STL sports chat with Jeff Gordon

STL sports chat with Jeff Gordon

Columnist Jeff Gordon takes your Cardinals, Blues and STL sports questions in his weekly chat, beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.

    Bobo's here. Let's get some ballplayers!
    I’m not sure how Sanford is still wearing a Blues sweater? As a forward he has 11 shots in 12 games. He’s produced one goal and two assists. Heck, Gunnarsson’s got him beat and he’s a defenseman. Nathan Walker has 14 points in 11 games. I’m not sure why Armstrong didn’t package Fabbri and Sanford for something a little better than a guy who’s most productive year was 4 goals and 8 assists. Army may have gotten his pocket picked on this trade.
    Sanford is playing himself onto the bubble for sure. He is young enough to grow into Top 9 role, but he can only get there with more consistent effort. Given his size, he is worth further time investment. But I see both Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou playing for the Blues this season if they stay healthy and keep working at San Antonio. As for Fabbri, he's done little on the ice since returning from his second major knee operation. Armstrong has made him available to other teams since the summer. Big offers didn't pour in for him. I don't mind this trade because the Blues get back a guy with some size and some penalty-killing ability. The PK need is big with Steen out for a month. Berube will let him take a few spins to see how he fits. That return beats, say, a fourth-round pick given the immediate need.
    Count me as one who is not against the Cardinals strategy of build from within. If there is a criticism, it's that they strayed from it, and gave some bad contracts. Going into spring 2019, there was a lot of angst about all the potential expiring contracts. But, I think it was Derrick Goold who suggested that the Cardinals would have a lot of flexibility, even if they all left for other teams. But, before spring was over, that flexibility was gone. Hindsight (and even some foresight) suggests that some of those contracts were bad. Although, if Goldschmidt averages 34HR and 97RBI for the first 3-4 years of his deal, I'm happy.

    Supposedly, the Cardinals are hamstrung going forward. I say bull. Play Carpenter at 3B if you must. If he hits, great. If not, he's aging, and it's time to move to the bench. Play Edman at 2B-SS-3B-LF-RF and give him plenty of at bats. And play the young guys in the OF. That probably means sitting Fowler. So, be it. And when Carlson is ready, he plays. They may end up with an expensive bench, but overall 3B and OF should be "reasonably" priced.

