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.

    Why, he's "That One Guy"! The one and only "That One Guy." Todd Thomas. He recently officiated a wedding at Busch Stadium. He's a DJ, too.
    Good afternoon, sir. Attended the Cards game in Milwaukee on Monday, June 20. I was very surprised at the announced attendance of 28,100 fans. Two teams vying for first place with a great rivalry. Yes, it was hot and the roof was open. Found out the Brewers average attendance this year is 27,000+, whereas the Cards' average attendance is 38,000+, not including the Cubs series. Is the Cubs' tanking not only impacting their base, but Milwaukee's as well? Maybe MLB needs to look at how "tanking" impacts other teams, not just the "tanker". Any insights?
    Please keep in mind that it was a weekday game, too, and that Summerfest was about to start. So Milwaukee was about to get crowded for the concerts, and a lot of the entertainment dollar that was going to go to Summerfest. The midweek series and the hotel costs might have made it difficult for Cardinals fans to travel up for the series, and the alternatives for the entertainment dollar that week in Milwaukee may have kept the locals elsewhere.
    Milwaukee does a great job of mobilizing its fan base, drawing in tickets, and it allows them to out spend and outflank other markets its size. 
    I wouldn't read into the Cubs tanking being part of the factor here. 
    In a game entirely driven by metrics, why do managers still call for the sac bunt? Has nobody made them aware that it's statistically the wrong call?
    Sometimes it's not, though. There are times when there's a hitter at the plate who has a 1-in-10 chance against the pitcher, and the bunt is the right call because he has a 7-in-10 chance of advancing the runner. Totally the right call. Absolutely the right call. We saw that situation with the Cardinals when a bunt from the No. 9 hitter got the inning and the game right where the Cardinals wanted it -- the top of the order, a runner in scoring position, and two chances, including one with the leading hitter in the NL. Perfect spot for a bunt.
    The Cardinals have been in a situation where there's a 1-in-10 chance of a hit, a 2-in-10 chance of a double play, and the sacrifice bunt makes a lot of sense even if it's 5-in-10 chance of being successful. 
    Now, in extra-innings, like we saw Sunday, you're right -- they're playing for two runs, not one, and they're trying to win it, and the reduction in chances of scoring two runs and one run when it comes to already having a runner in scoring position is high, and a sac bunt is not wise. The probability of scoring runs tells us that.
    Hi Derrick, Thank you for the chat. Realizing that a lot of teams experience injuries to their pitching staffs. Do you feel it's fair to take a look at our pitching coach and his program when you consider that for several years there has been what seems like far too many Cardinal pitchers that have spent lengthy stints on the IL or even lost seasons? It seems to me Maddux is due a bit of scrutiny.
    It's always fair. It's something many of us in the media do, honestly. I try to keep tabs on injuries that are happening with the Cardinals -- and the other 29 teams. Just to see if there is something awry or something out of the ordinary happening here that isn't elsewhere in the game. That was one of the ways we knew to ask about all the hamstring injuries that were happening in spring training a few years ago, and that prompted the team to stop a workout drill that they were doing. They scrapped it for pitchers. One of the changes the Cardinals have made in the past five, six years is changing their lingo when talking to the media about injuries. They used to offer the most optimistic timetable because they wanted to promote the best possible outcome. Well, they've stopped that, and are rarely offering timetables until they're set. Look at how they spent the first few months describing Flaherty's return. They did not put a date on it until the day before, really, and even through the process kept open the possibility that he would not return until after the All-Star break. They've said the same with Matz. So, you see how they are changing the messaging to actually be more accurate -- to recognize that the best-case scenario rarely happens and pitchers and players all heal at their own rate.
    Many of us will continue to monitor that and compare Cardinals recovers to other teams, and the amount of injuries to other teams, because you need that control group. Dakota Hudson, for example, is seen has someone who came back earlier than expected from elbow surgery, and that got the attention of other teams because it offered a calendar and a route back (remember he did so as a reliever, briefly) that then gave him a normal offseason, which is such a boost coming off surgery. I would imagine, anecdotally, Hicks' lengthy recovery is more memorable than Hudson's shorter recovery. Yet, both did happen.
    I have noticed that Burleson is being used mostly as a DH in Memphis. Is this what they think his future is? It seems to me like he was used in the outfield mostly in spring tranning.
