Join baseball writer Derrick Goold for his live Cardinals chat at 11 a.m. Monday

Join baseball writer Derrick Goold for his live Cardinals chat at 11 a.m. Monday

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

    Lars Nootbaar has made one of the most significant jumps of any player when it comes to outside perception. Had this talk with a few Toronto writers a couple of weeks ago. It's remarkable when you think of it. Halfway through the season, Nootbaar was struggling. He had been returned to the minors. He was stuck in that realm of an outfielder trying to show that he was not a Class AAAA outfielder, and his swing had betrayed him, Fast forward a little less than three months, and Nootbaar is making a bid for being the Cardinals' leadoff hitter, he's among the league leaders for the second half in walk-rate, when he does make contact he hits it hard, he hits all the right notes when it comes to OPS and OBP, and he has the athleticism that teams can see him in center field, not to mention the fact that he bats left-handed, which is in such demand these days. So, again, in the span of three months he went from searching for his swing in Triple-A to being coveted by other teams -- and being viewed by the Cardinals as their incumbent returning to the outfield.
    And the production merits it.
    Late in the season, I asked if anyone in the majors for the Cardinals had done more to raise the ceiling of their potential this past season than Nootbaar. I did not get a no.
    The Cardinals appear to be not be subtracting the $50 mil they’re being paid by the Rockies off of their payroll… yet still counting it against their bottom line as an account payable for ‘23 (even though it’s paid - double dipping). Is this in play so they can say they increased payroll instead of actually making a difference? Please correct me if I’m wrong, and explain if I’m not.

    Folks are getting tired of the “barely get in” and “first out” trend. And ownership clearly can’t cry small market, not with Cardinal Nation being what it is… Thank You!

    St. Louis Cardinals
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    That is not what's happening, not at all. Please forgive the repetition and terseness of what follows, but I'm going to try this approach to explain the deal because the long story from a week or so ago is still not doing it.
    I hope it helps explain what is going on in succinct sentences, based on reporting by the Post-Dispatch and extensive conversations with sources about this specific, confusing trade and where it leaves the player, the Cardinals, and the Rockies.
    Here goes:
    -- The cash from the Rockies goes to Arenado.
    -- The cash from the Rockies does not go to the Cardinals to spend.
    -- The cash from the Rockies is used to cover Arenado's salary.
    -- The cash from the Rockies is included in the trade to cover the salary and the deferred salary that Arenado and Colorado negotiated as part of making the deal possible.
    -- As part of the deal, Arenado essentially negotiated a delayed payment of his 2021 salary so that he could play the 2021 season with the Cardinals.
    -- Eventually, the entirety of his 2021 salary will be covered by the Rockies.
    -- That is not in addition to the cash. That is part of the cash.
    -- Arenado had a salary of $35m for 2021.
    -- As part of the trade, Colorado sent about $14.4 million in cash that season to cover that portion of his salary.
    -- As part of the trade, Arenado and he Rockies agreed to defer the other $20 million of his contract.
    -- That included a $16 million payment for 2021 due in 2023.
    -- I have seen sites presume that this money comes off the Cardinals' '23 payroll. It does not. It covers salary owed from 2021 to Arenado. How do we know this? Well, through reporting and sources, and also this caveat in the original trade. Arenado was going to get that payment whether he opted out or not, because he was owed it in '21.
    -- Arenado negotiated deferred payments with Colorado. He is owed interest on those.
    -- Arenado also separately negotiated deferred payments with the Cardinals. He is not owned interest on those. Tells you something about his willingness to do the deal.
    -- The union agreed to this deal to make sure its integrity remained from the current value when it signed.
    -- As part of maintaining that value, a second opt-out was added.
    -- The opt-out has a monetary value that the union/teams/player can assign because it increases the earning potential for a player.
    Lastly, Arenado did not exercise it, and in talking with him he specifically brought up the complexity of the deal that was necessary for the Cardinals to make the trade, and he acknowledged that committing to them was a nod to the effort they gave to make a complex trade happen. 
    Now, you can share his opinion or refute. Whichever. But that's not going to change the facts of the deal as detailed above, and the fact that money is not being double counted by the Cardinals.
    And it shouldn't be by the media, either.
    If there are reports that can refute what I've written above, I'll do here what I have elsewhere and welcome the chance to defend my reporting or correct my reporting, if necessary. So far, it has not been necessary. One payroll site has already adjusted how it reflects the contract based on the Post-Dispatch's reporting.
    You should be tired of the quick exists from the postseason. The Cardinals have promised more, and it's been a long time since that last pennant. In 20 years of covering this team, I've not heard them "cry small market" in the Cardinals' front office. But that may because if they did, I would not write it down. Their ticket sales and tradition and strong support from fans and so many other things allow them to have a payroll beyond their market size, and they know that.
    Here is the full, detailed story on the payroll: 

