Cardinal70

I don’t care how long this post gets, we are finishing up looking at all of John Mozeliak’s trades in this post.  Last time we linked to all the former posts, so if you’ve missed any you can find them there.  Some of the trades in this post may be hard to grade, as they are pretty fresh and almost always involve players still producing one way or another.  We’ll give it our best, though!

Trade 29: Sam Freeman to Texas for PTBNL or cash

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
3/28/15 Sam Freeman 1.0 0.7*

*–Still active

Reaction Post: A Left-Handed Weekend

Sam Freeman and those like him are a seemingly endless resource in Major League Baseball, a homegrown reliever that can be effective enough until the service time becomes too much or, as it was in this case, there are just too many folks better than him.  Freeman had spent parts of three seasons with the club (I didn’t realize until the latest STL CardGals podcast that he made his debut in the Johan Santana no-hitter*) and had shown some interesting potential, especially for a left-handed reliever.  Freeman didn’t pitch in a lot of high-leverage spots and his walk total was always a bit too high for a guy like him, but there seemed to be a little value, at least.

However, when it came to the spring camp of ’14, there were just too many different options for the club and Sam, well, he was out of them.  Rather than outright releasing him, John Mozeliak (I assume) got some cash for him from the Rangers.  Texas wound up putting Freeman on waivers soon after they received him, but nobody bit and he started the season in the minors for them.  He did fine in AAA, but was pretty rough when he was called up in May.  He did eventually get his legs under him, though, and from July 1 on he had a 1.82 ERA and allowed just a .189 BAA.

His control issues were still there and, being that he was still out of options, Texas sold him to the Milwaukee Brewers at the end of the 2016 spring training.  He struggled with the Brewers, though, putting up a 12.91 ERA in April before again going on waivers, again clearing, and again heading to the minors.  He never returned to the big leagues (a 5.20 ERA at Colorado Springs didn’t help) and this offseason signed a minor league deal with the Braves.  The life of a left-hander with just enough intriguing talent.

Rating: I think I’ll give this one a toss-up.  Perhaps you could say it’s a loss because the club had to lose Freeman because they still had Randy Choate and he did have a fairly decent year in Texas, but overall it feels like he’s been pretty replaceable.

Trade 30: Kyle Barraclough to Miami for Steve Cishek

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/24/15 Kyle Barraclough 1.8^ 1.8* Steve Cishek 0.4 2.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

Reaction Post: Braving the Weekend

Hey, it’s a trade deadline Mozeliak prospect-for-reliever deal!  Man, who’d have guessed that was coming.

At the time, it really didn’t seem like much.  Cishek had a solid relieving portfolio and while he’d struggled some in 2015, he’d had an ERA under 1 since coming back from the DL in early June.  Barraclough was a fairly unknown prospect, at least to casual prospect followers (like myself) and it seemed like another one of those deals where Mo ships off someone that’s never heard from again while Cishek shored up the bullpen and helped the Cards into the playoffs.

Cishek did his part, putting up a 2.31 ERA during his time in St. Louis and striking out almost a batter an inning.  His control wasn’t quite what you’d want, but the Cardinals could have done worse than bringing him back.  Instead, they kept Jonathan Broxton and Cishek signed with the Mariners, where he had 25 saves and a 2.81 ERA in the Pacific Northwest.

Barraclough proved to be a little more than your typical deadline deal prospect, though.  He made his major league debut about a week after the deal and proceeded to go five outings before allowing a run.  Removing his final outing, when he allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning, he posted an ERA under 2 and picked up a couple of wins and six holds.  2016 was more of the same (2.85 ERA) and so far in his career has limited both lefties and righties to less than a .190 average.  He’s seen more plate appearances in high-leverage situation than any other kind and seems to be developing into quite a late-inning weapon for the Fish.

Rating: Mo doesn’t lose many of these deals, but he definitely did here.  Perhaps if he’d ponied up for Cishek this would have been a little different, but even so it’d have been better to have a solid bullpen weapon at league minimum than a pricey former closer.

Trade 31: Malik Collymore to Milwaukee for Jonathan Broxton

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/31/15 Malik Collymore 0.0^ 0.0* Jonathan Broxton 0.5^ 0.5*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

Reaction Post: I Picked the Wrong Week to…..Go on Vacation

Jonathan Broxton’s never had a huge fan base in St. Louis since this trade went down, but he’s been marginally effective in his time in Cardinal red.  That’s probably more than we thought we’d see out of him when Mozeliak made this deal, as Broxton had been pretty rough in his time in Milwaukee.  He was on a good run as noted in the reaction post, which made folks think that maybe the GM saw something.

Perhaps he did, since Broxton had a 2.33 ERA that season after coming to the Cardinals.  For the most part, he was a steady if unspectacular reliever, best used in mid-leverage situations.  He did have more than a strikeout an inning and fanned about a quarter of the batters he faced, which was a nice weapon to have.  He might not have been the nicest looking guy out there, but overall he got the job done.

Even so, it was a bit of a surprise when Mozeliak pressed his luck and signed Broxton to a two-year deal after buying out his option at the end of that campaign.  Broxton was not as effective over the long haul, with his ERA creeping back over the 4 mark which had been its normal spot over the past few years.  While reliever ERA doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot, Broxton fell a little short of a K per inning, though his K/BB rate actually improved in 2016.  This was one of the rare two-year reliever contracts that DIDN’T see the reliever immediately get hurt and basically provide nothing over the course of the deal, though given the Cardinals and injuries, you can’t rule out that it won’t happen sometime in 2017.

As for Collymore, he played well in rookie ball after the trade, but seemed to struggle in 2016 when he moved up to High-A Brevard County.  Collymore hit just .167 in 59 games there and spent the winter playing ball in Australia.  Collymore isn’t necessarily considered one of the Brewers’ top prospects or anything, but there’s still plenty of time for him to adjust and become a solid ballplayer.

Rating: I’m going with a win on this right now, but it’s really still in flux.  Broxton has been a nice piece, but not so nice that it would take a lot from Collymore on the major league stage to tip the scales toward the Brew Crew.

Trade 32: Tony Cruz to Kansas City for Jose Martinez

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
12/2/15 Tony Cruz -0.1 -0.1* Jose Martinez 0.0^ 0.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

Backing up Yadier Molina isn’t a glamorous job, of course.  For much of the time, if you get into a game more than once a week, you are doing better than a lot of your compatriots.  I remember going to a Blogger Day at the end of April in 2013 (I believe) and he’d had a handful of at bats at that point in the season.  And not necessarily a big handful, either.

However, Cruz was supposed to be this guy that could start on most any other team.  His defense was lauded and the bat was reported to be fine if he got some regular playing time.  He was the best backup that the club had had in a long time, though that only included luminaries like Jason LaRue, Gary Bennett, and Gerald Laird.  Cruz was an upgrade, though.  That’s what we were told in various forms.

Until push came to shove, of course.  Molina got hurt in the July 9, 2015 game and Cruz then started nine of the next 11 games, hitting .176/.222/.235 in that span (and .175/.230/.246 the rest of the season).  The club didn’t hesitate to grab first George Kottaras and then A.J. Pierzynski when they came available on the waiver wire, pretty much indicating that they weren’t confident in Cruz’s ability to run the whole show.  Cruz didn’t do much more in 2015 and his swap to the Royals after being placed on waivers after that season barely elicited a raised eyebrow.

Going from backing up Molina to backing up Salvador Perez is like night and…..later that night.  Perez is another one that plays all the time and Cruz wasn’t going to change that, getting just three at-bats in June and two in September, spending the rest of the time at AAA.  The Royals set him free after that and he’s latched on with the Braves, again with a minor league contract.

Jose Martinez spent nine years in the minor leagues, winning a batting title at AAA in 2015, before being part of this deal.  If it wasn’t for Matt Holliday‘s injury and Brandon Moss‘s legendary slump, there’s a good chance that he’d have spent all of year 10 at Memphis as well.  Instead, he got the callup, got to be the feel-good story, and actually played fairly well in his limited time, getting seven hits in 16 at bats.  Still, he usually was hitting at the bottom of the order and had only one extra-base hit to show for his troubles.  Martinez is still on the Cards’ 40-man roster, however, so it’s possible that he’ll continue to add to his value here.

Rating: It’s gotta be a tossup, right?  I guess Martinez could change things but I’m not really sure why he’s still here on the 40-man when others were cut loose.  There could be a question of outfield depth, I guess, but again, it seems like he’d have been an easy cut somewhere along the line, especially when trying to free up spots for protecting Rule 5 eligible folks.  Neither player is likely to make much of an impact on their teams, I wouldn’t think, so we’ll call it a wash.

Trade 33: Jon Jay to San Diego for Jedd Gyorko

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
12/8/15 Jon Jay 1.1 1.1* Jedd Gyorko 2.9^ 2.9*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

We all know Jon Jay and all that went with him.  I’m pretty sure when Jay came up, fans wanted to see him in the lineup over some of the others in the outfield and he helped win the 2011 World Series.  Over time, though, Jay’s playing time became more and more of an issue as Mike Matheny would run him out there over other seemingly more qualified folks.  While the Allen Craig trade seemed to clear the way for Oscar Taveras, Jay still wound up seemingly keeping Oscar from significant playing time.  Even when Jay stopped hitting in 2015, Matheny kept writing him into the lineup even when it seemed clear others should get a shot.