    No, it's just part of the current roster, load management, and where he can get at-bats everyday. They want him playing, playing, playing, and that means DH, that means OF. He's a priority for at-bats. And they've had to make some adjustments to the Class AAA lineup because of the major leaguers on rehab assignments there (three outfielders this season, already).
    Cardinals have added RHP James Naile to the active roster and also OF Conner Capel.
    Before you ask ...
     
    Point of information:
    Cardinals had two spots open on the 40-man roster because T. J. McFarland and Genesis Cabrera are both on the COVID-related 10-day IL. Thus, neither of them count against the 40-man or active roster.
    It seems that the game Mo and Dewitt they are interested in is being the most efficiently run organization, rather than the most successful. Granted those 2 things are not exclusive, but they aren't mandatory pairs either.
    Again, they're not doing it all that well if that's the case. They would have made more money if they kept Gomber, didn't add Arenado, and were ok with the streak of losing seasons continuing. Heck, they also could have kept either of their previous managers and not had to pay out their contracts while hiring somebody else. That's a cost. If they're out to have the most profitable "efficiently run" organization, then they need to do a better job, evidently. This winning 14 consecutive years is costing them more than it should, especially given the return on some of the higher dollar free agents they've signed. Goodness. Imagine if they just kept that money and really settled for mediocre.
    Please tell me the front office is not going to wait until the trade deadline to get this team some help. They have to have noticed that the teams that have beaten the Cardinals in the standings the past few years have been aggressive in trades early in the season. Milwaukee and Atlanta are prime examples.
    I cannot tell you something unless there's reporting to support it.
    Oli LOVES him some Nootbaar. He inserts him every chance he gets - despite having only one stretch in August of last year where he consistently hit. Any idea what Oli is seeing that we aren’t?
    Odd then that he's been sent to Memphis a couple times because he wasn't playing.
    Derrick - Really enjoyed your podcast with Jeff Levering of the Brewers announcing team. You guys touched on something I'd like you to expound upon. You were talking about how the Brewers have a pitching camp or protocol that Mo indicated years ago that he'd like to emulate - but hasn't followed up on. Have you pursued this with Mo at all to find out what's going on that regard? Many thanks.
    I've pursued this -- only multiple times every year, several times every spring. I've talked often with Mozeliak and DeWitt about it, and why it doesn't exist and if it ever will. The pitching lab that the Cardinals envisioned has been stalled by slow progress of improvements to the facility in Jupiter. This is an issue covered often in the newspaper, but worth revisiting: The terms of the agreement/lease with Roger Dean Stadium and the surrounding complex is that what the Cardinals spend to upgrade their facility has to be mirrored in spending on the Marlins side. That is so the facility remains attractive should the Marlins or Cardinals leave, and it's not some lopsided situation where one side is significantly better than the other. Now, that doesn't mean the Marlins have to do a pitching lab. The Cardinals have their hitting facility set up, and the Marlins don't. They chose to spend it elsewhere. There is more money available for improvements down there -- and in 2023 you're going to see the most significant upgrade to that place since it opened. There are plans for construction on new buildings, and that would presumably include the long desired pitching lab.
    The Cardinals have wanted to expand and improve that facility for so many years that they found a creative way to do so -- they bought a building off site, not under the lease agreement, and across the street. That gave them another facility to open up for a weight room and training facility for minor-leaguers. They could then expand both of those areas on the main site for the major leaguers.
    When Mozeliak moved to the president of baseball operations and talked about how the Cardinals had fallen behind the industry in some elements, he was, in large part, talking about infrastructure and the need upgrade facilities, specifically in Jupiter, Fla. It's been a longer process than they expected. The pandemic played a part, of course.
    It seems that Donovan, Gorman, and Yepez are making big contributions offensively. Does there offensive impact thus far this year validate the Cardinal's front office trust in Jeff Albert in your opinion?
    That is up for the critics to decide. I think the evidence suggests it does, yes.
    Follow up to you Flaherty being disrespected answer. He also makes that distinction that the vocal and abhorrent Cardinals twitter fans don't represent the majority of us and our feelings towards him? That wouldn't be a reason he would leave the Cardinals is because he couldn't deal with a small % of the fan base throwing uncalled for disrespect his way?
    I'm not sure. That's his decision to make. He's a public figure. He's aware of how his tweets and performances can be received by the public. He is surrounded by a strong support group of friends and family, and he has strong influences in his life, some of them close to him in the clubhouse and some of them as close to him as family.
