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. Welcome to the first post-trade deadline chat here at StlToday.com. That's it. That's the deadline. There aren't waiver deals and the like after, so teams are what they are as far as trades go. I'm sure there are many criticisms, some questions, and that's enough prelude, let's dive in.
    DG,

    Thanks for taking our questions!

    What can we realistically expect from Happ and Lester?

    Who do you see as the better acquisition?

    I'm an optimist and, for whatever reason, have this sneak suspicion the Cards are going to make a miraculous climb into the playoffs. If so, will this staff be able to match up in a playoff series? I worry about that. Thanks!
    1) Innings. If they don't provide quality starts, at the least they can provide innings on their day that doesn't capsize the bullpen for the next day. There have been series the Cardinals have lost this season because of what the bullpen had to do just to survive in the games before. That contributed to the losing streaks of June. That kept them from conjuring winning streaks in July. So, innings. They can and should provide innings today to give the bullpen a chance to win/chase tomorrow.
    2) Lester. I've learned through the years to never discount his ability to find a way, and his conversation with the media yesterday was interesting because he talked about being older, needing to adjust, and needing help/advice to pull that off. He mentioned on Wainwright has done it and was looking for that insight.
    What do you know about Jon Lester? What can we expect? And is he in the mold of a Chris Carpenter, John Lackey, Lance Lynn personality-wise? (He has always struck me that way.) Any insight would be great. Thanks.
    Lester and Lackey are close friends. Close. Close. I see the comparison there, though Lackey will tell you that Lester can be more laid back, and Lester will tell you that he's more competitive about everything and that Lackey takes all his beer. There are some overlap with the three pitchers you mention for sure, but I'm hesitant to say that either Lackey or Lester are similar to Chris Carpenter because I've heard about Carpenter in the clubhouse and don't know yet if that's what Lester will be like, and Lackey was not. Lance Lynn is, as he'll tell you, his own man on this list. He certainly has learned from Carpenter, adored Lackey, and really drew a lot from Kyle Lohse, candidly. He's made all of that his own. Plus, he's wicked funny.
    How much actual money do the Cardinals have coming off the books this offseason? With the Arenado deal somewhat complicated and options and buyouts, it all gets confusing.

    Basicall, how much money will they have to spend? (Assuming we keep a similar payroll.)
    The players who have expiring contracts offer a significant amount of money off the books. To name the biggest ones:
    Carpenter -- $18.5m
    Andrew Miller -- $12m
    Carlos Martinez -- $11.7m
    Yadier Molina -- $9m
    Adam Wainwright -- $8m
    Kwang Hyun Kim -- $4m
    That's $63.2m off.
    In that group there are two buyouts (Carpenter, Martinez) for a total of $2.5m. So you're still talking about more than $60m coming off the current roster. Nolan Arenado is owed $35m for the coming season, but as part of the trade he'll have $6m of that deferred to installment payments later. (Remember the full cash coming from Rockies is less if he takes one of the opt outs.)
    Harrison Bader is going to be due a significant raise, and Jack Flaherty will see a bump, too, through arbitration. So that has to be considered, and still it's possible to see how the Cardinals will have around $30m off the books -- and an opening in the rotation to address, to begin with.
    It seems that Wainright's record should be much better w all of the quality starts he's had this year? Has the pen let a lot of his possible wins slip away?
    Run support has been an issue, too. His record should be better, but the bullpen has faltered a few times, and the offense hasn't had his back. In four of his six losses he has allowed four or more runs. He's allowed six twice.
    Why did Mo not make trades for players that would have helped the Cardinals next year? There were several traded like that by other teams. I would have traded any minor leaguer except Gorman.
    The Cardinals were more interested in holding on to their prospects than the deals that offered that chance, and they had a longer list than yours. They did not want to trade from their top five prospects. Internally that list includes definitely Gorman, Liberatore, Walker, and Herrera. The fifth member of that group might depend on who you ask -- Winn, Thompson, perhaps Baker with his season. But you get the idea. The Jays gave up two top five prospects for Berrios -- and that would have been the equivalent of trading Gorman and Liberatore/Oviedo for Berrios. Texas had interest in Winn before and would have sought him or a similar highly ranked player for Gibson. The Cardinals did not want to do that.
    Hey DG! Has there been any trade deadline in memory as active as this year? Seeing so many big names moved is a first it seems.

    Also, has a team EVER unloaded as much talent like the Cubs did?
    There has not been. There has not been a deadline with this much WAR, career achievements, everything on the move. A Cy Young Award winner goes to the Dodgers, and an MVP goes to San Francisco while the current hit leader goes to San Diego -- all of them All-Stars a few weeks earlier! Incredible. Top prospects shifted around -- the Cubs and Twins getting significant young pieces. A core from the recent Cubs championship completely dismantled and then all homering in their debuts with new teams. Amazing. The closest I can think of to the Cubs situation was what the Marlins have done twice to move on from cores before they got too expensive.
    Thanks for the chat DG. My hope is that we can still have hope as the next month unfolds.

