Cardinals chat with Rick Hummel

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 at 11 a.m. Monday.




    Sixty-four games to go and the Cardinals are one series win away from winning all four series they needed to win, with the schedule turning in their favor the past couple of weeks. The Pittsburgh series will be an important one because the Cardinals next take on four potential playoff teams in Houston, Cubs, Oakland and Dodgers.
    Tell me what you think.
    The chat is on. 
    Commish
    Commish; could the Cincinnati series win and a series win in Pittsburg lull the FO into a false sense of buyer urgency or are they more likely to wait until the 31st before deciding whether to buy or sell?
    The 31st is only the last day you can do anything. Anything ahead of that is all right, too. But they might feel they need a few more days of clarity, say by this weekend to see if Carpenter is all right and how close Ozuna and Molina are. They aren't hidebound to that, however, since they are seeking starting pitching anyway.
    There is urgency, to be sure. But unless the Cardinals fall on their heads in the next week or so, they are more buyers than sellers. 
     
    Cardinals r playing better. Who sits when carpenter comes back and, given the sample size, could it be him? Thanks
    Carpenter might sit more often than he had been because Munoz and Edman have to play some. But Carpenter still is the regular player. He is being paid a lot of money to be a regular and, if he is healthy, he is a regular. That doesn't mean you have to play him against every lefthander, though.
    Will the FO try to feed the fans "we didn't make any major moves because we have Ozuna and Yadi coming back and thats like adding two all stars"?
    The front office already has said that. Their need is starting pitching, one more anyway.  There isn't anybody better than Ozuna, Molina and Carpenter they could get in a trade so that's why they would say there aren't really any major moves they could make offensively because there isn't anybody available better than what they have. And I'm including a disappointing Goldschmidt and a slightly less disappointing DeJong in this group, too. That five should be a formidable five. It hasn't been. 
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    I am not sure inconsistency in this offense will get any better in the second half. MO has a big decision to make at the trading deadline next week. He must not include top end prospects in any transaction. I believe adding couple of pieces going to help somewhat but not sure will be enough. The problem is lack of offense from players you expect the most. Do you know what is going on with lack of production from Goldy for example. He is certainly having excellent season defensively. Unless all the regular start producing regularly I do not see them getting into playoffs. Your thoughts please
    You are correct. If most of the regulars, save Ozuna, perform the way they did the first four months, there will be no playoffs. But what it they all improve, even just a little? And they pick up one more starting pitcher?. I think the FO would like that club. I don't want to see them trade away any top prospects but if you want a middle- or top-of-the-rotation guy, somebody will have to go.
    I think Carpenter’s 2018 June/July blurs the reality of who he really has been as a hitter for the last 3 years. If you go back to the start of August of 2016, and remove the two scorching months he had last summer, he is a .229 hitter in the other 1,350 ABs. In 2017 he was walking in 22% of his ABs, which boosted his OBP and his thus his value as a leadoff hitter, despite not actually hitting a ton. Last year his walk percentage trickled down to 18%, but his June and July papered over a rather pedestrian start and finish to the season at the plate. This year, his walk percentage is down to 15% and there has been no hitting spree to boost the OBP. This might be Matt Carpenter going forward. So, when do the team, media, and fans stop holding their breath waiting for him to return to this “career norm” that hasn’t been Carpenter’s norm since 2015?
  • He's not going to make his career norm, with just two months to go.  But he can be better. And there are some other options that have developed along the way in Edman and Munoz, who already was here. Carpenter still can help. The Cardinals don't have to have him carry them. Goldschmidt is the guy they had in mind for that. And maybe those days are coming, too. But we will have to see that.
  • Not to nit-pick a win but what was the thought process behind having an offensively-challenged Ravelo assume Goldy’s spot in the order, in an already anemic offense?
    Ravelo was having a big year in Class AAA and is not an offensively-challenged player. He had only one of the 11 strikeouts against DeSclafani, so there are others who were challenged, too.
    Mo sat out the past three years trading deadlines and then sat out Oct playoffs. He can’t sit out another one given the current standings. Since pre-season, we have heard that the Cards are “all-in” this year. I believe the team will get a top tier pitcher, a mid-tier reliever, and stand pat on offense with the hope that the best players will get better along with the reemergence of Ozuna and Molina. Where am I wrong?
    They will ride the offense they have (or haven't had) for the most part. They are seeking a veteran pitcher.  Their bullpen isn't in such need but they would look to help that, too.  Mo won't sit this one out. This division is there for the taking. And, yes, the Cubs are hot. But they are just two games ahead of the Cardinals on the loss side and six of the 10 remaining meetings between the teams are here. Six wins out of 10 and you're even, in theory.
    Chicago starts a trip tonight at San Francisco and then goes to Milwaukee and here in the next 10 days.
     
