Bobo's here, where's all the ballplayers?
Brett Cecil certainly suffered a horrible start, but he has sharpened up considerably the last few weeks -- three baserunners allowed in eight innings over eight appearances. Too bad it took him about 30 outings to settle in. We certainly saw Fowler's offensive value the past month, but that nagging heel injury is a huge concern. That explains his inability to track gap shots in center field. If that is all the range he has left, he can't play out there.
The international investment is yielding a nice return in the minors, so we'll see in a few years what that means at the MLB level. The 2016 draft looks very good for pitching. But . . . Yes, this team has a lot of pretty good assets but very little elite talent.
More question marks than exclamation points right now. I noted Fowler's heel injury. That, plus his age and contract length are plenty to fret about. We did see his bat get going, but he's 4 1/2 years to go and this team has an army of center field prospects. Pham is doing fine for now, but his chronic eye problems make him a permanent question mark. Grichuk teases you with power, then lapses into slumps that suggest he is really a just a good fourth outfielder. I do think Piscotty will be fine, if he doesn't overthink stuff.
Sorry, not a linguist. I remember something about soft As in Spanish, but that class was in the 70s.
Mozeliak has suggested this would be his shot to prove he can play left field every day. That has to be an offensive position. Once Grichuk got past Class A ball this pattern has been the same: Homers, strikeouts and not great batting averages. We're reaching the point where he is what he is, a nice guy to have on the team but not a cornerstone.
Yeah, he was the forward version of Shattenkirk last year in Philly. His 5 on 5 metrics were terrible and you can't blame that all on his linemates. He got placed with blue collar guys for a reason. Then again, that who team was an enigma last season. Regression everywhere 5 on 5. So it will be interesting to see what he does with a fresh start, a chance to play center full time and some higher-end wingers to play with.
Schenn's value to the Blues is his ability to score and the fact he is NOT Jori Lehtera eating up nearly $5 million in cap space. He gives Mike Yeo options up front and on the PP, which started to lag last season. Right now the one sure fit the Blues have with Tarasenko is Schwartz playing the other side. For me, that should be the one given going into camp. Does Schenn stay at center? Does Barbashev move up there with Schenn going to the wing? As for Kostin, he excelled on the international stage but accomplished very little in the KHL and the Russian version of the AHL due to a shoulder injury. Plus he had a tendency to drift in games. But at 31, the Blues are getting a guy with Top 10 potential. Such size/skill combinations are hard to find.
Perhaps a minor move, depending on what happens with their own free agents up front. But this team looks pretty set with the changes that started late last season.
As is often mentioned, Carpenter is one obvious target if Mozeliak opts to shake up the team. He is NOT a classic first baseman. This team needs middle-of-the-order bats and Carpenter failed miserably as the No. 3 hitter. He has two more years on his contract and right now it would be hard to imagine the Cardinals picking up its team option or offering him an extension. He offers nothing positive defensively or on the base paths, so if another team saw value there and the Cardinals could find a better first base option . . .
First of, Matheny takes a marginal 2012 team that had no business being in postseason play to the NLCS and came up just short against a Giants team that swept the Tigers for the World Championship. The Braves gifted the Cardinals their chance and Matheny overachieved with that squad. That started a run where Matheny won a lot of postseason games in the post-Pujols Era. Fans take that for granted, but there was lot of achievement during that span. Ask Don Mattingly.
Going forward, the test will be how the team responds to his leadership. The sloppiness is annoying, true, but the team has continued to battle. It may well be that this team is just not very good and an overhaul is in order. And a huge plus for Matheny has been his ability to integrate younger players and have success. There will lots more integration ahead, so the manager HAS to be a guy capable of working with kids. Also, this team's future depends on getting the most from its pitching assets and on the broad scale Mathney has nurtured a pitching-friendly environment.
Grichuk has had the same issues since he got past Class A ball. He has had a lot of hitting coaches, dating back to his Angels days, so I tend to think that he is what he is. As for Mabry, we've seen a lot of hitters start hitting at the same time, so there is likely pressure off on that front. Bill Mueller is back and that part of the coaching staff has been restored to its old form. There is no question those two are in the spotlight right now. But don't forget, Wong got it going this year and then got hurt, twice. Fowler got it going and then went on the DL. Gyorko is enjoying a career year. Carpenter picked it up and, to a degree, so did Piscotty.
If Schenn is playing the wing and producing at a 25-goal, 35-assist pace, then the Blues are still quite pleased. Because he is not Lehtera and because he is filling Lehtera's salary cap slot, this deal was gold for the Blues. Plus they ended up drafting the guy at No. 31 that they wanted at with the 27th overall pick, so that further diminishes the chance for regret.
Cuban outfielder, 24, gap power, quickness on the bases, covers a lot of outfield ground . . . definitely a strong prospect. There are no guarantees with players coming from Cuba and transitioning to the MLB, but he has a nice skill set. Ideally he could become a No. 3 or No. 5-type hitter, since the Cardinals are desperate for that. It will be fun to see him measured up to Memphis outfielder Harrison Bader, a similar talent in some regards.
The big challenge for Mozeliak and other GMs is the universal wealth in MLB. The shared revenue is huge. Every team can afford to keep its elite players a least into the early stages of their free agency years. The Giancarlo Stantons aren't hitting the market. The Cardinals exploited the low-budget A's for Holliday, who wasn't going to stay in Oakland, and they lucked out when the Angels and Phillies soured on Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen respectively. Mozeliak would love to see such opportunities arise again, but I believe they will be far less prevalent. So he has to hope that his international spending spree pays off, those high-ending pitching prospects develop and he can ID some still-developing core players to acquire from other teams. That would be his big incentive to sell this summer. From time to time a contender will trade a can't-miss core hitter for pitching help in a playoff race.
When the Cardinals win the bidding for an elite, prime-age free agent I will believe it. I believe other franchises will always be more prepared to spend insane money and I also expect more teams like Baltimore (Machado) and Colorado (Arenado) to find ways to keep their guys, as the Reds kept Joey Votto.
As for Lynn, I'm guessing Mozeliak would specifically target potential impact hitters already in development for his return. Given the value of proven pitching and what we've seen the market bear in the past, that should be his objective. The Cardinals have done well with some compensatory picks in the past, but they are in a rush to add offensive heft to their organization.
Hosmer may not be Paul Goldschmidt, but he would add both better defense and some offensive heft at a prime age. If the Royals really can't keep afford to keep him after they paid a fortune ($20 million per year) to keep an aging Alex Gordon, then that could be a rare opportunity to gain offensive heft. Also, why is that team paying Ian Kennedy $16.5 million through 2020? As for Moose, Gyorko is just fine at third base and he's locked in to a friendly deal.
Mozeliak has made many rental trades in the past. This team shows no signs of becoming eligible for such a move this summer. The only reason they are still in the "race" is that other division teams have failed too. If there is a trade, it should be something that provides a longer-term fix. The Cardinals can't spend anything of consequence to acquire an expiring contract unless that player agrees to a new deal.
With Diaz taking a step back at the plate and DeJong driving the ball, I could see DeJong eventually earning the full-time shortstop job and Diaz moving into the old Gyorko utility role. Diaz runs well and can play the outfield in addition to other infield spots, so that could become his thing if he can't step up his hitting and continue his fielding improvement.