    I'd like your thoughts on this: As unlikely as it is for the Cards to make the post-season; if they DO make it, they will be a very hot, confident team and a scary matchup for anybody else in the hunt.
    They don't have the pitching right now to scare a team in a short series. They might have the pitching to carve up a one-game playoff and make it interesting with Wainwright starting, McFarland in the middle, Andrew Miller for a specific assignment, and Helsley, Cabrera, Gallegos, and Reyes to handle the second half of the game, at least. That's today. We'll see if they get Flaherty and Mikolas back to their vintage capabilities and maybe that shifts the look of a three-game series. They're going to have to score more to survive a seven-game series -- as we all saw in 2019. To me, they need to do more than get hot or lucky. They need to be much better.
    What do you think the odds are of the Cards bringing Carp back for another year?
    They're not going to exercise his option if that's the question. If he goes out into the market and finds that the best offer is from the Cardinals -- and that might come much later in the offseason, honestly -- then he could return. He may have to wait for word on the CBA negotiations that say whether the DH is in the NL and that opens up more jobs for him to consider, and likely more teams willing to offer him an invite to spring where he comes off the roster (roster spots matter for protection in November/December) and is nod, wink, nod, nudge going to get a job out of spring.
    I know this has been asked and answered by you before but how do the Dodgers, a perennial bottom 4-6 draft team, always have the prospects at the deadline to pull off these deals and they are never "giving away their future?"
    They are a Player Development Monster. They scout, well, sure but they also develop players -- all players, pitchers and hitters -- as well as any team in the majors. They identify underutilized talents and unleash them, at lower levels and we've seen them do it at the major-league level (see: Muncy and Taylor). They increase their odds of doing all these things too by spending, spending, spending. It wasn't too long ago that their Triple-A payroll dwarfed every other team in the league, and remember they did have .... some kind of crazy amount of money ... $250m? ... invested in international talent that didn't contribute, but they could turn into trades, etc. They're a well-run organization, great at developing talent when they spot it and get it and get more from it, and they have more money to spend so it gives them the chance to paper over mistakes or increase the depth from which to chose from.
    Mr. Goold: I believe the Cardinals' front office knows the team isn't going to make the postseason, but they aren't going to say it publicly. Needing a .640+ winning percentage the remainder of the season to get to a minimum of 90 wins is too steep a hill to climb. That's why there were no splashy trades. The trades that were made were made to hopefully keep the team over .500 for another year.
    It might be even more uncomfortable than that, Bruce. The trades made were to keep the team from capsizing and forcing young pitchers into spots where they might regress. The Cardinals, again, had an innings deficit they've been trying to outrun. It could have caught up to them before the starters return and make this far worse.
    Hi Mr.Goold. Loved last weeks BPIB about the Guardians and connection between Spiders/Cardinals. Next year we'll likely have Flaherty, Reyes, Hudson, Mikolas, Waino/Kim as a rotation. I would feel a lot better if we got one more front of the rotation guy, and potentially upgrade 2B/SS and utilize Edman as a super-utility. Do you see the Cardinals going for that in the off-season, or staying put until Gorman/Liberatore/Herrera/Walker might be ready to open the window. I'd love to give Yadi/Waino one last shot at a ring.
    A few things off the top of my head:
    -- Kim is not signed for 2022. He is a free agent that they would have to re-sign. So he's not a given for the rotation next year.
    -- Nolan Gorman is positioned to get a chance to win the starting job at 2B in 2022. That sure seems like what the Cardinals are going to consider this winter. That would give them returning players and a favorite at all four infield spots and really seven of the eight position spots. That's something they're going to have really scrutinize because it's unclear they can count on the addition of a rookie and rise of a sophomore to be the great change in the offense they need.
    -- Liberatore has earned the right to compete in 2022 spring for a spot on the team.
    The other prospects will be earmarked for Class AAA, either to start the year and move from there, or finish the year there, which really Walker could do at age 20. Incredible.
    We seem to be stealing a bit more recently. Has Mike seen the light?
    He always had. It's all about the pitchers and catchers who they have been stealing on -- and the one the other day that was getting the runner in motion and was not a straight steal. It just ended up that way. The jump wasn't all that good, but the steal happened anyway.
    Max Schrock went 5-5 with 2 RBI for the Reds yesterday and is 8-9 in his last 2 games. Maybe the Cards should inspect the drinking water in the clubhouse. Just saying.
  • One game does not a player make otherwise Jeremy Hazelbaker would still be playing for the Cardinals on an extension signed after going four-for-four in April 2016 against the Brewers. He had a double and triple and that was just the peak of a week of production.
    Is St. Louis where good hitters go to die?
    Can you go into more depth on why the Gant for Happ trade happened? Both struggling starters not likely to be back, but Gant has bullpen value and is cheaper.