Some would say this was another of Mo’s moves to take a player away from Matheny.  Maybe it was, maybe it was to open up more time for Randal Grichuk and get a strong bat into the outfield.  Whatever the case, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of value to Jay.  There were some that thought he might just be outright released, but I don’t think anyone thought he’d bring back an actual major league player.

Jedd Gyorko was a Padre through and through, having come up in their system.  He was somewhat burdened by the fact that he hit 23 home runs in his rookie season back in 2013, setting a bar that he was unable to clear in future seasons.  Gyorko never hit over .250 and never really got close to 23 homers again, which got Padres fans ready to send him out of town.  The Cardinals were happy to comply.

While there’s only been one season of data here since the deal happened, it’s a pretty stark one.  Jay did fine in San Diego, hitting .291/.339/.389 and playing his brand of average center field, but he wound up getting hurt and didn’t play from the middle of June to the beginning of September.  Jay also became a free agent, signing with the Cubs in the offseason and leaving San Diego with nothing really to show for the deal.

Gyorko, of course, wound up hitting 30 homers in St. Louis, playing all over the infield and bringing pop to all of them.  He again didn’t hit .250 (reaching .243, which is right in line with most years) and his glove was adequate if not stellar, but that kind of power can’t be understated.  Gyorko started a lot more during the season than expected, partly because of the power and partly because of the Kolten Wong situation, and he gave quite a good bit of value.  Gyorko is under contract through 2019 and that should continue to make this deal more and more lopsided.

Rating: A clear win for Mozeliak.  To get anything of value back for Jay was a testament to Mozeliak’s skill, but to have a guy that was a huge contributor right out of the gate puts this solidly in his W column.

Trade 34: Charlie Tilson to Chicago White Sox for Zach Duke

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/31/16 Charlie Tilson 0.0^ 0.0* Zach Duke 0.9^ 0.9*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

Reaction Post: 50 Ways to Leave Your Fanbase Crazy

This was a deal that was so obvious, I even partly called in on the Meet Me at Musial right before the deadline, noting that Tilson was exactly the kind of player that Mo would deal at this time of year.  Tilson was a solid outfield prospect for the Redbirds, hitting for a good average and stealing bases.  Before being sent off to Chicago, he was hitting .282 in Memphis with 15 steals after stealing 46 with Springfield the year before.  A lot of folks were intrigued by his speed, a facet of the game that St. Louis didn’t have a lot of.

However, with folks like Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty already staking down outfield spots and Harrison Bader ahead of Tilson on the prospect charts, Tilson was expendable and the bullpen, as always, needed some shoring up.  Duke, the former Pittsburgh Pirate that the Cardinals had done pretty well against as a starter, had redefined himself as a left-handed bullpen option and was putting up some good numbers in the White Sox bullpen, striking out more than a batter an inning and actually doing a little better against righties than he was against lefties, but was very effective against both.

What also intrigued Mozeliak was the fact that Duke was under contract for 2017, meaning the club was getting more than just a few weeks out of him.  At least, that’s what they thought.  However, while Duke did a fine job for the rest of the 2016 season, he wound up having Tommy John surgery after the season.  While there is still a small chance, given the early surgery (in October) and the fact that he’s a reliever, that he could return to the Cardinals before the end of the year, it would seem that Mozeliak’s multi-year reliever jinx has fully struck again.

As for Tilson, he was immediately called up to the big leagues last year by the White Sox.  He singled in his first major league at bat, but then tore his hamstring later in the game and missed the rest of the season.  Unfortunately, as he’s made it to his first spring training with the Sox, he’s been diagnosed with a stress reaction in his foot (similar to the one Michael Wacha has in his shoulder).  The Sox are just going to have to wait and see whether he’ll be healthy to be that leadoff man they were expecting him to be this season.

Rating: Has to be a tossup right now.  Duke gave a lot to the 2016 Cardinals, but if he doesn’t return and Tilson becomes a solid player at the big league level, the scales will tip into the loss column.  If Tilson can’t overcome the injuries, it’s possible that this will be a slim win for Mo, but that would seem to be unlikely.

Trade 35: Jaime Garcia to Atlanta for John Gant, Chris Ellis, and Luke Dykstra

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
12/1/16 Jaime Garcia 0.0^ 0.0* John Gant 0.0^ 0.0*
Chris Ellis 0.0^ 0.0*
Luke Dykstra 0.0^ 0.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active with same team

Reaction Post: From “Honkin’ For Jaime” to Gone Garcia

I’m not sure if there was a more frustrating or divisive pitcher in recent Cardinal history than Jaime Garcia.  He would tantalize with outstanding stuff, then wind up getting hurt or not coming through in some big moments.  That got a lot of folks worked up about him, but he was a left-handed starter with the ability to shut down a lineup, so people dealt with it.

Garcia had an interesting contract quirk (one that apparently has been added to Carlos Martinez‘s new contract) that he had two option years that the team could pick up at the end of his deal.  In 2015, it seemed almost a no-brainer that those options would be declined, but then Garcia stayed as healthy as he had been in a long time and posted a 10-6 record with a 2.43 ERA.  Suddenly, the no-brainer was to pick up that option and the expectation quickly became that the 2017 option would get exercised as well.

It was, but not because of another great year.  Garcia had 32 appearances (30 starts) which was the most he’d been out on the mound since 2011.  Unfortunately, whether it was fatigue or other issues, his effectiveness withered during the year, to the point that he wound up in the bullpen for a while.  Still, the option year for 2017 was cheap in relation to the market and the club went ahead and picked it up, figuring either they’d need pitching or they could trade him.

They did just that in December, sending him to Atlanta for three prospects.  John Gant just made The Redbird Daily’s Top 30, but Chris Ellis and Luke Dykstra are both seen as role players, if that, and Gant’s not expected to be a front end starter or anything.  These kind of players can fill a need, for sure, but they aren’t going to be players that people are just going to be overly excited about seeing, probably.  That always could change, of course.

Rating: Given neither side has seen their players perform in a competitive setting yet, it’s got to be a tossup.  Mo might be able to get a win out of this if Ellis or Gant contributes for a few years and Garcia doesn’t do much in Atlanta, but my bet is looking back on this in five years or so, we’re still saying it’s basically even.

That’s all the trades!  I will be back with a wrap-up post, including some of your thoughts on Mo’s dealing dexterity from Twitter, sometime soon.  Until then, though, I hope you’ve enjoyed these looks back!

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Every fanbase has their underbelly, as it were.  Those fans that root for the same team as you do, but do so in crude, entitled, arrogant, jerky fashion.  Again, there is that segment in every fanbase, I believe.  It’s just that the Cardinals segment tends to draw a bit more attention from the world at large, probably due to that Twitter account that tries to blow any misspoken word or bad apple into a huge deal.  (You know the one I’m talking about.  If you don’t, you are better off.  I rarely block Twitter accounts–I probably haven’t blocked more than five non-spam accounts in my eight-plus years on the service–but I’ve blocked that one.)

Dexter Fowler unfortunately found that underbelly yesterday, an uninformed section of Cardinal fans that couldn’t read past a semi-inflammatory headline before heaping criticism and abuse on the new centerfielder.  “Cardinal Outfielder Fowler Disappointed with Trump Travel Ban” is how the Post-Dispatch titled their story.  Seriously, that’s all it took for a portion of folks calling themselves Cardinal fans to tear into the newest Redbird.  The headline isn’t even that bad, but when you read the story, it’s even less of an issue.

Fowler’s wife is from Iran and they were wanting to take their young daughter there to meet his in-laws and others on that side of the family, but they decided to postpone it due to the uncertainty around the president’s recent action.  As far as I can tell, these are the only reported words from Fowler on this subject, as reported by Mark Saxon of ESPN:

“It’s huge.  Especially anytime you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

Bring out the pitchforks!

It’s ridiculous, as Tara and I talked about on Gateway last night, to go blaming Fowler for this.  He didn’t call a press conference and light into the president or his policy.  He didn’t advocate for change in this regard.  He merely answered a question about this affected him personally and did so in a fairly innocuous way.  What else is he supposed to do?  One of the great things about Fowler has been his openness and personality.  That openness extends to answering questions, even when they aren’t about baseball.

But let’s say for a minute that Fowler had been more outspoken in his comments.  Would that be wrong?  We tend to only argue that athletes should “stick to sports” when they express opinions we don’t agree with.  I would guess that a majority of those that came after Fowler yesterday have no problem when Adam Wainwright and others express their Christian faith from their pulpit as major league players.  Why should one person be able to talk about things that are important to them and another player shouldn’t?

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the political statements of athletes and celebrities, often because they are couched in unambiguous terms, brooking no argument or disagreement.  They aren’t put across like “this is my view, but that’s just me, and others may have a different approach” at times.  I would say that the athletes that have been more strident in their recent political opinions primed the pump, so to speak, for the reaction to Fowler.  People thought “here goes another athlete” and attacked without reading what he actually had to say.

Divisions are stark in this country right now, with neither side willing to accept that the other side has a point.  To see someone like Fowler express his opinion but do so in a non-inflammatory way should be celebrated, not attacked.  It feels like things are never going to get better if we can’t come together and talk about our differences and how things affect us in a way that leaves respect and understanding on the table, even when we disagree.

