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. If it's Monday, it's chat day. A week ago the Cardinals were poised for a home stand rich with potential. That didn't happen. With two games to go, they're 2-4 having let the Brewers assert their massive lead in the NL Central and watched the Cincinnati Reds overtake the Padres for the second wild-card. The Cardinals had David Freese night, a Hall of Fame weekend, and two nights to celebrate the lives and careers of two of the greatest ballplayers ever, Lou Brock and Bob Gibson. The crowds were ... lacking. I imagine the contributing factors will be the heft of the questions today, but the chat never fails to surprise with the different directions the readers take it.
    Nick Plummer is on his way to Class AAA Memphis.
    Let's get the chat started ...
    With major league rooster limits expanding a bit next week who figures to be on the short list to be considered here for more immediate addition?
    Well, not as much as in the past. They're getting two extra spots. And as of right now, the Cardinals seem to be lining up those spots for a pitcher (definitely) and possibly a third catch so that Knizner's bat can be used more frequently off the bench. The most interesting decision with the expanded rosters will be coming in a few weeks when the Cardinals elect whether to put Dakota Hudson in the bullpen to close out the season. That's a possibility.
    If Correa is even in the realm of possibilities for the Cardinals would they pass on him because the baggage he carries with the cheating scandal? How would fans embrace him? Is Story an option? I have a feeling they ride with DeJong.
    No they would not. He's an excellent player, but it sure seems like the Cardinals have at least one, possibly two of the free-agent shortstops ahead of him on their wish list. We'll see how that market develops for him. I'm real interested to hear more about the contract he'll see. I don't know how fans would embrace him. I imagine it will depend entirely on how well he plays and how long he sticks around as a Cardinal. It has been really hard recently to get a read on fan opinion related to players, from Arenado to Goldschmidt. Story is an option. They are likely to have a DH spot and that opens up a world of possibilities on what to do with that position. They could add a shortstop and have DeJong be the super utility who plays everywhere and DHs some. They can use that spot creatively -- and first and foremost to add a bat to the offense, regardless of position.
    Since the Cards playoff chances are all but dead, it's time to look toward the offseason. If the Cards target one player this winter (not in the organization), who would it be?
    I don't know yet, and to be candid, neither do they. I know that's not a satisfactory answer, but it's the truth, and that's what I try to promise you here. The Cardinals are in talks with Molina about his return. They'll let Adam Wainwright determine the timetable for his talks about a return, and they'll be open to that possibility, of course. 
    The Cardinals will need to explore the addition of a bat -- especially with the expected advent of the universal DH, as mentioned moments ago -- and they can do that at any position and sort it out later. The Cardinals will also have to consider adding another starting pitcher. That could be talking to Happ about sticking around, or it could be wading into the waters of free-agency, once that market starts to move, and doing so for a shorter-term, higher-dollar move.
    Waino has been the Cardinals best and most consistent pitcher. He’s got another year in him, I can sense it. What will it take to get Holliday here to be the hitting coach? That would be splendid.
    Arguably, Adam Wainwright has been the MVP of the team two years running now. He definitely was in 2020, in my opinion. Should have received at least one vote for the NL MVP last year based on what he did to get the Cardinals out of the quarantine bind, innings deficit, and back on track as a playoff-bound team. And now he's doing it again.
    Matt Holliday is working with his brother as a coach for Oklahoma State, and that has given him the schedule where he can watch his oldest son rise and arrive as a prospect. This past weekend, he and McGwire were watching their sons at a Perfect Game event.
    But you are on the right track.
    Written recently in the paper about the return of Ryan Ludwick to the organization, and you may recall a few weeks ago in the chat and in the paper we discussed how the Cardinals are wondering internally if that's a voice they could add to the hitting coach group -- the former player. I'm not sure if the time commitment is appealing to Ludwick. But you can see how the Cardinals are exploring whether he is that person, or where they could look for that voice. 
    Since the all star break the biggest problem that the Cardinals have faced seems to be their offense. According to the stats, the rotation has been very good, the bullpen has been good but the offense has been below average. At this point which area do you think needs to be upgraded the most in the offseason?
    The lineup. They need another bat. They just really lack that turnaround depth and consistency. If they could find a high-OBP leadoff hitter that might ignite the offense more offense. If they could see Carlson blossom as a No. 2 hitter, that would help. They just don't see to get too many rallies going with the length of their lineup. O'Neill has had a strong year. Arenado has been providing RBIs. Goldschmidt is having his second-half surge. But again and again and again the Cardinals offense is less than the sum of its parts. And that's both confusing -- and in need of correction.
