Subscribers-only Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Subscribers-only Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Bring your Cards and MLB questions and comments to a live chat with Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold at 11 a.m.. Our Cardinals chats this spring are for subscribers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

    Salutations. Welcome to the weekly Cardinals chat. Big week for baseball, as they say. While this chat continues, there should be some clarity -- and maybe even finality on the players' decision. To think this was originally one of the days identified as when pitchers and catchers would begin their entry testing/exams to report to spring training within a few days. That target date keeps moving back -- and brings great urgency to the next 48 hours on whether a season will be agreed upon or the commissioner will impose one. So, that's where the chat begins. I've got Jack Buck calling the 1991 World Series in the background. You've got questions. I have been know to type fast. Let's get started ...
    Derrick, what is the chance that the the pandemic and a CBA war could present an opportunity for a rival major league? Yes, the anti-trust exemption exists, but it must be the most obsolete statute in the nation, and I can’t see it withstanding a competent attack. Rule changes to reduce inaction and promote ball-bat contact might attract crowds who are actually interested in watching a game, even if the talent level is initially lower.
    Sure seems to be low at this point because the same troubles facing MLB would also greet a rival league -- particularly the coronavirus. Unless the rival league flaunted its willingness to ignore the virus, the local policies, etc., etc, -- and then what players would buy in? Sure seems like a lost season here and the CBA battle brewing would, however, lead to some players using social media to organize barnstorming-style games. Would that grow into a rival league? Hard to know. But having a traveling a All-Star Game that plays in non-MLB parks would be a good litmus test for the popularity of the game and perhaps places baseball could yet grow. I mean, imagine if some players organized a series in Portland or Nashville -- or Montreal, virus permitting. Those might be good draws. I am unsure if there is a stomach right now for people to invest in owning rival league teams, and, heck, we're wondering if independent ball might be able to move in on the places minor-league baseball abandons, but the economic fallout from the virus is going to be severe and we have to recognize the high-level ownership investment in baseball could be lacking. Better for the traveling act to be an alternative.
    Arghhhh! I give up on this season. It's past ridiculous. If the players wanted to counter, they should have said, let's play 63 games - seven against each of our nine opponents, thus a balanced schedule. That would have kept the players on the reasonable side. Anyway, as you've often said, the virus is in control (and currently reemphasizing that fact).
    It's interesting how the schedules can be adjusted to fit whatever division setup baseball ultimately lands on. For a long time -- a month now? -- it seems like the geographic silo divisions fit both side's wishes: a new look to spur interest, and minimizing travel for the most part (especially in the Central) so they could jam more games into fewer days. But that has yet to be finalized as the plan. It's just the one that had the most support. I've spoken with some people over the past week who said that the Eas/tCentral/West plan wasn't finalized -- and one official even said they need to get the number of games before they can say the direction they're going to go. Some things on this:
    -- It has been discussed that the division standings would remain like we know. So, the Cardinals' playoff berth would be based against NL teams and not into a 10-team division, for example. 
    -- That would imply more games against the league division, not interleague division.
    So how could that work? Well ...
    Let's look at it through a Cardinals' lens and the different ways they'd get to a few of the numbers being kicked around. For 60-games: Could be 10 games against league division rivals, four vs. interleague rivals. Or, say, seven against leaguedivision rivals, eight against georgaphic rival (Royals), and six against AL Central teams. A 52-game schedule would just be six games -- two three-game series -- against everyone, or it could be carved up to get four games vs. AL opponents and the remaining 32 carved up into eight games vs. NL Central foes (two four-game series).
    A 66-games schedule sure would be crisp though -- with the Cardinals facing NL Central foes in nine games total (36), and then two three-game series vs. AL Central (30). At 62 games they could do two four-game series vs. Cubs, Reds, Pirates, and Brewers, and then have two three-game series vs. AL Central. They'd spend seven days playing ball in Chicago, for example. 
    I'm eager to see how they put this together -- mainly because it means they'll be a deal in place to actually play said season. That comes first.