Let me tell you the best thing about this whole situation, though.  When hit with all these comments on social media, by keyboard warriors that would have likely asked for his autograph if he’d been in the room with them, how did Fowler respond?  With amazing class:

I don’t know if I’ve seen any comments about Fowler’s religious preference.  He may not have one, which is up to him of course.  However, that’s the kind of response that we often don’t see out of professed Christians, where the whole “turn the other cheek” thing originated.  When the Cardinals signed Fowler, I was glad but not overly enthused.  Seeing his press conference when he signed helped win me over.  Now?  Next time I’m in St. Louis, a Fowler T-shirt is coming home to be part of my rotation.

Enough of that.  There are players practicing and games start this weekend.  Why are we wasting time on negative things?  Let’s talk about a few other things that are happening in camp.

Such as Jhonny Peralta.  Peralta says that last year was a lot for him, with the thumb injury and then trying to re-acclimate himself to third base.  Put all that together and it’s not a surprise that he struggled figuring it all out.  He says now that he’s 100% healthy (which, to be fair, most everyone would say that right now.  If it wasn’t for the surgery, Alex Reyes would be saying it) and he did a lot more practicing at third in the offseason.  Could it be that Peralta will surprise some folks?  I would think it’s possible.  I still think Jedd Gyorko will wind up with a good bit of time over there and it might be that whoever gets on a hot streak will wind up with the job most of the time.  Writing off Peralta entirely is probably extreme, though tempering expectations is a pretty good idea as well.

It’s fun to read this story about the young catching prospects and how excited they get about spending time with Yadier Molina.  Don’t get me wrong, that’s quite understandable.  If you want to learn about your job, it’s great to learn from the best.  It’s also great to see they are trying to work as hard as they can because they don’t want to let Yadi down.  He’s put in some time with all of them, from the lowest on the ladder to Carson Kelly, and they want to live up to his standard.  That’s a testament to the career Molina has had and the impact he’s had as well.

A little bit of housekeeping.  Later this morning, we’ll look at the last few trades of John Mozeliak’s career, the ones he made in 2015 and 2016.  This afternoon, Playing Pepper kicks off and we’ll take a look at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Then tonight, at 7 PM Central, I’m going to try out my first Facebook Live on the blog’s Facebook page (you can find and like it here).  We’re going to talk Cardinals, we’re going to talk Star Wars, we’re going to talk about whatever you want.  I already have some questions but I’ll be soliciting more throughout the day and, since it’s a live session, you can ask some if you join us tonight.  We can even talk more about this post if you like.  I hope it’ll be fun and you won’t be too scared off by this ugly mug!

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Reyes Diagnosis Confirmed

Per John Mozeliak’s press conference this morning, Alex Reyes will have Tommy John surgery as feared.  Dr. George Paletta will do the surgery there in Jupiter.  Sad but expected.

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We had waited for four months.  With no October baseball last year, the wait for pitchers and catchers was longer than ever and anticipation had that much longer to build up.  With everyone reporting yesterday, the excitement had reached a high and we exulted that baseball was back.

That didn’t last an hour.

Cardinal fans have been through this before, so while the initial tweets from the reporters were mild…

…folks started to grab for paper bags to help their breathing as the anxiety level went through the roof. Things didn’t calm down when the next batch of details came out either.

So it didn’t take long until the rumors were running rampant that Alex Reyes was going to have to have Tommy John surgery and miss the entire season, rumors that seem only to be waiting for a second opinion on Reyes’s elbow to become fact.  No one in the organization has come out and fully put the brakes on the situation–Mike Matheny even said there must be a “significant reason to do this”–which only leads to the likelihood that we won’t be seeing the young phenom pitching for the Cardinals this season.

Let’s assume the worst here.  I know, there are some less-drastic alternatives that might come out of this story and I’m hopeful that will be the case, though it feels like a number of Cardinals have tried rest/rehab in the past with less than stellar results.  Anyway, even though it could be better than Tommy John, it feels like that’s at least an 80% chance right now, so let’s look at how that affects both Reyes and the team going forward.

I don’t think that Reyes’s injury spells doom for the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals.  Kyle Reis wrote about some of these reasons over at The Redbird Daily yesterday (as I told him, it kinda reminded me of this post about Adam Wainwright about this time in 2011) and he’s got some good points.  Last year, I didn’t think the loss of Kyle Schwarber was that big of a blow to the Cubs, mainly because they had a ton of hitting.  If they’d lost someone like Jake Arrieta or even Kyle Hendricks for the season, that would have been a problem because their pitching depth wasn’t there like their offensive talent was.  That’s similar to how I feel about Reyes and this year’s club.

Yes, Reyes is probably more talented than anyone else that could take his place, but the dropoff isn’t from the majors to Double-A.  If Michael Wacha is healthy, there’s a strong chance he’d have been in the rotation anyway and we know that there is talent like Luke Weaver and Marco Gonzales waiting in the wings.  There’s even a chance Trevor Rosenthal finally gets to be a real boy–er, I mean starter (sorry, my daughter is in a play based on Pinocchio)–and takes over the fifth spot.  Again, no matter who it is they won’t have the electric talent Reyes has, but they aren’t going to cost the team much in the way of wins, if anything.

That being said, to win the division the Cardinals needed basically everything to break right and a lot of things to go wrong in Chicago.  These early results don’t help that out at all.  The club had a limited margin for error.  It feels like the ceiling on this squad has just dropped by a little bit and they were barely standing up straight as it was.

The worst part for me, selfishly, is losing the opportunity to watch Reyes on a daily basis.  That promised to be one of the great thrills of the summer, getting to see that easy delivery and those astounding pitches.  Instead, we are probably denied that for 2017 and likely won’t even get to see it in 2018 or perhaps ever again.  While Tommy John surgery is more routine now, you wonder how much he’ll lose not only from the surgery but from the down time when he should be honing his craft.  Will he ever reach that potential we saw for him last year?  Will he be able to come back like nothing has happened?  We don’t know.  It’s tough to lose someone before you really get to know them.  We’ve been waiting so long for Alex Reyes.  We’ll have to wait some more and hope that what we are waiting for matches what we eventually get.

It’s obviously not great for Reyes and his career earnings, either.  I caught a glimpse of a debate last night on Twitter about whether the Cards could option him down before putting him on the disabled list, thereby not letting his service clock run while he’s out for a season.  I don’t know if that’s possible (given what happened with Seth Maness, who got sent down, then asked for a medical eval and was put on the major league DL), I would say not, but either way it’s not great for the pitcher.  He’ll not really have time to show much before he comes available for arbitration, which means he’ll probably settle the first year for a lesser amount.  The club will want to sign him to a long-term deal, assuming he comes back healthy and effective, but they’ll have the upper hand to start with.  Reyes will still get a lot of money, again assuming a full recovery, but he’ll lag behind what Carlos Martinez did to get his deal.

There was other news out of the first day in camp, though none of it could come close to the Reyes news.  The club won their arbitration case against Michael Wacha, saving $400K this season.  (Odds are, it cost at least half that to prepare the case and go to the hearing, but that’s probably in a different pot of money.)  While Wacha, who was actually at the meeting, says he doesn’t harbor any ill will toward the organization, he did have the following quote:

And they also say some stuff. They go in there saying nothing’s personal, but they say some stuff, for sure.

There’s no reason to doubt that Wacha is truthful when he says that he’s not irked at the club, but there’s also a 0% chance that he’d say anything different even if he was.  The Cardinals hired folks to make their case–never mind, they obviously spent more than $400K on this–and John Mozeliak wasn’t in the room, so it probably helped insulate the arguments against Wacha from the front office and not make that an obvious tie, but I still am very hesitant to believe that this was the best course of action.  Even Mo acknowledged that “there’s a history where it can be contentious, where it has an adverse effect on relationships” even as he doesn’t believe that will be the case with Wacha.  It probably won’t be.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wacha wasn’t hoping to fill Reyes’s spot in the rotation and do so in a way that makes sure if they try this arbitration thing again, he was going to win it.  Maybe some motivation is a good thing.

Mike Matheny says that a lot of the running game issues–well, the opposing running game issues; I’ve not seen him acknowledge that his aggressive tendencies for the Cardinal runners might not have been a great thing–were on him, in part because he’s relied so much on the greatness of Yadier Molina for all these years.  There’s no doubt that Mike has had his hands full with a lot of learning over the past five years, so it’s not surprising he left the running game in Molina’s hands and dropped that down on his priority list.  We’ll see if this renewed focus on trying to keep people from stealing will work out.  Hopefully he can do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt the pitchers as well, but that may be a fine line to walk.

It wasn’t the first day of baseball that many of us wanted, but baseball is back and that’s some consolation.  We’ll hope for the best and prepare for the worst when it comes to Reyes’s MRI results today and try to build back up that excitement about the 2017 season regardless of the outcome.  Any baseball is better than no baseball, right?

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We made it.

It’s been a long, cold winter since we saw the Cardinals last on the field.  (Cold metaphorically, at least.  Around here, the temps have actually been unseasonably warm, especially of late.)  No October baseball.  The Cubs winning the World Series.  The fairly cool hot stove time (though not ice cold, of course, with the signings of Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil).  Now, now we can come out of hibernation.  Today, pitchers and catchers report down in Jupiter.