    Now, the young guys may all fail to pan out, but let's find out. Some may emerge as good and maybe even great MLB players. That's my two cents.
    That's a reasonable assessment. While the Cardinals have produced a lot of players with their build-from-within approach, they have not produced impact hitters. That lead to the Ozuna and Goldschmidt trades and all the wishful thinking about Carpenter for his twilight years. If they stay the course, cycle out bad contract and avoid new deal that handcuff them, the Cardinals could do some more exciting things in a few years. Ah, but how to get from here to there?
    Jeff, I’ve read a couple of articles regarding Paul DeJong’s amount of playing time as a reason for his poor hitting. I think we can all agree Paul DeJong is an All-Star. In his first three years he’s averaged 127 games a year and a .251 batting average. We had another All-Star shortstop awhile back who averaged 157 games in his first three years and a batting average a tad higher than .251. Ozzie played in 30 more games. You could say that DeJong got a month off and still the excuse for his poor hitting is that he was overworked? This is exactly how you start dumbing the game down. This is why we now expect a pitcher to go 5-6 innings instead of 7-8. Excuses are like As$&*#?$, everyone’s got one. Let’s be honest, his plate discipline is what caused him to strikeout so much, not that he was tired. Let’s call a spade a spade.
    I do believe he could use more rest. That said, he has some fundamental problems at the plate. He started very well this season, then struggled to make consistent contact for the rest of the season. His inability to even produce productive outs with runners in scoring position really hurt this offense.
    Given all the injuries, most recently steen, do you think Army or Berube have any regrets on the Fabbri trade? Seems like the new guy is someone we have a few times over. Thoughts?
    It was going to take many more injuries for Robby Fabbri to earn regular time on this team. Again, the potential of Klim Kostin and Jordan Kyrou to play this year factored into this. In a sense, they had already passed him on the depth chart. Craig Berube has scratched him so many times that he had to move on. The Chief had no faith in him and Robby really wanted a fresh start elsewhere.
    Mr. Gordon, I’m not sure I understand the reluctance of Armstrong bringing someone up to replace Tarasenko and Steen? You’ve got Walker down there lighting it up yet you’re going to plug in a kid who’s scored less than a dozen goals in his career? Help me make sense of this.
    The Blues see Nathan Walker as a depth guy. If he comes up, it will be to play the 13th forward role and maybe fill in here and there. That's the role he was brought into the organization to fill. The Blues could have Bortuzzo fill in on with a 7-D, 11-FW alignment to kill penalties and maybe play some wing if somebody got a bad bowl of chowder. But, again, the real question is when does Kostin get his first look?
  • Mo gives us five years of Fowler, two years of declining Carpenter, Cecil, Gregerson, Leake, giving away Mercado/Pham, mimimal ready talent in the minor leagues and he sitting on the dais beaming like a search light about his new contract despite all these failures . We’re supposed to believe things are gonna get better now?I don’t understand it
    Doesn’t Dewittunderstand he’s one of the most hated men in St. Louis?
    Bill DeWitt Jr. does not believe is hated here. His team just won another division title and reached another NLCS, things that few other franchise do with any any regularity. He can cite 12 straight winning seasons and he can appreciated six straight years with attendance of $3.4 million or more. Folks keep talking about all the simmering outrage among Cardinals fans, but from DeWitt's seat as chairman he sees none of it. Yes, Mozeliak has made a number of mistakes in recent years and he has drawn plenty of scrutiny at the P-D, STLToday.com and elsewhere because of it. But DeWitt has a hand in all big decisions, he likes Mozeliak and he prizes continuity.
    I’ve read several rags that report the Cardinals may have interest in Francisco Lindor. He only has two years of club control so I can’t imagine the Indians getting a huge haul for him, unless they do a sign and trade. Would a package of O’Neill, Helsley and Fernandez get it done do you think or is this too much?
  • I believe that is way too little for a player of Lindor's quality. You are correct to wonder if Lindor's mere two years of control will lower his cost, but I see that as too low. You might argue that such a package approximates what Miami got from the Cardinals for Ozuna. But in Lindor you're talking about a big-time offensive player at a hard-to-fill position. I would expect Cleveland to hold out for more. And since the Cardinals would have little chance to retain Lindor if he keeps playing the way he has, they have to think long and hard about offering up assets like Dylan Carlson, Dakota Hudson and Nolan Gorman -- guys I'd want if I ran the Indians.
  • Fair to say the Fabbri trade is a clear wakeup call for Sanford?
  • Sure. Like I said, Sanford is on the bubble. Any time you've been around a while and you are in and out of the lineup and perhaps getting some looks by default, you are in some peril.
  • I think the Blues are undefeated since the Tarasenko injury. Who knew that he was holding them back?
  • * Does Ozuna Accept the QO?
    * Does Shildt win manager of the year?
    * Is Moustakas wearing a Cardinals uni next year?
    Word was that no, Ozuna will not take the one-year qualifying offer. And all the pro-Carpenter chatter from the Cardinals brass reminds us that the franchise is not eager to just eat his money and invest in somebody else to play the position. That is subject to change, of course, but I'm guessing the Cardinals at least give Matt the spring and perhaps up to the trade deadline. The fact Edman plays well over there helps them stay patient. Shildt deserves manager of the year, but he was sneaky good this season. I can see him getting overlook by some.
    In the other 3 major sports, teenagers rarely make any kind of impact. Yet in hockey, players enter the league under the age of 20 and can find immediate success, whether a superstar like McDavid or a solid player like Brady Tkachuk. Jeff, why do you think players have greater success at a young age in hockey than the other major sports, and are you surprised we don't see more injuries from young kids taking on fully grown men in such a physical sport?
    Good question. One, many elite NHL prospects arrive from major junior hockey. That is basically minor league hockey with tough schedules and tough travel. These guys grow up in a hurry. The U.S. developmental program in Michigan offers similar benefits. As for the physical side, many top prospects are also training with NHL-like regimens in the summer, right next to NHL players. So they are more physically mature than your typical 19- or 20-year-old. I'd say this similar to the NBA, where the top prospects play at a crazy high level in summer basketball, then take on a year of weight training in college before starring right away. Take away that year of college and many of the very top kids can jump right into the Association. Their summer ball is THAT good and many play for basketball academies disguised as high schools.
