via 10 Years of Team Performance, 10 Years of Team Projections | FanGraphs Baseball.
If you’re like me and really starting to worry about the Cubs. Take heart. Fangraphs posted this a few days ago, about the Cubs being one of the worst teams when it comes to underachieving. The Cubs never quite measure up to expectations.
Here is hoping this trend continues.
Notice the Cardinals are one of the best at exceeding expectations.
Of the 8 players listed by Cardinals Farm, I think the only player to be on the opening day roster is Ty Kelly. Kelly was acquired via trade with Seattle, to back-up Kolton Wong. Dean Anna may be the one player who can keep that from happening. Anna can play both short and 2nd, with Kozma being out of options, I think the Cards will keep Kozma on the major league roster. So, Anna could be Wong’s back-up until and if Kozma plays himself off the club. Anna has a major league contract, that could keep him on the roster. But, Kelly has some pop in his bat. The Cards seemed to be leaning towards a bench with more pop. Only time will tell.
The player I am hoping plays himself onto the roster is Ed Easley AAA catcher. I just think it is time to move on from Cruz. Yadi is not getting younger, needs to take time off during the season. However, the drop-off in performance, makes the club reluctant to give Cruz a start. Easley can at least hit around a .300 clip.
The rest of the list, will see the majors, only in case of trade or injury.
Which brings us to the point of this post. While the Cardinals have a good number of young players on the roster, it is going to be hard for a rookie to break into the majors. This is a problem. It just seems that in order to win a World Series title, the majority of teams get a key contribution from a rookie. Think Joe Panik with the Giants.
The Cards really don’t have room for a rookie this year. However, I think it is a key ingredient in making a World Series champ. I think clubs need a rookie’s mojo. Older players need the excitement that rookie’s bring.
How often do you hear older players say act like a professional? Being a professional is necessary to even out the highs and lows of a long season. However, I think the high of being a rookie, in the majors, is what wins a World Series.
Peralta expects to be even better in second year with Cardinals | St. Louis Cardinals | News Democrat
No question, that Peralta solved the problem for the Cards at short. However, I still can’t bring myself to root for him. I never liked it when Mozeliak answered the questions about signing a PED violator with the snarky comment, ” We are not the morality police.” If not the GM, who then?
To be fair to Peralta, I never got caught up in the Big Mac hype. It wasn’t real. The question for me, was Peralta’s performance last year, the real thing? Hope so. Never really heard what type of PED he used. Would like to start believing what I see on the field. Which was very good, as the article points out. Peralta did make MLB network Top Ten List, based on the numbers he put up last year.
Is it time to forgive and forget? Maybe.
Think I will start with a polite golf clap.
Several aces may need to adjust to a low zone loss. | SportsonEarth.com : Anthony Castrovince Article
via Several aces may need to adjust to a low zone loss. | SportsonEarth.com : Anthony Castrovince Article.
Very interesting read on the low strike. The article points out that one study estimates that the low strike is accounting for 30% of the decrease in run scoring over the last 5 years. What is confusing, I remember reading that when they put in the old Questec system (now Zone Evaluation) they gave the Umpires the width of a baseball error margin. They did this so the Umpires would not be judge so harshly. So isn’t this low strike just a training issue? Take out the error margin and the strike zone will be redefined, back to where it should be. It is not a committee issue. It is a training issue.
Rob Manfred continues to express a willingness to keep an open mind when it come to making changes to the game. Good. It is long overdue. Brainstorming is something that most good organizations do on a regular basis. Toss out any idea and see what happens. It could lead to something big.
The Marlins just did a little brainstorming and they bought a airplane. What? This ties into Manfred’s not dismissing shortening the number of games in the regular season. It is all about the grind. So, the Marlins bought a airplane and had it converted to first class accommodations for the entire plane. Now the players have enough room to stretch out and be comfortable. Less of a grind. The NBA teams did this decades ago. It makes a difference. It is a good idea. The Cardinals need to do the same.
If the Marlins win a couple more games on the road this year, because they are less tired, the plane pays for itself. Considering the free agent cost is now over $6 million for each one WAR value. A 2 WAR player is going to cost about $12 million per year. The plane is a good investment.
This bring us back to Adam Wainwright. Before, Waino had to leave camp for pain in his tummy, he showed some leadership and came up with the idea that it would be great to have all the starting pitchers come to work at 6:30 am. Show some spirit, get in early and go to work. Lackey was the only one to say hold on and is showing up at 7:00. While you applaud the leadership, it is a bad idea. Because baseball is about the grind. Matheny needs to step in and be the voice of reason. Because it is about the grind.
Waino also has the stated goal of leading the league in the innings. Applaud the leadership. But, it is a bad idea. Waino goal should be to be at 100% for the post-season. Think San Antonio Spurs. They do it correctly. Matheny needs to step in and try to change the perception. It should be about playoffs.
The Moncada signing by the Red Sox, brings up a few issues. What happened to the Yankees? It is reported that they offered $27 million. If you offer that much, why not make sure win the bid? It made more sense for the Yankees to sign this wonder kid, than the Red Sox. Strange.
The other issue is one of fairness. How can a 19-year-old international player walk away with $31.5 guaranteed? When a USA high school kid is slotted in the draft and has to take what the budget allotment for that pick.
MLB needs to make the penalty for violating your teams budget, needs to be increased from 100% to 500% to make sure this never happens again.
It’s just not fair to the U.S. players.
The article points out that the Matt Carpenter contract falls on the list almost by default. Carpenter has 5 years left at $50 million. The problem for Matt is what I call a structural defect. Because of his lack of power, he lost value when he moved over to 3b, to make room for Kolton at 2b. Combine that with the Cardinals leaving him in the lead-off spot in the lineup and you have the structural defect. A 3rd baseman that has to put on base percentage ahead of slugging percentage. It will continue to be an issue. Patrick Wisdom is the only real 3rd base prospect in the minors and he is still in A ball. If Wisdom can make it to the majors in a couple of years, that will move Carpenter to a super utility spot. That is where the Carpenter contract becomes a problem. The last 2 years of Carpenters contract is at $13.5 million and $14.5 million.