    He's not all that much cheaper because the Cardinals are getting cash from Twins to cover Happ's remaining salary. Gant is due for a raise through arbitration and that made him a candidate to be non-tendered so the Cardinals could have the open spot in the bullpen. As reported a week before the trade deadline, the Cardinals also saw Gant as blocked in a few of the roles he had held. They weren't going to start him ahead of the arms they had. McFarland had become the groundball-getter out of the bullpen that Shildt used, and Helsley had taken over the fireman role that Gant did well for several years. He was a reliever without a role and with a salary about the rise, and the Cardinals were a team in need of a starter who could give them innings. That's how a deal like that comes together -- after talks about other pitchers between two teams becomes the one deal at the end of the road when others didn't work out.
    Do you think that the flashes shown by the outfield this year will translate into consistent production? The Cards seem ready to anoint this trio as the future, but can they with aging cornerstones and sporadic middle infield offense?
    It's just enough for the Cardinals to continue to dream on that possibility and not prepare for the possibility that this is their best -- not a signal of future improvement.
    You say the Cards will have 4 returning infielders with Gorman at 2B...who’s the SS? DeJong isn’t playing everyday now and Sosa probably isn’t an everyday option so I assume you mean Edman as the SS?
    Whether you agree that they are the shortstop for 2022 or not they are returning players. Paul DeJong is the starting shortstop this year. Edmundo Sosa has earned starts this year. That, by definition, makes them both incumbents. I'm staying true to the word with my description.
  • Hey, DG, thanks for the chat! You included Yadi and Waino as salaries coming off the books, but I am certain Yadi wants to come back. I don't know what Wainwright is thinking. What do you see out of those two next year - what kind of salary and what kind of production?
    Both players would like to return, at this moment. The team is going to talk to both players in the coming weeks, now that the deadline is past, and Molina is expecting that conversation. It may take a larger guarantee at this moment to get the one-year deal done. That's what it's likely going to be for both players. Here's the issue: The team has a lot of reasons to wait. The CBA is a huge unknown. Health remains an unknown as long as there are games to be played. And so on. So, while a player like Molina would like to have the deal done before the season ends, you've got a team that has reason to wait, to watch. That's where the tension will be. Wainwright has said he'd like to get to the end of the season and talk with his family about the next move. Having gone through this now three years in a row, it's pretty clear the kind of contract that it would take to have him return. Perhaps a boost to that guarantee beyond $8m, so a $9m-$10m with the chance to earn more with games starter or games finished.
    Why throw in the extra minor leaguer for Happ? Seems like Gant would have been enough? $?
    To get the cash. That's how the deal comes together.
    Why do good hitters that come to St. Louis struggle? Why do we see so many traded Cardinals having hitting success elsewhere? How do the Dodgers and Giants and Brewers unlock so many hitters that the all seem better than any Cardinal?
    This is a huge question facing the Cardinals -- and has for the past three years. But there are some reasons for it, and we muddy the conversation when we only latch onto the one that we find most appealing and ignore the other aspects that are just as influential. Here are some truths:
    -- Busch Stadium is a pitcher's ballpark. Period. It's going to suppress offense, and the Cardinals have embraced this by being a run prevention team, first and foremost. When they've been at their best in the past seven years, they've been a run prevention team.
    -- Playing time. Luke Voit has rocked in the Bronx. He was not going to get that playing time in St. Louis ahead of Paul Goldschmidt. Max Schrock has played well recently. He was not going to get that playing time ahead of Edman in St. Louis. Randy Arozarena never got the chance for playing time in St. Louis, not when the Cardinals pivoted hard toward the aforementioned defense and prioritized playing Bader in center field. Arozarena and Adolis Garcia deserve a lot of credit for the work they did, individually, after leaving the Cardinals to become the hitters they are -- to add strength, to reshape the swing, and to create the opportunity they did not get.
    -- Dodgers and Giants do have big and well-respected coaching staffs for hitters, and hitters for those teams or hitters who have worked with those coaches talk about how prepared and individualized (for hitter, for pitcher) the work is.
    -- Brewers play in a ballpark that hitters say is a great place to hit.
    From there a big concern for the Cardinals is why they cannot unlock hitters. That's true for Ozuna (was it the shoulder) and that's been true for DeJong. Bader has seen a career arc like Wong's, and it's clear that O'Neill has made great improvements as he's using more elements of his game. The regression that the Cardinals saw from players they brought in to help the offense is one of the reasons why they did overhaul their hitting coach staff in the first place. They were concerned that hitters came in and did less than projected, and that brought them to the current setup they have.
    And the question confronting them again, for another consecutive season.
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