    He's human.
    I won't pretend to know what it's like for him to read the tweets vomited in his direction, if he does at all.
    Thanks as always DG, much appreciated. Question(s) I had after listening to your latest (I think) BPIB. Much of the discussion was around pitching from the NLC contenders driving their recent successes, and how the Cardinals have lost an edge from where their pitching advantages used to be. Mentioned was Mozeliak at his promotion to POBO from GM, how they wanted to have their own pitching lab but still has yet to happen; thus they've lost a competitive edge. It's been nearly 5 years since that promotion. I'm curious how this has taken so long, and if one of the objectives of putting him in that spot so he could focus on such things instead of the day-to-day GM responsibilities, is he failing in his role to reestablish those edges? Is he taking on responsibilities he shouldn't have to as POBO (Girsch seems like an afterthought in every front office discussion from various media) - thus, push to regain that edge haven't happened. If we were behind 5 years ago on just having those physical facilities, seems like an issue that would be compounded since then, not just to catch up to those who are ahead, but to have the chance to surpass. (I say this all thinking about how if the Ozuna trade hadn't happened and those pitching pieces were still in the org, good chance pitching staff is fine right now!) Thanks again - really enjoy the BPIB.
    Some of the obstacles he's had to overcome to enact the plan were detailed in an answer moments ago. But you touch on something that happened very publicly, but at a time when there were far bigger stories going on, and thus maybe it went under the radar. I'll try to illustrate this quickly.
    First, Mozeliak's promotion did not change his role as the spokesman and leader of baseball operations. He remained and was going to remain the face of the organization when it came to baseball operations, in the same way that Theo Epstein was for the Cubs. The title is new. But the role was similar to the classic GM. Just title upgrade.
    That's a good place to start.
    Now, travel back to 2020 and spring training. Michael Girsch, the Cardinals GM at the time, was more prominent that spring, holding some of the usual pressers that Mozeliak had in the past, and talking about transactions, injury updates, and general comments on what they were thinking for the upcoming year and the roster they'd take into opening day. That first week of spring training -- maybe around the first full workouts -- Girsch had a presser the day after Mozeliak did, and he held others.
    And then the pandemic hit.
    And the Cardinals made the decision to consolidate public comments.
    Mozeliak was the spokesman for the team, the entire organization, and all other requests for comment were to be funneled to him. They wanted to speak with one voice. And he kept regular pressers going via Zoom or conference call to keep media/fans informed. Mozeliak took that on because he was involved in the MLB planning, he was knowledgeable on the subject of pandemic/virus/etc., because he has been admitted germaphobe and had hand sanitizers in place in the Cardinals clubhouse a week before they were popping up in other clubhouses. And so on.
    When the season started, there was a plan to widen the number of front office members who would speak publicly, because baseball would take center stage. Mozeliak went on the first road trip -- and then the outbreak happened. The Cardinals were in isolation for more than two weeks, and again Mozeliak was the spokesman for the team. No others. They wanted a consistent message, an organized message, and Mozeliak took on that role. When MLB said that all teams needed to deputize a COVID officer, Mozeliak took on that role, too. (He shared some of its organization responsibilities with a ballpark official and contract tracing duties were handled mostly by an assistant general manager, in concert with Mozeliak and the medical staff). 
    In the months since, there has been the Arenado trade and the firing of Shildt -- two significant moves that put Mozeliak front and forward for the comments from baseball ops.
    I hope that gives you an outline of how there was a movement toward Mozeliak being less prominent publicly and Girsch having a heightened profile, and then circumstances changed, and the leader of the baseball ops continued to do his role. It's worth noting, that in the years since the promotion, Mozeliak has been involved in things beyond the roster moves, trades, etc. He is involved in almost every aspect of the Cardinals. When they purchased the Class AAA Memphis club and later sold it, Mozeliak was at the helm of figuring out that deal, making it work, and pitching it to Memphis' city officials. Just to give you a sense of the scope of his influence in the organization.
    The league calls it a 'pitch clock.' You'd prefer to call it a 'hitters' clock.' I say lets' name it the 'Mike Hargrove Clock.'

    Secondly - I;d be a little worried if I was the first baseman for the Pirates. Cruz has a cannon. But conversely - with he and Hayes - it looks like the Pirates could have a good left side of the infield for the forseeable future.
