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.

    It was 2016 when they put in the new scoreboard, so yeah that's been a while since a big, major change ... They did turn the right field deck into a gathering area, not seats, and then there was a change to Freese's Landing. In recent years they have spent millions -- at least a couple of millions -- on increased security features at the ballpark. You may not notice them. That's by design, but they're still there, and now that you're looking for them you'll see it. They also redid areas of the team's clubhouse. 
    The payroll is in the eye of the beholder, and that's fair to debate and criticize. This year's opening day roster will be the highest ever for the team, something like 15% or more higher than last year's opening day roster. And three of the biggest contracts in club history will bat three, four, five (they hope).
    So, any criticism should start there, with the facts and then move on for what else they could do. They could spend more. Competing in the NL may force them to.
    No, there has not been any indication of a plan to sell. 
    Looking at 2023 Steamer WAR projections for their top seven starting pitchers, NL teams rank this way:

    Mets 15.4
    Brewers 14.5
    Braves 13.5
    Phillies 13.4
    Padres 12.4
    Giants 12.2
    Dodgers 12.1
    Cardinals 9.3

    Do the Cardinals see the need to aim higher with quality upgrades, not just adding generic arms, as this data suggests? It seems they habitually rely on the most optimistic projections and discount more realistic expectations when forming their roster. Best wishes for 2023! Thanks for your thoughts.
    This is an ongoing discussion with the Cardinals. Short answer: Yes.
    On a previous podcast - I think with Dan G. - you mentioned a couple books which influenced your career. Could you please share again.
    The New Journalism (Wolfe)
    The Breaks of the Game (Halberstam)
    and specific to baseball
    Lords of the Realm (Helyar)
    The Last Night of the Yankees Dynasty (Olney)
    The last book, and that's the one I think I referenced, gave me a lot of insight and challenges for how a beat can and should be covered. Buster Olney owned the details on his beat, and that comes through the clarity of his writing and how his reporting gave a depth the stories he told and the players he described. Just brilliant stuff.
    This off-season feels like an effort to win the Central not contend for a World Series. Certainly not a significant payroll jump and it feels like you will be writing about innings deficit by May. Obviously no big names coming in but why should fans feel good given internal pitching options when the club hasn't wanted to pitch one of its most promising (Woodford) the last 2 seasons?
    Is the "big names" comment specific to pitching or a commentary on Willson Contreras? It does depend on your definition of "significant," and there are some corners were there will never be enough of a payroll jump for it to be significant. For the Cardinals fans that want the Cardinals' payroll to start with a 2, it's possible by the end of the season that will happen when you consider the 40-man roster and complete spending. But that won't be "significant" for some, and that's fine. That's fair. 
    Your criticism of the team when it comes to Woodford is also fair.
    thanks for all of your work at stl-pd.i was born and raised in west tennessee as a cardinal fan. i'm nearly 45 years old now and my father and uncle who raised me as a cardinal fan are both gone- so i am trying my best to raise up the next generation in our family to love the st. lous cardinals. your work helps us stay informed.

    i know that this is kind of a mashup of various questions you have fielded since the winter meetings, but i wanted to ask this question this way to see if it provides a big picture answer that might get lost in answers to more specific questions...

    as the roster stands right now, it is essentially the same as the roster that was eliminated from the wild card series in 2 games with a very poor offensive showing and good but not overpowering starting pitching. the main difference is that we have contreras in yadi's place (an upgrade from 2022 catcher spot), lost quintana, and lost (a historically remarkable output from) pujols. this appears, overall, to be a net loss.

    so my question is, what is the front office's answer to the question "why should the fans (or players who presumably were told future rosters would be improved in order to contend for/win a championship) believe the current roster has any hope of doing any better in 2023 than they did in october of 2022?

