Join Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold for his live chat at 11 a.m. Monday

Join Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold for his live chat at 11 a.m. Monday

Bring your Cards questions and comments to Monday’s 11 a.m. live chat.

    Alright, I'm back in St. Louis for the longest stretch since leaving for Florida in February to cover ... well, back then it was a lot of watching a parking lot for people walking, if you remember those cloudy days during the Jupiter Summit. Said goodbye to South Florida this past week and hello to a long home stand, starting tonight with the homecoming of Max Scherzer. He's wearing new colors. The orange of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The orange of the New York Giants. The uniform of the New York Mets. The Cardinals greet him with an offense that has done enough to win against lesser teams, but has yet to find its swing in the first few weeks of the season.
    You've probably got questions about that. I'll do my best to answer.
    The goal of this chat will be to keep a good pace, because there's going to be a hard stop as I have to head to the ballpark for coverage of the evening's festivities. So early start, good pace, and away we go.
    Enough prelude ... 
    What does Jake Woodford have to do to be the #1 long reliever in the pen?
    Great question. He sure earned a more prominent role with how he pitched for the team last last season and through the team's 17-game winning streak. He also had a strong spring training, pushing for the fifth starting job, definitely tying Drew VerHagen for it, before the Cardinals pivoted to getting Hicks ready in that role. The lack of use from Woodford was interesting. Sure seemed like the game in Miami set up well for him. I asked Marmol after the game if he had Woodford stashed aside to pitch if there was a lead -- as if he would be the "when-leading" long reliever. Marmol said, no. He had Woodford held aside to be ready in relief of Matz.
    There's a real distinct feel that Woodford is the reliever under glass.
    Long time readers of the chat will know the reference. The reliever under glass is the one good enough to put out a fire, good enough for the team to want to use in the right spot, and because of that good enough to set aside for that spot -- and possibly never use. It's an odd spot for any pitcher. Too good for mopup. Too good for one-inning of use. And yet not used at all because of that. 
    With Hicks on the horizon and hoping for a five-inning outing -- that's his goal; we'll know more as Tuesday arrives -- it would be interesting and not at all surprising if the Cardinals earmark Woodford to be the next man in. If they have the lead, Woodford deserves those innings.
    Did you find it bizarre that there were no home runs at GABP last series? Is it the balls/humidor, failure to barrel balls, ....? So strange. Thanks!
    I did find it interesting. Hard to ignore the fact that you had two teams who aren't exactly crushing the baseball. The Cardinals and Reds leave the weekend as the teams with the lowest expected slugging (xSLG) in baseball based on their contact rates, their launch angles, and all the good stuff we can get from Baseball Savant.
    The Cardinals' x SLG as a team is .372 (29th). That's not great.
    The Reds' xSLG as a team is .365 (30th). That's worse.
    The humidor is worth noting, but it's not really clear what help/aid/influence that's having for these Midwest towns. Heck, the humidors in Colorado and elsewhere are set for summer near Washington, Mo., and by default every summer St. Louis cannot help to also be set for conditions near Washington, Mo.
    What stands out from this past series that the Cardinals went to Cincinnati, the salve for any offense, and didn't thunder away, didn't get their power going at Great American Small Park. That's of note, because it's not going to get easier this week as the Mets come to St. Louis at the big ballpark downtown. The Cardinals offense has gotten by. It hasn't gotten going. It hasn't yet shown a sign of getting hot.
    Man, can you imagine how dangerous the dodgers will be next year with Arenado in the middle of that lineup?
    I cannot. He really digs St. Louis.
    With the umpires wearing advertising on their uniforms now makes me the umpires share in the extra revenue that comes from this???
    I believe they do, yes. The umpires have proven strong enough to protect some jobs; they're strong enough to get a little bounce from wearing ads. It's why they're doing it.
  • I know if I ask about Dejong you’re going to say it’s early. My question how long do we wait before we stop saying give it time?
    Why would I say it's early? It's April 25. He's not starting tonight. So, it's already happening. Oliver Marmol has already given the biggest hint of time he's willing to give.
    Surely the FO is not that naïve to see the same old problems existing with this offense. Are they hoping for another 17 game win streak or just winning by default because of their weak division? Give sosa or Gorman a shot
    Edmundo Sosa is getting his shot, right now. Today. This week. And if he makes the most of it, he'll get more. The best way to win a job is to get a chance at the job. That's a truism of baseball. It's hard to win more starts by sitting on the bench. So, notice how Sosa isn't.
    Offenses around the league are sluggish. We're seeing record low production in the game. Let's not dismiss that the shortened spring so easily. It's hard to hit than ever in the game. That said, there are still indicators that the Cardinals lag behind the rest of the league -- as mentioned earlier -- when it comes to some of the advanced metrics. That can be traced directly to a few of the sluggish starts by key hitters. Namely, Tyler O'Neill and Paul Goldschmidt. They're a big part of raising that expected slugging, that average exit velocity, all of those things. So, when get going -- as Goldschmidt has -- then you'll see those numbers grow, too. As of recently, the Cardinals really were Arenado & Pujols vs. lefties when it came to advanced metrics. That cannot be the island of production for a contender, and it's not expected to be. If that persists through the end of May, then there are issues adding Gorman and Sosa to the lineup won't solve.
    Gorman has entered the chat as being a part of a boost at some point this season, though. Strong start. Impressive after his spring. His bat will demand attention from big club.
    Love Adam but when are we going to start to build a younger more dominating staff!
    Need to start now!
  • The Cardinals would like Liberatore and Thompson to be part of that. And Graceffo is making a case to also be in the mix. Name to watch.
  • Mr. Gould, How is Alex Reyes progressing?
  • Slowly. Predictably. Should have an update soon as he is expected in STL for his next phase of rehab, and the Cardinals hope he travels with the team for one of the upcoming road trips so that he gets that time with the major-league trainers.
  • Curious if you think batting leadoff has contributed to Carlson's slow start. I would think you would have a little different mindset as a leadoff hitter, and am just wondering if, for a young hitter who isn't used to doing it, there might be a negative effect.