Reporting day is becoming more and more of a ceremonial kickoff to the season, given that a number of players, not just pitchers and catchers, are already working out down in the spring training complex.  Heck, even the media has been down there for close to a week, though given the choice between with a St. Louis winter and a Florida winter, that might not be as surprising.  Still, there’s something special about those magical words “pitchers and catchers report”, bringing the game we love back to us, appropriately enough on Valentine’s Day.

We live in a new world, where the World Series trophy sits on the North Side of Chicago.  Surprisingly, the world kept turning (though, depending on your point of view, it’s possible that the US election held soon after was a sign that perhaps the seventh seal was broken after all) and now the Cardinals get a chance to ruin repeat plans.  It’s been a long time since they’ve been a spoiler and while you don’t typically think of a team that has a chance to win 90 games as a “spoiler”, I expect there might be a little more excitement to try to beat the Cubbies this year than there has been in seasons past.

As noted, the addition of Fowler should bring an interesting dynamic to the club this season.  Fowler, excited to join his new teammates, is already down in Jupiter working out and getting ready for the coming year.  Part of the reason for signing Fowler was to see if he could inject a little more life, a little different quirk into the clubhouse.  Showing up early isn’t necessarily going to do that–most of the position players will do the same–but it’s good to see that he’s wanting to get into the mix as soon as possible.

With the press being down there as the players come in, that means a lot of informative stories and tidbits about Cardinals that we’ve not heard from most of the winter, including the Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons.  Lyons seems to want to be ready by May and appears to be on track to do just that, throwing off flat ground and starting to accelerate his workouts.  If Lyons is in line for that kind of return, it might factor into the rotation decision.  There’s still the possibility that Alex Reyes starts in the bullpen, after all, and it could be they put him in the ‘pen as the long man type until Lyons is ready, then move Reyes to the rotation when they activate Lyons.  Of course, there are other pieces to that puzzle–who comes out of the rotation, who gets taken off the roster entirely–but it’s something to keep in mind.

The streak is over, it seems, as the club and Michael Wacha had their arbitration hearing yesterday, with a decision coming down perhaps today.  While taking Wacha to arbitration made more sense than trying to do so with Carlos Martinez, both because of their history and because of the money involved (Wacha’s gap was a little bit more), it still makes you (and probably Wacha, now that the club extended Martinez and didn’t actually go through with a hearing) wonder where the pitcher stands with the club.  They’ll say all the right things about him being a part of the future and they really like him, and maybe that’s true and the injury just clouds things.  That said, it feels like if they were really stoked about him being a Cardinal for a while, they’d have at least settled, especially after Martinez’s extension.

Again, though, that injury, being as unique and as unknown as it is, adds a lot of uncertainty to the whole Wacha picture.  I can’t blame the club for not wanting to commit to Wacha any more than they have to.  Wacha’s got some great ability and he can really help this team for a few years to come, but he could also short-circuit and spend a lot of time either on the disabled list or being ineffective.  It’s such a difficult thing to navigate and not one that there are a lot of road maps for.

(Though I will say John Mozeliak’s analogy of a sports car in the garage that you want to drive isn’t exactly what I’d use for arbitration hearings.  I still think they are things to be avoided, not something that you should be anxious to go out there and try.)

Possibly the biggest change this season is that Jose Oquendo, who missed last year after knee surgery, won’t be rejoining the big league team but instead will be cementing his place as this generation’s George Kissell by working with minor leaguers during the season, passing on that institutional knowledge and training.  There were a lot of folks that thought that Oquendo’s absence as one of the reasons the defense especially was so weak last year.  I know Bengie Molina has passionately opined in that regard on the Two Birds on a Bat podcast.  Mozeliak doesn’t think that is the case.  Oquendo, well, he’s smart enough not to get pulled into it.  There’s no doubt that Oquendo’s positioning and knowledge being missing probably did impact things some last year, though there were a lot of errors that should have been made plays regardless.  He probably had an impact, but maybe not as large as some think.

Oquendo also says he’s done trying to be a manager, which is not really surprising.  You’ve not heard his name connected to any job since he was in the running to replace Tony La Russa and it really sounds like he wants to be much more of a homebody, which obviously managers don’t get to do.  Some cynics might argue that losing the job to Mike Matheny broke his managerial spirit, which I guess is somewhat possible, but I think if it affected him that much he wouldn’t have stayed not only in the organization but on the big league staff as long as he did.

Baseball news.  Baseball stories.  Baseball pictures and videos.  It’s a great, great day.

We made it!

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It’s hard to believe that spring training is really just over a week away.  To get into that mindset, I called up Nate and Ben, hosts of Talking About Birds, to make some sense of the big Cardinal news of late as well as what to look for as the players start to show up in Jupiter.  A good time was had by all!

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We’ve come to the end of our review of John Mozeliak’s trades since he took over as general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in October 2007.  In this post, we’ll tackle the last three years and we’ll leave an overall look for one more final post.  (Edit: Ha ha, no we won’t.  This post again got away from me, so we’ll just look at 2014.)  In case you are behind, here are the past posts:

2007-08
2009
2010
2011
2012-13

With that housekeeping out of the way, let’s look at an eventful year of deals for Mo.

Trade 26: James Ramsey to Cleveland for Justin Masterson

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/30/14 James Ramsey 0.0 0.0* Justin Masterson -0.9 -1.1*

*–Still active

Reaction Post: Catching Up, In More Than One Way

If you were to design a “typical” Mozeliak trade deadline move, it tends to be a mid-range prospect for pitching help.  (This is not the only such trade we’ll be looking at in this post.)  Mo didn’t stray out of his zone at all here, not only making his version of a comfort food trade but making it with a team that he’s dealt with more than any others.  (Obviously, Mozeliak didn’t hold any grudges against Chris Antonetti for almost getting the Cards GM job before they went with Mo.)

James Ramsey may have been a first round pick of the Cardinals, but that really was the symptom of the club trying to game the system.  Taking Ramsey, a college senior with limited leverage and a solid but unspectacular portfolio allowed them to sign him for well below slot and save some of that signing pool money for others with more upside, such as Stephen Piscotty (drafted with a compensation pick right after Ramsey) and Michael Wacha (taken a few picks before).  The club did like Ramsey’s makeup and character, but the idea that he’d be anything more than a fourth outfielder at the big league level didn’t have much traction.

Ramsey did show some power in the minors, combining for 16 homers across three teams in 2013 and made it to Springfield just a year after being drafted.  (He even got one game at Memphis in their season finale.)  Returning to Springfield for 2014, he was hitting .300 with 13 homers at AA before Cleveland decided he was worth a veteran pitcher.

The problem is that Justin Masterson wasn’t exactly the guy that made the All-Star team in 2013.  Sporting a 5.51 ERA when he came over, he proceeded to get much, much worse.  Put it this way–he had given up six home runs in 98 innings in 2014 for the Indians.  He matched that total in just 30.2 frames for the Cardinals.  By the end of run in red, Cardinal fans were hoping for a 5.51 ERA (he wound up with a 7.04 mark).

Masterson did give the Cardinals one great start, when he shut down Miami in his third time out and went seven scoreless.  Take that game out and his numbers….you know what, let’s not go there.  I don’t even want to see how bad it would be.  That was all that the club got though and when September rolled around, Masterson found himself in the bullpen, where he did have three outings totaling 3.1 innings with no runs.  So at least he ended on a high note.

I think that year was the first year we as bloggers got a chance to ask Mo questions after the year and I asked him about Masterson and what happened there.  Here’s what he said:

I think the untold story of Justin Masterson was that he wasn’t 100% when we got him.  Unfortunately it affected how he pitched and had a direct correlation to his performance.  I will say in his defense, he gave us one huge game in Miami when things weren’t going well for our club.  But in the end, I can see why people do not look at this as a positive deal.

Did the club not get the right medical information?  Did they not ask the right questions?  Did they know he might be hurting but took the risk?  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, it didn’t get any better for him when he returned to Boston in 2015 and he spent all of 2016 in the minors for Pittsburgh after having shoulder surgery.  He’s still hoping to pitch in the majors again, but you have to think it’s going to take a team pretty desperate to take him on.

Rating: While the Cardinals didn’t give up much in this one, there have been times of late where a little outfield insurance wouldn’t be terrible.  No telling if Ramsey would have been that guy–he never made it to Cleveland and now is property of the Dodgers–but given how rough Masterson was in St. Louis, even the chance makes this a loss for Mo.

Trade 27: Allen Craig and Joe Kelly to Boston for John Lackey and Corey Littrell

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/31/14 Allen Craig -1.2^ -1.2* John Lackey 5.4 7.9*
Joe Kelly 1.2^ 1.2* Corey Littrell 0.0^ 0.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active with team

Reaction Post: Catching Up, In More Than One Way

So, right after Mozeliak pulls off a “comfort food” trade with the Indians, he flips the whole table by trading two well-loved Cardinals to Boston for a crusty, cantankerous Texas.  It was a trade that not many people liked on a personal level, but it’s hard to deny that it was a good move for a myriad of reasons.

