Howdy. I hope you're all having a great week and ready for Christmas. Feel free to fire away any questions.
I never watched Mike Matheny closely before I moved to St. Louis, so I can only really judge him based off this past season. I would argue that it's unfair to judge him based off of 2016 because the bullpen was pretty bad and the defense was horrible. He probably got the most out of the talent at his disposal.
I honestly don't think they're interested in an upgrade at third base. I would expect that they'll give Peralta every chance possible. The best possible upgrade would be at first base if they did the right thing and signed Edwin Encarnacion, whom they need desperately if they are committed to winning the NL Central, which I'm certain they are not at this point.
I actually had a long conversation with Dave Peacock today. Let me try to forward an on-the-record answer he gave me via text. Give me a second. I asked him if the ownership group would consider asking for less money now that MLS has said the expansion fee would be $150 million instead of the $200 million they had cited in their request for public funding. Here's his text reply: "We always envisioned the fee being around $150m," he texted back. " In fact, we assumed originally last Summer it would be $125m. The league asked that we reflect $200m in our submission and note the range. We told them that anything above $150m and we're out as the economic returns would be too low even with public funding. So the $150m is not some windfall rather its higher by 50% than Minnesota. If the fee had been the same as Minneapolis- $100m - we would have come with a different ask. We were careful to limit the asks of State and City to be below economic value added (validated by the state study). Our site is 24 acres being vacated in STL no matter what, I'm interested in what better use there is for it, what creates more jobs or economic activity there than our plan. The state money was always going to the site with city voters deciding whether to fund a stadium. I fear 10 yrs from now we'll have an empty site or more mixed use that will obsolete other current buildings and businesses. I also suspect if a manufacturer wanted to build a plant there, the state would help subsidize so why stigmatize a business just because its sports."
Merry Christmas to you and your family. I think the Blues are definitely going to be a contender this year, but they realize they haven't played nearly as well as they must play. Ken Hitchcock made that much clear after the last two losses. If you're a Blues fan, you have to be pleased with the victory last night in Dallas. They found a way to win despite not playing their best on a night Alex Pietrangelo was out with an illness. Trust me, Hitchcock will have these guys ready in April and May, but they know they must clean up some things. They cannot ask for much more out of their power-play efforts, but their 5-on-5 play has not lived up to Hitchcock's standards.
Great question. Every team that I've covered as a beat writer - Devil Rays, Mets and Astros - has headed into spring training essentially knowing which players they plan to have in the opening day lineup, barring injuries or true competitions for positions. But I would bet that the Peralta-Gyorko question might be one that the Cardinals let play out in spring training. You are absolutely correct that Gyorko has performed well enough to merit at least a chance to earn the starting spot. I would definitely tell those two that they have to compete for the job in camp.
I plan on attending the game. It's not my day to write a column, so I'll probably blog if I do write about it. I honestly cannot wait for Travis Ford's second season at SLU. I bet you that in three years, Ford's team will be the big basketball college power in the state and area. A good to great SLU team would really help this sports town. I haven't followed Mizzou or Illinois basketball enough to claim that I'm an expert on them, but people I respect think Mizzou needs a new coach.
I can honestly predict that the best part of the game will be the behind-the-scenes antics on the bench. If Monday's scrimmage was any indication, the Blues alums are quite pumped about this opportunity to play together again. But I would temper my expectations in terms of quality hockey.
I assume it all depends if Edwin Encarnacion's price tag tumbles down enough for Bill DeWitt III to bite. They really need another middle-of-the-order bat before I think they're capable of winning more than 85 games.
I have not had any conversations with Rick since the season started. Ken Hitchcock introduced me to him during the preseason after a practice and again at Busch Stadium in a suite during a Cardinals' game, but that is pretty much the extent of our interaction. I do need to get to know him, though.
I would never let Yadier Molina leave the Cardinals unless he decides that he wants to start elsewhere in four years. He has done enough to write his own ticket here. Moreover, he's proud enough that he wouldn't stick around long after his skills tell him it's time to go. Also, I would hope the Cardinals begin grooming him as a potential manager. I bet you he'll be a great manager if he decides to pursue that career.
That's a very interesting question. I'm sure it's possible, but I don't know how probable it is. I will tell you, however, that he is one of my favorite players to interview. On a personal professional level, I would hate to see the Blues let him go. He's one of my go-to quote guys.
This question can only get me in trouble, so I'll answer it while trying real hard to be honest yet diplomatic. Houston is a much larger market, so there are a lot more reporters. There's way more diversity in Houston, whether in media or population, so I definitely wasn't the only Latino reporter in the market. Houston and St. Louis are similar, though, in that they are both large towns with small-town sensibilities. I always said that Houston was the largest small town in America. St. Louis is right there with Houston in terms of that small-town feel of community bonds. Houstonians are very defensive about their town, and St. Louisans are too. Houstonians are very loyal, St. Louisans are too. Houston is more of an international city, so you see more foreign media, whether it's Chinese with the Rockets or Spanish-speaking television and radio with the Astros and Texans.
I don't know if the Cardinals are trying to land him, but it wouldn't seem to be a priority now that the outfield is set with Fowler in center, Grichuk in left and Piscotty in right. As long as Grichuk performs, all three of those will likely be regular starters when healthy.
This is a very good question. My man Tom Timmermann says: "trades are hard in the NHL because of salary cap. If you're trying to get a top-line center, who will you trade? Getting a center this year would be hard. This season would be tough. These guys are few and far between if you're talking about top-line center. The good ones are making $6 million a year. Thompson is still playing college soccer, so he's several years ago."
You make very good points. I would say that nobody thinks the Cardinals are conceding the NL Central, but I don't think the NL Central has seen a powerhouse like the Cubs in many years. The Cardinals fixed the outfield, but the infield defense is still a bit of a concern. I think they need another middle-of-the-order bat (Edwin Encarnacion) before I think they're a legit NL pennant contender. They are a wild-card contender, but they're one injury to Carlos Martinez away from being a mediocre to bad starting rotation.
What if I told you Gyorko's .801 OPS was better than Piscotty's? What if I told you Gyorko's OPS was only .010 lower than Carlos Correa's? He has power and a solid OPS, so I wouldn't worry about the RBIs. He cannot control who is on base in front of him.
I would assume there will definitely be a large contingent of Blackhawks fans, but I would expect more Blues fans.
Merry Christmas to you too.
I think the Cardinals have the second-best team in the NL Central. I would expect them to be in the wild-card race. If Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes are healthy all year, I wouldn't bet against them in the playoffs. But it won't be easy. I have to believe that they'll be expected to finish second in the NL Central by Vegas oddsmakers.
I would give him a two-year, $45 million deal.