Cardinals homegrown talent wins

2. St. Louis Cardinals (2015 Rank: 2):

If you need another reason not to sign high dollar free agents. The Giants and the Cardinals have won 5 out of the last 10 World Series. What do both organizations have in common? The Giants and the Cardinals finish 1/2 in the number of homegrown talent on the 25 man roster. Bleacher Report provides a list of the Cardinals homegrown talent.

Homegrown Players

Player                           Acquired     2015 WAR    Career WAR

C Yadier Molina            4-2000               1.4                30.4
3B Matt Carpenter        13-2009            3.9                14.1
SP Jaime Garcia            22-2005            3.9                8.7
SP Michael Wacha        1-2012               3.0                6.0
RP Trevor Rosenthal    21-2009             2.7                5.3
SP Carlos Martinez       AFA-2010           4.0                3.9
2B Kolten Wong            1-2011              2.2                3.9
1B Matt Adams              23-2009           0.3                3.6
RP Kevin Siegrist          41-2008            2.1                 2.7
RP Seth Maness            11-2011           -0.7                1.8
OF Tommy Pham          16-2006           1.5                 1.4
RF Stephen Piscotty      1-2012              0.9                0.9
IF Greg Garcia               7-2010              0.7                0.6
RP Tyler Lyons              9-2010              0.3              -0.2
Totals                                                     26.2              83.1
Starting Position Players: 5/8
Starting Pitchers/Closer: 4/6
Projected 25-Man Roster: 14/25

via 2. St. Louis Cardinals (2015 Rank: 2).

What is remarkable about this, the Giants and the Cardinals have done all this without tanking. Neither organization get’s to pick high in the draft. See Astros/Cubs. It really is a testament to the scouting and player development staff.

The Mets, Astros, Pirates, Royals finish 3-6 on the list. All of these teams will be favorites to make the postseason, in 2016.

So, the next time you’re ranting that the Cardinals should trade 3 prospects to get Carlos Gonzalez from the Rox. (That would be me doing the ranting) Take a deep breath. Remember, if you want to be consistently competitive, hang on to your homegrown talent.

Other news. Cuban 16 year old prospect Lazarito is said to have 9 teams trying to work out a deal. The Braves are the only confirmed team. The current price is somewhere around $20MM. Lazarito can make a decision as early as next week. The Lazarito camp is threatening to wait until July 2 to sign. This would bring some of the big money clubs back into the bidding process.

I think they are bluffing. Waiting until July 2 to sign, would bring more clubs into the process. It would also bring more big named Cubans to compete against. Evidently, there is a can’t miss shortstop that everyone wants. I think Lazarito will sign next week.

For the Cardinals it all comes down to how many Latin/Central American prospects that are highly ranked will become available over the next 2 signing periods. If the Cardinals drop $20MM on Lazarito. They would be banned from signing any player for more than $300,000 during that time.

The Cardinals have made progress over the last couple of years, in signing these type of prospects. The Cardinals seem to finally, have have solid scouting department in this area of the world. Do they want to give that up for a 16 year old prospect?

Lazarito is drawing comps to a Bo Jackson type corner outfielder. The Cardinals farm system has not been very good at signing power hitters. Is Lazarito the guy who can remedy the power outage? That is the question.

Later.

Baseball Prospectus calls Matheny a “managing fraud”

At least Mike finished #1 in something

Viva’s Alex Crisafulli gives an overview of what Baseball Prospectus thinks about the Cardinals. The highlight was the comments on the manager.

Mike Matheny comes off in the annual just as you would expect: A “managing fraud” who’s success comes from “riding the uniform tails of his talented roster.”  Harsh for sure, but it’s backed up by highlighting his poor bullpen management and by referencing VEB’s site manager Craig Edwards’ piece last October which demonstrated that Matheny has a bad knack for letting his pitchers bat in high-leverage situations.

Still, the comments end on a good note, which is that Matheny seems like a solid, likable person who’s easy to work with.  That sounds trivial but when dealing with an MLB clubhouse for over half a calendar year I suspect it isn’t.

via Cardinals highlights from the Baseball Prospectus 2016 annual – Viva El Birdos.

Well then, quite a different tone, from Dan Buffa’s article at Redbird Rants.