    A payroll primer: Exploring the questions, complexities of Cardinals' spending for 2023

    STLtoday.comThe matrix of deferred money and Colorado cash invites confusion and speculation when discussing the Cardinals' rising payroll. Let's cut the clutter.
    Give me a second. Something has come up that needs attention. I'll be right back. Should give you time to read through the most recent access, sharpen your questions, and bring the heat ...
    Mo has to replace Pujols hitting. Then Mo has to get one more big bat. What positions will the big bats be added to? How will he get them? Trade of free agent signing?/
    Great questions. This is what the Cardinals are trying to figure out too. What bats are available for trade. Who really is a target free agent wise. Those answers are developing, and tied to it all is whether the Cardinals see Contreras as the addition to upgrades the lineup and then they use him as a catcher. That's one end of the scale they could go. Or they could get two players -- one is the catcher, one is the bat, and away they go.
    Yes, we're repeating history. In December 2011, the Cardinals had to figure out how to replace the production that vanished with Pujols left as a free agent. In December 2022, the Cardinals have to figure how to replace the production that vanishes with Pujols retiring. What's old is new. It's a time warp.
    So, who is the Carlos Beltran of 2022?
    Re: Arenado, the bottom line is the Cardinals didn't have to pay his 21 salary the Rockies did. The fact remains that his salary was portrayed as a part of the overall Cardinal payroll by numerous accounts which fans associate with the team's effort for fielding a high level team based off of reporting that they set the budget more or less from ticket sales and look at things in a 1 year, 3 year, 5 year for budgeting purposes. Basically, the Cardinals got credit (Arenado's 2021 production) for something they didn't have to pay for.
    "The fact remains that his salary was portrayed as a part of the overall Cardinal payroll by numerous accounts which fans associate with the team's effort ..."
    That's what you wrote.
    Now fans have new, accurate, vetted, attributed, and explained information. Fans have more info and more reliable info today than they had two weeks ago. I wrote what I did in an attempt to bring facts to the matter, to you the fans. Not how something is portrayed, but how something actually is. To me, that's the job of the reporter. I get it. My reporting is swimming upstream against the flow of information that existed before it.
    But if that information is wrong, can fans not adjust to the facts?
    I'm hopeful. That's why I tried to track down the actual facts.
    Offensively, is signing Contreras like buying the best bike when you need a car?
    I guess. He is an above average hitter for a catcher. And he is an above average hitter in the game. The Cardinals would benefit from a standout hitter compared to other middle-order hitters. Contreras is either right there, or slightly lower. Should they aim higher is the question that I believe your analogy reaches for ... Fair question.
    Do you know anything about Dom Smith? Is that someone who might be a surprise after a change of venue?
    I do. He's had some good stretches in the majors. Has talent. Not much power, hasn't manifested in the majors. He plays first base. I do know he's been frustrated by the role he's had from the Mets and from some of the playing time their moves cost him. And that came after he received from MVP votes -- finishing outside the top 10, it should be noted. But I also know he's a hitter at a premium offense position who has never hit more than 11 homers in a season, he has a .308 OBP in 1,373 plate appearances, and that OPS for his career is .733. He had one incredible, standout season with that strong .616 slugging percentage. It was the shortened season of 2020. Not sure what the change of scenery would do to reveal a player that the previous 447 games have not. A little different than some other players who have had a few seasons adrift from their strong, full seasons.
    Why not Contreras *and* another big bat? Cards have the room to do both. And adding two bats would make a huge difference to the overall lineup.
  • Why not indeed? That's possible. Thank you for adding to the point I've been trying to make. Portraying Contreras as the bat addition and the catching addition is not all that the Cardinals need. It may be how the Cardinals present it, but fans should/could/whatever expect more to upgrade the team. Another catcher and a big bat would also make sense.
    Hypothetical question: Would StL like to have Kyle Schwarber as DH and leading off?
    They would on a one-year deal at the a price they would offer. They showed no interest in the length of the commitment he signed with the Phillies. This wasn't about the talent Schwarber had. It had to do with the contract he received and the Cardinals hardline view that they wanted to keep room open for young players to prove themselves until they didn't, and then they went and signed Pujols.
    To a one year deal.
    Turns out polls aren't popular on the chat. Interesting. One has ZERO votes.
    FYI -- once I voted in the poll, it didn't auto update like it has in the past. You may need to refresh? I show over 200 votes on offseason calendar, 87 on Beltran, and 88 on Rolen.
    Thanks for the heads up. Turns out a quick refresh not only updated the polls but goodness there are a lot more questions in the inbox too. Back to digging in.
    Aside from money, can you make one concrete argument for DeJong being on this roster again in 2023? Based on the last two years would he be anything more than a ST invite if he were a FA?
    The contract is the reason why. I'm not sure why you'd look for another reason, when you know the answer. The Cardinals have invested money in him being a contributing player for the 2023 season, and they're going to invest time in finding a way for him to do that until they've exhausted all options -- and he's exhausted all options. That is what a guaranteed contract and investment from a team gets a player, and that's what teams do with contracts: They put money where their opinion and their commitment will be. I don't know why you'd have to seek other answers.
    He is an above average fielder, and the Cardinals can still bank on the notion that if he hits for power then he does return the value of that contract with power and reliable defense at a position that is considered premium.
    Teams pay players for the production they expect to receive. Their opinion is right there.
    I think the vote thing is on your end? Each shows plenty of votes when viewing here?