If anyone actually figures out why Allen Craig completely fell off the face of the baseball planet, please present yourself to 700 Clark Street because you might have a job in baseball waiting for you.  All of us remember the very good hitter Craig was and his key hits in the 2011 World Series were vital to the club’s 11th championship.  You could make a very good case for Craig being the MVP of that Series, even though he didn’t start a number of the games.  One of the reasons that the club didn’t feel like they had to counter Anaheim’s offer to Albert Pujols was that they expected they could get some good production out of Craig at first and, for a while, that turned out to be the case.

After back to back years with OPS+ in the 130 range, 2014 saw Craig start slow.  And by slow, we mean Yadier Molina in a footrace slow.   While Craig was struggling, hitting just .220 in the month of April, Oscar Taveras was making his ascension to St. Louis.  Eventually, as Craig continued to struggle and Taveras bounced between the St. Louis bench and the Memphis lineup, fan criticism of Mike Matheny’s usage of Craig grew deafening.  While it was true that Craig had done a lot for the club, it was frustrating to see the shadow of a good player blocking what seemed to be the next big thing.

While this was going on, Joe Kelly was just trying to get healthy.  During his third start of the season, where he threw four scoreless innings against the Brewers to lower his ERA to 0.59, he pulled a hamstring trying to leg out a bunt and wound up missing all of May and June.  When he returned on July 11, the layoff had clearly affected him as he allowed six, five, and four runs in his four July starts.  Kelly had always been a talented pitcher for the club (most famously dubbed “the Ferrari in the garage” when he was a spot starter/long reliever) but the Cardinals were in third in the division, 2 1/2 back of the Brewers.  Something needed to change and even Mo knew Justin Masterson wasn’t going to bridge that gap.

2014 was one of the off years for Boston in that stretch where they seemed to finish either first or last in the division every year.  With the Sox out of contention, they looked to sell off a few of their more intriguing pieces.  Jon Lester was sent out to Oakland just hours before this trade was completed, sending Lackey to St. Louis.

You could argue that Lackey brought a dynamic to the clubhouse that it hadn’t had since the retirement of Chris Carpenter.  A take-no-prisoners, give-way-to-nobody “crusty veteran”, Lackey also brought a 3.60 ERA from the AL East and almost a strikeout an inning.  He also brought a quirk in his contract–since he’d missed a year during the span of his deal due to injury, he was scheduled to make the league minimum in 2015.  And you know how Mo likes a deal….

It took some adjusting for Lackey and his new team (he allowed nine runs to Baltimore in his second outing with the Redbirds), but for the most part, Lackey brought exactly what he was supposed to bring.  He went seven or more innings in four of his ten starts and threw a great game against the Dodgers in the NLDS before stumbling in the next round against the Giants.

That might have been enough to win the deal, but the Cardinals had Lackey for the next season as well and all he did was put up a 2.77 ERA and finished ninth in the Cy Young voting.  Lackey was so valuable that Mike Matheny turned to him twice, once on short rest, against the Cubs in the NLDS that season, a decision a bit more understandable when Lance Lynn underwent surgery after the season but still a strong vote of confidence.

Corey Littrell might be the afterthought in the deal, but he still may be able to help out the Cardinals as early as this season.  The club left him unprotected in the Rule 5 draft this offseason, but surprisingly no team took him.  His 2016 at Memphis wasn’t outstanding (4.56 ERA) but he still struck out about 8 1/2 batters per nine innings and he’s a lefty to boot.  It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him at some point in time this season if the Cardinals need a reliever or a short-term starter, especially when they can free up 40-man spots with longer DL stints, etc.

Rating: An obvious win for Mo here, though I think we’ll all be glad to see Kelly return with the Red Sox in May.  Still, when the two players you trade off combine for 0 WAR, you are doing pretty well.

Trade 28: Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins to Atlanta for Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
11/17/14 Shelby Miller 3.6 2.9* Jason Heyward 6.5 8.0*
Tyrell Jenkins -0.4 -0.4* Jordan Walden 0.6 0.6*

*–Still active

Reaction Post: Initial Reaction on Today’s Jason Heyward Deal

It was the trade the Cardinals never wanted to make.

In an alternate dimension, an Earth-2 or Earth-19 that the Cardinals beat the Giants and kept Oscar Taveras in the United States longer or a place where Taveras didn’t go out and drive after drinking, Jason Heyward finishes his contract in Atlanta and then enters free agency, where perhaps he still winds up in Chicago without the detour under the Arch.

Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.  As much as we would wish it otherwise, the Taveras tragedy happened.  And, eventually, Mozeliak had to take that master plan that had Taveras in right and batting third for the next decade and alter it on the fly.  Targeting Heyward made a lot of sense.  While Heyward’s 2015 wasn’t exactly up to what his potential would seem to be, he still hit .271 with 11 home runs.  Even if he just repeated those figures, he would have been an upgrade over Craig’s time out there.  There were a lot of expectations that, when he moved out of the leadoff spot and got comfortable, he’d be closer to the 20 homers that he’d hit in the past.

You have to give to get, of course, and Shelby Miller was a tough thing to give up.  While Miller had had his conflicts with the organization and hadn’t quite looked like the first-round draft pick that he was, he still was just a year removed from 15 wins and his 2014 ERA of 3.74 was the highest of his big league career.  Going into his Age 24 year, there was no reason to think that the future wasn’t very bright for him.  The problem was going to be finding room in St. Louis to blossom.

That was the bulk of the deal, of course, but the Cards were excited to get Jordan Walden to help shore up the back end of the bullpen.  So excited, in fact, that they signed him to an extension before he had ever thrown a pitch for them.  Tyrell Jenkins was a bit of a lottery ticket for the Braves, who were already getting into their rebuild mode.  Jenkins was drafted with limited baseball experience, but had plenty of athletic tools and just needed to harness them.

It looked like a win-win deal for each side.  And it probably was, though not the way anyone thought.

First off, Walden had a nice April for St. Louis, then went on the DL and never returned, not in 2015 or in 2016.  The Cards got 10.1 innings out of him for just over $6 million.  (Relievers and two-year deals are a bane for Mo.)  As for Jenkins, he finally made his major league debut with the Braves last year, getting into 14 games and posting a 5.88 ERA.  This offseason was eventful for Jenkins, who was traded to the Rangers, then released and signed by the Reds, then released and signed by the Padres.  So far he’s stuck there in San Diego, but we’ll see whether he’s on the big league roster or back in AAA when the season starts.

Then there are the principals of the deal.  Miller flourished for the Braves, though he didn’t get a lot to show for it.  He led the league in losses with 17, but had a 3.02 ERA on the season which just goes to show how much you shouldn’t pay attention to win-loss records for pitchers.  After winning his fifth game on May 17, he didn’t win another game until October 4, when he threw eight scoreless innings against, of course, his former team to break the streak.  (To be fair, the Cards had already clinched the division, so their play in that Atlanta series was less than inspired.  Also, the Cards did beat him in that span, though he allowed just one run in 7.1 innings in that July 25 matchup.)

Miller’s greatest value to Atlanta, though, turned out to be a trade chip as the Braves front office took advantage of a less-than-stellar Diamondback organization headed by Dave Stewart to get three players, including Ender Inciarte and number one prospect Dansby Swanson.  Miller cratered in the desert, posting a 6.15 ERA and generally looking lost.  What 2017 will bring, we’ll have to wait and see.

We know what happened with Heyward.  After a slow start, Heyward hit .318 in the second half (with just four homers) and helped push the Cards past Pittsburgh and to 100 wins.  None of us are going to forget his peg of Anthony Rizzo at home in a key late season game against the Cubs which helped staunch the rising Chicago tide.  All in all, Heyward’s season in St. Louis was a quite good one.  The 6.5 WAR he earned in Cardinal red is second only to the 23.1 mark by Matt Holliday by Mozeliak acquisitions.

It was extremely frustrating to see him spurn the big money St. Louis offered to sign with the hated rivals from the north side.  Many got a lot of joy out of his terrible start to the season, comparing his numbers to Stephen Piscotty and pointing out how much cheaper Piscotty’s contract was.  There’s no doubt that statistically Heyward’s 2016 was his worst season, but he wound up being part of the historic Cubs team with a World Series ring to show for it.  That’s going to help ease a lot of concerns about his .230 average.

Rating: A lot of people criticized this trade after Heyward left, saying that the club lost Miller for nothing long-term.  Which is true, but even as good as Miller was in 2015, there was no place for him to play in St. Louis.  The club had historic pitching numbers that season–Miller wasn’t going to force anyone out of the rotation and it’s not likely the club could have done better with him on the squad.  Maybe he could have been moved for something else, but I doubt anything else could have made the impact that Heyward did in his season in Missouri.  I’m marking this one as a win in my book.

Again, I think I’m going to cover a lot of trades, then 2500 words later I’ve only covered one season.  While the rest of these deals are pretty minor, I’ve already presumed upon your patience enough.  We’ll do 2015 and 2016 another day!