    I think it has, yes. We've seen evidence of that before. Leadoff spot for the Cardinals is an interesting one, for sure. I've been wondering recently if maybe it's just not a spot where the guy is going to walk or work the count, and perhaps that's why Tommy Edman thrives so much there. Carlson has the great power, and he could jump those strikes for a home run here or there, but Edman's ability to make contact, to drive for doubles, to handle a variety of pitches, sure seems to work there, and if you're going to have a leadoff hitter build his OBP almost entirely out of BA, Edman is top choice. To your point, the adjustment to leadoff and what he wants to do with that spot does seem to be part of Carlson's slow start. If for no other reason it means he's getting more at-bats while feeling less comfortable in them.
    If Hicks manages to become a reliable starter (I.E. someone who has the potential to go 5 each time out) how does the change the projects/expectations for this rotation?
    I gives them a better chance to meet them. Right now, the Cardinals' rotation is less than they imagined when it comes to shouldering innings and being quality start monsters. They need more from the rotation to remain a contender for the division title. Hicks' blossoming as the starter you describe would be a big stride toward the rotation they're expected to be, not some rotation they hope, hope, fingers crossed, hope, maybe, hope, hope to be.
    Hi Derek, thanks for doing this Love your work. Do you know this year's date for a full year of service credit, and is that a factor in bringing up Gorman or will they wait longer than that regardless?
    It doesn't appear to be, no. Remember the CBA makes it so even if he comes up on the date or after it, if he goes gangbusters and gets support for the Rookie of the Year award he'll get that service time back. Hunter Greene, the Reds' pitcher, is an example of a team doing that, because he has the talent to go out and win the ROY award. Also, don't gloss over the fact that Gorman's spring training made the decision for the Cardinals. He did not win a spot on the opening day roster. He didn't force the issue. A strong start to April does not rewrite what happened in spring. He deserves to be applauded for the strong start, for sure. And the Cardinals would really like to see him improve defensively at second base. While he could be a left-handed hitting DH -- and that will be discussed if the Cardinals don't get more production from that spot -- they would like to get him in the field, too, and that is going to have to come at second base, it appears. The speed of the game is where he needs the work there.
    I'm fascinated by Gorman's early season stat line: 20Ks and only 4BB in 57 ABs. But he is hitting .316 with 8HR already. Yet no doubles and somehow only 9 RBI. Anything to make of that good or bad, or just early season numbers that haven't evened out yet?
    Strikeout rate is a good number to consider. The doubles/homers is ... well, that could be a product of the ballpark, the power manifesting as doubles become homers, and anything like. It's likely to even out. As far as the RBIs go -- those need context. The Memphis Redbirds have a team on-base percentage of .314. That is where they want to get. But it's not high enough to go far. That OBP ranks 15th in their league, and that means there just aren't many players on base for Gorman. And in the rare spots where he does hit with a runner in scoring position, Gorman is batting .154 with a .154 slugging percentage. He has two singles in those 13 at-bats with a runner scoring position, and eight strikeouts. Which brings us back to the beginning.
    When will the cards bring up Gorman? Need some left handed pop. Dickerson is mostly single and nootbar needs seasoning in Memphis
  • I don't agree with the assertion here on Nootbaar. He sure has the look of a hitter that is done with Class AAA, given his performance there and his success in the Arizona Fall League and what he's shown in limited playing time so far this season. Maybe you disagree, and that's fine. I'm just pointing out that I see Nootbaar as a hitter beyond Class AAA, and Gorman is a hitter who is getting there, but not yet. When he is, as we've discussed already in this chat, he'll force the issue, but there are elements of his game (see previous question) that the Cardinals want to see him improve before he does make the leap. He will in 2022. That's not the question. It's not if. It's when. And when that happens, he'll be ready.
  • Did the Cardinals try to sign Shohei Ohtani? If so, were they a serious contender?
    They did not. He made it clear that he wanted an AL team, if you recall. He also had some preferences when it came to geography. But the AL team was important.
    Hi Derrick- I know it’s early but yadi appears to be a shell of his former self. By his own admission, he was unable to workout this past offseason, reported late and had only a few spring training innings. How long before Kisner gets the majority of the starts?
    Andrew Knizner has about half of the starts. That's pretty telling, and gives you the answer. As of right now, Knizner has started six of the 14 games, Molina eight. Would not be a surprise if that number moves to seven starts for Knizner in the first 15 games tonight. Molina is going to get more starts at home it appears, according to the plan, and so it might tilt a bit here in the next week, but then you'll see Knizner featured on the road. Molina said that kind of time-share makes sense because he knows he has to strengthen on the job, and that's not going to happen immediately.
    Do the Cardinals have someone dedicated to asset management? It seems they leave certain players with upside off the 40-man while keeping middling depth guys around. And it’s not a secret of when guys need to be added. One might think you could trade players before they are due to be added if they aren’t planning on adding them instead of losing them for nothing. Next guys up for this are Delvin Perez and Luken Baker.
    They have a whole department of people dedicated to this -- baseball operations. It's under the guide of the president (Mozeliak) and general manager (Girsch). This is what they do. Asset management. Roster management. Player acquisition. What you describe is one of the bedrocks of their assignments, one of the reasons front offices were invented.
    A quick aside: Other teams know when a player has to be added to the 40-man roster or exposed to waivers. Other teams pay attention to this, too, and they aren't eager to trade for a player they can get for the cost of a waiver claim. Keep that in mind. The Cardinals canvass other teams to get a feel for what players might be taken, what players are of interest, and that helps them make decisions on their moves. They got lucky with Luken Baker, and know it. They took a risk all those years ago with Luis Perdomo, and learned from it. But they've got a lot of money and time invested in Delvin Perez, and that they left him exposed in the Rule 5 draft for a second consecutive year tells you the feedback they're getting from teams interested in trading for him, and what they think the chances of him sticking in the majors with a team is based on the role he's ready to handle. They do have his age on their side ...  
    How much of a litmus test is this series against the Mets? So far the only team the Cardinals have played that is above .500 has been the Brewers.
    My colleague, Benjamin Hochman, put a lot of stock in the outcoming of this series, calling it a "litmus" test as you did for whether the Cardinals are real contenders or not, based in part because Scherzer is the type of pitcher/pitching they'll face in October. Hochman's argument: 

