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.

    Greetings, and welcome to another Monday Cardinals chat here at StlToday.com. It's been several weeks away for me -- Hall of Famer Rick Hummel had the keyboard due to the travel schedule -- but I can already imagine the reception that awaits when wading into the hopper of questions. Tensions are running high in Cardinals Nation, if Twitter is any barometer. The Cardinals have a top five offense, are a game out in the standings, but just lost a series at home to the hibernating Cubs and have concerns galore about the pitching staff. 
    You've got questions. I've got an internet connection. Let's see if I have answers.
    Onward. 
    To date this season, it seems the organization’s priorities have been in this order:
    1. Contracts (see: bullpen)
    2. Nostalgia (see: Pujols vs righties)
    3. Winning (see: two series sweeps in ’22)
    Will that change after the All-Star break?
    If those are those priorities, then it's doubtful that they will shift after the All-Star break. As the trade deadline approaches, the first one there -- contracts -- may only intensify, as the Cardinals look for a trade and have to consider those moves through a contract/cost filter.
    This past series, Pujols did not appear. Not once. He did not get an at-bat against the Cubs, whose roster is really limited when it comes to left-handed pitchers. These two things are connected, and clearly you've already seen Yepez get more of the starts vs. right-handed starters than Pujols. The start vs. the Red Sox bothered some fans, I get that. But I also hear from dozens more fans who want to see Pujols play when they go to the ballpark. There are people buying tickets to Cardinals game this season -- at home and away -- with the hope they get to say good bye to two players, get to see them on that last tour of the NL.
    You can't have it both ways. And the manager has said that entertainment/ticket sales have to factor in at some point, some how when it comes to his choice.
    Remember opening day? Yeah, wasn't it grand that Pujols was in the lineup then?
    Come September, you'll see less ceremony, of course. As always. But the luxury of being in first/near first is making some decisions that actually do satisfy the fans who want to see Albert Pujols play that one last time.
    This is an explanation, not an advocacy. And if you disagree -- and you can, saying winning is the only thing, best lineup, period -- then do so consistently. 
    Greetings from COMO in BOCO - Do umpires see any kind of grading system of their strike zone after their turn behind the plate? If so, do they see it after each turn or at the end of the years? Any info you can provide here would be great. Thank you for what you do!
    They do, yes. MLB audits and shares that review with the umpires. It's a grading system, and it is used for some postseason assignments, at last check. They see it throughout the season, and if there are egregious misses they hear from a supervisor. Many years ago, several reporters, including me, had a chance to hear about this process and go through how umpires are reviews -- not just for strike zones, but for, example, how they call baseline plays, or how they should call a double play at first base like Goldschmidt pulled off. They are under ongoing evaluation.
    Did the Cardinals keep Flaherty's injury quiet last fall (before the lockout) so that the front office would feel even less pressure to add quality pitching in the offseason? Wow, they have really dropped the ball on what should have been a special season.
    No. It wasn't very quiet. He missed time. We wrote about it. They did a lousy job of keeping it quiet considering how many people read and knew about it.
    Yadier Molina rehabbing in Puerto Rico -- alarming or not? Feels like he may be out for a long time and not get the battery record with Wainwright.
    Not alarming. Requested and allowed. It's also where he spent time during spring training when he did not yet report to the camp. 
    The time he could miss is month, or slightly more. The team is braced for that. If he returns soon after the trade deadline, there is still time to break the record, but, yeah, that's not a guarantee because injuries happen. They do have the win record, which is theirs and theirs alone. The start record is one they'll need time to set.
    Tommy Edman over the last two months has an on base in the .320’s and an ops just under .700. In 58 at bats in the first inning this year he’s hitting .158, on base of .234 and slugs .458 with an ops of .458. He’s valuable but he’s not a good lead off hitter. Why does Marmol continue to use him there?
