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.

    I’ve read that the Cardinals will looks to extend one or more of their pitchers (likely Mikolas) in 2023. Are you aware if any of the existing starters are open to that conversation? I’d assume that at least Flaherty would want to test free agency given his experiences with arbitration in the past.
    I'm the writer who wrote what you read. Thank you for doing so. The conversation hasn't been advanced to the players yet, but Mikolas has previously expressed an interest in sticking around. Montgomery has not, but I haven't really asked him because there were only a couple of months there when he was a Cardinal and he, at one point, didn't like my questions after being in that crucible of New York and all, so that's cool. Flaherty has mostly discussed the benefit of having a completely healthy season and seeing where that takes him -- not geographically but for his career and how that reinvigorates his earning potential and the contract he can get, locally from Cardinals or as a free agent a year from now.
    Here is the story, you're referencing: 

    Goold: As costs soar, Cardinals must enter race for arms to fill wide-open 2024 rotation

    STLtoday.comAs Cardinals introduced their new, longterm catcher Willson Contreras on Friday an onrushing question could not be ignored: Who exactly will he catch in '24?
    Any particular reason the Cardinals decided to set up Contreras contract for only $10 this year? Just flexibility?
    Payroll flexibility, yep. It allows them to have some more room to spend on the 2023 roster and then, as the contracts expire from the 2023, up goes Contreras' salary and up goes the payroll.
    Where do Cardinals see Hjerpe this season? Where do they see Hjerpe long-term if that's different than 2023?

    I think he has an intriguing delivery that could make him difficult to hit.
    Great question. They're going to let his spring determine where he's headed to start the season. He will have the chance to at least be part of the Peoria rotation. That is the spot where he'll likely open the spring conversation, and if he pitches beyond that, maybe even start there briefly, and then zoom to Class AA Springfield for the majority of the season. He's going to start. They're going to get him innings. They're going to let his performance move him as fast as it does.
    They see him long-term in the majors. That may not be 2023, but he'll move faster than some of the other pitchers from his draft or recent drafts that are more projects.
    Would Noah Syndergaard be a fit within the "no big splash" parameters you're reporting? I've always been intrigued to see how he'd perform with a defense like the Cardinals' behind him. And with him being another year removed from Tommy John, there's always the hope that he can really catch a second wind, like Lance Lynn did.
    He would, yes. He would have last year, too.
    To be fair, the "big splash" comment was made to KMOX/1120 AM over the weekend. That is their interview, Mike Claiborne's question, and the answer he got. I have not looked into the nuances of what was meant by that comment. So, the reporting I'm provided, the information here, is from asking around and pursuing threads before and after and not in relation to that comment.
    It looks to me like it's now or never at extending Flaherty. I suspect if its not done by the start of ST he will have every incentive to have a great season, then become a free agent and price himself out of St Louis. Do you think the team sees a sweet spot where they could pay him big money for a few more years before he becomes a free agent? Or are they not that high on him?
    It's not now. He hasn't had a healthy full season in several years. They don't know what they would be offering, and he does know he isn't maximizing his value. Where does a conversation even begin? The Cardinals go to him with an offer that they think pays him for what they know they can expect. He's going to want a contract that reflects what he does at his best. Both sides recognize how those two things do not yet overlap until he has some health, some production, some forward momentum, so that the production lines up with the promise and potential and that then leads to a mutual view of what a contract looks like. Right now they don't have the information for a shared view.
    If we are saying the cards saved money by front loading Contreras. And payroll is going up this season. Aren't they still behind where they were last season? Where does that added payroll come in from? Even is we sign players to extensions we wouldn't have them start immediately (at least I wouldn't think after backloading Contreras).
    They are not. Their current opening day roster -- 26 man roster, with estimates for arbitration salaries that have not yet been set -- is approximately $20 million more than the opening day roster they had last season. They opened at roughly $154 million for 2022 -- and they had reduced costs/budget/payroll coming out of the shortened season and limited ticket sales. As of right now, after the addition of Contreras, they are around $175 million for their opening day roster 2023, and their budget trajectory puts them on a slope toward being $185 million or thereabouts by the time they get there. They could go higher. That would be a 20% increase in opening day payroll from 2022 to 2023. 
    If you want to know where I'm getting this information it's from reporting and research that I did for this story: 