That is why somebody needs to step-up and take the lead-off spot away from Carpenter. The Cardinals need to let Carpenter develop his slugging percentage. While Carpenter will never be a slugger, Matt proved in the post-season, he can do more.
Originally posted on Phalse Philly Sports:
Pitcher Cole Hamels knew he wasn’t going to win with the Phillies this year. Thanks to some whining and pictures of Ruben Amaro Jr. with another man in his mouth, Hamels was able to convince the team to trade him.
Instead of being sent to another baseball team, Hamels was traded for death row inmate Alexander Alvarez. Alvarez was sentenced to death for several murders in 2007 and was set for execution this summer before the trade.
Now a free man and the Phillies’ ace by default, Alvarez was “thankful” and “ready to get some vengeance on those pig fucks who locked me up.”
Instead of another season of amazing pitching and no run support to back him, Hamels will be killed sometime before the all-star game.
He’s pretty happy about it too as living any longer would have probably led to Hamels taking hostages and the unnecessary deaths of…
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Now that Spring Training is underway. The annual General Manager hibernation starts. They all retreat to their offices and don’t make another appearance until they see their shadow six weeks before the August trade deadline. I have never quite understood the phenomenon.
Of all the sports, baseball is the one sport, where a player can be added at anytime and not effect the team performance. Football and Basketball is all about playing as a unit. It takes practice and playing together to pull that off. But, in baseball not so much.
Yet, when Spring Training starts, it is rare to see a trade pulled off. Why is that? One of the great mysteries of the universe. If this holds true, it leaves teams with some questions to answer.
Dodgers and Nationals. Have you really pushed all your chips into the pot and let it ride on those bullpens? If so, might want to buy a lottery ticket. Because, the odds of those arms getting you to the World Series, is the same as winning the Powerball.
Royals. You squeaked into the post-season last year and went on an incredible run. But, you squeaked in and have a much weaker team this year. Are you really going to hold onto Wade Davis and let him walk at the end of the year? The bullpen can’t save games, if you’re always behind.
Boston. Everyone agrees that you need a top of the rotation starting pitcher. Really? What about Masterson as your # 5. Did you see him with the Indians and the Cardinals? You spent all that money on Sandoval and Ramirez. Good luck with that. Classic Yankees move. What you really need is pitching.
Braves. You are in a quick rebuild. Yet, you’re holding on to Craig Kimbrel, who if traded could bring back 2 or 3 top end prospects. Makes no sense. You’re not going to need Kimbrel for a couple of years. Seems like a waste to have a top 3 closer on a team that will finish 15 games out of the post season.
Cardinals. Are we really going to do Cruz as the backup to Yadi, again? Because, it worked so well last year? Are we really going to hang on to Choate. Only to see him run out of gas, once again, in August?
This all seems like unfinished business to me. Maybe, these GM’s might not want to go into hibernation, just yet.
On MLB Tonight yesterday, J.J. Cooper from Baseball America stated, that the Cubs 2015 prospect list was not only good, but historically good. They compared it to the 2006 Diamondback prospect list. That consisted of the following players:
- Justin Upton
- Stephen Drew
- Conor Jackson
- Carlos Quentin
- Chris Young
- Carlos Gonzales
The Cubs 2015 prospects top 5 prospects:
- Bryant 3B
- Russell SS
- Soler OF
- Schwarder C/OF
- Edwards RHP
The Cubs have been focusing on accumulating power bats, in their draft over the last few years. It seems to be paying off. It will be interesting to see if the Cubs can continue the nice run they have been on and continue to make solid trades, once they become competitive again.
It is time to start seriously hating on the Cubs.
Originally posted on Justice4U:
They do things right. That’s not just winning baseball game, either. Obviously, that’s where it starts. In the last four seasons, the Cardinals have won 396 of those, postseason included. That’s 13 more than any other team in baseball, 29 more than any other National League team.
In the last 15 seasons, the Cardinals have been to the postseason 11 times. In that time, they’ve won six division championships, four NL pennants and two World Series. When the Cardinals and Giants played in the NLCS for the second time in three years last fall, it was a matchup of two franchises that might be the gold standard for all of baseball.
In terms of the ballpark experience and community involvement and creativity and innovation, the Cardinals take a backseat to no franchise in professional sports. That attitude begins with the owner, Bill DeWitt, Jr., but it permeates an entire…
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Originally posted on The Cleat Report:
All hail the Chicago Cubs! They have a new manager, Joe Maddon, and an army of young players thirsty for a winning season.
The team also now employs pitcher Jon Lester who happened to be one of the most coveted free agents this offseason. The star pitcher signed with the Cubs in hopes that they’d turn things around from the way it has been on the Northside in recent seasons.
Although there’s a lot to be excited about, I predict Lester finishes with a below .500 record.
Yikes! What a terrible prediction for Cubs fans everywhere. Lester was supposed to go 34-0 with an ERA under 1.00.
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
I’m not saying by any means Lester will have a bad year. In fact, I see him pitching very well. Instead I’m imagining a scenario where Lester gets very little run-support and suffers in the win column because of…
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With camp getting underway, one of the things that I will be keeping eye on, is how much of a chance Anna and Kelly get to make the major league roster. Why is this important? If they get an honest shot, it will signal that the organization is really making a shift in its philosophy when it comes to the type of bench player it looks for.
The one area that Mozeliak failed in a big way is in signing/trading for mid-thirty something veterans to short-term contracts. The list of failures is impressive. Adam Kennedy, Ryan Theriot, Rafael Furcal, Mark DeRosa, Nick Punto, Ty Wigginton and last years one year wonder, Mark Ellis.
Mozeliak loves to cover his bets. He frequently brings in veteran players to accomplish this. The signing of Anna and Kelly was a departure from Mozeliak’s standard procedure. They are both 27/28 year olds that are AAA players that just have almost no big league experience. Anna had like 25 games with the Yankees last year. What I like is the mindset. It makes more sense that an older AAA would be ecstatic at being on the bench. Contrast that with a veteran who is complaining about not getting enough playing time to make his numbers and get another contract.
It just makes more sense that now that older players can no longer rely on testosterone, growth hormone, steroids and amphetamines to keep them young. Going with actual younger players makes more sense. I like the thought process. It is time for GM’s to deal with the reality of PED free baseball. Younger will always be better in today’s game.