    Attendance Friday night was 28,000 sold with closer to 20,000 in the seats on Lou Brock promotion night. I don’t believe wild card chases excite or inspire the local fan base evidenced by the empty seats in late Aug and Sept in the past five years. I don’t believe the front office sees it that way. How do you see it?
    I believe ownership sees the empty seats and doesn't need to remind the front office about them. They already have been that fan apathy was a concern. If you recall, Mozeliak said that was a factor in why they aggressively pursued Arenado. Fan apathy was a clear concern, and he felt the front office had to do something to prove they could off that kind of deal to the fans. The wild-card is an odd nebulous thing to market. There are two of them. It involves a wider array of teams. The division title is linear -- and better. Easier to market. 
    There's more going on here than just wild-card apathy, though. There is the pandemic, the Delta Variant, and please, please, please don't forget that a lot of people lost income, jobs, careers in the past 18 months. That is going to shrink the entertainment dollar. Take a look at movie theaters and box office numbers. It's all gone down, and baseball is, after all, is an entertainment choice. In the past week, here in St. Louis, many schools are starting -- today is the first day of school for some of the largest districts in the area -- and some families are sending their kids to a new school for the first time in person. I speak from experience here. That has taken up a lot of attention and concern and prep.
    And finally, this team hasn't captured the fan base's imagination.
    It just hasn't. Not even with Arenado added or Wainwright thriving ... 
    Maybe it's the style of play. Maybe it's the standings. Maybe it's the style of baseball in general. Maybe it's the limited dollars families can spend. Maybe people don't yet want to be in crowds. It's probably a jambalaya of all of it. And if you can see it, we can see it, Jack Flaherty sees it an mentions it, and you can bet the Cardinals see it.   
    Derrick, over the last few seasons it seems that players get worse when they join the Cardinals and get better when they leave. Am I a disgruntled fan who insists on seeing the glass as half empty, or is there some objective truth in this view? More importantly, is there a danger that players see St. Louis as a place with a reputation for being detrimental to one's career?
    There is some objective truth to this. And it's a concern that got the previous hitting coach dismissed, in part. The Cardinals felt they weren't getting the developing of players at the major-league level. Marcell Ozuna's dwindling production after a strong season in Miami could not be entirely dismissed with his shoulder. Arozarena is, of course, the other example that stands out, and that has led the Cardinals to commit such playing time to a player like O'Neill, and we can't ignore how the Arozarena Lesson has also assured expansive playing time for a player like Nootbaar. They want to see what they have, and they don't want to see that coming off the bench or marooned on the bench, and Arozarena offered a reminder of that.
    In some cases -- Voit, Garcia -- the player deserves a lot of credit for changing a swing or seizing an opportunity that wasn't going to happen in St. Louis.
    We're watching with Lane Thomas what a fresh start and playing time can do.
    Which brings us back to the crux of your question: Is it a concern for St. Louis as a place that players want to play? Well, let's address one of the biggest parts of this: Busch Stadium. It's a pitcher's ballpark. Nolan Arenado knew that when he came to STL, and so did Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt has worked on adjusting and expanding his approach at the plate to take advantage of Busch. It can be a place where a pull hitter thrives for power, and he just happens to have hit the most opposite-field homers in the majors since he showed up. So, an adjustment -- because some of those homers that leave Chase Field, Coors, or elsewhere are deep fly outs at Busch. If you expected Arenado to match his OPS from Colorado then I'm not sure what to say. He went from one of the best places in baseball to hit -- wide open spaces, altitude -- to a pitcher friendly ballpark, and more and more and more the Cardinals are trying to use that to their benefit.
    That might entice pitchers. Or, it might help them maximize pitchers. It won't be a turn off for hitters like Arenado, who know the deal going in ...
    Derrick - Is Nootbar's ceiling as a fourth outfielder?
    Pitching 8 to 9 innings for a starting pitcher is a lost good part of the game.
    Why can Wainwright not teach the young starting pitchers how to pitch 8 to 9 innings a start?
    That would make the Cardinals so so much better.
    He can teach him. Teams won't let them. It's not that they don't know how, it's that pitching philosophy is different for them. They come in and they throw as hard as they for as long as they can with the filthiest stuff they can muster, and then someone else comes in an does the same for a short burst, and so on. The game has become about max in the moment and move on. Rosters are built that way. Players are compensated that way. The five-and-dive has become the rule, and analytics are guiding that -- but not alone! Some of it is health related, especially this season, as young pitchers are being carefully monitored to avoid injury. And Wainwright can talk he wants to Flaherty about how to be more efficient (he has) and the value of pitching deeper into the game (Flaherty wants to) but some of those decisions will be made based on future health, third time through, and not the pitcher's ability to navigate those late innings. It's the game today.