    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.
    Any chance the Cardinals would give up the prospects to the Pirates it would take to trade for Bryan Reynolds?
    There's always a chance. The Cardinals would really like to dictate what Pittsburgh would accept in return to Reynolds.
    Alas, they won't get to.
    The Pirates will want a jackpot deal.
    Thanks as always for the chats. Does Dylan Carlson go into Spring Training as the presumed CF, or is all of the outfield, including where players play, an open competition? It seems like there are a lot of players who could be used in different spots depending on who else is alongside them in the OF.
    He does not. Oliver Marmol said this past week in San Diego that the center field job is "wide open." He added that Carlson has the defensive claim to the position, and that's how the Cardinals see it but they're not going to make that the only determining factor in the decision. Marmol was clear on this. It's wide open.
    See your BPIB with Girsch to talk about the intricacies of putting together deals, especially with division rivals.
    During the winter meetings, Mozeliak brought it up as something that he's just not done, not really liked to do, and really wouldn't pursue doing -- deals within the division. I asked if the changing schedule -- fewer games against division foes -- would encourage him or at least open the possibility for him to adjust that view.
    His answer was effectively: It's not enough fewer games, so no.
    If Graceffo is in the bullpen after this year, it is another failure of pitching development from this organization. Hjerpe, Graceffo, and Hence are the only three SP’s in the organization with front of the rotation qualities. The Cardinals pitching evaluation and development has been outdated for years and very few people have spoken on it.
    No more so than Adam Wainwright finishing the 2006 season as the closer was a failure of that development group. I really do hate to cherry-pick the most obvious answer. But it's there, and this kind of development of young pitchers is common throughout the industry. The need for major league teams are often first and most often relievers. And that's where young players get. 
    Let's talk Sandy Alcantara. When he got to the Marlins, he was a starter. He made six starts in that first season with them in the majors, five of them came in September. He was a spot starter when the Marlins had a need. He was a starter in September, making that first start when ... wait for it ... 20 1/2 games out of first place, and nearly 30 games under .500. They just assured themselves of a losing record a few days before Alcantara's start.
    The former Cardinals' prospect and reigning Cy Young Award winner has said that the opportunity the Marlins had for him to start, helped him flourish and grow in the role. He would not have had that opportunity with the Cardinals. Miami had it because they were a losing team looking toward the future. The Cardinals have not been that club in the first week of September since the 1990s.
    If you think that is the route to develop high-end pitching talent then here's the rub.
    It takes being a losing team to do it. That's the trend. Should the Cardinals tank so that this September they have a chance to get Graceffo (et. al.) starts and set them up for the future, or would you prefer that the Cardinals' rotation hum along as a contender and division champ and there not be any room for development in the majors because the Cardinals are a contending team.
    Does the good of developing one, two, three top end potential starters outweigh the good of the team trying to contend for a division title and the fans there to see it?
    They must find another way to do that.
    That is through the relief role -- which does allow a team to maximize the talent it has -- or it's through spot starts and see what happens (The Wacha Method) or it's by marooning that player in Memphis because he needs the playing time and his future is later. If you've got a surefire way to do it and remain a contender, then there are teams looking for your recipe. The losing teams already have a tried-and-true solution. 