How many times have you heard this during a St. Louis Cardinals season, “Any manager could win with this team”? For manager Mike Matheny, entering his fifth season at the helm, the constant second guessing and riddling of indecision is nothing new. Since he hasn’t won a World Series, Matheny is deemed useless by many fans. Why? All managers and coaches get flack and are ripped apart by their fanbase throughout a season, but the Matheny hate goes overboard far too often. That’s an honest claim right.

After the 2014 season, many Cards fans wanted Mozeliak to drop Matheny like a bad habit and hire Maddon. There was a campaign for it. While Maddon was intriguing, he wouldn’t have done a better job with this club in 2015. You think Joe would have done better without Adam Wainwright, a half measure of Jaime Garcia, a one armed Lance Lynn and a feeble offense? Please, go to the casino with that mind. They will love you. I found that idea of replacing a manager and hoping for better results to be humorous.

I’m not here to tell you Matheny is perfect. No manager is. I am here to tell you he deserves your respect for what he has been able to do in his first four years as managers of the St. Louis Cardinals. He may give long winded speeches to the media and be flawed, but he’s done a great job here so far all things considered.

I’m not here to tell you Matheny is perfect. No manager is. I am here to tell you he deserves your respect for what he has been able to do in his first four years as managers of the St. Louis Cardinals. He may give long winded speeches to the media and be flawed, but he’s done a great job here so far all things considered.

It’s funny that both articles came out this week. Somebody got it wrong. Buffa thinks Matheny should be held in the same esteem, as the Pope. Respect. Double chest tap. Amen.

Baseball Prospectus thinks Mike Matheny is Rodney Dangerfield and deserves no respect.

Of course, both are wrong. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

Matheny is a great leader. He is a man’s man. He commands a room when in it. Matheny has very good interpersonal skills. Strong character. You will never find Matheny passed out drunk, in a car, at a stoplight.

Matheny displays an even temperament in handling the stress and grind of a long season. Runs a very good clubhouse. No “issues” pop up that take away the focus from winning baseball. That is no small accomplishment. Very few managers in baseball can do this.

Mike seems to have struck the right balance of winning games, letting the players be themselves and have some fun along the way. See CarMarts cup stacking, Waino’s dancing, Joe Kelly’s famous stare down and Matheny’s reaction to it. Priceless. Those are the kind of things you never saw in a La Russa clubhouse.

The players would do anything for him and in return he always their backs. It is evident that there is a real level of trust. Very rare, when your decision can cost the player millions on their next contract.

These are qualities that can’t be measured. That is why Baseball Prospectus thinks Matheny is a fraud. They only think of baseball managing in terms of number analysis. The measurable data is the only thing that matters to them. They have accurately quantified that Matheny is one of the worst tacticians, if not the worst in all of baseball.

I remember reading a Fangraphs article last year, (I think it was Fangraphs) that broke down best bullpen use among all the managers in baseball. They analyzed pitcher/batter matchups and which manager got it right. Using random guessing as a baseline.

All the recognize good managers, finished near the top of the list. Bochy, Showalter and Girardi just to name a few. The one manager at the bottom of the list? Mike Matheny. It was so bad, Matheny finished with a negative score. Matheny would have scored better if he would have randomly pick relievers out of a hat.

Combine that with the fact, Matheny basically stop using defensive shifts last year. Finishing near the top of the list for the least amount of shifts in the NL. Toss in the lack of run scoring that Cardinals have struggled with the past couple of years and Matheny’s lack of progress on finding a solution. You can understand why Baseball Prospectus thinks Matheny is a fraud.

In my judgement, both Buffa and Baseball Prospectus are correct. Both points of view are valid. Managing is all about leadership and technical expertise. What is rare is that Matheny is so good at one and so bad at the other. It is exactly the opposite of Tony La Russa.

La Russa was so bad in the leadership qualities, even his wife refused to live him, during the regular season. Let that sink in for a moment.

The perfect solution from an organizational point of view, would be to let Matheny manage in the regular season and La Russa take over for the postseason. That’s not gonna happen. So, what is the solution?

Matheny is never going to be a good tactician. Mozeliak failed to ensure that, when he let Matheny have the final say on what happens on the field. Mozeliak admitted that his input stops where the field begins. That was a huge mistake.

