Salutations from Jupiter, Fla., home of Cardinals spring training and Leftovers incredible grouper cheeks. Thanks for joining us here for a subscriber-only Cardinals chat, held live from the shadow of Roger Dean Stadium. Early start to today's chat, I know. The reason is there has to be a hard stop this afternoon because I have a root canal scheduled. That's not a joke. Wish it was. So let's try to get through as many questions as possible -- and do try to make it as painless as possible. It's gonna be a day.
Aside: This would also be a great time to maybe ask some questions about spring training. I see a lot of assumptions and confusion on social media about why, say, Yadier Molina is batting cleanup and so on and so forth. There's a rhythm and a reason to spring, and reading the lineup for clues this early for what's coming in the season can lead to a lot of red herrings.
We will not be. Miles Mikolas is easing back into the workouts today. He's part of a modified program, but he's going to be part of workouts in the coming days without limitations -- except he cannot throw. So that means fielding practice, and eventually the bunting drills etc. etc. I will be able to take off the IL, I've been told. Back to work a few hours after the procedure. Can't stop the Cardinals coverage.
It is not. This is a good spring question. This early in spring think of the lineup as based on who needs to see the most at-bats and get them sooner so they can get out of the game. That's why you'll see Yadier Molina at cleanup and Matt Wieters at cleanup -- it gets them two at-bats in about the same time the pitchers they need to catch get their work. Then they get out of the game and are done for the day. There have also been times when Molina could not hit, so he started at ninth in the lineup. He could catch. Get fewer at-bats. Take his pitches. And move on. This early in camp the lineup is stacked with the players who are getting ready to go north early in the lineup and those who are trying to make an impression for consideration stacked later. Austin Dean hit eighth on Sunday. A strong spring and he could be in the outfield mix. Yairo Munoz hit seventh. He's the incumbent for a utiltiy spot. But they'll get their at-bats by playing regularly here, while the Fowler, Carpenter, Goldschmidt group atop the lineup today is getting their at-bats and getting out and moving on.
I doubt it. The level of cheating that the Astros got to does seem to be isolated around a few teams. There are others that are embarrassed they were so behind on such things -- behind in doing it, behind in picking up on it. The Cardinals were a bit naive when it came to what opponents were doing as far as using tech to pick up signs, etc. The lengths Houston went to pull this off is so brazen, so arrogant, so unapologetic that it would be a surprise if other teams did it with such swagger. We'll see what Boston has to deal with. There are tons of teams stealing signs for sure -- but some are doing it because they're gifted and can pick up tells, not because their wired to cheat.
It's probably just you. Are you talking from the right side? There's a different look to his swing from the right, but it's definitely smooth from the left. He's got a grand swing from the left side. It's more chopping down from the right. Look for a story about his growth as a switch-hitter in Tuesday's Post-Dispatch.
It definitely was Sunday. The Cardinals were on the road. Seemed pretty full for the opener on Saturday. We'll see what it's like for a Marlins home game today vs. Cardinals. That can be a good test of interest.
Both have shown some physical changes to their swings, yes. Bader for example is going with a two-handed follow-through. O'Neill has a more upright look to him, and that's been clear in the batting practice. So there are some changes to their look at the plate. I would suggest its too too too early to start saying there's proof it's working. Good results. Fat fastballs. Yep. All of that. But it's important for them to get early returns on their changes so that it brings up some confidence in those changes.
This is a good reminder. The revelations of spring -- when it comes to the position players -- come after the midpoint, with about a fortnight to go in games. That last week, the lineup will start to tell us who is going to hit where, and who is going to start where, and who is hanging on with a chance to be there opening day. Shildt reminded reporters of that this morning again, saying that the truth from the lineup likely would be there until the final week of camp, because that's when he starts thinking about how it will look for the opening weeks of the season and starts test-driving what some of the choices will be for leadoff, for cleanup, etc. If he's not look to today's lineup for lineup answers, then it's hard to argue we should be, no? Pitching answers come earlier. Carlos Martinez for example. If he's going to be a starter for them, they'll know as he starts getting toward five, six inning assignments and they have to really commit to the group competing for that rotation spot(s) and the group that needs to go to minor-league camp for innings.
I was surprised, too. And he acknowledged that surprise. He said it's not a popular opinion among owners, but it is one he stands beside and he's made the point to argue it whenever the floor is his in the discussions with other owners or the commissioner. I don't see that shrink happening in the coming CBA. There are so many other things that will be addressed, however. The expanded playoff will be debated and tried from the owner side. The players will want a give back on salaries for 0-6 players, so that players are making more earlier in their careers because of what has happened in the free-agent market for older players. There's going to be some discussion of scrapping the current format for interleague play, and I would expect that to change. Automated strike zones will be on the table. DH in the NL is coming, too, and that will be fascinating -- whether it's introduced this spring as possible for 2021 or it's folded into the CBA talk.