    Hochman: It's 'Litmus' in April — Cardinals' test vs. the Mets should reveal reasons for hope

    STLtoday.comOne series won’t define a team’s season — but against certain opponents, it can drop hints how the team could fare in the postseason.And with that in mind — meet
  • How accurate is the strike zone box we see on TV? I'm getting more and more fixated/frustrated watching the games. Seeing O'Neill punched out on curve that went around the plate w a runner in scoring position in the 1st and the same pitch to Pujols to start his AB and put him in the hole may have calmed the new pitcher and set the tone for the loss. Umpires are supposed to be "accurate" not "consistent" and if the auto zone is ready I'm sure ML hitters would relish as hitting is harder than ever. Your thoughts?
    It doesn't change from hitter to hitter. It's a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional shape. Some of the angles for that camera at ballparks are just off enough that it also skews the K-zone. It has improved greatly over the past decade-plus, for sure. But it's guide, not gospel. Please keep that in mind.

    What is your impression of the offense so far? Looks like the rotation is starting to get settled in, and I think its been about as advertised.
    The offense has lagged behind other elements of the team. To put in perspective what I was talking about earlier in the chat -- the Cardinals' lineup has really been the Nolan Arenado & Pujols vs. Lefties show. Tommy Edman is also off to a strong start, and he is actually second on the team in total bases to Arenado. The Cardinals' third baseman has twice as many total bases as any other hitter in the middle of the order. I had a Geo Metro in college. A three-cylinder car that got great gas mileage for all those runs to ballgames on either side of the Show-Me State. But a one-cylinder offense? That's not going to get you very far. 
    The Cardinals as a team are resolutely average when it comes to several offensive metrics that appear on the back side of baseball cards.
    They have a slash line of .239/.317/.376. All in the middle of the NL.
    But subtract Arenado and Pujols vs. lefties from that line, and the Cardinals are batting .214 and their slugging percentage craters to .307. Seriously, .307. 
    Wayne Morride starting to show his age? Didn’t look too good yesterday. What do you think?
    I don't know a Wayne Morride, but I hope he's healthy wherever he is.
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