    RE offseason pace - if we're tinkering with everything else, including the actual on-field product itself, why wouldn't they tinker with a "sugar-rush blitz" tilted calendar just to see what that looks like for a couple offseasons?
  • One reason they don't is what Bud Selig probably put best, or at least that's where I first heard it. He wanted baseball in the headlines year around. There are times when hockey isn't in the headlines, when football has a quiet period. Baseball is an everyday sport during its season, and Selig imagined a sport that was year round at the barstool, too. One way to accomplish that is to allow free agents and trades to happen all the time during the offseason. In some markets, there's an appetite for a baseball headline in every day's newspaper.
    Hi Derrick.. Someone earlier in the chat brought up a the great Cardinal catchers. Thats why I believe Murphy from Oakland makes the most sense.Gold glover , the pitchers ike him and as a bonus he hits.. Its arguably the most important position.
    The Cardinals agree at his potential. A lot there. So is the cost to get him. That's where the decision will be, as you know. But, yes, Murphy is highly regarded.
    Does Cody Bellinger have more upside than Dylan Carlson? Centerfield defense? A lefty bat? We weren’t exactly asking the same questions about Schwarber last year, but could Bellinger hit 40 homers playing in Busch?
    Cody Bellinger is a past rookie of the year and past NL MVP. That's some upside -- if someone, some team can figure out where things went awry. His agent talks about weakness in the injured shoulder. Makes sense. Trouble can be traced back to the injury. How to fix that, who to fix that ... Well, if he fixes that, then you're talking about an MVP caliber player who can play center field. That is some high-end upside.
    Cards fan 60 years next year.
    Hope to watch the team in London.
    Why do current younger fans feel the Cards are 'holding back'?
    I saw the '60's El Birdos...
    The '80's Whiteyball...
    This era is special, particularly in the age of overspending by teams that cant come close to the legacy of the Cardinals?
    They need help sure.
    If you can't stand what's happening, try Pittsburgh, Oakland or Colorado.
    Thank you for sharing your opinion. I wish I heard more from fans from the 1990s about how they view the past 15 to 20 years. In a recent episode of the Best Podcast in Baseball, Tyler Kepner, New York Times baseball columnist and New York Times bestselling author, made the point that the Cardinals' feel and respect for tradition and the pressure applied in St. Louis by the media, the players, and the fans to maintain that tradition is what keeps them from a slide that Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have experienced. Kepner said if the pressure lets up, that could happen to the Cardinals.
    They do need help to rise in the NL as a contender against the bigger spending and better situated clubs. That pressure is real. So should the pressure be applied realistically.
    Wouldn't Seth Lugo make sense for the Cardinals? Strikeout ability, can be a swingman. Lefty.
    Sure. A career 9.2 K/9, and a few years of 10+ K/9? That fits nice. That's a good range to seek. Will Sammon of The Athletic reported recently that a dozen teams had expressed interest in Lugo, a right-hander, and here is where it gets interesting. He may have the chance to be a starter, and that would appeal to him. That is not the opportunity that he would have STL without injuries ahead of him.
    Derrick, can you please explain the rationale behind signing at placing Jose Fermin on the 40-man roster?
    The Cardinals lacked depth at Class AAA Memphis in the middle infield. They knew that Delvin Perez was leaving the team as a free agent. They know that Masyn Winn is set to be the priority shortstop at that level. Beyond that ... They did not have the answers on the roster, on the depth chart, and they wanted to bring in someone who could play multiple positions, like second base and third base. Maybe he has upside. What they know he has are options and the ability to play multiple positions reliably, and he can fill in the Kramer Robertson role, or serve in the Edmundo Sosa role at Triple-A Memphis. See where it takes him.
