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.

    How do the Brewers always seem to have their top end relievers ready to go for nearly every game in their series with the Cardinals? It always seems, I realize that they probably aren't always available, that once they have a lead coming out of the sixth inning they have Boxberger/Williams/Hader tuned up and ready to go. How do they manage that bullpen to get it setup that way or are their starters and middle relievers just performing better to benefit them that option more than the Cardinals are experiencing?
    They had two games where they had a lead to hold by their bullpen, and those two games were separated by two days. I didn't get the sense that they were available every day, and already this season we've seen the Cardinals-Brewers play when Williams and Hader weren't available because of use or, in Hader's case, he was not on the active roster. Last season, the Cardinals took advantage of the Brewers during that 17-game winning streak at a time when the full complement of that bullpen was not available. 
    I'm sorry that I'm not seeing what you're seeing.
    But, I will add, that what you are seeing is a reluctance to use Helsley on back to back days, and that does influence use elsewhere -- and how many innings are asked of him when he does appear. There was also a game in Milwaukee, where Gallegos was available until he had a migraine. And goodness having woken up with one today, I can only imagine how difficult it would be to pitch through that ... 
    Interesting yesterday that Donovan was in left field instead of Yepez with Gorman at second. Do you feel this is the best defensive alignment with these three or was Yepez getting some rest at DH?
    With those three in the lineup, the Cardinals feel that's their best defensive setup, yes.
    Why don't more pitchers throw slower and try to command better ala Kyle Hendricks than say trying to throw 105 MPH? It's so frustrating watching the Cardinals try to hit against him. As much as I hate to say it, he has there number.
    Great questions. Maybe it has something to do with teams making decisions based on spin rates and vertical break and expected slugging and velocity and not ... results they can dismiss because they cannot entirely explain it. They'll side with the velocity and spin that lessons the margin for error, vs. the pitcher who has to be pinpoint because those guys (Wainwright, Hendricks) are rare in the game right now. It's the metric equivalent of a chicken/egg situation, honestly.
    The Cardinals seem to pop up a lot of pitches. Does this have more to do with the pitcher or the hitting approach i.e. launch angle?
    They do. Some of that is anecdotal, for sure. They had that one zany game where they had -- what was it? -- seven popups, several in foul territory, at least two that would have found the stands if, say, those games were at Wrigley Field.
    Is it launch angle? Well, that's not really what the Cardinals are talking about -- though they have wanted to see Knizner and Edman and Donovan get the ball in the air more, and they worked to make that improvement during spring training. That's about launch angle in the sense that it's a goal to get line drives. Here are the are the top seven teams when it comes to fly ball percentage:
    1. Dodgers 40.2
    2. Yankees 40.2
    3. Atlanta 40.1
    4. Houston 40.0
    5. Baltimore 40.0
    6. Texas 39.9
    7. Cardinals 39.6
    The Cardinals also have the fifth-lowest strikeout rate, and they are a top five offense when it comes to scoring runs. They rank there with the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Phillies. So, they're doing something right offensively, and some of that is baserunning. They're a top-10 slugging offense, but they are a top-five group when it comes to getting on base and then making things happen as one of the top baserunning teams in the game.
    Where the anecdotal about the popups become more than just what we remember about games is at the merger of some stats that should not be ignored: The Cardinals rank 18th in line-drive rate (19.8%), they rank 25th in hard-hit rate (27.9%), and that is partially because they rank 30th out of the 30 teams when it comes to highest percentage of soft contact (19.3%). That suggests that they're hitting it in the air among the highest rate in baseball, and they are also hitting it softly in the air -- so, flyouts. That is definitely brought on by the approach pitchers have against the Cardinals. It is also something that will have to be improved upon for them to maintain their status as a top-five, top-eight offense, depending on the metric you wish to use.
    My read on Walker is he is more likely to become a perennial all star as a David Ortiz/JD Martinez-like designated hitter. He's certainly not ready to play third base in the major leagues and I doubt he'll be much better in left field than Yepez is. Are the Cardinals willing to take someone that young and make a permanent DH out of him?