    Thanks as always for the chat, DG. I assume the financial fallout from COVID will lead the Cardinals to cut ties with some expensive players this winter. I can see Miller being gone if his option doesn't vest, Waino not coming back, etc. Is there any chance they let Yadi finish his career elsewhere in the name of cost savings? It seems incredibly short sighted, but increasingly feels like a possibility.
    There is definitely that chance. And you're right -- there is going to be significant upheaval of rosters/payrolls around baseball as a result of this. I guess they could rescue some of it with a remarkable postseason and the billion-dollar deal coming from TBS. But it still seems like some teams are going to to try and liquidate spending quickly. And, yes, that could mean Yadier Molina finishes his career elsewhere. You have to be realistic about that. He's going to become a free agent at some point -- because it's unlikely the Cardinals offer him enough for him, by rule, to accept. Since the pay cut will be more than permitted unless he's a free agent, he's got to become that first, and then we'll see what that landscape looks like. Yes, the teams will be cutting costs. There is also a sense that players will accept there will be less there for them, too. Imagine what that means for a player like Mookie Betts. Would he take the qualifying offer from the Dodgers -- or something significantly more from them for a one year deal to then go into the market when there's, potentially, more spending going on?
    There's a lot of unknowns right now because for the game to make revenue to spend on the game they do need to play games. And that's no guarantee this year.
    Which of the former Cardinals do you think might have a big season when the games start?
    Jose Martinez, I imagine. Eager to see how the Rays use Arozarena. But Martinez is poised to get a lot of work at DH and favorable matchups in that division.
    Derrick, thanks as always for the chats and all you do at the PD. You mentioned in a chat a few weeks ago that you're hesitant to ever agree with Tom Glavine. Are you able to elaborate on that at all? I did some Googling on him out of curiosity but didn't find anything too controversial, though that may have been more an indictment of my googling skills than anything else.
    Ah, no, it wasn't anything controversial that I recall. And I probably could have phrased that differently. I apologize for that. Tom Glavine has usually been an interesting interview, and he has been a very thoughtful and important voice for the union, especially during his playing career. He has strong opinions and he's a Hall of Famer, and I had an experience with him in Cooperstown where he, um, wondered what I was doing there. I was invited. But I took a hint and left the conversation.
  • I'll go first on Paul DeJong: I see 20 homers, maybe 75 RBIs and a 250-270 average on a consistent basis. Pretty good for a shortstop, right? Do the Cardinals see more? Does anyone see less?
    I imagine you could get a whole bunch of answers to this question depending on who you ask. The Cardinals dig their shortstop, and they see an offensive upside there. Shildt was ready t make him the cleanup hitter for this season -- and he could still be, of course. They see 30-homer upside, and if there's OBP ahead of him then RBIs galore was he works to improve what undermined his season in 2019 -- lack of RISP success. It's good to bet that you've got a shortstop with those 20 homers, maybe in that 20-25 range but also a .800+ OPS. That is a solid shortstop, one of the most productive in the division, for sure, and it's production that plays at third base if he eventually moves there. No need to do so now.
    You'll get plenty of owners vs. players questions, so I'll go for a baseball question: What exactly do the Cardinals have in Harrison Bader? Does he have a future here or not? What are the pros and cons to keeping him around?
    He is an elite defensive outfielder and that assures that he's a fourth outfielder, at least. If he doesn't improve as a hitter then he comes off the bench to change games late and subs in for the starters ahead of him or takes over a few starts at ballparks with wide open spaces, like say Coors Field (it doesn't take a brain surgeon to see how good he would be there, no?). If he hits, takes his walks, and gets that OBP up into the mid-300s you're talking about an everyday player at a premium position who can be a part of backend rallies for the lineup. The Cardinals hope that's where Bader gets. He's got the athleticism. He needs the approach at the plate. And at this point the Cardinals are going to try and find out the answer to your question -- if they can get into these games. It feels like every answer is going to be that way.
    For the record, there haven't been that many owners vs. players questions so far. Could be an indicator of frustration -- or even worse, apathy.
    Is Jose Oquendo working or laid off? There are no minor leaguers to tend to so I'd guess he has nothing to do.
