Doug V

To be honest, going into the Pirates series, the Cards had kind of sucked. If I were going to use weather phenomena to describe it, I’d use my local one and call it a hurricane. Missouri folks might call it a tornado. (Don’t worry about scale here people. The point is: disaster.)

Well, one bright spot so far has been Mike Leake.

It’s no secret that I haven’t been a fan of Leake, though more so for his contract than his baseball skills. When he’s on, he’s an above average pitcher. The problem is, we spent ace-like money to get him, not above average pitcher money.

I’ll stop my rant there as I’ve devoted plenty of time to it already in previous posts.

So far this season, we’re getting the above average pitcher.

In his most recent start against the Pirates, he allowed 7 hits and only struck out one, not exactly ace-like, but he only allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings. It’s not how you get the results, but the fact that you get them I guess. If he only struck out one per game the rest of the season and kept winning, I can happily live with that. Well so far he’s 2-1 with an 0.84 ERA for the season,with a 0.844 WHIP. Shiny.

Will he keep it up? I think that depends on the defense. As we all know, he’s not a flamethrower, but he does pound the zone and throw a ton of strikes. Well strikes are in the hitters zone, so he will give up his share on contact, particularly ground balls, so the defense needs to be on its toes when he pitches. This is also why Kolten Eong needs to start when he pitches, platoon be darned. Who’s ever the better 3B Jhonny, Jedd Gyorko, or heck even Greg Garcia, needs to be out there too. We need to back Leake up. We do that, and he might just have a chance of having a much better season than his own hurricane last season

As always, thanks for reading.

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A Tale Of Two Pitchers.

Will the real Carlos Martinez please stand up?

Before I get into the post, I realize I may be overreacting a little, but with the Reyes injury and everyone else’s struggles last year, it should be understandable that Carlos, our ace, will be watched closely. Same with pitcher number two.

In his last start, Carlos went 5 innings, gave up 5 runs. plunked two batters and threw a wild pitch. Not exactly an ace like performance. Plus this was against the Reds, who are, no offense, a weaker offensive team than the Cubs, who Carlos owned last week.

I wasn’t lucky enough to catch this one on TV like I did the Cubs game, so I can’t say whether he looked any different in this start as opposed to his first one.

Another thing to note: Carlos only gave up one walk, so even with the wild pitch and the 2 hit batsmen, it’s not like his control was terrible.

The thing I wonder though is this: Opening day was exciting. Everybody was amped up, including Carlos. He’s a big game pitcher, we know this. Was the energy worn off in the second start as he settles into the long 162 game season?

It was probably just one bad start. That’s what his track record over the past two years implies, but you never know.

as for our second pitcher…

Adam Wainwright also pitched well in his first start, and struggled in his second start, particularly against a fellow named Bryce Harper.

Harper went 2 for 2 with a walk versus Waino. The walk interests me the most as it was a 3-2 count.

I know Harper is a beast and is coming off of a down year (for him. Many other batters would happily take his 2016) and looking to prove that 2015 wasn’t a fluke.

Still, was this a walk of respect to a talented guy off to a hot start? Or was this a sign that Waino doesn’t trust his stuff?

I know Waino is older and isn’t the same guy he used to be, but if he wants to come close to who he used to be, then confidence is key. Facing the best batters and giving them your best, not walking them.

I love Waino and I want to see him confident out there.

As I said with Carlos, this was probably just one bad start, though given Waino’s year last year, I’m a little more pessimistic with him.

Hopefully, These are in fact two isolated bad starts in a year full of many very good starts by both guys.

As always thanks for reading.

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Fox sports did an article on this year’s Cy Young Candidates, and there was one notable name missing in my mind: Our boy Carlos Martinez. Here are Carlos’ career stats. The stats show a player on the rise. He had a career-high 5.9 WAR last year, leading the team and making him the Most Valuable Cardinal (MVC) for 2016.

While it’s true his strikeout rate declined from 9.2 in 2015 to 8.0 in 2016, his hits per 9 innings also declined, from 8.4 to 7.8. He had the best WHIP of his career at 1.224.

There *was* a bit of BABIP drop, from .324 in 2015 to .287 in 2016. 2016 was only his 2nd full season, though, so it’s too early to tell if that BABIP was a little flukey or the new normal. The team has better defense this year, so his BABIP will be interesting to watch.

As far as the decline in strikeout rate goes, you have to remember that he pitched in a career-high 195 innings last year, so he probably faded down the stretch a little. (Looks at stats) actually, I’m wrong. His best rates came in July, August and September/October (8.7, 9.6 and 9.0, respectively). However, his best months may have been March/April and June, when he had his lowest K rates (6.4 and 6.0) as he had his best ERA’s and WHIP’s those months.

Back to the main question: Is he a Cy Young candidate? I think so, but I think the number of innings pitched will be a key factor. If he, say, approaches 215 to 230 innings while coming close to or exceeding the stats he had last year (a similar WHIP, same or better K/9, etc) he’ll become an obvious candidate. It’s not like he needs much more WAR for consideration. He had 5.9 WAR last year, remember? Well in 2012, Clayton Kershaw had 6.2 and was the runner-up.

I think the biggest thing holding Martinez back is something he has no control over: Recognition. Everybody knows who Kershaw is, but not everyone knows who Martinez is. Hopefully, with a good year and increased innings, Carlos Martinez will make everyone learn his name.

As always, thanks for reading.

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As you all know, Yadier Molina is up for an extension, talks about which are going to resume when the season starts.