    Doesn't make them winning teams, clearly.
    Another winter meeting brought with it more examples of reporters jumping the gun on signings that ended up being inaccurate. I’ve heard you state before that the PD requires multiple sources before it publishes a report. Do you think that Twitter/Social media creates too much pressure to be first possibly at the expense of being correct? Seems others would be better off following the PD’s example.
    Yes. And I empathize with the baseball reporters who are under that pressure from their superiors or in order to keep their roles. Some are under enormous pressure to produce those scoops. Beat writers like me are under pressure to stay ahead of those tweets -- report what the team is about to do, what they are looking to do, and then when it happens be able to point back to the coverage that gave the reader a sense of the movement toward that goal.
    I hope we did that at the winter meetings, gave a full scope of what the Cardinals were trying to do, and then Wednesday night on Stltoday and in Thursday's paper on your porch have that they were moving on with talks for Contreras hours before news broke that they had a deal.
    I also feel for readers who have to decide without getting the full information what pundits are saying for entertainment and what writers are reporting is going to happen.
    Pundits predicted the Cardinals would get one of the top shortstops.
    Reporting showed they weren't making a play for one of the top shortstops.
    One was fun for fans, entertaining, and it was great conversation, and it did make for a great bit of content about what the Cardinals could/should do. Reporting is grounded in what they will do,. And that had to be rooted in what could be proved, what could be sourced, what that writer -- or me, heck -- could be accountable for. If I was wrong, I lose credibility and perhaps more. It's a competitive business. Baseball writing jobs are rare, especially when it comes to covering a team for a fan base like the Cardinals with the history the coverage in St. Louis has. If others in different media positions are wrong, hey, it was all in fun, it was a thought exercise, it was just to get you thinking. 
    I wish we, me included, did a better job of explaining that all to readers/fans/watchers. Media literacy is important.
    Derrick do you, in your opinion, think that Contreras is enough to put this offense where it needs to be? I don't.
    No. They need production from the outfield. I will say this on repeat for the next six months.
    Noticed a couple things on MLB Network after the Contreras signing and want your insight. Ryan Dempster who I believe still works for the Cubs seemed to squirm in his seat when asked about the effect of losing Contreras and the effect it had on the team. He's normally very gregarious but wasn't in that moment in my opinion. He didn't seem to give a rousing endorsement. Also, A's GM, David Forst, seemed pointed in why his team hadn't traded Sean Murphy stating, "If we were to trade him we want to improve our Major League club." That would seem to back up the report that they wanted only MLB talent in that deal.
    I cannot speak for Ryan Dempster. I enjoy talking to him. Not in specific regards to him, but when it comes to the Cubs they're in a bind because that core from the 2016 is gone when it comes to position players. They didn't get to play out their careers did as Molina did, as Wainwright will, and so on. That is a hard reality given the expectations of that team, that core, and Contreras was the last of the group to go -- and off he went to the Cardinals, where he talked about seeing himself play while a Cub. Tough spot.
    Regarding: Oakland. That was my report. I'm confident with what I wrote about the A's ask. I trust my sources and my process for acquiring that information and my ability to vet that it was accurate. It's good to hear that the GM supported it. I'm not surprised. I didn't guess. That is what goes into making the report on what the A's asked because that was a key moment in the Cardinals' pursuit of a catcher. 
    That story is here: 