  • He's being employed by the Cardinals. The Cardinals have continued to salary payments through June 30 for uniformed personnel, baseball ops, and business side. So the answer I guess is ... neither? The numbers limited for who can be at the ballpark down in Jupiter, Fla. That said Oquendo is pretty well-known for keeping in touch with fielders through the phone and video, and he's done that even when he's not in the major-league dugout ...
    Could you give us your thoughts on DeWitts comment that baseball is not that profitable? Tell that to the fans who pay an average of $10 a beer, $9 a dog and $36 a ticket, Mr. DeWitt.
    Baseball is profitable. At it's healthiest, it's a $12-billion business and it has brought riches galore to many owners. He clearly misspoke and the fans are right to expect a clearer answer from him. In the chat, I've run into issues -- as long time readers will know -- when trying to explain ownership's stance. Too often, that explanation is mistaken for advocacy. Here were are again. If I attempt to explain what he meant, please don't take that for agreeing with it or advocating it or anything other than trying to take what he said and translate it. His point was the sense that a team isn't swimming in excess cash -- i.e., his use of the word profits. That money is being put back into operations, whether that's spending on the payroll or infrastructure payments or coaches, etc., or even debt service on buildings, teams, ballparks, etc. The Cardinals have nearly double the size of employees. They have significant increased the spending on the analytics department. And they have spent millions on updating and expanding and building these massive security initiatives around the ballpark. All of that does increase the value of the team, does also help make it eligible for better insurance in case of catastrophe, and on and on.
    A fan, rightly so, sees that spending as profits to increase the values of the team, especially when that team is receiving tax breaks or subsidies from cities. Owners, see that as not much profit because they're just turning around and spending it again. 
    It does not help that the sides are speaking with the same words, but two different meanings, and baseball owners should be clearer and break from the business textbook terms and try to relate more to the folks who don't use EBITDA in daily conversation.
    It would also help if fans didn't put so much stock in the Forbes "valuations." I've climbed up on this soapbox before. Baseball teams are mostly private businesses, and that leave Forbes to estimate the value -- unless through enormous and impressive reporting skills they are unearthing private business details. That would be applauded, and I would be the first or second to do so. That's why a team can be valued in print at $1 billion and sell not too long after that for $2 billion. What gives? I'll add this, too, that you're talking about the value of a team that's not for sale -- so what is that worth? Baseball is a tremendously profitable business -- especially for owners when they sell. But owners not eager to sell are going to suggest that they haven't cashed in yet.
    Bill DeWitt Jr. touched on that during a conversation we had this past fall. I asked him how fans could reconcile Ballpark Village growing like "an ATM" beyond the outfield with the team's stance that profits from it wouldn't yet spill over into the product at the ballpark. He said that BPV's benefit will be in the future and for someone else to measure. I thought that was a revealing comment about where the profits will eventually be at BPV, the debt on the project now, and also DeWitt's view of how long his family will be part of the team's ownership.
    what are the chances the union and MLB each send in an alternate negotiator with less personal history/baggage that might be affecting the outcome?
    Hello Derrick! Weird times. How involved is Ozzie with the team? is he back in good grace with them and them with him? I guess he was away during TLR days due to a personal beef. Was that his only issue?
    He's been a fixture at spring training as a visiting coach for, goodness, the past eight years now. He's around the ballpark a lot. He spends time talking with DeJong and Wong, and cracking jokes and hanging out with Willie McGee. He's around a lot. He does speaking for the team, he represents the team, he does events at the ballpark. He's also heavily involved with the National Baseball Hall of Fame, so the Cardinals aren't his only baseball venture. Since La Russa's retirement, Ozzie Smith has been far more active with the team, and Mike Matheny deserves a lot of credit for making sure that happened.
    What happens if one team has a severe outbreak? Do they cancel that team's season and try to carry on without them? Do they keep doing that if more teams have outbreaks?
    This is a big question that has not been answered and must be answer.