    Because he's the team's best option. That continues to be the guiding hand for a lot of the decisions on the lineup and relief usage -- what's the option, what's the alternative? Unless you're thinking Goldschmidt, or you're going to wait to see how Donovan does there, and then take him out of the spots he's been in to lengthen the lineup.
    What do you see the chances of Jack making a start in ~5 days?
    Doubtful. He needs an answer for the dead arm. Cardinals need a roster spot.
    I’m all for a pitch clock in MLB!
    Your thoughts?
    It's coming next year. I think it should be called a hitter's clock.
    Is this organization willing to squander away a superstar year by Goldschmidt and Arenado in order to maintain their consistency model rather than push harder for a title?
    I guess. That honestly seems like a false dilemma. Once again, the Cardinals have a business model, and I've spent a lot of my career explaining it: They don't push all-in on any season because they don't want to capsize future seasons. You can see how this plays out, right? They needed a cleanup hitter in the worst way, so they went and got Marcell Ozuna -- in part because they had control of his contract for more than one year. (Again, not all-in, because it would help multiple years.) But that trade came at the cost of Gallen and Alcantara -- two starters they could really use right now. If you want to unwind that trade, then you also have to recognize the pressure they were under to get a cleanup hitter. They have reached beyond their planned payroll coming out of a pandemic and into a potential lockout to add Arenado -- so is that an all-in move? They were only guaranteed one year of him. Or, was it a bet that he would stick around for the life of his contract, like Goldschmidt, and give them multiple years of performance.
    That's the way to think about the Cardinals. Their goal, again, is to win the division, and to contend for it every year. But they're not going to see some spike in spending borrowing from next year's payroll or some wild trade to potentially upgrade for the moment at the cost of the immediate future. So, no, Walker for Pitcher Du Jour A isn't happening, and neither is a trade involving Liberatore. But in the past three years they have moved pitching for help, it's just not been short-term, splashy help, and maybe that's hurt them in the court of public opinion. Because it gives the impression they lack the urgency that buzzes the short-attention spans and immediate gratification of Twitter. 
    They are not a team that focuses on one year at the expense of another because they've seen other teams do that and during the randomness of October fall short, and continue to fall. 
    Have you heard anything more recently concerning how Corey Dickerson is doing with his rehab?
    He's had two setbacks. He was with the team this past weekend, and their hope is he's back with a minor-league affiliate when the schedule resumes tomorrow.
    Is Nolan Gorman in much danger of being sent back down to Memphis in the shorter term?
    Not according to Cardinals officials. One recently told me, "He looks like he's here to stay."
    All the “experts” think the Cardinals farm system is very shallow. Beyond the top prospects is very little talent. How can Mo make a trade for a solid starter without relinquishing top prospects? I am frustrated at the front office and ownership timidity to obtain top free agent pitching that would keep the team from having bad choices during the season.
    The good news for the Cardinals is they're not trading with the expert baseball writers. They're trading with other teams. That means they'll be going with what other team think of individual players and not entirely where they rank on a third party scale. And in talking with some scouts over the past few weeks, they do see some percolating depth there in the Cardinals system that aren't being mentioned in the rankings, or that maybe suggest that the rankings need an update. The Cardinals currently have five prospects on MLB Pipeline's Top 100. Walker and Gorman are ranked 24th and 25th, respectively.
    So here are the NL Central standings, ranked by Top 100 prospects:
    Pirates 5 (3 top 25)
    Cardinals 5 (2 top 25)
    Reds 4 (zero top 25)
    Cubs 3 (1 top 25)
    Brewers 3 (zero top 50!)
    Graceffo is getting some attention from teams. McGreevy has some fans when it comes to other clubs looking for young pitching. The Cardinals have a proven track record when it comes to developing pitching, and other teams see Alcantara, Gallen, Gomber, Gonzales, and Wick with the Cubs, and see the chance to get pitching they aren't developing. Masyn Winn is not a prospect the Cardinals are eager to move, but he is one that baseball thinks is showing a higher upside with each passing week. And then Mike Antico at Class A. He's already got 34 stolen bases, plays the field well, and I had a scout recently mention to me that he might be a sleeper more people should be talking about. 