    They made the trade so that they didn't have to bid on him as a free agent. They wanted him specifically, and felt like they could jump the line for his rights.
    Why is this team putting its all in on Dejong instead of going and getting a real SS that the fans deserved. Dejong don’t deserves to be on this team and has drag this offense down and will continue to do so.
    They're not going "all in" on Paul DeJong. Cardinals officials have all said, by name, that Tommy Edman is the team's starter at shortstop.
    I get it, Mo signed DeJong to a contract. But but it's a very definition of insanity with the old cliche line of doing the same thing and expecting a different result. So now his contract will force him on the field again, would change she was hitting strategy number 675! And he might have some success with a new hitting strategy, but his issues are the second he has a bad game or two, whose issues are above the shoulders in his head. And that will never change. Every time I hear the Cardinals giving him another chance, I threw up in my mouth a little. And it's not about respect, his respect is that guaranteed 11 million he's going to make this year regardless of he's at home on the field with another team or with the Cardinals. It's the big leagues. Tuanks
    At no point in recent conversations with any of the Cardinals officials have they said anything but that Paul DeJong will get playing time in spring training. If that's "forcing him on the field" then, OK, they'll do that. But I've not once heard a guarantee from the Cardinals that he'll be on the opening day roster. Mozeliak specifically said he'll have to earn it in March and create the role he'll have. 
    I'm not sure what to do here. The Cardinals say that Edman is the starting shortstop, today. So many of the questions in here seem to think that says DeJong is. The Cardinals say that DeJong will get a chance in spring training, and yes that's because of his contract. Questions in here seem to be looking for some reason other than that.
    What gives?
    DG! I’ve recently made the decision to deactivate my Twitter account, because of all the nonsense going on over there. One of my biggest uses of that platform was keeping up with you, your commentary, and your work. In addition to my online subscription, is there anywhere else on the social medias where I can catch you? Give? Mastodon? I’m bummed, because Twitter is the ideal platform for feeling plugged in to News, as it happens, in a quick bite.
    Thanks for following me -- and for the subscription. This is a good question, and it's one that we're asking ourselves ... where to go? I have long had a page on Facebook for the Cardinals coverage (Post-Dispatch Bird Land would be the searches) and had an address on Instagram for a long time. I've had a Tumblr page/feed goodness for many many years, just in case. Might be time to make more use of that. Yes, I've explored how Mastodon might work and logged in. I've read about Hive and looked there, too. 
    The best place remains the first place -- StlToday.com. That is still where stories will go first before links to go to Twitter or any other site. But, yes, I'm thinking and preparing and starting to use alternate places, as mentioned above.
    Hey Derrick: What do make of the comment from Oli that they are trying fix Dejoung swing? Does this mean ihe will be back w/the Cards next season?
    He's signed for 2023, and he'll get the chance this winter to make changes, unlock his swing, find that power, and if it manifests in spring training there's a role for him on the team. He's versatile. He's reliable defensively. He could serve in utility role. But he does have to hit, as the Cardinals have said over and over again.
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