    The virus is not in control, greed is. KBO, Chinese, Japan, all of these leagues have found a way, but not MLB. Frankly, There is no reason to play this season, at this point, there isn't enough time to schedule a meaningful amount of games
    Those countries have all been able to flatten the curve into a tail, with the exception of some recent spikes. One only needs to look at the rate of infection and the death rate to see the difference. Those countries don't lead the world in total deaths or total infections. The U.S. does. We -- collectively, as a group, a culture -- haven't been able to slow the spread of a virus to a point that sports can return like the other countries have seen. Check out soccer in Europe. It's back, too. Meanwhile, two sports that haven't had any acrimony aren't happening right now -- the NHL and the NBA. So, "greed" makes baseball look awful. But ti's the virus that has pushed us this deep into summer without sports. I wish that wasn't the case.
    Maybe it's no one's fault. Maybe what the players and the owners are trying to do is not possible. Maybe none of the four major sports leagues will be able to have any games until 2021.
    These questions offer a great contrast in the conversation going on right now. Thank you, Chloe.
    Bill DeWitt Jr is approaching 80 years old. in a couple of years. Obviously it would not be considered in the next 12-24 months due to the virus and a agreement with the union has not been finalized but do you have any feeling on what his time horizon is to potentially sell the team? I realize his son is actively involved but you have to wonder once the virus and union agreement are settled you would be looking at a massive sale price . Maybe a price too good to refuse. At his age and those issues settled in a couple of years you have to wonder if he's thinking the timing would be appropriate to cash out. Your thoughts?
    He has been asked this. I've asked him this -- almost every year, honestly. At least twice last season. And every so often some innuendo spreads through baseball that he's packaging the team to be sold, or something. He has, each time, unequivocally said that he does not have plans to sell the team, and that he sees it as something his family can continue be a part of. The DeWitts Family -- not Bill DeWitt Jr. alone, but businesses and people related to him -- have increased their holdings in the team. That represents the largest group, but at last check, I was told it wasn't a majority of the ownership. Keep that in mind.
    Who wins 1-on-1 basketball game between you and Ben Fred?
    I do. And he's 20 years younger. I'll just extend the court.
    Wait, we are talking halfcourt, right? Full court -- he wins. 
    I would enjoy going back to see the Cards at White Sox park. Wrigley never
    Could make for an interesting schedule for sure, and a chance for the Cardinals to play in some cities where they don't normal go -- Cleveland, Minneapolis ...
    There wouldn’t be a BPV, high rise condo’s and other things around Busch if DeWitt had Tampa’s and Miami’s ticket revenue the last 10 years instead of 3.2 million attendance.
    No one has said otherwise. That's how they get money. Fan support. It is actually their business model. They aren't keeping it secret.
    DG do you think Manfred is going to survive the off-season? Assuming we make it through 2020, it's hard to imagine him being able to land a new CBA next year. It's difficult for me to criticize the players for not being more trusting of the Commissioner when I, and probably a lot of other fans don't trust him either.
    The next 72 hours could determine that. There has been frustration with how he's handled this -- especially with his public "100 percent" pronouncement on draft day and then advertising of a near done-deal coming out of the Arizona meeting. Each time he has had to walk-back public comments, and undoubtedly had to clarify private ones, too. There have been some missteps. He has also sought to negotiate a season -- not impose one. And that's key here. He wants to get to a point where the players agree and a grievance isn't likely. If owners wish that he would just decide already, then there's frustration there, too. Also, there are some owners that don't want to play the season, and how the league massages then or helps them through it will also define his time. Owners will make a move. They have in the past, and one of the things they really liked about Manfred was his labor negotiating background, how he likes to win for them, and how much riches they've seen with him in charge. Coming out of this stretch, will he have gone oh-for-three on the reasons they hired him?
    Paul Lukas at UniWatch had an ominous blog entry about how both the owners and the PA have signaled they open to uniform ads for 2020 and 2021. It is hard to imagine that the ads would go away after 2021. What are your thoughts on uniform ads? I vowed to never watch another NBA game once ads were approved and I will take the same position with MLB (I am a partial season ticket holder). Patrons eyes and ears are assaulted with ads at games. Is anything sacred anymore?
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