Modern baseball is all about the manager and the front office working together, to come up with a plan of attack. I watched an interview that Clint Hurdle gave to MLB network a couple of weeks ago. Hurdle was asked about how the Pirates were able to implement front office analytics and goals on the field. When so many organizations have failed. Hurdle stated that he presents the rational and thought process to the players. Then tells the players that’s the way it gonna be.

That is managing. It is the job of a manager to implement organizational goals at the operational level. Once a plan is finalized, the manager implements it. It is the job of the manager to do just that. Matheny does not do this. Matheny listen to his veteran players and defers to them, if they disagree. This has kept the Cardinals from achieving a World Series title, under Matheny.

This will not change, unless Matheny changes. How can the Cardinals make that happen?

For the 2016 season, Matheny needs to delegate in game tactics to his coaches. Let Lilliquist handle the bullpen. Bell make out the lineup. Oquendo set the defense. Let the coaches work with the analytics staff and implement it on the field. La Russa always deferred to Duncan. It’s no big deal.

A manager does not have to be the expert in everything. Delegate that to your staff. It would work. The manager approves the plan. He doesn’t have to come up with the plan. Matheny then could remain as the player’s favorite. Let the staff take the heat when the player has to do something, that they would prefer not to. See Holliday hitting 3rd in the lineup. See Yadi not catching everyday.

For a long term solution. Matheny is going to need a new boss. Mozeliak failed to establish the proper relationship with Matheny and failed to convince Matheny of the merits of analytics. I do not think Mozeliaks’ demeanor will allow him to managed strong willed, assertive, A type personalities. It’s time for Mozeliak to move up on the organizational chart. Mr. Dewitt and Mozeliak need to hire a new GM for the 2017 season.

Later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Strikes: Mariners’ new approach to hitting

The Mariners introduce new general manager Jerry Dipoto on Sept. 29 at Safeco Field.:

Trying to think like a GM, I like to look around the league and keep track of what other GM’s are doing. I’ve long been a fan of Jerry Dipoto. Most people would not think Dipoto is a good GM. Due to Dipoto being the GM of the Angels when they signed the Pujols, Hamilton and Wilson contracts. All really bad deals.

However, I always felt that those deals where owner driven. Arte Moreno was trying to make a big marketing move and turn LA from a Dodgers town, into an Angel’s town. Moreno failed. I never thought Dipoto should be held responsible.

It all boiled over last season. Dipoto had enough of Angels owner Moreno and manager Scioscia old school mentality. Scioscia has the ear of the owner and was operating over his pay grade. To the point of refusing to even pass on front office analytical data to the players. Sound familiar? See Matheny. “We throw most of that stuff in the trash”. Dipoto could not take it anymore, walking away from the team. I admire that.

Seattle jumped on Dipoto and made him GM for 2016.

Tom Verducci writes an interesting article on what Jerry Dipoto is doing in Seattle. Dipoto had a four day “hitting summit” with major league players, minor league players and coaching staff. Presenting hitting information and the proper approach to hitting in the modern game. This is so smart. Think a modern version of the Cardinal Way instruction handbook.

The overriding, self-styled theme of the summit was “Control the Zone.” The Mariners’ instructors talked about concepts such as “getting into good counts,” “being selective but aggressive” and “being in a good position to hit” with “separation on the back side.” But the syllabus also included the key acknowledgement that modern baseball has changed so much that hitters have to learn how to make contact with two strikes. The two-strike approach, which disappeared for a generation, is not just back, but is also once again a fundamental part of winning baseball.

“They heard a lot about a two-strike approach and the value of putting the ball in play,” said first-year Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto.

So began the Mariners’ quest to turn an offense that produced the third-fewest runs in the American League last year into a state-of-the-art attack.

Here’s all you need to know about why hitters must change: Strikeouts are going up and walks are going down. The rate of strikeouts per game has increased 10 consecutive years, hitting record heights in each of the past eight seasons.
Meanwhile, Dipoto was partially correct about the difficulty in getting a walk in today’s game: It’s never been harder since the designated hitter was added in 1973. The per-game rate of walks has been 2.90 or less for two straight years—the first time that’s happened since 1919 and ’20.