    thanks for indulging a long post...
    I don't agree with the premise of your question. I don't see this as the same roster that lost to the Phillies and there are several reasons for that: Matz and Flaherty were in the bullpen. That's two significant -- there's that word again -- starters for this team and they were not able to be in the roles where they can contribute most to the team's success. Willson Contreras was not on the team. And however you view his defense, he's a significant offensive upgrade at the position. And then there's the outfield. It was not at full strength or full burn. Now, will be in 2023? Don't know. But there is reason to believe that the 2023 roster will have different results because it already does have different pieces. 
    I do agree that you ask an important question.
    That is one the team will have to answer and likely will at the Winter Warmup. The answer they may give is that the team they have in January 2023 is not the one they'll have in October 2023, and while that's not a great answer it is a true one.
    How they believe this team is one that can contend in the NL as it stands now is the question headed into spring.
    Happy New Year Derrick!
    A couple of observations on Ryan P.'s from a few minutes ago.
    1. To say that the Cardinals could've easily met what the Braves traded to the A's for Murphy is really not accurate. We don't know what the A's wanted from the Cardinals and just because they accepted the players they did doesn't mean that would have been the same or equivalent from the Cards (there's just one thing I've learned from you).
    Ryan said "Atlanta is showing the way on how to do business in 2022/23. Cards tried the early extension rout, but chose the wrong players and/or their players didn’t have the ceilings of Atlanta’s.". Isn't it early to be able to make that assessment of Atlanta's signings? How those players produce or continue to produce over the next few seasons will be more telling, wouldn't they?
    Point of information: We do know what the A's asked for from the Cardinals. It was first reported in the Post-Dispatch and described elsewhere, too.
    Oh what a different perspective on our draft and develop would be with O Taveras approaching his potential and Reyes and Flaherty being the healthy two or traded two instead of Gallen and Alcantara. Luck has something to do with it.
  • Not sure "luck" is the word. But your point is noted.
    Is the budgeted payroll based solely on a given year? Because next years payroll at under 100 mil could leave the ability to go over this year…ie 185 mil x 2 years = 370 mil. But so too does 215 and 155 mil? Hence, maybe go for it for a couple years when out years appear lower due to player control etc.
    No. The Cardinals budgeted payroll growth that mirrored the rise in rights fees and other revenue streams. What changed is not selling a single ticket in 2020. Now they want to get back closer to or right on with the trends originally budgeted all those years ago. In the meantime, the spending has changed, pushing the market ever higher.
    You've outlined how, as spring gets under way, some players have to lower their ask/expectations and sign a shorter/lower contract. Naturally, a trickle-down affect is the lower tier of players signing minor league deals. It seems the front office always fills AAA depth signings early in the offseason. Why not wait until spring, as other teams do, and sign a little more veteran experience with possibly more upside?
    You mean like Albert Pujols, c. 2022? Or, are you talking about six-year free agents? If it's the latter, then it's because that's when the market is competitive for them, and those signings can take place without having to put the player on the big-league roster. That's a competitive time for those players, and teams want to go after specific players -- either because they have a profile that intrigues them or, as the Cardinals did, they have an opening at the highest affiliate that they need to fill, and what a specific one or two or three people to do it. If they wait, they don't get that player, not at the minor-league level. It moves at a different pace than the major-league market.
    In 2023, what sort of progression should we expect vs hope for from youngsters like Mejia, Beaz, Cho and any other intriguing lower level guys I'm missing?
    If they see steady time at a Palm Beach or Peoria, that's strong. That seems about right. They're still young, still moving up. Would be good to get to a level where the pitching is ahead of them and see how they adjust and how they close that gap.
    One minor league free agent signing that I think flew under the radar was Guillermo Zuniga. Received an MLB deal and was the 2nd overall pick in the Effectively Wild Minor League Free Agent Draft.
    If Noot wasn’t so likable off the field and and his antics on the field…would he still be as coveted by fans? Is he as good at baseball as he is on the hearts of fans? To me, he has a lot to prove but is on the verge of living up to his fame. I love the guy dearly but I think he has a little more to prove. I’m excited to see how he does in 2023. I see great things.
    It's not just the Cardinals. It's the advanced stats, and it's what other teams are looking at and thanks to Baseball Savant we can, too.
    Here is where Lars Nootbaar ranked in these categories:
    Hard hit rate -- 80th percentile
    Avg exit velocity -- 90th percentile
    Chase rate -- 92th percentile
    Barrel rate -- 85th percentile
    Walk rate -- 99th percentile
    Expected offensive production -- 82nd percentile
    Start fiddling around with the numbers and the comparisons and he's there with George Springer in some categories, and ahead of him or behind him in others, and there's really not a great immediate comp for 2022. But a few years ago there was a player who was 99th percentile in so many of those categories, and then had a regression after an MVP season and settled into a lot of the numbers above for a year. A good year. A fine year. I'll tread lightly here, but there is a comp to be made because that player was Christian Yelich.
    Nootbaar has the advanced statistics of a hitter who hits the ball hard, barrels the ball often, and does not chase out of the zone with an elite walk rate. He's got a standout personality, for sure, and he aims to make his teammates laugh, and Arenado is a huge fan.
    But it's Nootbaar's metrics that effervescent.
    Alright, that seems like a good spot to end the chat. Seriously. Casual use of effervescent. Time to call it a day. Thanks for welcoming me back from the holidays with a wide variety of questions. As mentioned earlier, there's a bit of a scheduling wrinkle for me next week on Monday, so I hope to sort that out and stay tuned for the time. If it cannot be sorted out, then I'll be here. If it can, then I'll be sure to announce when the chat will be.
    I'll bring my Hall of Fame ballot and be ready to share and defend and field questions.
    Get them ready.
    This was a tricky one. When is it not?
    Hope everyone had a healthy holiday season. The Post-Dispatch made a significant -- there's that word again -- acquisition with the addition of Lynn Worthy to the Cardinals beat. Eager to have him aboard and ready to keep expanding our coverage.
    Hey, the Cardinals play baseball next month.
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