    If the Reds sell, I think Puig would be a perfect rental for the Cardinals. Power bat for the OF, big personality the team is missing. The hand injury to Ozuna may sap his power and O'Neill doesn't have a consistent track record. Long term Puig could be an issue but 2 months could be the missing spark.
    You make a good point about Puig's big bat. But his personality may be too big. I see nothing wrong with O'Neill right now. We don't know exactly how long it will take Ozuna to get up to speed but I think they'll be OK in the outfield. They probably are one starting pitcher shy and I would rather see their modest trade resources packaged in that direction.
  • As a fan, this past weekend in the Queen City was nearly perfect. Team won 3 out of 4, one on a monster comeback. The offense showed signs of life but also that Ozuna's bat is missed. But it also showed that despite a recent surge, this starting rotation is not good enough as is and health will not save the day. An outside upgrade is needed. Not an upgrade over Ponce De Leon, an upgrade over all 5 pitchers.
    The next starter they might acquire doesn't have to be better than all the starters, but he's got to close to a top-tier guy.  Flaherty has pitched great lately although with no wins to his credit. Mikolas has been better. Hudson has been fine. And Wainwright good more often than not. But, having said that, they need someone who  has done something in the heat of a pennant race or even in the postseason.
    Commish, if Goldschmidt and Carpenter can no longer catch up to a major league fastball due to advancing age, and Ozuna isn’t resigned, is this team heading for a train wreck over the next few years?
    That certainly would be a trifecta ticket that you couldn't cash. The future for Carpenter is the murkiest because he is the oldest. Goldschmidt surely is better than this. But they need Ozuna, who is only 28 and just reaching his prime perhaps while the others have passed it. They're winning now but they could use that force in the middle of the lineup.
    I enjoy these chats and respect your knowledge a great deal.
    I read last week you quoted Shildt in response to your question regarding Carpenter's hitting problems this year and whether they related directly to his advancing age and the ability to catch up to certain pitches. Shildt denied that he saw his advancing age as a problem. Wouldn't it be common sense the he would deny this and defend Carpenter in public ? There have been various un-named scouts in other publications that have stated the contrary. Wouldn't it be more beneficial to your readers to quote reputable and respected scouts (they don't necessarily have to be named) that you talk to vs the manager's opinion which will obviously be biased?
    I don't think I need any scouts to tell me that Carpenter hasn't been very good this year or that he hasn't swung the bat well consistently. Heck, you or anybody else can see that. But, if is healthy, he can still contribute. I'm not hitching the wagon just to him but he is better than he has been. .
    If O'Neill continues to rake like he is, who will sit when Ozuna comes back?
    Shildt will run them all out there but O'Neill will be in right field mostly every day if he continues to shine. J. Martinez will be a key man off the bench. Fowler will start in center and Bader will finish up. If O'Neill falters, then he is in the mix with the other three for two spots on a daily basis.
    Commish,

    If Carp struggles when he comes back from the DL, and the Cardinals continue to play him over more productive players like Munoz and Edman, Doesn't that contradict their "2019 matters" Mantra? At this point isn't it a sunken cost? Payroll politics should not apply when you tell your fanbase that winning matters.
  • We'll look at this one more time and then we can move on. Carpenter doesn't have to play every day. There are other options. But when he is healthy, presumably, he plays this weekend or next week. He does not, however, have a lifetime pass. He will need to produce to play.
    cant see this team doing much in the playoffs. Other seasons when we made runs we always seemed to have a true #1 if not 2 #1 pitchers. Now we have none. I'd trade away pieces to improve our farm system.
    If you'll note, the teams with the best regular-season records often do not get to _ or win _ the World Series. I cite the 2006 and 2011 Cardinals as examples. They weren't the best in the regular season either time. But they were the best in October. I do agree, however, that they may not have _ as we look at it now _ the No. 1 and No. 2 starters to match up with some of the other clubs. As you'll also note, though, more postseason games lately have been won by the bullpens than the rotations, and the Cardinals are among the best  for depth in that area.
    It seems like every year MO says he will watch the team and re evaluate before deciding to add someone. Most years it’s a bullpen piece. They seem to not go for an impact player even if they are available. Even DF said the team gets a boost when the front office does something. Given MOs track record in the past few years I’m not sure I trust him to evaluate and give up talent for talent but I hate to see him do nothing and take a chance of bringing the team down further. Are we looking at another year of a complimentary piece or will the powers that be actually make an impact?
    I see them bringing in another starting pitcher. I do not see them bringing in a position player of note unless they think Ozuna will be out much longer. They will not be inactive but they aren't in shake-up mode either. At least, not yet.
    Hypothetical: the Cards just made me the batting coach for the final 10 weeks of the season. My message to the the team: the ball is juiced like never before, you guys don’t hit for average due to defensive shifts and power pitching. So we are going to do three things: swing for the fences, swing for the fences, and swing for the fences. Commish, what’s wrong with my strategy?
    It seems that some of the fellows already have been following that strategy. There is room for that kind of philosophy _ of swinging "to do damage," as they say. Sometimes, though, when you have a good bullpen, you need to pick up runs as they are available, such as stealing four bases in one inning and just putting the ball in play yesterday, leading to two runs.
    Listened to the radio when Arizona was in town and interesting to hear their hometown radio guys talk to Bernie and they said they were not surprised by Goldschmidts down season. They said they thought it might be a down year because of his vision.
    I've heard nothing about Goldschmidt having any vision problems but I would think it might be on the list to at least check on, because he doesn't seem to see the ball well sometimes.
  • Unless Ozuna's injuries persist is it now more likely than not the Cardinals will at least extend him a qualifying offer this off season?
    I have little doubt that the Cardinals at least will extend a qualifying offer. They need him back. And certainly, they don't want to lose him without compensation but he is just the type of player you want _ 28 years old _ with power, RBI ability and, actually, except for one memorable pratfall, a good outfielder.
    Front end pitcher will be tough to acquire at the deadline, there are many other teams looking for the same. So what does MO plan to do ? What is ailing Goldy ? Your thoughts please.
    Mo will acquire the best pitcher available. This isn't a trade deadline flush with players that will turn teams around. I really can't say what's ailing Goldy but I would drop him down to fifth or sixth in the lineup. That appeared to work for DeJong.
    Do you for see a very hot team in the Giants approaching the trade line as sellers, buyers or holding the line?
    I'm sure the Giants are scratching their heads now. Two weeks ago they were in big-time selling mode and they've got Bumgarner and some good relievers  _ Smith, Dyson, Watson _ who could help teams. The Giants now must decide if those fellows can help them more. A litmus test is the three games they have with Chicago in San Francisco beginning tonight. If they can win a couple of those or all three, they are suddenly buyers.
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