    You have a very thoughtful list of why people may be staying away. If I may, I'd like to add that their TV deal isn't helping either. I can't follow at home, so I have less interest in going in person. Thank you Derrick.
    I appreciate you adding this. I'll admit, this is one that I don't yet have a good feel for, and that's why I didn't include it in my list. It's worthy of discussion to see how widespread this is. I can only imagine how frustrating some of the TV stuff going on is. Sinclair's refusal to send its reporters/broadcasters on the road is an issue -- both for the fans but for other media outlets and reporters, too.
    Why did Schildt not let Adam Wainwright try to get the complete game?
    His spot in the order came up, he was well past 100 pitches, and he was going need 120 or so to finish the game. Alex Reyes had not been needed/ pitched in recent days. They had a chance to add on some more runs with a pinch-hitter. All of those reasons.
    It's likely a CBA won't be agreed on before the current CBA expires. In that event do player contract payment's go on hold?
    The CBA expires in December. So, most contracts will have been paid for the season, and the money that hasn't been will still be due, as specified by contract. But a lockout will that there is no spending on salaries, yes. Players are not paid for spring training, so the first time that will have a widespread impact is March 31, 2022.
    Could there be fan fatigue with Mo's public messaging and Shildt's press conferences, which often try to paint a picture of a reality that just isn't there?
    Maybe. That's better judged by fans. Maybe some chatters could chime in. I don't get the sense that the Twitterati frustrated by those comments or those pressers are representative of the fans that stream/trickle into Busch Stadium. Too often, I don't see the cheers at the ballpark lining up with the jeers online.
    Please tell me that this is the final year we will see Matt Carpenter in a Cardinal uniform. I appreciate the career he has had here, but the last few years have rubbed some of the shine off that career.
    His contract expires at the end of the season. If he's back with the Cardinals it will be on a different kind of deal with a chance to win a job in spring training -- and likely a spot on the roster. He'll have a chance to field major-league offers from other teams.
    Derrick - Does even a very strong finish to the season guarantee DeJong would return as the starting SS next year?
    No. The Cardinals' moves in the offseason will reveal that. Again, the DH coming into the NL opens up the world of possibilities for teams like the Cardinals and having a versatile player like DeJong will play into that.
    What is the most likely scenario for Carpenter in 2022; back with the Cardinals on a reduced salary after a buyout of his current contract, he signs with another team, or retirement?
    Covered moments ago. His option will be declined. If he wants to return to the Cardinals it might take a wait -- and it might mean coming to camp off the roster, depending on what the Cardinals want to do to protect players/add players to the 40-man roster. Remember, they don't have the 60-day IL during the offseason, but can utilize it in spring training to add someone from the NRIs. So, that means Carpenter will have a chance as a free agent to seek a major-league deal -- and he'll likely get one with all the teams that could be hunting for a DH option, versatile lefthanded hitter, and it just might take awhile with the CBA concerns.
    On your recent podcast with the Brewers commentator, you discussed the Brewers roster construction and it sounds a lot what the Cardinals have built with a focus on run suppression. Does that make sense playing games in such a hitter's park? Clearly it's working for them on the road as their road record shows. It was just interesting to me that the Cardinals continue to try and move away from their run suppression identity, playing home games in a pitcher's park, and the Brewers playing in a hitter's park are focused on moving towards that identity.
  • Absolutely it does. Here's my thinking on this, and it's something I've often wondered about when it comes to the Colorado Rockies. I'm no brain surgeon, but if you have a hitter's ballpark why not count on it bringing out the best in the offense. So why pay for a monster slugger when you might be able to make a monster slugger by taking a bigger-ballpark hitter and transplanting them in a hitter friendly ballpark. It's one of the reasons why I always wondered how Harrison Bader would do as a Colorado Rockie. Imagine him covering all that ground in center field -- and then using all of that ground in center to find base hits. To find doubles. Goodness. His speed. Those spaces. Seems like his offense would bloom there. So, the Brewers can prioritize defense and count on getting an uptick in offense from players like Adames and Wong and others.
    Plus, run prevention doesn't slump and it travels well.
    Will Al Hrabosky ever return to do the tv broadcasts?
    He's part of the pre- and post-game programs. He's on the telecasts.
    Do you see the Royals as a possible fit next season for Matt Carpenter? Reunite with his old manager, plays multiple positions, DH... Just a thought.
    You could make a long list of possible plays he's fit. Royals is one. Not sure if a reunion would be a driving reason for that. I think that's overplayed as a reason for any player unless it's a situation like Matt Holliday returning to Colorado, for example.
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