Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us this week. Please fire away.
I had breakfast yesterday with Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch, and it's clear to me that the Cardinals are quite confident with the starting rotation they have at this point. You obviously never would rule anything out, but I don't expect the Cardinals to sign a starting pitcher to a major league contract at this point.
I get the sense that if the Cardinals actually wanted Moustakas they would have already signed him. Unless he settles for an unexpected bargain, I don't envision him reporting to Roger Dean Stadium this month.
You must keep in mind that the Cardinals have a short term plan and a long-term plan. I'm pretty sure the Cardinals want to go into every season as the favorites, but I don't know how realistic it is. How much of the farm system are you willing to burn to acquire the two front-line starting pitchers that would be needed to be seen as on par as the World Series champion Astros? Surely, you must realize that no free agent starting pitcher in this market or closer for that matter will be seen as a lock to make you a clear cut World Series favorite. Correct me if I'm wrong?
Very good question, and I share your pessimism. For the first time this season, I saw a Blues team that delivered the type of effort that made me wonder if this team is a year away from having what is truly needed to be a legit Stanley Cup title contender. I watched the effort and performance against the Wild and wondered if this team will be fortunate to sneak into the playoffs as a wild-card. I worry about Tarasenko. It's also fair to wonder if Carter Hutton will regress back to his career averages. Moreover, I don't think anybody at Scottrade Center can genuinely say they believe that Jake Allen is the goaltender of the future. I hope I'm wrong, but I must admit that there have been just too many poor showings to actually consider those outings true outliers anymore.
Thanks for joining the chat. Unlike fans, John Mozeliak and Michael Girsch and Bill DeWitt Jr. must look at the overall big picture. Sure, signing Arrieta to a one or even two-year deal would make perfect sense. Even though his numbers trended in the wrong direction, I'd gamble on Arrieta on a one-year or two-year deal. There's only one problem: He's not quite ready to accept short-term contracts. Is he worth three years? Perhaps. Is he worth four or five? I sure as heck wouldn't want to allocate the type of budget space it would require to sign him long-term. There are some truly special closers, but, again, there are no sure bets. There's no Mariano Rivera, Billy Wagner, Aroldis Chapman or Jason Isringhausen in this free agent market. I understand why some fans would say they look cheap. I would argue that they don't look cheap as much as they are hedging smart bets.
You are 100 percent correct. The Blues have come out flat enough times this season that you have to wonder if this is just the team they are. As Doug Armstrong noted a few weeks ago on KMOX, this is a team that doesn't know how to handle success very well. We need to put an all points bulletin out for Tarasenko, who has gone five consecutive games without a goal. A superstar forward should not go five games with only one point. I've asked people who would know way more than I would, and they assure me that Alex Pietrangelo's captaincy isn't an issue.
As far as I know, Mozeliak doesn't dictate lineups to Matheny, if that's what you are asking.
I stopped trying to figure out what's going on with the SLU Title IX investigation and appeals. Stu Durando is our man on that beat, and he's done a great job reporting what can be verified.
Many people subscribe to your line of thinking on arbitration. I tend to agree with you that there are times when teams risk alienating a player in the arbitration process over a figure that is essentially chump change for an organization. If I were a GM or owner, I'd try my best to avoid an arbitration case unless the player made a tremendously ridiculous request.
I would keep a very close eye on Alex Reyes. Much is riding on how he rebounds from Tommy John surgery. I'm eager to see Tyler O'Niell. I'd keep an eye on Jordan Hicks, Dakota Hudson and Ryan Helsley because that trio could include the top setup man or even closer by the end of the season.
It takes two to tango, as the trite saying goes. If after two World Series titles and four World Series in two decades as chairman aren't enough to show you that Bill DeWitt Jr. is committed to winning, I don't think anything will. As I noted earlier, the Cardinals should jump on any of these "top" free agents if those guys get desperate and decide to take a one or two-year deal. Last year I was quite adamant before spring training that the Cardinals hadn't done enough. Early this offseason I noted that they needed to go after a top middle-of-the-order bat, a starting pitcher to buy development time for Jack Flaherty and Alex Reyes, and a closer. Although they signed Luke Gregerson, I understand why some fans are worried about the bullpen. I also understand, however, that the organization's long-term health might be better if they don't give a long-term deal for the top closers on the market this year.
As I noted, I consider the Cardinals legit playoff contenders heading into spring training. They have enough depth in the farm system to go out and make a trade for whatever they need in July if they live up to expectations.
If Luke Gregerson is still the closer in September, that might bode well for the Cardinals because it meant that he pitched well enough to hold on to the job. With all that said, I expect one of the club's young, hard-throwing righthanders to come up and claim the closer's role by September. In the best-case scenario, Gregerson proves to be a solid closer, Tuivailala settles in as a solid setup man and Hicks and Helsley provide high-leverage relief innings by August.
Let me think. I don't know how closely you follow the farm system, so I don't know who would be new to you. I would just say you should follow Ryan Helsley, the hard-throwing righthander who might be ready to pitch high-leverage innings out of the bullpen later in the season.
Why would I be worried? Remember, I'm a journalist. There's no cheering in the press box. In terms of how I do my job, I'm not nervous about the starting rotation because all the guys in the Cardinals' rotation are accessible and great with the media. Now, if you're asking if fans should be nervous, I would say they should find comfort in the fact that Jack Flaherty should be ready to help soon and Alex Reyes is special enough to be the ace of the staff in the future.
I think Matheny's greatest strength is treating the players the way he liked to be treated. He takes a lot of bullets for the players. He keeps clubhouse and team drama behind closed doors, and he doesn't sell out his players. He treats men like men.
I assume that the free agents will start sorting themselves out soon. I bet a great majority of them will realize this isn't the year to get the type of contracts their agents may have led them to expect.
I haven't asked him that question. All I'll say to your question is that Cardinals fans have been quite spoiled by Bill DeWitt's ownership group. I'd bet you that 70 percent of the fan bases would love to have an ownership group like the Cardinals' owners. I don't want to be an apologist, but I promise you that the Cardinals deserve plenty of credit for contending routinely and maintaining a consistently strong franchise without the benefit of taking shortcuts such as tanking. This is just one man's opinion, but this man has covered the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (before they were Rays) and the tanking Astros and the Mets who went to consecutive NLCS (1999 and 2000) and one World Series (2000). It is not easy to win as consistently as the Cardinals have won under DeWitt's reign.
As you may have noted, he addressed how optimistic he is about the rotation even though he knows some folks who are pessimistic can find reasons to be pessimistic if they wanted.