What’s the big deal about strikeouts? Don’t they count the same as any other out? A few years ago, for instance, Evan Longoria of the Rays told me he doesn’t bother with a two-strike approach because he wants to use all three swings to hit the ball hard, arguing that he could “just put the ball in play” with a shorter swing with two strikes, but what’s the point if the result is a roll-over grounder to third?

The problem with that thinking is that as strikeouts become more prevalent, putting the ball in play gains value. Did you watch last year’s World Series? Actually, did you watch the past seven World Series? It’s getting harder to get to the Fall Classic with a team that strikes out often. Let’s look at all World Series teams in two seven-year windows—the last seven years and the seven years before that—and see how many of them ranked among the five toughest teams in their league to strike out:

via Three Strikes: Mariners’ new approach to hitting; mock Hall of Fame vote | SI.com.

Why is an organizational approach to hitting important? It is the consistency of message. Mozeliak tries to accomplish this by emphasizing the Cardinal way and hiring coaches/staff that have some connection to the organization. I’m just not sure that is enough.

Everybody’s favorite whipping boy, John Mabry, gets the blame for the Cardinals latest offensive woes. I never thought that was fair. Mabry had great success in 2013, with emphasizing the up the middle approach. But, the league adjusted, with defensive shifts. The Cardinals and Mabry really have not found an adjustment.

Obviously, one size does not fit all when it comes to hitting. I think fans over estimate the impact that a hitting coach can have. They are not like pitching coaches. Pitchers are trained to tinker with and make adjustments. Usually, from one batter to the next. Hitters not so much.

I guess my point is, I’m not really sure how the Cardinals are planning to attack the lack of run scoring for the 2016 season. I’m not sure the organization even has a plan. That is why I like what Jerry Dipoto is doing with the Mariners.

In case you haven’t kept track of the Mariners and why would you? Dipoto has made an incredible 40 player transactions this hot stove season. All without breaking the bank. Dipoto inherited the Cano and Cruz contracts that limits what cash he has to work with.

That is the way to change the culture of an organization and bring about change. This is how a good GM earns their pay. Not by offering $400MM to Heyward and Price. Yes, that was a cheap shot.

The Mariners only won 76 games in 2015. Yet with all the moves, Fangraphs has the projected win total for the Mariners at 84. The same as the Cardinals. All without spending money on making a major free agent deal. Impressive.

The Cardinals would do well to start paying attention and try to steal some of these good ideas.

It would not surprise me if the Mariners are in the race for a wild card spot right up until October and they will finish 2016 in front of the Angels. All because the Mariners hired the right GM and he has a plan.

Later.

 

 

GM’s behaving badly: Looking at the Padres/Kemp deal

This is one of the best articles of ever read about the damage a GM can do to an organization. Nicolas Stellini breaks it all down about the problems with Preller and the Padres.

Trapped in the National League and on a Padres team that plays in a stadium with a large outfield, Kemp hit .263/.312/.443 and launched 23 home runs. He was worth only 0.4 fWAR.

The Padres gave up Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin to get him. Kemp is owed $21.75 million in each of the next four seasons. He was the worst qualified defensive right fielder in all of baseball by both DRS and UZR. Kemp’s body has failed him at age 31. This is the player that A.J. Preller selected to make his team a contender. It’s no surprise that things didn’t work that way.

I’ve written extensively on Preller’s policies in the past. I didn’t buy in when he put the team together, and I advocated blowing the team to smithereens through trades at the start of the winter. Craig Kimbrel is no longer a Padre, and neither is Joaquin Benoit. However the starting rotation remains largely intact, and the main position players acquired in last year’s shopping spree are still in the lineup.

To what end? On paper, the Padres are entirely outclassed by the Diamondbacks, Giants, and Dodgers. Their farm system was restocked through only the additions of Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, and Carlos Asuaje in the Kimbrel trade. They can now hang out with Hunter Renfroe and Colin Rea as the only players of major note in the system and perhaps have a little party of sorts.

Above all else, Kemp still remains. There is perhaps no one player on the Padres more indicative of the devastation caused by Preller than Kemp. He’s expensive and ineffective. He’s almost impossible to trade except to a rich AL team looking for a DH, and even then the Padres would almost have to eat a healthy portion of his salary. He’s a massive disappointment, yet an entirely unsurprising one.

via Matt Kemp: A microcosm of the Padres – Beyond the Box Score.