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You remember how we spent a lot of time talking about the craziness of the Cardinals going to arbitration with their best pitcher?  You know how we said it sounded like John Mozeliak had taken an extension off the table, that they were plowing full speed ahead to this confrontation with their ace?  Well, in the words of a famous broadcaster,

According to Jon Heyman, tomorrow the Cardinals will announce a five-year, $51 million extension with Carlos Martinez.  This would buy out all of Martinez’s arbitration years and a couple of his free agency seasons as well.  You may be thinking to yourself, “Wow, that sounds like a bargain.”  The reason that you are thinking that to yourself is because it IS a ridiculously good deal for the club.  Here are some other pitchers that made around $10 million last year:

Jake Arrieta
Stephen Strasburg
Kenta Maeda
Derek Holland
J.A. Happ
Madison Bumgarner
Tyson Ross

Now, that’s a pretty good group of players.  However, Arrieta moves up to over $15 million this year and becomes a free agent after that.  Strasburg signed a seven-year, $175 million deal during the season.  Bumgarner is actually in a similar situation as Martinez, as he’ll get $11.5 this year, $12 in ’18 and ’19, and then become a free agent.  All in all, Martinez is going to be a great pitcher at a great price going forward.

As for Martinez, his career earnings to this point were just over $1.5 million, so this is a huge step up for him as well.  It also allows him to make sure he gets more of that money sooner.  He could have gone to arbitration over the next three seasons, but it seems unlikely he’d get over $30 million that way, especially since this year the most he could get was just over $4 million.  It does delay his free agency, but let’s be honest, Mo’s not had the greatest luck with short-term pitcher contracts (though that’s mainly relievers) due to injuries.  At least this way if, heaven forbid, Martinez does get hurt during this contract, the Cards should get a good number of seasons out of him before, after, or around him missing time.

It’s a win for both sides, I think.  This also should allow the Cardinals a bit more money (or at least budget certainty) if they do try to make a major push for a free agent like Manny Machado in the next few years.  Which probably was part of their thinking as well.

If nothing else, I’m glad that Carlos is not only staying in St. Louis for the foreseeable future but that they’ll avoid a hearing with him.  I doubt Michael Wacha, however, is as fortunate, but it’s possible Mo might step back from that hard line with just one case out there.  Martinez’s hearing was scheduled for February 8, so I would assume Wacha’s would be around that time as well, leaving not a lot of time for things to get resolved and that streak to extend.

Congratulations to Carlos and to the Cardinals.  Having Martinez and Alex Reyes in the same rotation for the next five years is an astounding thing to think about!

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You might have figured out by now, if you’ve been around for any length of time, that I’m a person that likes his routine.  Not only in my personal life, but most definitely when it comes to filling this site with content.  Every off-season we do the Exit Interviews.  Later this month, we’ll start Playing Pepper.  On a smaller scale, there’s the daily ritual of naming Heroes and Goats.

Nine years ago, I asked you, the members of Cardinal Nation, to rate certain players and other Cardinal-related folks and ideas on a 0-100 scale.  Every year, we modify the list a bit, but the interesting thing, for me at least, is to see how things change over time, if they do.

For instance, Yadier Molina has been on every one of these ratings.  Now, the sample size varies every year, of course, and it’s never huge, but it’s fun to track what folks think of the catcher.

Year Approval
2009 93.4%
2010 92.0%
2011 83.7%
2012 87.4%
2013 96.2%
2014 96.3%
2015 89.9%
2016 80.7%

I’m not sure you can track too much, but obviously when Yadi was hitting like crazy and playing his amazing defense, everyone loved him.  The last couple of years, when injuries happened, it took a bit of a hit to his overall rating.  I look forward to seeing what happens this year, with that strong second half mixed with these ideas that he wants a contract extension.

John Mozeliak is another one we’ve had almost every time around.  His ratings are probably more tied to events than the players are.

Year Approval
2010 86.1%
2011 74.1%
2012 85.4%
2013 86.5%
2014 94.6%
2015 86.3%
2016 77.8%

Unsurprisingly, after finishing second so obviously in the 2015-2016 offseason, Mo’s numbers took a hit.  Will the signing of Dexter Fowler get them to bounce back or will the fact that they missed the playoffs last year counterbalance that?

You tell me.  Seriously, you tell me.

Below is the form for this year’s ratings or you can go directly to it via this link.  You’ll see the first page just asks for an identifying handle, then there is a page for players, a page for media, and a hodge-podge page.  The final page gives you a chance to make any comments about any of the ratings you gave (plus there’s a required question to make sure you saw it all).  As always, these ratings are up to you.  I would suggest that 70 would be a baseline number and you should adjust up or down from there, but that’s only a suggestion.  However you want to go about it, I’m fine with.  Please share this around as well–the more response, the better the sample.

Any questions, comment here or Tweet @C70.  I’ll probably remind about this regularly through February, but we’ll wrap it up about the 24th.  Thanks for your help!

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As you all know by now, yesterday Major League Baseball finally issued their punishment for what has been termed, probably incorrectly, as the “hacking scandal”.  (It’s not like Chris Correa was some sort of computer genius generating phishing emails or fighting firewalls, he just figured out some passwords.)  Commissioner Rob Manfred not only took away two picks and fined the Cardinals a record $2 million for the incidents, but awarded those picks and that money to the aggrieved party, the Houston Astros.  It’s an unprecedented move for an unprecedented case.  (Also, you can now put Correa and Pete Rose in the same sentence but not in a good way–Correa was banned from baseball, though that was merely a formality.  If anyone hired him after a four-year prison stint over this, it’d have been a huge upset.)

Of course, it’s probably not surprising that folks all across the board, from Houston to Sports Illustrated to ESPN to Hardball Talk feel like the Cardinals got off fairly lightly in this situation.  (Perhaps just as unsurprisingly, the Post-Dispatch story uses “hammer”.  It’s all about where you come from.)  I think there’s a strong argument to be made that the Cardinals could have felt the brunt of things much more deeply.  As many have noted, the Cards were very aggressive in the 2016 draft, getting Delvin Perez and others, plus went way over their international signing limits, with the idea that they were going to have to load the cupboard up to deal with the winter ahead.

Basically missing out on anything of superb quality in the 2017 draft–St. Louis won’t pick until the 94th round and have basically no signing pool money to work with–is tough.  We’ve seen how gaps in the draft from miserable drafting years can hurt a club, sometimes creating a “donut hole” or wave break in the coming talent.  That’s what 2017 is going to be for this system.  Beyond drafting a Matt Carpenter in the 13th round or something of that nature, it seems unlikely that anyone selected in ’17 will make much of an impact in the organization, at least not for some time to come.

The money is nothing, of course, not even a material line on the financial statements that will soon include a huge new TV contract.  It doesn’t pay for a middle reliever.  Seventeen Cardinals will make more than $2 million in the coming season, with Kevin Siegrist not too far away from that figure.  The Cardinals have 30 days to pay the fine–if they have money in the right places, they could probably earn $2 million in interest and dividends in that month.  The Cardinals could have been hit with a fine 10 times that before it started to really be noticeable, but league rules didn’t allow that.

So yeah, I can see how people would think it’s a fairly light sentence.  That doesn’t mean it’s not a fair one.  People are pointing out that if they had been punished before the Dexter Fowler signing, they would have had to give Houston their first round pick (#19) and their next pick (#56).  True, though I do wonder how that would have affected Fowler’s signing.  Would they then have to have given up their third pick for him instead?  Wouldn’t that make the price of Fowler cheaper?  The club wouldn’t be punished any more–they would still lose three picks and the money that went with it–though Houston would have, of course, come out a little better in the deal.

It also should be noted that no one, not MLB’s investigators, not the club’s investigators, not the Justice Department found any indication that anyone besides Correa was involved, which has to factor into the punishment.  I don’t know how things played out and I’m not saying that Correa was the only one that knew what was going on, but I can make a case that he was.

For instance, we know that Correa was jealous of what the press and such were saying about Houston and their process, even though they hadn’t won anything yet.  (Jealousy is a powerful motivator–allegedly Barry Bonds started using steroids because he saw the adulation Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were getting instead of him, even though he was doing it “the right way” at the time.)  What if Correa wasn’t quite as smart as he thought he was?  What if he’d been relying more on the folks around him and, when they left for Houston, he felt not only betrayed but exposed?  What if he wanted to look smart to the powers that be, so he kept where he got that information from quiet and passed it off as his own conclusions, his own analysis, his own work product?

Heck, apparently he was even jealous and petty enough to actively leak some of the Astros information to Deadspin, which is truly ironic given the nature of Deadspin’s usual tenor toward the Cardinals.  That’s bordering on the bizarre, actually.  What purpose does that serve but to perhaps embarrass his former colleagues?  Was he perhaps crushed that they didn’t take him with them to Houston?  If he had a fragile ego, which all of this really seems to indicate, that might have pushed him over the edge as well.

After writing the above, it does appear that Correa states others knew what he was doing, but he wouldn’t give the names up to investigators.  I’d think, given the public way those like John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt have disavowed him that he would have no reason to protect them.  It’s possible, I guess, but I don’t know why he would do it.  Now, if he had people working under him that knew, that maybe followed some orders from him, I could see him trying to be honorable and not ruin their lives in baseball, especially when he was the overarching culprit.  That fits in more with silence from the convicted than him trying to protect Mo, I think.