    Probably not, not when he's as athletic he is, as he's shown, as the scouts and Cardinals know he is, and when there's a sense that he could play first base or a corner outfield position. He draws a lot of comps to Kris Bryant. He'll get time at DH, but there's no need to only have him there when he can play elsewhere.
    When does Oli start managing to win the game today instead of worrying about the health of the big three in the bullpen? McFarland, Wittgren & Associates aren’t getting it done. At this point it isn’t about stuff/mechanics/location, it’s mentally “ here we go again”
    I hesitate to answer this question because the answer is going to come across as hyper-snarky, even ruthlessly sarcastic, but here goes:
    Question: "When does Oli starting managing to win the game today instead of worrying about the health of the big three in the bullpen?"
    Answer: He'll do that in the regular season, when he wants to create a cascade of health problems, poor performances, and losses that will cost him his job. That's when.
    Otherwise, he'll always make calls on usage based on the health of the pitchers, and then use them more aggressively -- health permitting -- when the games matter most. So, October. Or, if there's a race to the finish, then at that time. Marmol has specifically brought up the times he's seen a reliever used often and often and often in the first half of a season, and that reliever is ineffective and has to be replaced by September. Twitter has pointed out the same thing with Rosenthal, Maness, Mujica, Salas, Bowman, and on and on and on. And he's taking preemptive moves now to make sure his best relievers are still near their best when they're needed most.
    It's almost like he's taking the approach demanded by fans after years of seeing relievers taxed early and unavailable or unreliable later.
    Since when have you ever worried about being hyper snarky or ruthlessly sarcastic?
    When it risks the point of the answer not getting across to the readers.
    Forgive me if I missed this in earlier chats, but what are the odds the Cards go after the Cubs Wilson Conteras in the offseason? Wouldn't this be a great fit? Plus the added benefit of the Cards plucking a (good) Cub player after the Cubs did the same to the Cards in the recent past...
    The odds are so low they border on non-existent. That's not a trade the Cardinals or Cubs are likely to make -- as rivals, as teams headed in different directions.
    Is Zach Thompson more valuable out of the bullpen or in the rotation? Let's assume that his improvement during his relief stint would carry over to starting.
    2022: Sure seems like the answer is bullpen.
    2023: The answer is going to be rotation.
    I love it when you snarky and sarcastic. Or does that come from your better looking, more educated evil twin?
    I wasn't aware I had an evil twin. Sounds exciting.
    Since Oli cites metrics for his decision making, what metrics are available to evaluate a manager's decision making. Sure seems like he goes contrary to metrics a lot if the comments of the TV broadcaster mean anything.
    It's an inexact measure of a manager, but it's not a worthless measure: And that's how the run differential relates to the record. Right now, the Cardinals have a plus-60 run differential, and they have the fourth-most runs scored and the 10th-fewest runs allowed, so that would equate to a 44-31 record, per Pythagorean W-L. That's what their run differential suggest they should be ... and they are 41-34. Over the course of the season, a manager can make more out of the run differential to be ahead of the expected record. That's the idea, at least.
    Another measure would be WPA. Win Probability Added. Look at how many moves maintain or increase the team's WPA. When Yepez homered Sunday, the Cardinals Win Probability was 93%. It decreased steeply from there and flipped when David Robertson entered the game to get a key out and wrench the game in the Cubs' direction.
    I'd have to hear the examples of where he's gone against the metrics to help explain or explore the specific examples. A lot of times, to me, he's going with the metrics -- but is hampered by the availability of some relievers.
    Baseball Reference has Pujols 10th all time in hits, not 9th; the difference seems to be that Baseball Reference has Cap Anson 7th with 3,435 hits, while other sites don't list Anson there. Do you know why this discrepancy exists? Pujols is considered 9th all-time, right?