Thank God, Mozeliak has avoided this kind of disaster. Though he did try to make the mistake with Heyward and Price. There are only a handful of teams that can survive a big money bad contract. Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Rangers, Dodgers can do it. Barely.

The Yankees and the Dodgers have learned their lesson. The Yankee’s have not sign a single free agent this year. They are no longer going after the high dollar free agents. Smart. The Dodgers did try to resign Greinke. But, when that failed to happen, they stayed away from the rest of the big names. Smart. Both clubs still have a 2-3 years before they get rid of some remaining bad contracts.

The Red Sox tried to put in a hard rule about signing older pitchers. Failed. Fired Ben Cherington. Like a drug addiction, went back one more time with David Price. It won’t work. See Ramirez and Sandoval.

The best examples of bad contracts that ruined teams or will hamper what they can do until the contracts expire are the Angels, Phillies, Twins, Reds, Rockies, Mariners, Indians and coming soon the Tigers, Orioles, Brewers, D’Backs, Marlins and Jays.

If you’re keeping score that is 17 teams.

Why would any GM not look at all that and say that’s a good idea?

I think you can break most bad contracts into 5 categories.

  1. Trying to hang on to the club’s star player. The Reds Joey Votto/Brandon Phillips, The Twins Joe Mauer/Justin Morneau. The Dodgers Kemp/Either deals. These contracts seldom work out, due to the fact the club runs out of cash. Keeps a club from putting a competitive team around those players. It takes away the club’s flexibility to make all the minor moves that makes it all work. The big contract consumes too high of a % of the team total payroll. These deals are doomed in the long run.
  2. The GM is trying to save his job. This is the classic desperation move. The Mariners did this with the Robinson Cano contract. The Dodgers had to take Carl Crawford contract, in order to get Adrian Gonzalez from the Red Sox. What is amusing is that the GM still get’s fired and then the club is hampered for years going forward.
  3. Owner involvement. The Yankees, Angels, Tigers and Red Sox all fall into this category. Contracts are done for reasons other than baseball. Usually to bring in a big name to prove that the team is relevant and to build media excitement/television ratings.
  4. Keeping up with the Jones mentality. A rival is making big moves. The club does a bad deal trying to keep up with the competition. The Jays taking on Tulowitzki contract. The Braves signed BJ Upton. The Indians signing Swisher/Bourn. The Brewers signed Matt Garza. Every free agent the White Sox signed last year. The Yankees/Red Sox are always making bad deals in response to what the other has done. (This is what Mozeliak tried to do this year with the Heyward/Price offers.)
  5. This is the year mentality. Trying to hang on to one player. Because you don’t want to subtract from the team. Furthermore, clubs will reach to far on one player, thinking their window of opportunity is closing. The Royals just did this with Gordon and Kennedy. It’s not that these contracts are for outrageous AAV. It’s what tying up payroll that will keep you from making future moves.

I can help. Here are the rules so you don’t end up like one of the 17 teams.

  1. Never make a free agent the highest paid player on the team. It ruins team chemistry and set’s the market price for all your current players looking for a new deal.
  2. Free agents over 30. Never go more than 3 years. Overpay, the AAV to get the deal done.
  3. No free agent get’s more than a 5 year contract. Ever.
  4. Never be a player’s last contract, unless it is for 1 year.
  5. Opt outs are not evil. At the very least it buys you time and it motivates the player to play at a high level.

If you can’t sign the player under those rules. Let someone else make the mistake. Walk away.

So how can teams avoid all this?

Most clubs are now moving to a split decision making team structure. Having a President of Baseball Operations and a General Manager. This prevents one man from destroying an organization.

The Cardinals need to do this. It is time for Mozeliak to move up to President and bring in a new GM. I think former GM Ben Cherington of the Red Sox would be a good fit. Ben built a very good minor league system for the Red Sox. The Cardinals need a fresh point of view.

Mozeliak would level out the highs and lows that Cherington had with the Red Sox. Also, Cherington knows all about Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from their Red Sox days. This would be a huge advantage for the Cardinals in order to keep up the Cubs.

Later.