It will be hard for both Anna and Kelly to both make the opening day roster. Due to Pete Kozma being out of options. I think Mozeliak feels that Kozma has trade value, because of his defensive abilities and will give Pete first shot at obtaining a seat on the bench.
What I hope is that Anna and Kelly will also be given that extra opportunity. I think it would a huge plus to the organization, if this works. Then Mozeliak could take all that wasted millions and spend it on international prospects. If you’re going to take a flyer of $2-$5 million take it on youth, instead of the veteran bench player.
Cardinals come in at # 13. Names to watch going forward: Stephen Piscotty, Alexander Reyes, Rob Kaminsky, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly.
The major issue: After Piscotty hits the majors, it will be a couple of lean years, before another position player makes an impact for the Cardinals.
Why is this important? Cubs at # 1. Dodgers at # 3. Pirates at # 8. Nats at # 11.
All the Cardinals major competitors, are loaded.
Tom Verducci’s breakdown of the upcoming season this way:
Postseason locks: Nationals, Dodgers
No postseason shot: Phillies, Twins. Rockies, Diamondbacks.
Chance to win 88 games: The other 24 teams.
Time to take a look around at the league. Try to figure out what teams that the Cardinals will have to contend with, have done and still need to do.
Washington Nationals: The story line for the Nats is the signing of Max Scherzer and paying for the deal over 14 years. Imagine that, paying a player for 7 years after he is no longer on your team. The media loved this deal. For me, it makes no sense, unless Rizzo makes some more moves. The Nats have 2 members of the rotation in their walk years, Zimmermann and Fister. Both are very good and can be tendered at the end of the year. So, they will return a compensation pick if they are not re-signed. However, adding Scherzer with that contract, only makes sense if you trade one of them, to pick up top prospects. The catch 22 is, what team will make that trade for a player in a walk year? They won’t. Does that mean the Nats trade Strasburg? Strasburg has 2 years of control remaining. Will the Nats be so bold? I don’t think so, but they should. Because the Nats also have Ian Desmond and Denard Span in their walk years. How did Rizzo let this happen? The Nats could lose 4 starting players off the roster in one year. Not smart. I think the reason for the Nats finding themselves in this predicament is due to the “this year is the year” mentality. When your GM falls into this line of thinking, it is never good. Combine all that with the fact the Nats, don’t have a strong bullpen. They could end up giving away games because they cannot close them out and bullpens are more valuable in the post season. See Royals.
For the Cardinals what does this mean? In my opinion the, Nats will try to hold onto everybody and will lose early in the playoffs, once again.
Los Angeles Dodgers: The story line for the Dodgers is all about the wonder kids taking over the front office. Andre Friedman and Farhan Zaidi moved in and just went crazy. They started strong by letting Hanley Ramirez walk out the door. Most big money teams would not do this. Good move. Then they started acting like rappers in a strip club. Trading Gordon, Haren and Kemp and paying $43 million to move them. Bringing in Kendrick and Rollins on one year rentals. Apparently in a “go for it” trade. However, then the wonder kids signed McCarthy and Anderson to be the 4th and 5th starters on the club. Not exactly a “go for it” moves. Both have serious issues. Risky, if you’re planning on winning it all. Especially, when Greinke has an opt out in his contract at the end of this year. In my opinion the Dodgers would have been better off by standing firm and trading for a solid # 3 pitcher in a walk year.
For the Cardinals what does all this mean? If McCarthy and Anderson suck. The Dodgers could find themselves in a division race with the Padres, if all the Padres’ moves work. Then, it is a whole new ballgame, who knows how it could all turn out.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The story line for the Pirates is all about do they have enough pitching? The answer is no. For some reason the Pirates let Edinson Volquez, after a career year, sign a 2 year deal with the Royals. For a team in need of pitching letting a 13 win starter sign with another team for only 2 years, must drive Pirate fan base crazy. Any proven starter that a team can sign for 2 years is a good deal. Combine this with the loss of catcher Russell Martin, the guy who made it all work, the Pirates could be in real trouble. Think losing Yadi. Now you can’t fault the Pirates for letting Martin walk. The Blue Jays signed him to a bad $82 million 5 year deal. Martin is 32 years old. It will not end well. What must be maddening for the Pirate fans is that the club did not do anything to make up for the loss. The Pirates are still being run like a team that has not made the playoffs for the last two years. What are they doing with all the extra revenue? Not spending it on bring in players and the Pirates best pitching prospect will not be ready this year. What is incredible the Pirates have a really good team and could make a serious run at a World Series, if they could find a top of the rotation pitcher. PECOTA thinks so little of their pitching that they have them at only 80 wins. This is with the best outfield in baseball and top ten position players all over the infield. Why the Pirates don’t do a trade with the Mets to get pitching and give up a young shortstop is a mystery.
What does this mean for the Cardinals? We are lucky the Pirates have a cheap owner. Because if they find some top of the rotation pitching they would have a lock on the division for years to come. They are that good.
Chicago Cubs: The story line for the Cubs is that they had a good off season and did not do anything stupid. They brought in Lester. That gives them a # 1 starter. Now all they need, is time to let all the young position players gain experience. Next year has a large number of top end free agent pitchers, hitting the market. Look for the Cubs to sign one. If their young position players are as good as the rankings, the Cubs will be division favorites for years to come.
What does this mean for the Cardinals? This might be the last year the Cards can feel that making the playoffs is a lock.
San Diego Padres: The story line for the Padres is that they won the off-season. Congratulations. Remember, when the Jays won a couple years back, by taking all the newly signed free agent players, from the Marlins. (The team that had won the off-season the year before.) Did the Jays end up winning anything once the season started? No and the Marlins this year have 2 starting pitchers and a starting shortstop from that deal. Who is winning now? What A.J. Preller did was out of the old school Walt Jockety GM handbook. Preller traded away 10 of his top 20 prospects to bring in Kemp, Upton, Myers and Middlebrooks. That is old school. Upton is a one year rental. Kemp won’t hold up. Myers will prove there is a reason why a can’t miss player has been traded twice. The only risk worth taken will end up being Middlebrooks. Preller has made the worst mistake of a GM, not understanding what you are and what are the limitations that you must operate under. Big mistake.