    When it comes to Pittsburgh, about time. That ballpark deserves a team as good as it is.
    Hi
    The list of Cardinals coaches on MLB.com includes a Run Production Coach and a Major League Pitching Strategist. What do those coaches do? Are those new or recent coaching positions? Thanks.
    Both of those coaches have been with the team for several years now, though the titles have changed. In each case they are the liaison between the clubhouse and the analytics department, and they are tasked with taking the data and helping the players use it to improve or create approaches and planes. So, the pitching strategist works with the pitchers, and the run production coach works with the hitters, all from a data-driven area, and all from trying to distill and communicate the wealth of metrics that can be used to find an edge.
    Is Graceffo the Minor League pitcher in the Cards system with the highest ceiling? McGreevy, and even Liberatore, seem to be more along the lines of No. 3/4 type pitchers.
    I don't know about highest ceiling, but swiftest rise from spring sensation to prospect to big-leaguer -- absolutely. He's going to rocket toward the Cardinals as quickly as that fastball will take him, it seems.
    If Flaherty is out for a prolonged period would the Cardinals reconsider their decision to put Hicks in the bullpen?
    Doesn't appear like that's the plan. Not with how Pallante has done.
    Frankie Montas is one of the pitchers that will be highly sought after at the trade deadline. I saw you in an earlier post say a trade with Liberatore is not happening. You also mentioned that the Cardinals want consistent success. With Montas' club control through next season, wouldn't a Liberatore plus others for Montas swap make sense? Pay a premium for next year for a guy who has been relatively consistent the last few years.
    It would definitely make sense for the Athletics. Absolutely. The Cardinals would be reluctant to pay that price, and some of that, yes, is the public relations aspect. They know the heat on them for the Arozarena trade, and they want to prove that move was right by getting the most from Liberatore. They think he's a frontline starter and will be for many years for them -- not a few months or so like Montas would be.
    Is Brendan Donovan what everyone expected Tommy Edman to be at this point, the swiss army knife/Ben Zobrist, in your opinion? If he's progressed to that point, will the Cardinals just let Edman flourish at a single position?
    I think Tommy Edman could still be that, but the Cardinals need him to be the shortstop now. Edman can play more positions and play them better than Donovan. He's not the fielder than Edman is at second or shortstop or third, honestly. But he's capable. And he's contributing. And that versatility is important. But let's hold off on the super comp until he's got more time in the majors, because he ultimately may be best at second base or DH, and it's not clear yet.
    Why is it that Greinke "cannot help but be blunt"?
    He's a honest bloke, I guess. Tommy Pham is also blunt. Makes for great, honest quotes.
    I haven't read any connection to the Cardinals and Melancin. Az is probably in sell most soon, he seems like the type of guy that is affordable in prospects. Some package for him and MadBum would address two needs.
    I also haven't heard that connection, and I've asked. We'll see.
    Hey Derrick, thanks for the chats and for dealing with all the doom-and-gloomers! With Molina gone for the foreseeable future, do you see the Cards giving an extended look to Herrera over Knizner in the coming weeks? As hopeful as I was with Kniz entering the season, the offense and pitch framing just doesn't seem to be there for him as a regular.
    Ivan Herrera is going to get increasing playing time because he's earning it. The Cardinals were ready to go into this stretch with Knizner as their primary catcher, but his struggles at the plate and Herrera's better-than-advertised feel behind the plate is starting to get him more starts than originally scripted. That could flip. That could go back to the way they had it planned. But outings like Herrera had with Flaherty in the early innings Sunday make a case for more starts for the young catcher, especially if he can continue to improve on the job.
    Oh, goodness. I went over the mark and now I've got to scramble to get to the ballpark. Thanks for all the questions. What a wide spectrum and intriguing array of questions -- and an overall tone that ... well, I was braced for lava. So, thank you! Great stuff. This chat is always only as good as the questions make it.
    No chat next week due to the Fourth of July holiday. Then I'll be back the next week. Rick Hummel has the coverage tonight from Busch Stadium, and he will be the writer in action for this weekend in Philadelphia.
    Check out the new way we're covering games to assure that the score and coverage gets in the morning paper with the detail you expect, and then we also come back now with a brand new story with deeper analysis and post-game reporting exclusive to StlToday.com.
    Stay tuned. Stay informed. Stay healthy.
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