 

 

 

Has the light finally turned on for Matheny

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers

Brian Stull from Stl Baseball Weekly got a quote from Mike Matheny, talking about the addition of Jedd Gyorko. Pay attention to the last paragraph when Mike is talking about playing time for Jed.

Coming off the bench, Gyorko has hit .300 (6-20) as a pinch-hitter in his career.

“There’s also something to be said about the other end of the spectrum and I believe Jedd is going to provide us good defense,” added Matheny. “But that potential potent bat to be in there on a continuous basis, to where he’s either going to come off the bench or give a guy a rest. I think taking some of that pressure off our other guys, too, realizing, hey, I’m going to take this day, but this guy is pretty good, too. I think we’re going to be covered.”

Where he plays the most remains to be seen, but Gyorko is comfortable “with anywhere on the infield for the most part” and has played in the past at all four spots, although only once at first base.

“Our guys want to play all the time, which is how this game should be,” said Matheny. “But I’m learning to believe, especially with some of our guys who have learned the hard way, that you push too far sometimes and it could have some lingering effects. So how could we possibly take advantage of a day here and there to let a Gyorko come in and stay sharp and produce and what that may mean as dividends later.”

via STL Circled for Gyorko – STL Baseball WeeklySTL Baseball Weekly.

This is the first time that I have seen in print, that Mike is signaling that things might finally change in 2016. I had seen that Mike had reluctantly acknowledge that the team was burned out in 2015, by the time the postseason started.

However, this is the first time I have seen that Mike might make an adjustment to how he manages. I cannot stress how important this little admission could be.

This could be a big deal.

Is Matheny finally recognizing that individual goals and organizational goals will not always matchup? There is going to be conflict at times and Mike as the Manager is the representative of the organization. That means that Matheny will be the bad guy, from the player’s point of view.

So far in Matheny’s tenure he has sided with the veteran player. This makes Matheny popular in the club house. But, will not produce the desired result. It is like a parent that never tells a kid no. The the kid loves you for it. But, you’re creating a monster in the long run. See Molina’s tweet after Cruz got traded.

Maybe, 2016 will finally see growth in Mike’s, development as a Manager. Matheny is a HOF leader. But, still a below average manager. The key to the 2016 season will be Matheny doing a better job managing the club. It has been a long time coming. It is the only thing that will keep the Cardinals competitive with the Cubs, over the next few seasons.

Matheny has to manage the Cardinals, more effectively to make up for the talent advantage, that the Cubs currently have and will continue to have for the next few years.

Later.

Top 100 Prospects list determines everything for 2016

 

Top Prospects: Flaherty, STL:

Despite the recent graduation of several prospects to the Majors, the Cardinals’ farm system is still rich with up-and-coming talent, evidenced by the inclusion of two right-handed pitchers on MLBPipeline’s Top 100 Prospects list for 2016.

That list, which was unveiled during an MLB Network special on Friday, includes both 21-year-old Alex Reyes (No. 13) and 20-year-old Jack Flaherty (No. 80). Neither of the two had been featured in last January’s Top 100 Prospects list, though both did crack the distinguished list midseason in 2015.

Flaherty, drafted out of high school as the 34th-overall pick in the 2014 Draft, went 9-3 with a 2.84 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 31 walks in 18 Class A starts. That helped him move up 20 spots from his place as the 100th-best prospect in MLB Pipeline’s midseason rankings.

Reyes, the third-highest ranked right-handed pitching prospect in the game, had a terrific 2015 season marred only by the ending. Making 13 starts for High-A Palm Beach and another eight with the Double-A Springfield club, Reyes posted a 2.56 ERA, a 13.6 K/9 ratio and 1.21 WHIP over 98 1/3 innings.

Reyes, who signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, was then invited to the Arizona Fall League, a finishing league of sorts for the Minor League’s best. He fared well there, too, until a second positive drug test — triggered, he said, by marijuana — left him with a 50-game suspension. He began serving that suspension in November but will miss an additional six weeks to open the 2016 season.

via Cardinals pitchers land on Top 100 Prospects | MLB.com.

MLB’s top 100 list does point out the main issue facing the Cardinals for the next couple seasons.

The Cubs have 6 players in the top 100.

The Pirates have 5 players in the 100.

The Nationals have 4 players in the top 100.