    It comes from what league is considered a major league, how reliable the record keeping is from the 1870s, and how that factors into the definition of the outlet providing the information. The Cardinals are going with the numbers provided by Elias and MLB, and that does not include the 423 hits that Cap Anson had in the National Association before joining the National League and giving the Cubs 3,012 hits. So, you'll notice those are the two numbers. 
    Per Baseball-Reference, Anson has 3,435 career hits, ranking seventh all-time. But that includes his NA hits, which are not part of the rankings you see when it comes to where Pujols ranks in MLB history. Those rankings have Anson at 3,012 -- what he had in the NL.
    Will the Cards concede the inevitable that they need to trade for a decent starter and a couple of relievers?
    Highly doubtful. They'll make the argument that the acquisition of a starter will make the bullpen stronger because it could move Pallante into the relief spot.
    sorry, I forgot to add (sarcasm font)
    Maybe there's a way to pull that off in this chat? Sarcasm font.
    Fans have concerns for the Cardinals ranging from the offense to pitching to management. Right now I see the pitching as a crucial problem to be solved or risk losing a promising season. You're a sports writer who covers the Cardinals, not a fan per se, is that the key issue you see for the team in the short term or do you see other problems bubbling under the surface?
    I am not a fan of the Cardinals, as we've explored in previous chats, and yet still seems to surprise people -- and anger some on Twitter. That's OK. There's a place for fan coverage of the team and there is some excellent fan-driven coverage out there, but traditionally that has not been by the beat writer in the local newspaper. 
    Pitching. Pitching. Pitching.
    Always follow the innings. A contender needs its rotation to cover a set amount of innings and do so consistently, game to game, so that they don't overtax the bullpen and risk losing series trying to recover from innings. Look no further than how June started a year ago. The Cardinals went to LA, had two significant injuries to starting pitchers and a third starter give them one of the worst and shortest starts in history. The scramble to cover those innings so exhausted the bullpen and the pitching staff, that they had nothing to offer in the next series. Cincinnati swept the Cardinals. And the innings crisis continued without assistance until LeBlanc arrived. By then, the Cardinals had fallen out of the division race and would not really re-enter it. 
    Innings are real. Getting innings from starters, keeping leftovers innings off the shoulders of key relievers -- these are the challenges for any team and what separates a contender.
    Any thoughts on Nootbaar pinch hitting instead of Pujols against Hendricks? I normally am opposed to Albert facing a righty, but first base was open ( no GIDP chance) and velocity is down
    I thought it was definitely interesting. Clearly they are siding with the side of the plate and Pujols' recent, deepening struggles against any right-handers. I thought Hendricks would be a good matchup for Pujols given what each brings to that at-bat. Nootbaar from the left side, with how he's looked since returning, was a play that certainly was influenced by where the swings are at this moment and wanting to give Hendricks a different look considering how successful he was to that point.
    Are the Cardinals legitimate Pennant contenders? If not, what do they need to add to have a purposeful shot at the Pennant?
    Yes. They would heighten their chances and their ability to matchup with, say, the Mets by adding a starting pitcher. No, not getting a starting pitcher off the IL. Adding one.
    Does it surprise you with the lack of positive attention Jeff Albert is getting for the success the Cardinals rookies are having with a program he implemented throughout the minor leagues? This is the first look of players who have been under his supervision for most (if not all) have of their entire professional careers.
    It does not. When things are going well, players tend to get the credit. When things are going poorly, the coaches/manager get the blame. It's a curious but annual event, and it just seems to me that some fans (the loudest fans?) are willing to go out of their way not to blame the players they love, unless it involves the salaries that they make. We see this now with the bullpen. Look at the criticism leveled against the manager vs. how critical fans are of the actual pitchers. 
    Seriously, I get emails and the contortions some readers going into in order to avoid criticizing the players is remarkable. Albert is a common target for criticism. And he's followed by the media not -- I dunno -- inspiring the hitters with the right questions, or holding the coach accountable for what he's teaching the hitters? Whatever. Anything not to blame the players.