Correa’s excuse of looking for proprietary Cardinal information might have been true in his initial foray, but it obviously wasn’t what he limited himself to while he was digging around in Ground Control.  Correa got into Houston’s draft info, even during the draft, and used it to influence what the Cardinals were doing.  There was some thought that Marco Gonzales might go to Houston, given that his information was accessed in the 2013 draft and could have been the reason why the Cards took him and that he was not around for Houston’s second pick.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen, though you wonder if Houston might have pushed for that a little more if Gonzales wasn’t coming off Tommy John surgery.

As Bob Nightengale says, this is a stain on a proud organization.  We may have had a little fun with it when the news originally came out, given we didn’t think it was as serious as it turned out to be, but it really was no laughing matter to an organization that prides itself on integrity and doing things on the up-and-up.  This is much worse than giving a steroid user a second chance.  This is deliberately attacking the new fabric of the game, that of proprietary information.  How teams value players is a huge deal in this day and age and getting illicit insights to others and their processes ruins a lot of trust.

For their part, Houston has handled this whole situation remarkably well.  There have been no public pushes for sentencing, no discussion about the harshness that needs to come.  While Houston owner Jim Crane may have said he thought a player off the 40-man roster might be a possible punishment, the statements today from their organization accepted the commissioner’s judgement and expressed a willingness to move on to other topics.  The relationship between the two organizations does not seem to be as strained as you might expect in this situation, in part because of DeWitt and Mozeliak’s public (and most likely private) apologies and expressions of disappointment.  If Houston thought there was a chance that upper management was involved in this, I don’t think they’d be as forgiving.

For a year and a half, this cloud has been hanging over the heads of the entire organization.  While the penalties aren’t as severe as they could be, they’ll still sting. (I gotta wonder if John Nagel and others will do much pre-draft preparation this year.)  What the Cardinals do get out of this is closure.  They can start putting this behind them, no longer wondering when the shoe will drop.  They’ll take their punishment and move on. (It also may make them more open to getting into the insane free agent markets of the next couple of years, something Allen Medlock and I talked about close to the end of Meet Me at Musial last night.)

It’s nothing you want your favorite team to go through.  Thankfully, it now seems to be over.

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I think you could argue that 2011 was the high point of John Mozeliak’s trading tenure, at least so far.  There are still some very interesting trades to talk about, it’s true, but I don’t think Mo’s “shrewd dealer” reputation was ever as high as it was when he was coming off a World Series title that, in fairness, might well not have happened without his mid-season trades.

In 2012, the team was trying to repeat while also proving that they could be more than just a wild card spoiler.  There is no doubt that expectations and pressures shifted with that title, which might be reflected in a more cautious approach by the general manager.

Trade 19: Future considerations to Oakland for Cedric Hunter

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
4/4/12 Cedric Hunter 0.0 -0.8*

*–Still active

Perhaps figuring that, if 2011 went so well with a trade like this, he should keep it going, Mo dealt for Cedric Hunter in the Oakland organization.  When I was researching these deals and came upon this one, there was really only one response:

I pride myself on having at least passing recognition of most every name that has come through the organization over the past decade, but I drew a complete blank on Hunter.  Of course, being that he never made it to the big leagues probably had a little to do with it, though Hunter did play passably at Memphis that season, hitting .268/.355/.375 with five homers in 129 games.  Not anything that is going to get you all that excited, especially since Hunter had been in the professional ranks for six years before joining St. Louis.  At the end of the season, he was granted free agency.  He bounced from Cleveland to Atlanta before winding up in Philadelphia and playing 13 games with the Phils last season.  He hit just .088 in those games, but as far as I can tell the Phillies still have him under contract so maybe he’ll get another chance this season.

Maybe Mo was clearing a debt from the Matt Holliday deal and helping out Billy Beane who needed to move Hunter for some reason.  Maybe they just wanted a little insurance.  No idea, but it seems like the future considerations weren’t a major issue here.

Rating: Pretty much a toss-up, as zero equals zero at least from the Cardinals point of view here.

Trade 20: Zack Cox to Miami for Edward Mujica

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/31/12 Zack Cox 0.0 0.0* Edward Mujica 2.8  2.5*

*–Still active

Reaction Post: Cards Make Move Before Deadline

Given that Cox was drafted out of the University of Arkansas, where I did my college work lo so many years ago, I always kept tabs on him.  A first round draft pick in 2010, given that he was a college hitter (and a pretty good one at that) it’s not surprising that he quickly worked his way up the ladder.  He had plateaued a bit in Memphis in 2012 (.254 with nine homers) but still looked like at least a decent shot at being a major leaguer, even if he wasn’t going to be the star that you’d have thought a first-rounder would be.

When we think of trading deadline moves now, this type of move–a mid-range prospect for a bullpen arm–feels like a Mozeliak move, doesn’t it?  However, this was really the first time he made this kind of deal and it paid off in spades, as the saying goes.  With a little weakness in the bullpen–this was the year they dipped down to AA to bring up Trevor Rosenthal, which worked fairly well but was still pretty risky–getting a solid guy like Mujica was something the club needed, even if they didn’t know how well it would pan out.

Mujica thrived in 2012 in St. Louis, as we know, posting a 1.2 WAR the rest of the season after having a -0.1 WAR in Miami before the trade.  Mujica has been a four WAR player in his career and almost three of that came in his year-plus in St. Louis.  He had a 1.03 ERA down the stretch with the Cards and gave up just two runs in the postseason, throwing four scoreless frames in the NLCS against the Giants.  In 2013, he slid into the closer role when Jason Motte got hurt and Mitchell Boggs turned into a gas can Mo had to sell to Colorado to keep Mike Matheny from using and went to the All-Star Game, piling up 37 saves before leaving via free agency.

Cox never made the big leagues and, while he’s still considered “active” on the Baseball-Reference site, he spent his Age 27 season playing independent ball in Wichita.  The odds of him ever making the big leagues, much less an impact there, are remote and shrinking.

Rating: Mo showed he still had his touch in this win.  A very solid move that didn’t cost the Cardinals anything in the long run.

Trade 21: Tyler Greene to Houston for cash or a player to be named later.

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
8/9/12 Tyler Greene -0.1 -0.6

Reaction Post: The Stopper

Whenever I hear that players such as Kolten Wong “need to play everyday”, I may not disagree, but I always have Tyler Greene in the back of my mind.  Greene was that up-and-coming shortstop prospect that seemed to be blocked at every turn and when he did get to play, it never seemed to be for long.  There was always the thought that, if Greene could just get some games under his belt, that talent that he obviously had (yet another first round pick) would come to the surface.

Then 2012 came.  Tony La Russa was gone, second base was at least partially his, and it didn’t take long to see that for whatever his faults, TLR did typically know when a player would help the team or not.  Greene hit .200 in April in 15 games (nine starts) and never really got much better throughout the season.  It got so bad that the normally “best fans in baseball” took to booing him, which came to a head the day before he was dealt, when he was booed to begin the game and even more so when he booted a double play ball.  Greene spoke to the media that night and said something to the effect that if fans were going to boo, they might as well stay home.

You can call it a coincidence, like Mozeliak did when announcing the trade, but it is still notable that a player criticizes the fan base (and not exactly in the harshest manner) and was dealt out less than 24 hours later.  Jeff Luhnow was in Houston by that time and was able to acquire a player that he had drafted and thought highly of while he was in St. Louis.  With the Astros going through a complete teardown, there was no pressure, no competition, nothing to do but let his talent shine.

Greene started 33 of 39 games he played that year with Houston and hit .246/.278/.460 with seven homers.  Not world-beating numbers, by any means, but light years ahead of what he did in Cardinal red, where he had nine home runs total in three and a half seasons.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to keep him even on a dreadful Astros squad and he was cut during the 2013 spring training.  He resurfaced for a bit with the White Sox, but was released in August and then spent a little time in a couple of other minor league systems before calling it quits.

Rating: I’m going with a tossup because the Cards didn’t receive anything of any real value, but there would be an argument for calling it a win getting Greene off of a roster and out of a place where he clearly didn’t want to be anymore.

Trade 22: Skip Schumaker to Los Angeles Dodgers for Jake Lemmerman

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
12/12/12 Skip Schumaker -1.4 -3.3 Jake Lemmerman 0.0 0.0

Reaction Post: Skipping Town

Everyone remembers Skip Schumaker, the outfielder turned second baseman that personified, for a time, the scrappy, do-more-with-less stereotype that the Cardinals get attached to often.  (Attached as in people associate it with the Cardinals and as in very fond of.)  There’s no doubt Schumaker had a lot of great moments in St. Louis and was a wonderful person, but Mozeliak realized that he really wasn’t going to help the team going forward.

From that reaction post:

There’s no doubt that Schumaker’s value to the team as a player has declined over the last few years.  He’s still got a value to them, it’s true, but it’s more of the clubhouse leader value rather than a directly impacting games value.

The above WAR numbers prove that point.  Skip didn’t do much in his one year with the Dodgers–though his .665 OPS was better than his next two seasons–and then he moved on to Cincinnati where he seemed to be able to apply his veteran presence in an organization with some St. Louis connections.  Again, I’m not saying that Schumaker didn’t have a reason to be on a major league roster, but those reasons were less and less tied to what he brought to the diamond.  He hit .238 for his two years in Cincy, which was a long way from his .300 averages while wearing Cardinal red.