The Mets have 4 players in the top 100.

What does all this mean? The players that take the field for the Cardinals, will be the players taking the field for the next few years.

There is no help coming.

Which will not be a factor, if all the current young Cardinals can establish themselves as solid above average major league players.

That is why the most important players for the 2016 might just be the bench. Moss, Adams, Gyorko, Diaz and Pham all have to prove they can step in and play everyday in 2017/2018.

They just might have to do just that.

The scenario could play out in a multitude of different plot lines. Holliday is a free agent after the 2016 season, if the Cardinals don’t pick up his option for 2017. Moss is also a free agent after the 2016 season. These 2 factors will determine the Cardinals course of action for the 2017 season.

Moss has to raise his batting average, reduce his strikeouts and still hit 20 plus home runs. I think Mozeliak is really counting on this. The problem is that Moss is a Scott Boras client. The 2017 free agent class is very thin. Let’s assume that Moss puts together a good first half in 2016. Will Boras let Moss sign without going to free agency? Doubtful. Moss has stated he wants to be a Cardinal. Time will tell. Heyward said the same thing.

So does that mean Matt Adams takes a back seat to Moss. Absolutely not. Matt must be given the opportunity to become the everyday first baseman. If for no other reason than Moss’s contract status. If both Adams and Moss have bounce back seasons and Moss signs an extension. Moss could replace Holliday in LF for 2017.

That brings us to Holliday. If Matt has a bounce back season, no worries. The Cardinals pick up his option for 2017. I just don’t see that happening. Especially, with Matt’s comments over the offseason. Matt is convinced his bat speed has not slowed down. Matt is 36 years old. His bat speed is has slowed down.

There lies the problem. Matt has not made an adjustment to change his swing, in order to try and retain his power numbers. It comes down to this. Do the Cardinals need a LF that is a liability defensively, slugging .400, with a .400 on base, hitting 3rd in the lineup, making $17MM per year? The answer is no.

That brings us to Tommy Pham. If Holliday and Moss fail to bounce back. No worries. If Tommy Pham hits .290, has 10-15 home runs, keeps his OBP above .350. Who cares if Holliday and Moss bounce back. Tommy takes over in center and Grichuk moves to left. Charlie Tilson comes up as the 4th outfielder. It’s all good.

Next up Gyorko and Diaz. Jhonny Peralta turns 34 in 2016. Jhonny faded badly in the 2nd half of the 2015 season. The days of playing 150 games may be over. That means Gyorko or Diaz has to prove they can fill in at a high level, with an eye on being the starter for the 2018 season. Something to keep an eye on.

All these issue’s take on great importance, because the Cardinals don’t have any position players in the minors for the next couple years.

That is why the top 100 list matters.

More notes on the top 100. The Phillies have 7 of the top 100 due to the Hamels trade. If the Rangers would not made that deal. The Rangers would have had 8 top 100 this year.

Traded to Philly for Hamels/Diekman

  1. Jake Thompson (RHP)
  2. Nick Williams (OF)
  3. Jorge Alfaro (C)

Cardinals need to look into what the hell the Rangers are doing with the scouting and player development staff. That is impressive.

Finally Jonathan Mayo from MLB.com wraps up organizational strength by coming up with a prospect points system.

With that caveat, we use a weighted scoring system to determine which system has the most elite talent, awarding 100 points to the team with the No. 1 prospect, 99 to No. 2 and so on. It turns out the team with the most prospects on the list does not rank atop the “prospect points” standings.

Prospect Points
Team Top 100 Points
Rangers 5 353
Rockies 6 325
Dodgers 5 319
Red Sox 4 316
Braves 5 302
Twins 6 293
Pirates 5 274
Brewers 5 266
Astros 5 253
Nationals 4 249

Texas takes ‘prospect points’ title

The Rangers carry the banner with 353 points, largely because three of their top five — Joey Gallo, Lews Brinson andNomar Mazara — rank in the Top 20, while new draftee Dillon Tate is in the Top 50. The Rockies are next with 325 points, and the Dodgers come in third (319). The Red Sox are fourth (316), and the Braves (302) round out the top five.

If recent seasons are any indicator, prospect points tell us quite a lot in terms of future success. Among last year’s 10 playoff teams, seven of them ranked in the top nine in prospect points entering the season. Six of ’14’s top eight teams — in terms of prospect points — reached the postseason.

