So they sometimes choose not to be available although this year's group seems pretty good so far.
  • Commish: I’ve heard it said that the Cardinals shouldn’t focus on how good the Cubs and Brewers are; that they should just worry about being as good as they can be. That logic is hard for me to understand. If the Cubs & Brewers were 80 win teams, you would know you only need to build an 85 win team. If they’re 100 win teams, you need to either improve dramatically or else give up on the season. You have to pay attention to what your competition is doing. Ask any team in the AL East not named the Red Sox or the Yankees. Do you agree or disagree? Thanks
  • I disagree, with an asterisk. Yes, you have to pass the clubs you finished behind the year before but you don't really know how good they're going to be. You do know that 83 wins are not going to get it done and that 90 might. So that means you have to  improve your own product, no matter what the opposition has done.
  • After watching Spring Training this year, who do you believe will be the most impactful positional player and the most impactful pitcher this year for the Cardinals that does NOT make the team out of camp? Same question, but long term? Thanks again for your insight.
  • Easy answers are Jack Flaherty and Mike Mayers among the pitchers. And Outfielder Adolis Garcia among the position players. Randy Arozarena, another outfielder, would fall into the longer-term category, And Derian Gonzalez among young pitchers who are a couple of years away.
  • What is your evaluation of Knizner, how do you like his defensive development and potential, and what do you think his ceiling is? How do you rate him compared to Kelly?
  • Andrew Kzizner is not the equal yet of Carson Kelly as a defender but he is getting better. From what I've seen, he's got more power, though. And might be the better prospect.
  • When a fan criticizes the cardinals for being "cheap" or not doing more to ensure contention, the response from a few writers at this "paper" have been to say that "the fans are spoiled by the cardinals' success," or some similar variant of this defense. Sure we all want the cardinals to draft two future HOFers after the 3rd round. We don't expect it though. But for the cardinals to refuse to build a roster that will contend while receiving even more revenue? Complaining about that is due to our spoilage? I guess at least the fans can carry their own water on this one. The cardinals have friends for that.
  • I would be very surprised if this team doesn't contend.  I dpn't know if there was any superstar talent on the free-agent market they've missed  out on.
    Perhaps three months from now, I'll feel differently. But I like the addition of Ozuna, an acquisition which many of you seem to dismiss, just because he was traded for and not bought. Throwing money at the problem isn't always the answer, even if you have it. And, by the way, they were ready to pick up Stanton's considerable contract. He made the call on that one.
  • Besides Kolton Wong and Tommy Pham do you see anymore Cardinals with 20 or more steals this year? DeJohn, Fowler maybe?
  • The answer to that would be none. If Fowler were younger, he could do that but not at this stage. If DeJong steals five, it will be a good year for him.
  • Commish, I want to apply for Cards backup catcher. I'm 60, 5'9, 260 lbs. can't hit it out of the infield, can't squat either but I'm a fun guy on the bench and I will eat the clubhouse spread. Since I'll never play, this is my dream gig. Will you put in a good word with the FA? I'll give you an exclusive interview!
  • So this is what happened to Brayan Pena?
  • Sorry Commish but I am not drinking Cardinal Koolaid just yet for the following reasons: 1) Wainwrights age/durability. It's nice to hear him be positive but until the bell rings, it's just talk. 2) Starting pitching still questionable versus the better teams. 3) In field defense questionable, particularly at 1B. 4) Until he proves otherwise, the jury, as far as I'm concerned, is out on Pham to repeat last years performance. Am I wrong?
  • No, those are legitimate concerns. But the infield defense will be better because Oquendo will be here all season long to reinforce what he and other coaches have worked on in the spring. . The Cardinals have had a litany of mediocre defensive first baseman since Albert Pujols, so that position isn't going to improve that much, although I do think Carpenter will be better. They are deep in outfielders so they have coverage if Pham falters. And you're going to like Luke Weaver and, eventually, Flaherty.
    But, as they say, let's see what happens when they play the games. 
  • I have noticed that a response this season to criticism of cardinals management was that we fans are "spoiled" by the success of the DeWitt era. Setting aside the relative ease of making the playoffs compared to, say, 1977 or even 1966, we cardinals fans have experienced plenty to complain about over the years. I won't go too far into Steve Carlton or Keith Hernandez or why Whitey left the team, but maybe we were just spoiled then too. The owners using the passion of cardinals nation to fill coffers without worring about championships is nothing new. I know we continue to pay ever more exorbitant prices. I know many fans have its worse. But this isnt supposed to be baseball owners heaven. Do you think Im way off base with this? From where I sit in the "cheap" seats the cardinals ownership and management are spoiled by a fan base that is the organization's greatest asset.