What does this mean for the Cardinals? The Padres might make take a wild card. But, are no real threat for the long-term.
Summation: The Cards are looking good for 2015. The only major real need for the club, is finding an upgrade for Cruz, to back-up Molina.
This is why Matt makes me crazy. Keep the front foot down and Matt would hit over 30 home runs.
Originally posted on USA Today Fantasy Sports:
A useful tool for any fantasy baseball player is the Home Run Tracker on ESPN.com. It examines the true distance of each home run hit in the majors in a given year.
In their Average True Distance rating, you may be surprised at who came in at No. 1 for 2014: St. Louis Cardinals outfielder [autotag]Matt Holliday[/autotag], at 418.3 feet per home run. Only in three times leaving the yard did he fail to clear 400 feet.
He was long chastised as a beneficiary of Coors Field early in his career. He hasn’t topped 28 homers in a season since 2009, but last year he experienced a small fly-ball uptick and smacked 13 of his 20 round-trippers at typically pitcher-boosting Busch Stadium.
More interesting is that 14 of his homers came in the second half, during…
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Diaz was one of the few Cubans who saw his market disappear once teams worked him out. The Cardinals signed him for $8 million over 4 years.
Diaz had not played baseball in over a year, do to his defection from Cuba. Spent more time being hurt, than playing last year, due to the layoff.
Mozeliak front loaded Peralta’s contract, you would think to make it more tradable, over the last 2 years. That can only happen if somebody steps up.
So, put Diaz in the group with Kozma, Anna and Garcia. All of them have not produced enough, to be given an opportunity to play everyday. However, if anyone of them can produce over a relatively short period of time, they might get a chance to backup Peralta.
Trying to play General Manager, I like to look at what the organization should be doing to produce a winning team. Today, it is time to look maximizing a teams player depth. This is something very few teams do well. Balancing the short-term needs, against making sure that the organization has enough depth to remain competitive in future years. The reason most General Managers don’t do this very well is simple. It risky. Because, in order to do it well, in the short-term, on paper, your team will be weaker.
The Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is one of the few, that has the guts to make such a deal. This off-season he traded Howie Kendrick (4.6 WAR 2014) for a high-end pitching prospect Andrew Heaney. The Angels are certainly a favorite in the American League to win it all, this year. Giving up Kendrick made the Angels a weaker team. What most General Managers would have done, is let Kendrick play out the year. Then tender him a one year offer, Kenrick turns it down, the Angels get a compensation pick. The difference for the Angels, cut the development time of a first round talent, from four years, to under two years. Brilliant.
What makes this move so unusual, is that the Angels won 97 games last year. Good teams don’t make this type of move. What most GMs’ do is “go for it.” The GM does everything to try to keep the band together. Signing older players to bad contracts, trade away prospects to bring in one more player, that will put them over the top. See Phillies.
It’s easy for GMs’ to trade good players for prospects when your team is bad. See Astros. See Braves. It’s rare to do this when your team is good. Dipoto also made a trade for 3rd baseman Kyle Kubitza from the Braves. The replacement for David Freese after this year. They gave up high-end prospect LHP Ricardo Sanchez to get him. Trading Kendrick and Sanchez, the Angels have their future 3rd baseman and a top end of the rotation pitcher that will be in the majors in less than 2 years. That’s being a good GM. Now that Arte Moreno has backed away from meddling with the team after the bad deals for Pujols and Hamilton, Jerry Dipoto has done an excellent job over the last few years. Nobody in the media is ranking the Angels as having a great hot stove season. But they should.
Now let’s bring this home to talk about the Cardinals. Moves that Mozeliak should make. The Cardinals have a shortage of position players in the minors that could become starters in the majors, for the next couple years. Right now the Cardinals have three center fielders on the 25 man roster. Somebody needs to go for a high-end position player prospect. It would be risky, because it you don’t know which one is going to win the starting center field job.
The next move is even riskier. Garcia/Lackey should go before the All-Star break. The club has Cooney, Lyons, Gast and Gonzales to take their spots. The Cardinals need AA position prospects to fill the gap for the next couple years. This might bring the Cards a couple good ones. Why is this critical. The Dodgers, Pirates and Cubs are loaded with prospects that will hit the majors over the next couple years. The Cards need to keep up. The problem is that this may be the last year for the Cards to “go for it” and win the World Series.
My point is don’t “go for it.” Trust the younger players and make your team better for the next couple years. The Cubs and the Pirates are both on the up swing for the next 3-5 years. The Cardinals need to keep up. If we don’t, the Cardinals will be in the same position that the Brewers and the Reds will be in after this year. Blow it all up and start over. Not a good spot to be in. The Cards have been on a remarkable run for over a decade. Let’s keep it going.
John Mozeliak on MLB Now yesterday, asked which minor league player might make an impact for the Cardinals for 2015 named Tim Cooney LHP, Stephen Piscotty OF and Mitchell Harris RHP.
Mitchell Harris is the Navy man that pitched in 3 levels of the minors last season ending up at AAA for 1 game. The majority of his time at AA. MItchell pitched 43 innings, had a ERA of 3.98, WHIP of 1.168, racking up 34 SO. It appears that Mozeliak is going to make sure Harris gets a shot in the bullpen sometime this year. Because Harris had to complete his Naval service time, he is already 29 years old. So it makes sense to see what he can do, before he gets much older.
Tim Cooney started 25 games in AAA last year. Had a 14-6 record, ERA 3.46, WHIP 1.297, 119 SO in 158 innings. The consensus is that Cooney has nothing left to prove at AAA. I just can’t figure out how Cooney is going to find a spot on the roster. I thought maybe he would be a long man out of the bullpen, then the Mozeliak signed Carlos Villanueva to a minor league deal as a swing man.
Stephen Piscotty is the Cards #1 prospect at this point in time. I do not see him helping until September. Grichuk is blocking the way. Grichuk has more power and can play center field, Piscotty does not.
Summing up. No game changers this year.
Jon gets a $1.25 million signing bonus, $3.5 million for next year and $6.225 million salary for 2016.
Good for Jon.
What this does signal is that Mozeliak has not bought out any free agent years on his last 2 deals. Lynn and Jay. This is a shift in policy. Remember, Mozeliak got burn on buying out years with Garcia, Motte and Craig.