    Which is the opposite of how it is in the clubhouse.
    The players are usually quick to take the blame for execution.
    Albert oversees the entire organization's approach to hitting. If you're going to be critical of something you see in the majors but celebrate the advancement that, say, Winn has made as a hitter, then recognize both are fruit from that same approach. 
    The names you mentioned as potential pitching trade targets. Are those players on the Cards’ radar because of
    A. Their 2022 performance
    B. Their historical performance
    C. Their performance against the Cards
    D. Their salary
    E. Their trade cost in terms of players
    F. Some or all of the above?

    Where would those pitchers slot into the rotation? #3, #4 or #5?

    I’m not up on all MLB pitchers so thanks for your insight.
    Everything but C. That's not part of the equation. Not at all. 
    I don't know where they would slot into the rotation because so much of the rotation is in flux. What the Cardinals need is three quality start monsters, and a standout starter in that group. Anything beyond that is lagniappe and turns them from a division-title favorite to a genuine October threat. That's what three standout starters can do. Four, even more so. All while helping the bullpen by reducing the innings it has to cover and giving it at least one more reliever.
    I'm not a fan of the runner on 2nd in extras. Will that go away next year?

    Ironically, I have an even more radical idea that I think would be fun, I'd be curious about your thoughts: have extra innings proceed as normal with no gimmicks for 3 innings - the 10th, 11th, and 12th. If after 12 innings the game is still tied, a sudden death home run derby is triggered. I think this could be really exciting, like a shootout in hockey. Caveat: I would include a rule that a postseason elimination game cannot be decided via derby.

    Too crazy? Crazy enough?
    I don't have a problem with how extra innings have been played for generations, and this comes from a writer who missed deadline, did not get home until 5 a.m., and has had to find a way to write through a few 20-inning marathons. They're rare. They're entertaining in their own way, and they have ramifications for days, the way the game ought to be. It's supposed to be hard.
    I have real issues with the gift runner at second because it tilts box scores, it adds something that is mathematically unaccounted for in history.
    Zack Thompson took the loss for a run scored by a runner NO PITCHER ALLOWED.
    Now we have a runner who gets a run but magically appeared on base?
    It warps the balance that a box score once had. Runners came from somewhere, some hitter got credit for reaching base somehow. Runs were attributed to someone (error or pitcher).
    I'm going to go shout at clouds now.
    (As to your HR Derby idea. The Pioneer League tried something like that. No thanks. At least in the course of a game in hockey there are breakaways. In baseball there is never a time when a game stops, the team inserts a BP pitcher, and says, "Let's see how this turns out.") 
    Completely understand your response and it’s a shame with Maness, Bowman, etc….

    But Gallegos and Helsey went a week without pitching while letting two games get away in Boston. The late attempts at a comeback were moot as we waved the white flag with bullpen choices. Sending our best relievers down one or two runs on 4 days rest doesn’t seem excessive.
    Agree, it does not. Unless there is a four-game series looming against the division rival, the only team near them in the standings, and the wish is to avoid using the relievers vs. Boston when losing so that they are also unavailable when leading against the Brewers. That's the thing here. It's not about the days off previously -- it's about whether there's a day off ahead.
    Had that Monday been an off day before the series in Milwaukee, you would have seen Gallegos, Cabrera, or Helsley in the game when it was close.
    It is OK to not use the best relievers when trailing. Teams need reliable chase relievers, always have, and the best teams get them, Brebbia was that. Bowman was that. Mujica had a stretch where he was that. Adam Wainwright, in 2006, was that. It's that simple: It's not about using the best relievers when trailing; it's about having better relievers to use when trailing.
    Is Nolan Gorman in the Rookie of the Year hunt?
    He will be. Donovan is.
    CAUTION——Off the wall question!!
    Who is the guy that conducts the give aways on the scoreboard during Cardinal games.
    He’s extremely talented and likable!!
    What else does he do?
    Thanks
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