  • You can feel however you want. You get to do that when you're a card-carrying fan. But Bill DeWitt has been in baseball his whole life and he doesn't like not succeeding any more than you don't like the club  not succeeding. To brandish him as caring only about money is way off base.
    I think at this point, instead of worrying about what the team didn't acquire, let's be concerned about what  they do have and if it's enough. Then we can talk about spending that "Ball Park Village" money. The off-season is over. Put it to bed. The in-season is on.
  • So we keep talking about how Flaherty/Reyes will be starting by years end. So who is the first man OUT?
  • Sorry about the delay, folks, 
    Some important office matters to attend to.
    As far as Flaherty, Reyes and whom they might replace, the ones to watch, I guess, are Mikolas and Wainwright.
  • I am confused by many fans who complain that the Cardinals did not throw money and years at Darvish or Arrieta. These are the same fans who complain that Wainwright is no longer reliable. You know, the guy we threw money and years at when he was over 30. Please step into the minds of these fans and tell me why they would want to be in exactly this position three or five years from now.
  • The Cardinals had some bad feelings about the last two multi-year deals they extended to free-pitchers in Leake and Cecil and these were younger pitchers than Arrieta. They might even be a little nervous about having committed five years to Martinez.
  • Assuming good health all around, what's your prediction for how many starts J. Martinez will get?
  • I would  hope that Martinez would get 85 to 90 starts either at first base or in the outfield. That would be about 300-325 at-bats.
  • Appreciate your time,after watching spring training I feel much better about this upcoming season and think 90-95 wins is attainable. Really intrigued by Our OF depth and emergence of Knizer as a true future starter and the bullpen and young arms are brilliant as ever. Barring unforeseen lineup injuries, what non pitichint position would the cardinals want to trade for? 3B?
  • Thanks!
    I always trade for pitching help during the season, even ones that aren't going to be with you the next year. Pitching usually is the area in which there is he most attrition.
  • Why is Flaherty regarded so highly when he hasn't done much at the major league level?
  • Other teams' scouts like Jack Flaherty. That's enough for me.
  • Three questions: (1) How's Daniel Ponce de Leon (sp?) progressing--lost track of him since he was sent down? (2) Is Austin Gomber on the radar screen--I feel he's overlooked as a prospect given his tangibles and winning habit? (3) Do you foresee a guaranteed $300 million contract for Harper next offseason given the reluctance of any team in MLB to pick up Stanton's contract? Thank you.
  • Harper will get his. He's a younger, better player.  Gomber always will be on the radar because he is the only lefthanaded pitcher of any consequence in the high minors. Ponce Deleon. . . I do not have a read on lately.
  • Is it true that Gussie Busch had Whitey Herzog out to his home one afternoon during the season to discuss the team and during the visit they were consuming some Buds and when Whitey was leaving Gussie handed him another be and said here Whitey have one for the ditch. Is that a true story?
  • In the day, that often was a phrase used, unfortunately, when somebody was having one more. I can not verify that Gussie and Whitey had that conversation but I would not be surprised if it happened. But the two were together for only four years or so before Gussie died.
  • How do you think Wong will improve over last year inconsistencies, given Oquendo's presence?
  • Oquendo will be in Wong's face, as it were, when he sees something he doesn't like. Wong will appreciate that, I think.
  • Are the Ball Park Villages being funded with private DeWitt money?
  • Certainly, a lot of DeWitt money is involved in Ballpark Village.
  • I have asked this question to your colleague, Mr. Gould, and have not gotten an answer that makes sense to me. It seems to me that there was no point in Stanton talking to the Cardinals, having them fly out to Los Angeles to meet with him, if there was no way no how that he would ever agree to accept a trade to them. I believe that there was something that they could have said or an offer that they could have made that he would have accepted. The fact that he is a Yankee today means that they did not say what he wanted to hear, or offer what he needed to accept the deal. Now, his demand may have been totally unreasonable or not, we don't know, but I hesitate to give the Cardinals full credit for pursuing him with his big contract knowing that they were not willing to close the deal and not knowing what it would have taken to close that deal. Am I being unfair? Is there any chance that we will ever find out what it would have taken?
  • Usually, it's about the money but Stanton didn't want to play in St. Louis or San Francisco. It's not all that simple but restructuring the contract didn't seem to appeal to him either. The point is that the Cardinals concluded the trade, nor really knowing how Stanton felt, but hopeful. They were prepared to pay him whatever was left on the contract. 
