Join Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold for his live end-of-season chat at 11 a.m. Monday

Join Cardinals beat writer Derrick Goold for his live end-of-season chat at 11 a.m. Monday

Bring your Cards questions and comments to Monday’s 11 a.m. live chat.

    Greetings from a rainy St. Louis, and welcome to the 2021 Season Wrap Cardinals Chat. Two bonkers playoff games on Sunday, four playoff games today (the last time there will be more than two baseball games in the 2021 season), and the Cardinals' run came to an end last Wednesday. You've got plenty of questions and comments and criticism, and I'll do my best to field them -- sharp-hoppers and all.
    We've got the day to get through as many questions as possible. Enough prelude. Let's take the plunge ...
    Which players will the Cardinals most likely protect from the Rule 5 draft?
    Here's the list of select players from the long long list of players who will be eligible that I included in Sunday's paper, and I think there were some clues from the Cardinals toward the end of the season.
    Notable prospects/minor-leaguers who need to be added to the 40-man roster to be protected from December’s Rule 5 Draft: 1B Luken Baker, OF Conner Capel, INF Brendon Donovan, INF Evan Mendoza, C Dennis Ortega, RHP Tommy Parsons, RHP Wilfredo Pereira, SS Delvin Perez, OF Nick Plummer, INF Kramer Robertson, OF Jhon Torres, LHP Austin Warner, LHP Tyler Webb.
    Donovan, Plummer, and Robertson were put on the taxi squad for the postseason -- which speaks to where they would fit on the depth chart after their strong seasons. Donovan has really moved up the chart this season. Plummer, a former first-round pick, has asserted his place as a prospect after the Cardinals were uncertain where his career would be going because of injuries. Robertson has done well, and has been a player utilized often in spring because of his versatility in the infield. 
    Baker and Perez are two other intriguing candidates. The Cardinals are going to have to take a gamble a bit and bet that a player might taken (Pereira?) but not be able to stick on the 26-man active roster of the selecting team. They've done that before. They've lost talent as a result. But sometimes get that talent back and don't use the 40-man roster spot.
    The Rule 5 situation is real, and that's one of the reasons why you didn't see the Cardinals promote, say, a Nolan Gorman like they did Juan Yepez. Giving Gorman one of those 40-man spots for a day would mean the inability to protect one of the above prospects. Yepez had to go on the 40-man roster to be protected and of course the Cardinals were going to do that at some point in the coming weeks.
    Derrick, enjoy your coverage of the cards...there is much anticipation of the labor strife expected next year, in your opinion what are the major differences between the union and ownership?
    The biggest one is trust. There just is a lack of trust and therefore a lack of honest conversation/debate between them. The players don't trust what the owners say about revenue streams, and they have reason. The owners have made big revenues on things like MLBAM and MLB Network that aren't tied to the revenues they'll use to suggest how much they should pay players. That leads to friction, as you can imagine. 
    There are negotiations going on right now, and there are plenty of things that they agree on that they can get on the table and off before moving to the bigger issues. And those will be:
    -- New structure for arbitration, or a way to get players paid more when they're younger.
    -- Competitive balance and tanking.
    -- The related small payrolls that go with tanking, where teams just strip down their payrolls to paltry levels, especially compared to market-size, and withdraw from the free market.
    -- What constitutes revenue (this is the one that is going to put the union vs. a salary cap, which is basically a non-starter).
    I was surprised to see Seth Elledge was DFA. Is he still with the team?
    He is. He cleared waivers and moved to the Class AAA Memphis roster.
    The two most feared words in the Cardinals lexicon are "internal options." While empty seats and a struggling team seemed to point the needle towards meaningful moves this off-season, did the 17-game run just take the air out of that balloon of hope? Health is not what separated the Cardinals from the Dodgers, nor the Cardinals from the Brewers. They need more consistent offense.
    Some contributors to that 17-game winning streak -- Happ, Lester, and most of all McFarland and Garcia -- are all free agents. So any argument that staying pat or going with "internal options" will produce the same level of team that pulled off that feat is flawed because some of the people who made that streak possible are gone. Therefore, they're external options, by definition. I'm not sure what you mean as far as the "balloon of hope" -- though I really appreciate the writing there. Once free agency hits, the Cardinals are not the same team they were during the peak of 2021, and even be the same in 2022 they will need to make moves for outside options. They'll need depth their current roster cannot provide.
    With all the shortstops available in free agency, would that effect DeJongs value if they tried to trade him?
    Hi DG! Tough last couple of weeks for us Cards and Chiefs fans. Who do you see as an “under the radar” hitter, (LH?), and starter the Cards might go after as an FA?
    I’m not confident they’ll splurge on one of the top SS available, nor Mad Max. Thoughts? And thanks for your coverage this year! Hopefully, you’ll be back in the clubhouse in 2022.