The logic is simple enough: Good prospects translate into good players, and good players boost a team’s playoff chances. With that in mind, the Rangers, Rockies and Dodgers appear to be in good hands going forward.

Trying to think like General Manager can lead to a severe case of doom and gloom. This is why I am an advocate for Mozeliak, to break the bank on international signings this year. There is a lot of work to be done.

Later.      

 

 

Organizational review Giants

Giants Depth:

It’s an even year. So, we should just hand the World Series title to the Giants now. No real reason to do any analysis. And truthfully it would not surprise me, if the Giants do it again in 2016.

I have always felt that Vice President of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean was overrated. I have not read anything that would suggest that GM Bobby Evans, who moved up in the organization and took over in 2015. Is anything special. As far as I can tell the Giants front office and field staff are old school.

The best example of why of Sabean gets no respect from me, is the Pablo Sandoval negotiations in 2015. The Panda was a fan favorite and postseason hero. But, in the regular season a total knucklehead and problem child.

Weight issues and mailing in games. Sabean had correctly determined that the Panda did not merit a big money, long-term deal. Then at the last minute the Giants jumped back into the negotiations and outbid the Red Sox. The Panda took less money and went to the Red Sox. Because, they had no weight requirements in the contract.

The Red Sox finished last in the division. Ben Cherington gets fired. The Panda failed to live up to the contract. Sabean got lucky. What is unforgivable to me from an organizational aspect, is that the Giants, by default promote Matt Duffy to the majors. All Duffy did was turn in a 4 WAR performance in his rookie season. Sabean can’t even evaluate his own players correctly.

Sabean went through a similar process with Joe Panik at second and Brandon Belt at first. The Giants were a better team by Sabean failing to do what the plan was. This is not what an organization aspires to be. Failing to execute the plan and the team benefits.

So, how have the Giants won 3 out of the last 6 WS titles?

They have a stadium full of dot.com millionaires and Bruce Bochy.

The Giants have the money to always stay competitive and once Bochy get’s into the postseason, he is so good at in game tactics. I would never bet against him. See bringing in Bumgarner as a reliever, in 2014 game 7. No other manager in baseball would have had the guts to pull off that move.

Fangraphs has the Giants win total at 86 games. That is 2 games better than the Cardinals at 84.  The Giants have a team cumulative WAR of 41. The Cardinals cumulative WAR is also 41. The 2 teams really are that close.

The Giants as an organization are nothing to fear. They currently have 1 prospect in the top 100. I never see any articles about what the Giants are trying to accomplish in player development, use of sabermetrics. Nothing special.

The Giants won 84 games in 2015. The Cardinals won 100 in 2015. No worries right?

The Giants 2016 season all comes down to, how much do you believe in Cueto and Samardzija? The Giants rotation is Bumgarner and a bunch of question marks.

Cueto is a very talented, knucklehead. Cueto likes to Instagram photos of himself sleeping on the couch. Cueto is the last guy you would want to give a $130MM contract. The question is, when will the Cueto contract turn into a disaster?

Cueto had trouble adjusting after being traded to the Royals in 2015. Going 4-7 with a 4.76 ERA. Will he have the same problem in San Fran? I’m hoping for one of those puts too much pressure on himself, after signing the big contract type season.

Samardzija is the most overrated pitcher in the history of analytics. This guy is Edwin Jackson all over again. All the numbers point to that at any time he will turn into a top of the rotation guy. But, it never happens. The Giants just paid $90MM for a back of the rotation guy.

The Cardinals will benefit from the DBacks going all in this year. At least the West and the Central each have 3 teams trying to win.

Having said all that, if Cueto does produce at close to a #2 level and Samardzija comes close to being a #3. And Cain can bounce back season and perform at a #3 level. The Giants will have enough to be right in the mix, for a wild card in September.

With the Cubs being favored to the Central in 2016. Cardinal fans will be in an unusual position of having to determine, who do you want to play in the wild card game?

The answer is…. Anyone but the Giants.

Bruce Bochy against Mike Matheny is a matchup, that Matheny will lose every time. Can’t say it more clearly than that.

Later.

 

 

 

 

 

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