    Look at it this way: How many young players who grow up in southern California, if they can't play for the Dodgers, are going to make St. Louis their first choice? .   
  • Definitely a glass half full kind of guy. These Cubs are not the 2015-2016 Cubs - who were legitimately great teams (especially 2016 with MVP2 Bryant/Rizzo, Career Zobrist year, great pitching (Hammel won 15 as a #5), Chapman, etc. The Cubs are a 90-95 win team and the Cards are a 85-90 win team so a variance of a few wins either way (and the Cubs bullpen isn't really any more set than the Cards) and the Cards can take the division. Anyone who thinks Lester, Hendricks, Quintana, 2018 Darvish (not the 2012-2014 Darvish who lit it up for the Rangers) and Chatwood is some kind of 2016 Cubs Rotation. So, while the Cards' are not the Nats or Dodgers, let's not make the 2018 Cubs to be as good as the 2016 Cubs.
  • These are not the World Series champion Cubs.  But they're good. Rotation still a little uncertain. Bullpen even more so, in my mind..
  • Why wasn’t Tyler Lyons given a straight up chance to compete for the role of closer? I think his performance last season clearly warranted that chance - I think he might be the best and highest upside (non-prospect) reliever we have.
  • If Tyler Lyons is good  enough he might be that guy. But there seems concern that he might have trouble doing too many back-to-backs if his knee acts up. I like him at a key point in the game, no matter the inning, when I need a strikeout or two.
  • MR COMMISH. Marcel Ozuna is the only answer you and all the Post Dispatch writers can come up with when we say the Cardinals have not improved very much. YES very happy we have Mr Ozuna for 2 years. YES it was a very good move by the Cardinals. But after the very good Ozuna trade what have the Cardinals done this winter to try to win the division? In lighten us because most of us have missed the great moves other than Ozuna very good trade. Most players we signed and traded for is off the scrap heap. Pay-roll going down from last year. Cardinals needed at least 1 more starting pitcher and 1 more power bat to protect Ozuna so he can re-pet his last years numbers. Last year he had Stanton ,Baur and Yellich hitting in the line up. Yairo Munoz may turn out to be good so after the very good Ozuna trade and getting Munoz what have the Cardinals done to improve and win the division?? YES we all agree the Ozuna trade was great but then they just stopped.
  • Leone, the pitcher they got from Toronto, may be better than you think. Gregerson and Mikolas, too. But as I said before, all the angst over what did or did not happen in the off-season now should take a back seat to what is or will be happening. Let's have some sample sizes before we pass too much more judgment. You may be right. But, now, let's see what they have and not worry about what they don't. Not yet anyway.
  • When questioned about whether the Cardinals are spending their money on improving the team or Ball Park Village, you and others have countered that Ozuna is an improvement. He certainly is, but that improvement was made by spending prospects, not money. Ozuna's salary ended up slightly over Piscotty's, but the payroll as a whole has gone down while the TV revenues have gone way up, so I don't think you can say the team has used its payroll punch to improve the team. I don't think you are dodging the question, just didn't fully understand it while trying to answer as many as possible.
  • They didn't trade anybody with a really big contract other than Leake last year. Ozuna makes $9 million, about twice as much or Piscotty right now. Mikolas was signed for $15 million, Gregerson for $11 million on two-year deals. Lynn wasn't making an outrageous amount when he left. Payroll hardly has been cut drastically if at all.
    Did you want to give Yu Darvish $126 million? Or Jake Arrieta $25 million a year?  Answer truthfully now
    And one more time. . . let's watch them play a little before we hang anybody from a lamp post. .
  • Mr Hummel in response to your answer to Virginia Beach Cards Fan.
    Yes we consider Mr Ozuna as a huge up grade. But the rest of the moves were HALF TANKING moves or plain old dumpster diving moves. Can you prove me wrong? The Cardinals do not want to give up some third round draft pick and money to sign say Darvish, Arrerita, Cobb, Lynn, maybe even Holland. But wait we do not want to pay Holland for what he did in the past but we want Gregerson to be our closer because what he did in the past?
    Again Mr Hummel Cardinal fans all over the world want to here OTHER THAN Mr OZUNA what have the Cardinals done this off season to try to catch the Cubs and win the division? Have a great week!
  • How many people are asking the Yankees what they did "besides adding Stanton?" They seem pretty happy with that, I think.
  • Thanks to you all.
    Hope we can do this again.
    Let the season begin. And then react whatever way you want. I won't be upset.
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