    There are a lot of ways the Cardinals could go into this market, and while they're still putting together their plans, there are some things that are already obvious, from watching their moves or from reporting on their thinking:
    -- They'd like to find a way to add a lefthanded bat to the mix.
    -- They see the likely arrival of the DH as a way to do that, by opening up all positions for potential discussion outside of third and first base, though DH could be used to spell their cornermen, too.
    -- The looming expiration of the CBA is going to be a significant factor in their decisions, not just because it could stall the market for awhile (freeze transactions, etc.), but because the rules coming out of it could mean significant changes to how contracts/salaries are done for young players like Flaherty, Bader, O'Neill, Carlson, Reyes, Hicks, Gallegos, Hudson ... you get the idea.
    While Reyes' stuff is elite, do you think he will ever establish strong command. That's been an issue with him for multiple years and I think that's a skill that you either have or don't have. How would you assess his market value?
  • It's pretty high because there are going to be multiple teams/pitching coaches out there who disagree with your assessment and believe they are the ones who can get that command in place. They're going to believe in their coaches, their lab, their expertise -- whatever -- and they're going to know what you cannot teach (stuff) Reyes has is ace of spades. The biggest limit on his "market value" is his lack of innings over the past few years, injury history, and rising salary related to those things. He's into the arbitration years now, rising fast, and has yet to really handle the bulk innings of a starter that would really increase his value for an offseason trade. In a relief role, the bigger return would be if he was traded in July, nearer the deadline.
  • Thank you, sir, for your great work keeping us out-of-town Cards fans informed. My question is about Alex Reyes...does he have what it takes to excel? Physically, yes. Mentally? Might we trade him to an American League team for a good return, and eliminate the question? I seldom question Mike Shildt but I would have gone with Flaherty in the Wild Card game.
    They weren't going to go with Jack Flaherty in that situation because two things were working against their stated plans for Flaherty:
    -- It was a sudden, swift warmup needed because Gallegos' injury.
    -- There was a runner on base. They wanted to give Flaherty a "clean" inning to start.
    The first part there may have eliminated Dakota Hudson, too, but when assessing a moment like that in a game that can be lost on the next pitch, I often wonder if a team ought to go with the best pitcher available. In 2014, the Cardinals did not do that. They went to Michael Wacha, while Lance Lynn wondered in the bullpen. Last night in Boston, the exact opposite happened. The Sox went to Pivetta, their next game's starter, and he was dominant. That would have been the Lynn move in 2014, though there's no guarantee of course that he would have been dominant. He just likely would have been better than an under-glass Wacha. 
    And, yes, Reyes has all the traits of a stronger pitcher who will thrive somewhere, if not here.
    If Hudson is a ground ball machine why wasn’t he used in the 9th inning of the wild card game in place of Reyes?
    Great question. It could be, as mentioned before, the warmup factor. He seemed, to me, like the most likely/best option for that spot. The one caveat there is whether they felt warming him up so fast to come in for the injured Gallegos would have been a push for his arm/health, readiness at this point. That is a fair concern, though it's not one they articulated.
    Derrick, you are the best beat writer in baseball, and we enjoy your coverage and these chats a great deal … thank you! Still stinging from Wednesday nights decision to bring in Reyes. Why did Schildt make that choice for Reyes vs. Flaherty or one of the other many options he had available?
    Thank you for the kind words. Let's walk through the factors that led to that decision, explaining it and exploring it, while -- let me be clear here -- not advocating for it.
    The biggest pivot in that inning was Gallegos' nail coming apart. That meant that he would not throw a pitch in the ninth inning -- he couldn't without severe pain, questionable control -- but would serve as a decoy. By going out there to start the inning, he lured the Dodgers into making the pinch-hit move for a lefthanded bat. The Cardinals then countered with T. J. McFarland and that invited Albert Pujols into the game. Let's pick up the action there.
    -- Pujols lines out.
    -- Souza lines out.
    Now the Cardinals have the matchup they actually want -- a left on left with Bellinger facing McFarland, and not just any Bellinger but a struggling Bellinger, a Bellinger who entered the game batting .165 for the season. His defense got him in the game. Look no further than where he hit in the lineup. Eighth. This is the next pivot of the inning. Bellinger had a .208 on-base percentage against lefties during the regular season. Four out of every five times he came to plate he was out. This was not one of them, and that's how the inning comes undone.
    -- Bellinger walks.