Interesting. Could be brilliant or leave the fans watching Lynn and Jay walk away.
I believe what it does show, is that both will be traded, as soon as a replacement is ready.
James Shields is heading to the Padres. Four years, just under $80 million. Shields is a good signing for a club with a lot of young pitching like the Padres. However, Shields is 33 years old. In a couple of years, the Padres could be stuck paying a #4 or #5 starter $20 million a year. For a lower revenue team, this could be a club killer. Combine this, with the uncertainty of the long-term health of Kemp, these moves by the Padres could look good in the short-term and be a disaster in a few years. Risky.
What does this mean for the Cards? Better win the division. Shields was a 3.3 WAR player, last year. PECOTA had the Padres at 83 wins before Shields. This would move them up to 86 wins, past the Giants at 84 wins. This puts the Padres in the running for the first wild card.
The Padres also have the advantage that the D-backs and the Rockies have the potential of being the worst teams in baseball. The Cards in the Central don’t have that advantage. No doormats this year. I think for the Cards it will be a struggle to get to 90 wins this year in the division.
Better win the division. The wild card just got harder.
Zips comparison of the teams that will be giving the Cardinals the most trouble for 2015. Total expected WAR numbers for each grouping of players.
Team Starters Bullpen Position Players
Cardinals 17 3 25
Nationals 20 3 23
Dodgers 17 2 27
Giants 8 2 23
Pirates 10 3 24
Cubs 13 3 18
Padres 10 2 19
Just what you thought before the numbers. It looks like it will be between the expected division winners, to determine who gets to play in the World Series. This is why Mozeliak always worries about what the team looks like in August. It will once again come down to who ever plays better in the post-season.
With Spring Training around the corner, the prediction articles will be coming out. Most will be naming the Nationals as the favorites to be in the World Series. You really can’t argue with the logic. However, I will.
The Nationals traded away reliever Tyler Clippard for 2nd baseman Yunel Escobar. The Nationals then signed Casey Janssen to replace Clippard. Over the last 6 years Clippard has finished 17th in WAR accumulation over that time frame, among all relievers. Clippard appeared in 412 games, striking out over 10 per nine innings and posting a 2.54 ERA. Very impressive.
The Royals showed everyone in baseball what can be accomplished with a great bullpen last year. The Nationals are betting that they won’t need that. Risky. The Nationals lost all 3 games to the Giants in the post-season last year after the 7th inning or later. They seemed to have forgotten that fact. Would the Nationals be more of a World Series threat if they spent money in the bullpen, instead of Sherzer? I think so.
Escobar is now on his 5th team. A team never knows what they are going to get. That can’t be ignored. Risky. Werth just did 5 days in jail. Harper has yet to live up to the hype. Fister, Span, Desmond and Zimmermann will all be free agents after this year. The Nationals are gambling that all will produce at a high level in their walk year. Not everybody does. Risky.
You could argue that the Nationals should have won in the World Series in 2011 and 2014. What makes this year any different?
The Nationals just don’t have the “it” quality to win in the post-season.
Really good article reviewing all the Mozeliak trades going back to 2007. Ahh the memories.
Mike Matheny’s Failproof Tips for Becoming the Most Hardass Little League Coach Ever | Riverfront Times
Good insight into the philosophy of Matheny. The things that make him a good little league coach and Dad are exactly the things will hold him back from being a great manager.
Wow, the Cards land the Orioles #10 prospect for cash only. That is never a bad deal and Ohlman is already in AA. The Cards are short on position players in the minors, that can make an impact in the majors over the next couple of years. Good move by Mozeliak.
I find it interesting that this report come from Shelby himself. Acknowledging that he had been a stubborn pitcher, in refusing to accept coaching and make adjustments.
In fairness to Shelby I think he was referring to earlier on in his career. Last year, Shelby had changed his grip on his sinker, thanks to Masterson and his results improved. Miller did after all, make the post-season roster, so there was improvement.
The article , once again, talks about the Cardinal way of doing things. What I worry about, is that the Cardinal way must allow for a few knuckleheads. High end talent, often come with high-end issues. Not everyone is Yadi when it comes to doing their job. Mozeliak traded away Miller. High end talent. High end issues.
Mozeliak has traded away Joe Kelly. Joe’s biggest weapon was his personality. Joe recently made headlines by proclaiming he was going to win the Cy Young award this year in the American League. Tongue in cheek. I’m sure the Boston brass noticed. It will be interesting to see how they handle it.
A while back, I was reading about the house cleaning in Arizona. Everybody got fired and they brought in La Russa to begin the rebuild. What I didn’t know was how well the Diamondbacks had drafted and developed over the past decade. The only problem was, that they were all playing for other clubs. The Diamondbacks had become obsessed with having the “right kind” of player and traded them all away. Not smart.
Any good organization has its core values and it’s success is due to get the majority to buying in. However, in the best organizations, there is enough flexibility to allow for high achieving individuals. Something that the Cardinals must keep sight of. With Miller and Kelly gone, that leaves Martinez as the last big talent, big personality left on the team. I hope the organization can find the flexibility to make it work.
The Cardinals need a #1 starter to replace Wainwright. It might turn out to be Lynn or Wacha. But, it might be Martinez. It might have been Miller or Kelly. Hope not. The trick in any organization is making room for the high achieving problem child, without letting them taking over the group. If this happens, you end up, having fried chicken in the club house.
La Russa was always good on identifying the problem with a player. See Rasmus. However, he rarely came up with the solution. A good organization that can find a way to make it all work. Right now, the Cardinals are trading the issues away. Figure out a way to make it all work. This is what I hope Mozeliak and Matheny can do better in the future.
Putting numbers on what you already knew. What I didn’t know was how high Jake Arrietta for the Cubs rated out for the 2014 season.
It’s the annual offseason sOPS+ chart. The Cardinals ended 2014 with 4 positions below league average and 4 positions above league average.
The goal of every General Manager is to get every position up to league average. If you can do that, you have the 2013 Boston Red Sox and win the World Series.
Right field was the abyss last year, sOPS+ 67 league average is 100. This was due to Craig struggles and Matheny sticking with him so long. Now you know why Mozeliak went out and got Heyward. Problem solved.