It doesn't really come into play. It does suppress offense. Remember, Roger Dean Stadium is, statistically, the hardest place to hit for power in the Grapefruit League, year in and year out. So that has to focus the lens on how we look at the production from the Marlins and Cardinals.
The home team chooses. It does have something to do with the footprint/layout of the ballpark. So, for example, if there's more room on one side for a posher clubhouse, or greater access for deliveries and ballplayer parking, and so -- you're going to see that side get the home clubhouse. Some of the older ballparks would be an example of the space for the clubhouse, while newer ballparks cater to the access. It's about evenly split these days.
He got a fastball over the plate that he could do damage on. Regardless of the hitter he's worked on being, that is still part of the game for him -- and for other hitters, too. Edmundo Sosa came up with a chance to put the ball in play and bring a run home, and that was his assignment late in Sunday's game. He got a 2-1 fat fastball and did damage. That's what a hitter is supposed to do. Bader's plate coverage seems to be improved, and that's going to give him a better chance to make contact, to be contact-oriented, and to also ambush bad pitches. We'll see how he does as the pitchers get better, the breaking balls get crisper, and the opening days of spring are behind and the competition picks up. But in BP and such, in live BP, he's done well to show an advanced swing.
Sure. It's the first start of spring for both, and there was some falling behind in counts from Jack Flaherty and elevated pitches from him too in the second inning of his start. The Cardinals didn't do up/downs this spring. That's the practice that comes in the second Live BP. Instead of going out and throwing 30-45 pitches in a second live BP, the Cardinals usually carve them into two "innings." That means the pitcher has to take a break -- like he would in the top or bottom of an inning before going back out for the second set of pitches. That's where the up/downs get their names. The pitcher is up for the first "inning," down during a break, and has to get up again. I asked Shildt if maybe not doing them this spring has been the reason for the second-inning drift from a few starters, and he agreed. But he said that's the purpose of doing it in a game -- so that it's better in the next game.
Flaherty is starting Thursday in Atlanta. If the Cardinals stick with the current rotation -- and that is an if with a Capital I because there are going to be some shifting around get starts for Reyes, etc. -- then you'd be on turn to see Austin Gomber start Sunday. But Reyes follows Gomber into Tuesday's game, so they could flip-flop for the next game. Come Monday -- that's next Monday, March 2 -- you're looking at Kim being on turn to start or Genesis Cabrera. But again, some of the starters are shifting around six-day turns and others are on five-day turns so these are subject to change and are only a rough guide. An educated bet on my part is you'll see Reyes get one of those starts, if he does well tomorrow.
I imagine that's what you expect him to say. The numbers tell a different story. He's still relatively new to shortstop, and outside of catcher that's probably the most demanding position on the field. He played more innings than any other shortstop who made the playoffs, and he also didn't have an All-Star break as he tried to make the most of an extended stretch in Cleveland. All of that took a toll, at least in the Cardinals eyes. First time through it for DeJong. The previous year he had an injury that cut into the workload. This past year just was the full marathon for him. He's better suited for the grind having been through it, and the Cardinals think their roster will be better suited to give him relief.
That would be the time line, yes. Herrera is an impressive prospect, for sure.
There are two split-squad games scheduled for the Cardinals. That's not too different than recent seasons. It is two more than we used to see with La Russa's group in many springs. And, yes, that's the goal -- extensive coverage of both. For example, on Wednesday, Rick Hummel and I will have dueling blogs. Hummel will be in Jupiter for Kim's start, and I'll road trip down to West Palm Beach, Fla., for Cabrera's start before making my way to Atlanta's new ballpark later that night to cover the game there the next day. If the Cardinals have a split-squad game, then we'll split our squad to continue giving you complete coverage.
Edmundo Sosa is the current example of prospect fatigue. He's a prospect and he's been around so long that people wonder why hasn't he reached the majors yet if he's been a prospect for so long. That happens when he appears in rankings and such at age 17 or 18 as a short-season, lower-level talent. Fatigue sets in. Teams have to fight it, too. Not sure of his ceiling because it really looks like that will depend on the opportunity. He could be a glove-first shortstop on a team that has offense other places to balance the lineup. He could be a utility player on a team that needs his glove off the bench and some kind of professional at-bat in a double-switch situation. We'll see. His floor is utility infielder in the majors. And that's a good measure of how far he's come and that's making good on the early rep as a prospect.
Not really, it seems. And the Cardinals have already had some pitchers appear in games that they were thinking would need B-games or scrimmages to get innings. So far so good. One thing that is another wrinkle to this is it will be awhile before there are cuts because there is nowhere to go for players at this point. So lots and lots and lots of catchers are taking these road trips.