    There is talent to be traded. The Cardinals are helped by their track record. They are also restricted by their own risk aversion.
    How likely is it that we have possibly seen the last time Flaherty pitches in a Cardinal uniform? It seems he isn’t very happy in STL and continues to be on the IL. Also, do you think he just really believes he has been disrespected and doesn’t want to pitch for STL and wants free agency. Thanks
    It seems premature to suggest that he won't pitch again for the Cardinals. As of this morning, he experienced a "dead arm." Pitchers experience that during spring training, and it comes with some rest and then the recover. We'll know more after the doctors look at him today -- but we won't be able to know that until it happens. If it remains a "dead arm," then rest and he's back, just having to build that pitch count again.
    He's not happy being injured. He has said as much. He burns to compete -- and he's frustrated that the great season he had at his fingertips in 2021 was taken by injury and he hasn't been the same since. He has expressed those frustrations clearly, and he has even talked honestly about how it's been difficult for him at times to be patient.
    That would be true if he was a Tampa Bay Ray or a Los Angeles Angel.
    Having covered the entirety of his career, from draft to debut, prospect to potential All-Star, I have not once heard him say he wants out of the Cardinals. Nope. In fact, his relationship and feelings about Bob Gibson are too often ignored when it comes to discussing his appreciation for what being a Cardinal has brought to him. If he wants to pitch close to home someday, then who are we to blame him for that and yet suggest Max Scherzer wanted to do the same, just because his home is closer to ours?
    There are places, specifically online, where no matter how much Flaherty embraces being a Cardinal (and he has), people who profess to be fans of the Cardinals go to great lengths to not embrace him.
    You ask me, "Do you think he just really believes he has been disrespected?" He doesn't have to believe that. Evidence of that is ample on social media. Some of the tweets and comments directed at him by a small vocal minority of people who claim to be Cardinals fans -- or to reporters who write about him -- are toxic, intolerant, ill-informed, and some are far worse than those three adjectives. Take a look for yourself, and consider whether you'd feel disrespected if they were aimed at you. Have to keep in mind that a small group on Twitter does not speak for an entire fan base, no matter how loud it tries to be and appalling the comments are.
    It’s obvious that the cardinals aren’t really interested in winning this season. It’s pretty much just a wainwright, Molina, pujols farewell tour. The front office can deny it all they want, but this is a rebuild on the fly. It’s a shame to waste good years by Arenado and godly. I can’t blame arenado for opting out after this season
    Can the Cardinals do anything right? They can't even not-win right. 
    If it's so obvious they are not interested in winning, why are they within one game of leading the division. They spent $50 million on corner infielders who have both been in the MVP discussion, and one could win the MVP. What are they thinking spending money on players who perform so well that the team might win??? What a colossal failure. Who will be held accountable for this accidental division title?!
    (Sarcasm font.)
    To bad flattery is hurt again. Now he has no trade value at all. Just like carlos Martinez
    Narrator: Keeping Jack Flaherty was/is always the better move for Cardinals.
    Two questions: Who is the Cardinals emergency catcher? It used to be DeJong, I believe. Secondly, do you know of any potential trade targets for starting pitching the Cardinals might be interested in? I was wondering about Greinke, although I've heard he tends to not be a well-liked teammate.
    Sosa, Donovan, Wittgren. Those were the emergency catchers the other day when Herrera had a series of flights canceled, and the Cardinals had one catcher in the dugout/clubhouse. And it may not have been in that order. Wittgren may have been the first into the position, Marmol allowed.
    I've heard just as often how beloved Greinke is by his teammates because he just is so honest. He cannot help but be blunt, and that can be a welcome addition to a clubhouse. He has shown a lack of interest in being a Cardinal. He put the Cardinals on his no-trade clause when he had the chance.