Second base was next lowest at sOPS+ 79. The combination of a rookie Wong and veteran Ellis. Mozeliak has brought in Anna and Kelly to back up Wong this year. It’s all up to Wong this year. I’m not worried.
Next, is center field with a sOPS+ at 95. Surprised? I was and Bourjos wants more playing time. The question is, will Bourjos ever live up to the hype.
Finally, is catcher at sOPS+ 96. Cruz had an opportunity when Yadi went on the DL and left much to be desired. This is the position that is still open for Mozeliak to make a move. I think Cruz is a dead man walking and will only hang on to the job, if no other option is available. Look for Ed Easley to get strong consideration in spring training.
Well thought out article by Brenden Schaeffer. The gist of the argument is that Bourjos has such a high upside because of his defensive abilities.
My concern with Bourjos is that he was given the starting center field job twice in his career and has not been able to hold on to it.
My take is that between Jay, Bourjos and Grichuk, somebody has to go. This is why Mozeliak makes the big bucks. He has a decision to make. What I worry about is, that Mozeliak will do nothing.
It’s hard to criticize Mozeliak about many things that he does. However, one area that I would like to see improvement is his maximizing assets.
The Rays make a living by doing this. Trading a player when the return is going to be the highest. Now the Cardinals don’t have to do it, to the degree that the Rays have to do it. But, because they are a middle market team. They do not have the luxury of holding on to everybody, like the large market teams do.
My take on this, if Mozeliak signs Heyward long-term, trade one of the three. The Cardinals have a hole in the minors for the next few years when it comes to high upside position players. Need more options.
This kind of information points out that the Dodgers are loaded with position player talent. If they let them play, the future looks very good.
Kris Bryant the new rookie 3rd baseman for the Cubs, is the real deal.
The Cardinals have a hole in the minors for the next few years, when it come to getting help in the field, for the big league club. Not good.
Interesting stuff. Why is this type of info important? With the large market teams being committed to high payroll obligations it takes away flexibility. This is a huge advantage for smaller market teams going forward.
If the Cardinals win the division, which they will. Who will be standing in the way, on the road to another World Series win.
We know it won’t be the Giants. Odd year thing. Losing the Panda and Morse will hurt. Bumgarner can’t pitch every game. But, have no fear Giants fans, you will be back in 2016 and magically win it all once again.
The Nationals will be standing in the way of the Cardinals. Picking up Scherzer in my opinion, is a good move, only if the Nats trade Strasburg. Something about that guy. He is never around when his team really needs him. If the Nats do trade Strasburg, it could be addition by subtraction.
The reality of the situation is, that the window is really closing for Nats. They will have a different looking team after this year and most likely, will not even be the favorite to win their division in 2016. Zimmermann, Fister and Desmond will all be free agents. None are expected back.
The good news for the Cardinals, is that for some reason the team matches up well the Nationals. The Nationals have been the favorites to win it all for a few years now and have not come close. The Nats did pick up Jannsen for the bullpen. Which was their biggest weakness. I think they still need more help in the bullpen.
I was surprised that PECOTA projections only had the Nationals at 91 wins. With that much pitching and in a weak division, the win total should be higher. In my opinion, if the Nats trade Strasburg, they have a shot. If they keep him. Same team. Same result. No soup for you.
The Dodgers will also be standing in the way of the Cards. The Dodgers started the hot stove season on a roll. Letting Hanley walk was smart. Most big market teams would not have done that. They were making small moves that you could see the logic in, adding depth. Applying small market values in a large market. It was impressive. Then they went too far.
The new front office ended up dumping Gordon,Haren and Kemp. To bring in Kendrick, Rollins, McCarthy. The Dodgers gave McCarthy $48 million and are paying $43 million in salaries for players no longer on the team. It was just too much fantasy baseball.
What the Dodgers do have is a nice supply of rookies in the pipeline. Pederson in center, Seager at short, Anderson in the pen, should make contributions next year. Furthermore, it seems that they will be able to add 2 or 3 rookies every year, for the next few years. The question remains, will the Dodgers let them play. The curse of all large market teams is that they are impatient. See Boston last year. See the Yankees for the last 15 years.
I never worried about the Dodgers, winning it all, over the last couple of years. The core of the team was acquired from Boston and other teams. That will get you to the playoffs. However, it does not win a World Series.
If dumping Gordon, Haren and Kemp, was done to get rid of the divas. It might be justifiable. But, then you still have Ethier and Crawford to deal with. PECOTA liked the moves, the Dodgers have the highest projected win total of any team, at 97 wins.
As long as Kersaw, is Kersaw, the Dodgers will be a factor in the post-season. Puig is done being a phenom. He will be good. But won’t be Pujols. So, it all comes down to can Friedman, Zaidi and Mattingly to make it all work.
The National League representative to the World Series will come from the Cardinals, Nationals or Dodgers. It’s just a toss-up as to who it will actually be.
PECOTA projections are out. Some shockers.
Rays at 86 wins. Red Sox at 86 wins. So much for Joe Maddon being a critical part of the Rays success.
Nationals at only 91 wins with Scherzer and a weak division. Phillies at 69 wins. Braves at 74 wins.
Dodgers at 97 wins. Highest win total of any team.
Pirates at 80 wins. Did not see that coming. I figured 86 or 87.
Royals at 72 wins. PECOTA says Royals pitching rotation sucks. Time to trade Wade Davis to the Cardinals for Jaime Garcia. I wish.
White Sox at 78 wins. Thought they would be higher, after a good off-season.
Cardinals at 89 wins. That is just about right.
Do the St. Louis Cardinals have the payroll flexibility necessary to sign Jason Heyward long term? – Viva El Birdos
Viva once again breaks down the payroll by using helpful charts. Worth a look. The Cards do have room to sign Heyward. The question is, how much is Heyward worth?
In my opinion, if Heyward can’t hit lefties at a .250 clip and hit 20-25 home runs, he is a $12 million per year player. The problem is that the market price for Heyward is $20-25 million per year.
If the Cards extend before Heyward proves he can do it, they may end up in the same spot as the Reds and Brewers with their highest paid player being a bust.