    Blues recent win streak of one-goal games has been exciting and points earned in November are worth as much points earned in March, but they can't walk that tightrope/highwire indefinitely. I don't recall which season but not too long ago the Cards got into the playoffs with a very good batting average with runners in scoring position. Then, in the playoffs they lost that ability and were eliminated. So lets hope the Blues start dominating their opponents soon.
    The Edmonton game was a step in that direction. Jake Allen had a good game, which was most reassuring, and the Blues were able to stay off of the high wire for a change. At some point they may need a bit more skill and by midseason Kyrou could providing some of that.
    @B,,, Mo is not one of the most hated men in St. Louis. That title is reserved for Stan K. Is Mo a bit misunderstood? Absolutely. His extension of Carpenter is a head scratcher for sure. I don't think Mo is hated as much as he is misunderstood.
    Fans may be frustrated, but if you hate an organization that is THIS successful -- compared to immediate rivals like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Kansas City -- then you probably have anger issues.
    If our attendance was the 2nd highest in baseball the St. Louis fans did their part. If the spending was 6th it seems like the owner did his part. If revenue is 11th whose fault is that? I understand how some contracts don't work out as much as we hope ... but to reward them first seems odd to me. Plus if they indicate they feel good about what we had - when we didn't have enough to win this year how does that make sense for next year knowing we will have less (Wacha, Ozuna and who knows who else)? Does the President justify his bad moves by sticking with them or was that a front in your opinion?
  • You stick with bad decisions because you are still paying those guys big dollars. Let's say you buy a new car that you end up hating and you do so with a five-year loan. You are immediately under water on that loan after the car's instant depreciation. Can you afford to take the loss while ditching this car to get a new one? Maybe you can strike a trade-in deal that lessens the hit and move on without having to wait three or four years. In baseball, it's hard to make a trade-in deal. Other teams aren't dying to absorb bad contracts. You can ditch them in the NHL because teams have to meet a salary floor, so a rebuilding team will take on a dead guy if you throw them a prospect and/or a high draft pick to help the retool. But there is no thing in MLB. Long story short, the Cardinals will stick with some guys because they owe them a boatload of money and aren't inclined to outspend their mistakes.
  • I think in the past we knew what Whitey needed or Walt Jocketty. They would say it and would go after it. It seems like Mo is more of a poker player who usually winds up with bad hands. Thoughts?
    Baseball has changed. The days of horse trading are over, which explains why Whitey Herzog did not last long at all as an executive and why Walt Jocketty ultimately failed miserably in Cincinnati. Franchises have massive baseball operations departments. They generate mountains of data on everybody in the industry. Sometimes needs match up nicely and teams make deals, but it's much harder than ever before. Franchise guard their assets and adhere to carefully crafted long-term projections and plans. That said, Mozeliak has been more successful than most over the entirety of his career and that's reflected with 12 consecutive winning seasons and regular trips to postseason play.
    When can we expect a decision by Wainwright?
    It was expected to be soon. He wants to pitch and the Cardinals want him to pitch here. He accepted a creative contract last time and met the incentives. He is in a better bargaining spot now after staying healthy for a whole season.
    If many of the impact players on the cards perform closer to their norm, and this team is healthy, they can win the division next year as currently constructed. Do you think thats what the cards brass is counting on? Instead of making any bold moves
    Well, this team has minimal payroll flexibility and not a lot of surplus talent to trade. So that limits their movement more than anything. They hope their regulars play well because many of them have huge contracts. There is some growth potential, especially on the pitching side, but for the most part the guys getting paid need to do their job to keep this team in the hunt.
    The Cardinals put a lot of faith in a declining player such as carpenter to change course. Faith is more of a attitude for church rather than baseball. Also they’re putting a lot of faith in an unproven player in Edmond. Many players of started out hot and when the book is out on them they’re sitting on the bench.
  • For the moment, they are selling Tommy Edman a good multi-position player who will be in the lineup a lot. That's fair, based on his developmental trajectory. He has put up numbers consistently while rising quickly. The bigger question is the outfield pile: What will the team have with Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill, Lane Thomas, Randy Arozarena and Dylan Carlson next year, in two years, in three years . . . that is the mystery.
  • A year or two ago, it was scientifically determined that Carpenter struggled to hit anywhere in the lineup other than lead off. Why not try him there again in 2020 to see if that magic returns. Thoughts?
    He got 316 plate appearances as the leadoff hitter last season and hit .204 with a .310 on-base percentage. So, no, that is not the answer.
    The press conference this week struck me as elitist and tone deaf. The power structure comes in and pats themselves on the back, says they will be here longer w their extensions, and then says we are not going to do much this winter, despite the fact that we cannot get to where we want to (World Series champs), with this group of players. Plus, this group put us in this position by a series of bad contracts. Did they not see how we embarrassed ourselves nationally in the NLCS?
    Like the DeWitt said, what happened in the NLCS is the beauty of short-series baseball. The 2004 Cardinals might have been the best squad in the DeWitt Era and it got skunked by the Red Sox in the World Series. Then 2006 team piddled much of the year and won it all as massive underdogs against the Detroit Tigers. DeWitt was pleased to win the division and reach the NLCS. As I noted earlier, they are many franchise where such achievements are rarely seen.
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