As for Lemmerman, he played one year at Springfield, hitting .231 with eight homers, before being left unprotected and taken by the Padres in the minor league portion of the December 2013 Rule 5 draft.  Lemmerman played for the Padres in 2014 and did advance to AAA, but never made the majors and was released during spring training the next year.

Rating: I initially marked this as a tossup, but I think it was a win for John Mozeliak to be able to remove Skip Schumaker from the team without having to cut him or have an otherwise messy divorce.  The fact that they didn’t get anything for him that amounted to much should have been expected.  It only seems fair to rate this deal on intangibles, doesn’t it?

Trade 23: Marc Rzepczynski to Cleveland for Juan Herrera

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
7/30/13 Marc Rzepczynski 0.9 1.2* Juan Herrera 0.0^ 0.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active in organization

Reaction Post: Panning for Silver (Linings)

Two years after making what will be one of his most remembered deals, Mozeliak wound up shipping the last piece of the Colby Rasmus trade to Cleveland, leaving the club with no direct ties to that trade.  We talked some about Scrabble in the last deal, but after some good work in 2011, he had mixed results in 2012.  He struggled in April of 2013, allowing a .915 OPS against and seven runs in eight innings, which led to a somewhat surprising demotion to Memphis.  (Surprising because he was in his fifth major league season; veterans don’t often have that happen to them.)  He was brought back for two outings, apparently in a trade showcase, and even though he allowed two runs in his last appearance, 1 1/3 innings against the Pirates, he was still traded off to the Indians.

Returning to the American League must have revitalized him, because he allowed just two runs in over 20 innings for the Tribe.  2014 was a good year for him as well, then he began the travels of an established lefty reliever, something some team always seems to be needing at the trade deadline.  Cleveland sent him to the Padres in July of 2015, the Padres flipped him to Oakland in December of that year, and Oakland sent him to Washington at the 2016 deadline.  A free agent after last season, he signed with the Mariners and will team with another former Cardinal, Steve Cishek, in the Seattle pen.  (We’ll talk about Cishek next time.)

Rzepczyski has had some ups and downs, which is pretty much par for the course for relievers, especially ones that have limited innings like Scrabble.  Herrera, though, hasn’t done much in his time traveling the St. Louis minors.  Herrera has stayed on the various team prospect lists, because folks that can play middle infield are hard to come by, but he started last year at Springfield and was demoted to Palm Beach after hitting under .200 in 150 AA plate appearances.  Herrera still is just right at 23 1/2 so there is still time to develop, but he doesn’t appear to be going in the right direction.  I checked with my favorite minors expert John Nagel about Herrera and he confirmed what I thought, that Herrera has a good glove, but the bat just never has developed and there are no major expectations for him anymore.

Rating: Right now, I think this is a loss for Mo.  The club has had to go out and acquire folks like Zach Duke and Brett Cecil to find that solid lefty specialist when Rzepczyski could have filled that role.  (To be fair, he might have needed to get out of the organization for whatever reason to reclaim his mojo.)  With Aledmys Diaz apparently ensconced at short for a bit, Herrera would really have to blossom to make this decision different.

Trade 24: Michael Blazek to Milwaukee for John Axford

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
8/30/13 Michael Blazek 0.1^ 0.1* John Axford 0.3 2.0*

*–Still active
^–Still active in organization

Reaction Post: In Mo We Trust (Again)

When you are dealing for a former closer with a 4.45 ERA and no saves on the season, trust is about all you have when it comes to dealing with that trade.  There were a lot of folks scratching their head over importing Axford.  Sure, the bullpen could use some help, but was Axford really going to be able to do that?

Yes, yes he could.

It was only 10.1 regular season innings, but Axford struck out more than a batter an inning, allowed just two earned runs, and walked just three. It was a short burst of greatness that continued into the postseason, where Axford gave up one run against the Dodgers but otherwise was not touched in almost six innings over three rounds.  His impact helped the Cardinals hold off the Pirates and take their first NL Central crown since 2009.

And for that, the Cards dealt Michael Blazek, who spent a little time with Milwaukee in 2013 (he actually faced St. Louis twice that September, taking an extra-inning loss in one of them) then all of 2014 in the minors before staying on the big league roster the next two years.  Blazek had a good 2015 but struggled in ’16, so time will tell whether that was general reliever fluctuation or if he’s had his moment in the sun.  Either way, it doesn’t seem like Blazek is going to be an end of the bullpen guy, but remain a middle innings type that, honestly, most teams have plenty of.

Axford moved on to Cleveland after 2013 as the front office didn’t really want to press their luck with his resurgence.  He bounced around since then, from Cleveland to Pittsburgh to Colorado to Oakland, but he’s stayed semi-effective, perhaps on the level of Blazek with a little more experience.  (His clubhouse presence, given his Twitter feed, is probably more outgoing as well.)

Rating: A nice little win for Mo here.  Some good evaluation resulted in a strong stretch for Axford and they didn’t press their luck and re-sign him.  All in all, a good move.

Trade 25: David Freese and Fernando Salas to Los Angeles Angels for Peter Bourjos and Randal Grichuk

Date Outgoing bWAR w/New Total bWAR Incoming bWAR w/SL Total bWAR
11/22/13 David Freese 3.8 5.6* Peter Bourjos 0.6 0.7*
Fernando Salas 0.1 0.7* Randal Grichuk 6.0^ 6.0*

Reaction Post: They Don’t Make Eras Like They Used To

It feels like this deal was a symptom of the current age, doesn’t it?  In the fifties or so, Freese might have ridden his World Series heroics to lifetime employment with the team.  In the current age, when everyone is trying to maximize their club, finding every advantage they can, an off-season by Freese put him on the trading block.  2013 saw Freese hit .262 with just nine home runs and, with him not having any injuries to really explain it and it being his Age 30 season, it gave Mozeliak a chance to try to improve the team with a fairly valuable asset.

Which may have been the best move.  You look at what Freese has done, both in Los Angeles and his move to Pittsburgh, and he’s been a solid if unspectacular bat that can help a team but isn’t necessarily a major piece of the puzzle.  (That said, it would have been interesting to see the Cardinals try to reacquire Freese before he went to Pittsburgh to help with the bench, but it was not to be.)  Freese rebounded a bit in 2016 and it should be interesting to see how he does going forward.  It will also be interesting to see how many standing ovations he gets now that he’s a Pirate for the long haul.

Moving to Anaheim with Freese was another contributor to the 2011 title in Salas.  The vagaries of reliever usage apply here as well, as his 2013 and 2014 with Anaheim had some different outcomes, but Salas was another mid-leverage reliever, the kind that we’ve talked about forever on these posts.  Does he have value?  Of course.  Is he worth keeping around?  Probably.  Is he worth a lot of effort to do so?  Not really.  He moved to the Mets last year at the August waiver deadline but is currently a free agent.  It feels like he might sign a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, especially since he’s still out there looking now.

As many remember since this wasn’t so long ago, this was really supposed to be the Peter Bourjos trade.  Bourjos was this elite defender with a solid enough bat and would definitely shore up the Cardinal defense when healthy.  What we didn’t take into account was his usage by the manager, especially when Matheny had another option in Jon Jay.

You can debate, I guess, whether Bourjos played himself out of a job, whether Matheny has his guys, whether it was something in the middle.  There’s no doubt he got off to a slow start, hitting .160 in the first month of the season, but he was also dealing with the aftereffects of hand surgery.  Even though Jay was only hitting .213 himself, he started 22 games to Bourjos’s 14 over that stretch.  (Obviously, some games they were in the outfield together, with Jay over in right.)  Offensively, Bourjos never really got on track and the playing time suffered as a result.  He started four straight games from June 7 to June 11, then didn’t start that many in a row again until July 30-August 3.  2015 didn’t go much better for him and he was allowed to be a free agent, signing with Philadelphia and then, just a few days ago, the White Sox.

Again, there’s going to be a lot of finger pointing on Bourjos, but not really any of it is going to go toward Mozeliak.  The move made sense and it should have helped the team.  Plus the at-the-time overlooked part of the deal really redeems the whole thing.

Given Randal Grichuk’s ups and downs, his stints in Memphis, his streakiness, it’s pretty impressive that since this deal he’s posted a 6 bWAR for the Cardinals, which is just short of what Freese and Salas combined have done without any minor league stints to their name.  Grichuk will be the starting left fielder this season after spending some time in center and doing a passable job of it as well, but it’s his power bat that gets folks excited.  The WAR is just going to keep accumulating for the Cardinals, making this more and more of a good deal.

Rating: If Grichuk wasn’t involved, this is probably a loss for the Cardinals, but again Mo’s eye for talent saves the day and gets him another victory.  Grichuk’s value to the Redbirds–the major league ones, not the AAA ones–is going to make this deal look even more unbalanced when someone looks at it five years from now.

Twenty-five trades down, ten to go.  We’ll look at 2014-2016 in our next installment, then wrap it all up in a final post later on.  Be sure to come back!

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I got the chance to chat with Brendan Schaeffer of KMOV and 590 The Fan this weekend and had quite an enjoyable conversation.  We talked about him growing up a Cardinal fan and how he was able to transition from that fandom to the more impartial journalism jobs he has today.  We also talked a good bit about the 2017 Cardinals, so give us a listen!

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