I think it is time to take stock of the landscape and try to figure out exactly where the Cardinals fit into the big picture. Let’s look at how the division is shaping up.
The Pirates have one big issue looming over their 2015 season. How will the lost of Martin to the Jays, effect the pitching staff. The Pirates have made a living off of picking up struggling pitchers and turning them into solid #2 or #3 for the season. Most of the credit was given to Russell Martin. Think Yadi. I believe this is a huge deal for the Pirates. The Pirate position players are better than the Cards right now. The question comes down to, can the Pirates pitching hold up? I don’t see it.
The Brewers are dead men walking. They have all-star position players all over the place. However, the Braun contract, is a killer. They already started making moves based on salary by trading Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers. He was their #1. Loshe will be a free agent after this year. The Brewers just won’t have enough pitching to last the entire year and they don’t have much in the minors to make it all work. They will be competitive this year, but this will be the last year of being in the mix for the near future.
The Reds are in the same spot as the Brewers. The Votto, Bailey and Phillips contracts are a disaster. Walt had to trade away 2 starting pitchers in Simon and Latos because he is out of cash. This is the last year for Cueto, he will be a free agent after this year. The Reds are trending in the wrong direction. Walt might get fired this year if they drop out early. The Reds for some reason are just a unlikeable team. I don’t dislike many teams. But I hate the Reds. So, my assessment might be a little biased.
The Cubs are now everybody new crush. The hype is unrealistic. Maddon will need a period of adjustment. Yet to be determined, is Maddon a genius, or did he implement a lot of good ideas from the Rays front office? We will see. Also, quirky works in small markets. Not when everyone is paying attention. Finally, the Cubs are just too young. With all the good pitching in the majors, it takes time for position players to gain consistency. Yes, they can go on good runs, then the league makes an adjustment. Then the prospect struggles. See Boston. It is going to take time for all the young Cubs to figure things out. However, the Cubs are trending up.
The Cards are the favorite in the division, once again. The questions that the club has to find solutions to are not that insurmountable. Can Heyward and Adams hit for power and become true middle of the line-up sluggers? Can Jay become the lead-off hitter? It is simple, a club can’t have the 3rd baseman focusing on, his on base percentage. It is a structural defect. Can the Cards find a #1 pitcher for the post-season. It’s not Wainwright. Someone has to rise up. Think Bumgarner.
However, saying all that 2015 comes down to Matheny. Even by the most conservative assessment, the Cards should have won at least one more World Series ring over the last 3 years. I don’t think that is being unreasonable. Can Matheny take the next step in his growth and development? It really is an open question.
Because all the teams in the Central will be pretty good next year, it will be a tight race all year-long. There won’t be many easy series. It will be up to Matheny to make it all work. I don’t think any club will manage to get over 90 wins.
Tomorrow, I take a look at how the Cards stack up to the rest of the big dogs in the National League.
Bud Selig left office, once again, without dealing with the elephant in the room. What to do about the steroids era. Not unlike what he did when all those home runs were flying out of the ballparks. Times are good. See no evil. Speak no evil.
The PED problem still needs to be dealt with. Owners and General Managers are still rewarding players for using PED’s. See the Cards contract to Peralta. The unions are still protecting players from being held fully accountable for cheating in order to obtain big money deals. So, what should Rob Manfred do? I will help him out.
- Pick a time frame for the steroids era. Any numbers accumulated during that time frame will not be added to historical totals. Roger and Hank need their titles back.
- Any player in violation of the PED policy is not eligible for any individual awards for their career. This would include the All Star game. This policy would be retro active and would include any player that had a violation in any league.
- Any player in violation of the PED policy is not eligible to play in the post season for the season that the violation occurred.
- Any player in violation of the PED policy plays with a non guaranteed contract, for the remainder of his career. That includes his current contract.
That was easy. Yes, I understand the league will have to give the union something to make this happen. Do it. It is too important of an issue. Bud should have done it on the day he left office.
Good breakdown of Jay offensive numbers by Craig Edwards. Jay ended 2014 with a wRC+ of 115. Not bad for Jay. But, Jon lives or dies by his BABIP. Jay’s career BABIP is .345. Unfortunately, because Jay has almost no power and defensively not that great, all of Jay’s value comes from his batting average. Can he keep it above .320 going forward?
My point is, if you sign Heyward long-term, then between Grichuk, Jay and Bourjos somebody got to go. This needs to happen as soon Heyward signs, while all 3 are at peak value.
With Rob Manfred taking over from Bud, everyone is putting in their 2 cents, on what Rob should implement. Here is my list.
- Pace of play is an issue, whatever can be done, should be done. Start this season with some minor changes, keep working on it, end with the pitch clock in a couple of years. Along the way, don’t forget to eliminate arguing between the umpires and the manager. Adjust the replay rules to make sure this happens. Also, eliminate the catcher visit to the pitching mound. Yadi won’t like it, but it is a waste of time. Furthermore, reduce the coach/manager mound visits to one. Everyone understands this is just a stall tactic. Eliminate it. A residual benefit of doing this would also increase scoring. Not a bad thing.
- Staying with the theme of pace of game and increasing scoring. Everybody understands that it was La Russa’s bullpen usage that increased the length of a game by at least half an hour. Time to revisit the rules. What about only allowing one pitching change per inning? What about only allowing a pitching change only between innings? Think of the rallies and meltdowns. It would not only be gut wrenching, but very entertaining and exciting.
- Keep the defensive shifts. It is fun to watch. The hitters will eventually adjust.
- Change the DL rules. With the high dollar investment in players, it is crazy when they go out and perform at less than 100%. Let a player go on the DL for whatever time is necessary. One game, five games it should not matter. This would also increase scoring and get minor league players more opportunities. This is a no-brainer.
- Now for my WTF suggestion. The baseball season is too long. However, because of the all mighty dollar, you can’t reduce the number of games. I understand this. So, how about having split squad divisional games in April and May. What? Think about it. With all the division games played today, MLB could schedule the Cards to play the Cubs for a weekend series in St. Louis and a split squad game in Chicago. The clubs would use minor league players to make up two 25 man teams. Do the same thing with each member of the division. Think of all the strategy that would have to go into this. By doing this the season would be shortened by 2 weeks. Plus, revenue would go up, because each club would get four more weekend series. It really is a good idea.