    Big catch: Cardinals' record offer lures former Cub Willson Contreras to new home

    STLtoday.comThe five-year, $87.5-million contract, once finalized with three-time All-Star, will be largest ever for free agent who was not previously a Cardinal.
    Can you fill us in on how to pronounce Hjerpe please?
    I know we're all focused on what the Cardinals are doing about pitching this offseason, but I'm also kind of glad that starting pitching is likely to be a glaring need next offseason as some money comes off the books because next season's free agent class of starters seems pretty loaded, and I'd love to see them go hunting for one of the ace level players available next year like Nola, Scherzer (if he opts out) or Ohtani (pipe dream).
    The Cardinals are going to have to adjust their expectations for spending to make the move you describe. That has to happen. And there is internal conversations about that reckoning. The game is changing. Prices are going up. The cost of contending, as we've written many times, is climbing. The play for a starting pitching will be the first time the Cardinals show they are going to respond and rise to the moment.
    Hoping to see Tyler O’Neill bounce back this year and stay on the field more. Your recent coverage mentioned some specific changes to his training regimen. Any word if he or the Cards are evaluating changes to his diet, specifically his game day diet?
    That is something that O'Neill has sought information on, both from the Cardinals and from his agency. It's really something that has always been a focus of his, and this is no different. He's been big on the nutrition as a factor in stamina, durability, and performance over the long haul. So, yes, it is part of his pursuit of durability, too. I don't have the specifics on what foods are leaving, what foods are coming in, only that I know from talking to him through the years this has always been an interest of his.
    Can you venture any further thoughts on why Jeff Albert and Mike Maddux left?
    Let's see if I can tackle this one, too, so that it does leak into 2023:
    -- On Jeff Albert. In talking with him after he decided to leave, he mentioned to me that he wanted a year when there was tangible results for the progress that was made. It's no secret: His job was scrutiny in 2021, and the Cardinals were discussing internally what to do and how to see the progress at the lower leaves but also make a change that unlocked or led to improvement in the majors. In 2022, the results were strong. No other way to put it. Turner Ward gets credit for that, for sure. Albert felt like so much of the blame, criticism, and eventual compliments were fixated on him -- when it was more of a group doing the work, and it was interdepartmental. He was uncomfortable with all of that -- the criticism that fixated on hm, the questions from the local media centered on him, the coverage at times centered on him without the results he or the Cardinals were seeing. That was an unappealing situation -- for the team as well, candidly. So that is what came up in the press conference as a reason why he walked away when he was about to be offered a new contract.
    There is also something else: If you're a hitting coach and you've had two, three years in that job to see what it's all like, and you want to leap to a job that you have more power to shape then when better to do that than after coaching a lineup with two top three MVP candidates, a host of young players who made their ascent, and two of the top prospects in the minors who have gone through your program and now are the talk of the industry. When better? When better to strike for the next opportunity that you can shape?
    Albert is going to oversee the Mets' hitting approach, and he's not going to be in the dugout. He's going to have the role for the Mets that the we always asked about and wondered if it would be the best role for him with the Cardinals. Guess we got our answer.
    -- On Mike Maddux. This one is easier. He wanted less grind, wanted to explore roles/opportunities with teams that may not be in the dugout as pitching coach, and thought he could find that better elsewhere. The Cardinals did want to talk to him about a consulting role for example, and I never got the impression he was closed off to that kind of place with them, honestly. It never came up because the opening with the Rangers did. Yes, it's the same position he had in St. Louis and the same position he left the Rangers to take with St. Louis. Less grind? Well, how about three more months at home. As the Cardinals' pitching coach, Maddux lived for eight months of the year out of a suitcase and golf bag. Now, when the Rangers play a home game -- he's at a home. He's with his family. He is in his house.
    That's not a small thing. Let me make this a bit personal to try to give you an analogy. Baseball writers travel a lot. They're away from their home for months of the season. You know what would be a less of a grind? Covering a team that has spring training at home. That's 50 fewer days on the road. Maddux will have 81.
      
    What do you make of the Dodgers offseason? They have lost Trea Turner, haven't yet resigned J Turner and have been quiet on all the biggest free agents watching other NL teams add and add.
    Not great. Not great at all. But they did re-sign Clayton Kershaw.
    Just got here and I'm not sure if this has been asked, but were the Cardinals in on Josh Bell at all? He seemed like an ideal fit for DH and backup first base.
    Not that I heard or could unearth. They have been/were looking at more versatile options than just an overlap at first base. If they could find that player for the outfield for the corner spots and outfield, that would be far more appealing. Also, they weren't going to wade into the waters that other teams were with an offer like Bell got. Two years, $33 million. That's more money than the Cardinals wanted to rest on first base/DH when they needed a catcher, are eyeballing pitching, and were thinking about a pivot to a shortstop offer.
    Can u tell me whether Contreras lack of actual catching was a concern for the Cardinals? He hasn't actually shouldered a heavy workload behind the plate since 2019. Last season he only caught 72 games. If the idea is to have him catch more, is there an assumption that this will ding his potential offensive output?
    It was. It was a big topic for Mozeliak in their meeting, and it was something they wanted to know more about and be comfortable with before making him the offer. It was one of the questions at the forefront of their pursuit, candidly.
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