    As far as potential trade targets for the Cardinals.
    Kuhl. Zach Davies. Montas. Mahle, but there's that whole division thing. Lyles would be an option, of course. If Boston falters or decides to sell, look for an Eovaldi conversation. Cardinals would welcome that talk, it appears. 
    Is Molina actually getting medical attention in Puerto Rico. I think he’s pretty much done until the last month of the season to say farewell!
    He's been prescribed rest, anti-inflammatories, and a training program -- similar to say an offseason. So, what medical attention would he need in Puerto Rico other than what can be provided by a trainer (he has one) and discussed over FaceTime with team officials (they do that).
    So, Jack Flaherty has made a point about criticizing the 'system of payment.' Is it true that even if he only pitches 8 innings this year that he will get a SIGNIFICANT raise?
    I was at yesterday’s game and don’t understand why Woodford wasn’t next up after Flaherty had to leave after just 2 innings.
    I knew going into the game that our bullpen options were limited.
    This isn’t a hindsight criticism.
    Your thoughts??
    You and me both. The reluctance to use Woodford is an ongoing topic of conversation in the manager's office with the media. Why he doesn't have a more prominent spot for a bullpen in need, I think, is a fair question to continue to pursue, and when a slider doesn't have the shape that they want but that sinker does get outs, then maybe the outs should be the focus. Oliver Marmol offers detailed, metric-driven answers on the usage, and he's the one making the call, of course. We're the ones who can continue to ask the questions. So we do.
    Walker seems like he's going to be banging on the door to the Big Show next year. Between Arenado, Goldy, Carlson, and O'Neil is he the DH of the future? Would you be surprised to see O'Neil, Yepez, or Carlson get moved after 2023
    There is no such thing as too much talent, and teams have to fill a 26-person roster, not just a nine-person lineup. They'll have depth to deal, but not urgency. There's a place for Walker when he arrives, and that could be as a corner outfielder, and the players move to accommodate production.
    I go back to your chat of about 6 mos, ago when you rightly observed that you can go all nostalgia or contend, not both the chickens have come home to roost.
    Thank you for being a consistent reader. The Cardinals said they can prove me wrong. We'll see. I still think it's fair to point out that at some point a clash between these motivations could happen.
    Bouncing you a question I just heard on the radio, would you, the hypothetical president of baseball operations, be willing to trade O'Neill if it means getting a guy like Pablo Lopez or Frankie Montas?
    Lopez. Have you seen him pitch? And he's got two more years of control. That's not a deal the Marlins are looking to make, but if they surprised with a phone call then you'd have to listen for any player, especially one from an area of depth (as discussed in the previous answer) and for a player with fewer years of control.
    You mention the Cardinals being risk averse in trading, drafting and the free agent market. I think being risk averse in a highly competitive business is a strategy to be an also ran most of the time. Teams that take risks don't always win, but teams that avoid risks seldom win championships. My view of their strategy is it's great at developing talent in players who end up helping other teams win.
    They are so good at developing talent they end up releasing or trading guys who become solid contributors elsewhere mainly because they are blocked at their position. Having McFarland, Wittgren, Naughton and VerHagen on contract is blocking talented arms from becoming contributors this year and will likely mean more than one talented pitcher will be released this Fall to contribute somewhere else. At some point the team needs to realize that signing 30 something FA relief pitchers is not risk aversion, it is a foolish risk.
    You make a compelling argument. I'm not really sure where the Atlanta Braves fit into this conversation as the reigning World Series champs. Did they take a whole lot of risks? They acquired a handful of outfielders, and then did so again, but not at great cost to their future, and not at any guarantee to their present. One of the outfielders who blossomed for them was having an awful year and was on the injured list. They rolled the dice. They got lucky. The Dodgers can be more risk tolerant than other teams because they have the payroll to paper over mistakes and holes with cash.
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