- Take away player uniforms from the coaches and the manager. It really is embarrassing to have 60 year old, pot bellied men, walking around wearing a uniform. Put them in MLB approved attire, just like in football.
- In the National League do not implement the DH. All you have to allow, is let the back-up catcher, be used once as a pinch hitter, for the pitcher. He could then still enter the game in case the catcher is injured. This would increase scoring and increase the strategy that everyone loves in the National League.
That is what I would do, if I was Commissioner for a day.
This won’t be a problem for Freeman. I believe Sam will be on the opening day roster. But, Kozma has a major problem. The Cards went out and signed Dean Anna. There was a reason for that. The Cards have remade the bench for 2015. The emphasis was to get more hitters. Kozma does not fit the profile.
Good read about the options the Cardinals have regarding Garcia. The only thing for certain once you land in the Mozeliak’s dog house, at the first opportunity, the player is no longer a Cardinal.
I think Mozeliak is hoping Garcia looks good when camp opens and some team will call. I will be surprised if Garcia makes it to opening day.
This might be the first time Mozeliak has acknowledged that there is an issue with in game management. Good. It is about time.
Mozeliak dropped the ball on how he managed Matheny. I believe he gave Matheny way to much leeway. Big mistake. The modern game is all about a total organizational approach. Mozeliak failed to implement this system with Matheny.
Think about it this way. La Russa was like Bill Clinton. Brilliant tactician. But, terrible leaders. However, it did not matter, because they where so good at the in-game manipulation.
I think Mozeliak’s relationship with Matheny was similar to his relationship with La Russa. Big mistake. La Russa and Clinton had 30 years experience. They made up for all their deficiencies by being the best at playing the game.
Matheny currently is Jimmy Carter. Good man. Great value system. Horrible game manager. Both Matheny and Carter made all the rookie manager mistakes. Feeling like they have to make all the decisions. Not being open to all new information. Not delegating. Becoming paralyzed by their thought process.
Both Matheny and Carter failed to understand their role and develop a system that produces results, in spite of their weaknesses. Carter never made the transition and now is acknowledge as one of the worst presidents in the history of our country.
Matheny is currently Jimmy Carter and he needs to become Ronald Reagan. Matheny will never be good at in game decisions. It is not his skill. He needs to delegate all that to his staff. Matheny need to focus on the big issues. Like Reagan.
Matheny has naturally 70% of what it takes to be a great manager. He just needs help with the 30% and Mozeliak has failed to do that.
Clinton and Reagan are now recognized as 2 of the best Presidents. Even though they accomplished all the success in entirely different ways.
Matheny is a natural born leader. That is the hard part. Matheny just needs help in developing a system that will help emphasize what he does well and solves what he does not do well.
People forget that this was Mozeliak’s first attempt at managing a manager. He was never allowed to manage La Russa. Tony would never allow that. Mozeliak could only make a meek suggestion.
This is all part of the mistakes that new managers make. It is to be expected. What is yet to be determined is, if the problems can be solved.
The key factor to determining the Cardinals success for the 2015, is Matheny. If he does not grow as a manager, this year will be no different than the last three.
This is a great article. The Dodgers are way ahead of the mean with this. Most well run companies in America implemented these ideas decades ago. This will help the Dodgers more than any scout, more than any sabermetric analysis, more than any trade.
Cardinals need to do the same.
Now that Scherzer is off the market. That leaves Shields and Hamels. I never believed that Mozeliak was really in on Scherzer. Mozeliak would have to abandon most of his principles in order to sign Scherzer. All along, I felt Scherzer was just a leverage play for his real target Hamels.
Why not Shields? I think Mozeliak is not worried about the regular season pitching. I think it is all about the post season and Shields in the post season is not the man. Shields has a 3-6 record, 5.46 ERA and a 1.5 WHIP in the post season.
Hamels has a 7-4 record, 3.06 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in the post season. It was always about Cole. Mozeliak is looking for a Bumgarner. He might have one already on staff in Wacha and Martinez. However, Mozeliak can’t wait to find out. The Cards have only a couple of years, before the Cubs and Pirates become really difficult. Also, Waino, Yadi and Holliday are not getting younger.
The buzz had 4 teams in on Hamels. Padres, Cards, Red Sox and Rangers. Obviously, the Rangers are out after obtaining Gallardo.
The Padres with all the wheeling and dealing have not given up their top prospect Austin Hedges a catcher that everybody loves. But, the interesting thing is the Padres top prospects are at AA or lower. I think Ruben Amaro can’t sell prospects to his fan base that are at least 1-2 years away from the majors.
That leaves the Red Sox in the driver’s seat. They have all the great prospects. However, they don’t want to give any of them up and Shields is still an option for them. Why would they give top prospects when Shields price is probable dropping? If Shields is willing to take a 3 year deal. I think the Red Sox would be all over that and keep the prospects.
The most important point is the window is not closing on the Boston. They just have to be interesting and competitive. They already have done that, when they landed Hanley and the Panda. Furthermore, the list of free agent pitchers available next year is long and impressive. The Red Sox are in position to wait.
That might leave the Cards as the last man standing. The problem for Mozeliak is the only top end prospects the Cards is Martinez and Wacha. I just don’t think the Cards would be willing to part with one of those guys. Especially since Mozeliak gave up Miller to get Heyward.
What Mozeliak must do is play a game of chicken. Amaro might blink. Ruben has to make a deal before the season starts. If he does not make a trade and the Phillies get off to a bad start, the club will have to fire him. The Philly fans will want his head.
So, the real question is will Ruben go into shelf preservation mode and try to buy another year of employment and take a package of Gonzales, Bourjos, Cooney and Gricuk? No real big names in that package. But, I have read that the Phillies really like Bourjos. The advantage for Amaro to do a deal like this is that all, would be on the opening day roster. This would give some hope for the fans, with a new looking team.
It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.
For those who care. Dean Anna is looking good in the Mexican league. I really like Mozeliak picking up Anna and Kelly for the bench. I think both will be a big plus for the Cards this year.
Everybody is finally realizing just how good Lance has been. The Cardinals need a #1 pitcher for the post season, it just might be Lance.