    Christ Taylor, into the game in the seventh as part of a double switch, is now at the plate. Shildt does not want the left-right matchup there vs. Taylor. That nixes McFarland (on the mound) and Genesis Cabrera (warmed up), though it seems to dismiss Cabrera reverse splits. Also, it's clear that Shildt wants to have Cabrera for more than one out, especially in extra innings as LA's lineup starts to come back around. The right-right matchup possibilities are:
    -- Flaherty, but team didn't want to thrust him into traffic spot with short warmup.
    -- Reyes, warm
    -- Mikolas, in the bullpen but saved for extra innings, long relief
    -- Kodi Whitley, compelling choice, not warm, rookie, but on a solid streak, groundball guy
    -- Dakota Hudson, not arm, unclear how quickly they would want to get him warm given he's just coming back from elbow surgery.
    The call here was Reyes, and you can see how Shildt would arrive at that. He's got the right-right matchup he wants against Taylor, who had been struggling mightily for the past month, especially against righthander pitchers. He has his experienced pitcher in that spot. And he needs only to get the one out from him before everything lines up from there.
    There is a lot of sentimentality about the Card bringing back Pujols to fill the RH DH role in 2022, if it come to be. But what about reuniting with another former Card 1B, Luke Voit? (If/When he is let go in NY)
    Sure. But recognize that in both cases you are limiting the possibilities of the DH being a spot that can also be used by Arenado and Goldschmidt or other players by adding a player on the roster who plays one of two positions, and that's it. Seems like an odd move given the Cardinals' trend.
  • He is not. This still comes up every so often. They obviously like what he brings to the bullpen, but they have not ruled out having him prep and extend like a starter this winter. That is on the table for discussion.
  • With the talk of bringing the DH to the NL, what are the chances the Cards try to bring back Pujols to join Waino & Yadi for one big farewell tour?
    The chances are not as high as the amount of talk there will be around the Cardinals. If it's September and he's available, perhaps that's the move they will make. It sure seems like they want more from the DH spot than nostalgia. I would think that fans would like more from the DH spot, too. But then baseball is entertainment and maybe that's the entertainment for 2022: farewell tours. No. 12 can wait.
    Does Marmol have any chance in getting one of the open manager jobs?
    He will get mentioned. He's on deck for some interviews in the near future. Look for Skip Schumaker to be very popular in the manager searches that are coming.
    You have Baez, Correa, Seager and Story all available to sign as your shortstop. All are asking for $250 million for 10 years. Which one would you sign?
    Seager.
    Here's the spoiler: They all won't get that much.
    There will be only three games today. White Sox/Astros is ppd.
    With all the SS available in free agency, could this be like 2013 when the Cards signed Peralta early, getting their man at their price as opposed to paying a perhaps higher market value?
    This is an interesting question -- but there's one big, huge, massive difference. That CBA looming out there with the expiration and possible work stoppage just seems to be a block to such early moves. I'm eager to see the tone of the coming GM meetings and what the front offices there seem to think about the pace of movement. It's slowed to a crawl in recent years, and now there is actually a reason to have it slow down or stop -- just may mean trades happen swift, but jumping the market when no one knows the new rules for the market, could just be unpalatable.
    Do you think that shutting down and taking their foot off the peddle effected their momentum? They had 2 days off scheduled on Monday and Tuesday so rest was an issue? As soon as they dud that I was concerned that they wouldn't be able to just turn the key and reignite.
    I do not. I don't buy into that notion, whether it's the last week of the regular season or the game in Arizona earlier in the year. That's just mean. Baseball is a long season. Yes, a team can build momentum, but it wasn't like they stopped playing games for a week (ala Detroit 2006). They still played. They prioritized health and readiness over games that didn't matter. Twenty-nine other teams would have made the same choice because that approach has worked in other years, other months, for other teams.
    I did not see anything in the Wild Card game that suggested they ran out of momentum or timing or anything. They went zero-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They did that before, too.
    In your opinion is an offensive or starting pitching upgrade the biggest need for next year? Watching the playoffs it’s clear to me the Cardinals are a good team, but there is a definite gap between them and the teams playing now.
    Why not both? The DH makes the offense possible. The lessons of 2022 make the addition of starting depth necessary.
    Is this doable?

    Sign Scherzer
    Sign Schwarber as DH
    Trade DeJong for salary relief and a BP piece.

    That gives you a strong rotation, stronger lineup, and perhaps stronger pen with the trade and maybe a projected starter moved to the pen.
    It's doable. But trading DeJong isn't much salary relief. He makes $6 million in the coming season. It is possible that keeping DeJong around as a versatile player/DH/fielder and starter at shortstop if needed is a good value play. 
    Schwarber isn't exactly that most versatile DH. But but but but ... lefthanded bat. 
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