Well, recently, Ken Rosenthal wrote an article about Yadi’s influence on Puerto Rico’s entry into the World Baseball Championship (WBC). Here is the article.

According to the article, Yadi has been studying the opposing WBC teams for at least 6 months, even suggesting lineups. During the tourney, he helps arrange the pitching rotation, runs the pitching meetings, and suggests pitching changes based on the pitcher is doing and how tired he is. Yadi is often looking towards the next inning or two.

While technically Puerto Rico has a pitching coach (Ricky Bones), it seems to me Yadi isn’t just a coach on the field, but off the field is well. The article almost makes it seems like Puerto Rico doesn’t *need* a pitching coach since they have Yadi.

I covered this already here, approaching it from both sides, but this article, showing how much influence Yadi can have on a team, tilts me a little further onto Yadi’s side of things.

Now, I’m sure Yadi is teaching Carson Kelly some of this stuff, that’s the type of guy he is. However, as much as he tries, as much as he is taught, Kelly won’t be Yadi. You can’t teach a guy some of the stuff Yadi is doing. Yadi is basically an unofficial second pitching coach, and a lot of the stuff he has learned has come from experience. Well if Yadi moves on, he won’t be around to shape similar experiences for Kelly, by observing from the dugout. But if Yadi stays, Kelly will be the one sitting in the dugout, not getting any hands on experience. Yadi could point out something that happened while he was out there, but it won’t be the same.

Thinking about this, I thought about a possible solution: Make Yadi a coach.

The days of player-coaches are long gone, but maybe they shouldn’t be. Yadi is already an unofficial assistant pitching coach, so make it official. The WBC proves (as if we already didn’t know) Yadi is already doing a lot of what a pitching coach does. Plus, this guarantees him a job after he retires, if he wants one. It would also be a sign of respect from the organization, never a bad thing. So make him an official Assistant Pitching Coach.

Just some food for thought.

As always, thanks for reading.

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As you all know, we lost Alex Reyes for a season due to a torn UCL and our favorite surgery, Tommy John.

The question becomes, how do you replace him?

There are two ways: Directly and indirectly.

Directly, of course, is by replacing his innings. Trevor Hooth over at Redbird Rants covered this here in an excellent article but I’ll give my two cents. The best candidates to do replace the innings, in my mind, are Michael Wacha, Marco Gonzales,  Luke Weaver, and Trevor Rosenthal.

1) Michael Wacha

Wacha, of course, has had success as a starter. As recently as 2015, he was an All-Star, going 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA. You wonder how much of that was luck, though, because in 2016, with a nearly identical BB rate and K rate, he went 7-7 with a 5.09 ERA. his batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, tells part of the tale: in 2015 it was .276, in 2016 it was .337. Yes, part of that was due to shoulder issues as he missed time due to a shoulder injury, but what if some of it was the Cards defense? The D wasn’t exactly shiny last year, as noted elsewhere in the Cardinals Blogosphere (or whatever it’s called.). The Cards know that and have been working on that, though I’ll believe it when I see it.

2) Marco Gonzales

Marco had TJ surgery last year and is going to need so rehab, so he likely wouldn’t join the rotation until late May at the earliest, and that’s the best case scenario. Still, he did ok in 2014 as a starter, going 4-2 with a 4.15 ERA, starting in 5 of 10 appearances. Not bad for a 22-year-old. We’ll see if he builds on that when/if he makes it back to the bigs since there’s a chance he may spend the whole season in AAA rehabbing, which may be wise. You don’t want to rush him.

3) Luke Weaver

Weaver struggled last year going 1-4 in 9 games (eight started) with a 5.70 ERA. I would give this a small sample size, or SSS asterisk, though. it was only 36 innings after all, and the kid has owned AAA lately. Plus, as I told a friend on twitter, 9/10 kids struggle when they first reach the bigs. The tenth was Reyes. Weaver is only 23 years old and is our second best prospect. If Wacha falters even a little, I wouldn’t hesitate giving Weaver a shot. Heck, if Weaver’s spring training numbers are markedly better than Wacha’s, I’d go with the kid.

4) Trevor Rosenthal

This one makes the least amount of sense to me. Not because Rosie doesn’t have the potential to start, he does. Rather, I think he has more value as a shutdown bullpen swingman ala Andrew Miller. He should continue working on developing his secondary stuff, which he’s doing in preparation to compete for the starter role, then when the time comes, management should assign him the swingman role, and he’ll have those additional pitches, which will help him do the job that much better.

Indirectly is by the rest of the rotation manning up. Specifically the back-end, guys like Mike Leake and Lance Lynn.

Last year Leake pitched like a #5 starter if that. He went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA, and this guy was our big FA signing last year. (He was plan B IE we gotta sign *somebody*! Plan B options scare me.) People talk about other pitchers, but I think Leake is one of the keys. He needs to pitch like he did from 2013 to 2015, not like he did last year, or he’s not worth the money we spent (even then, I think we overpaid.)

Lynn needs to bounce from surgery. Honestly, I think he has a better chance of doing so than Leake rebounding. However, Lynn relied almost exclusively on his fastball before the injury, so if he has lost any velocity, he could be in trouble.

Other things like Adam Wainwright bouncing back from a bad season, and Carlos Martinez continuing to excel and not letting his new contract make him complacent (doubtful, the kid has a fire in him) would help, but the most pressure is on the 3-5 spots, as those are the biggest unknowns.

As always, thanks for reading.

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The Torture Of Potential

As we all know, Alex Reyes underwent an MRI today, and the worst happened: a UCL tear and Tommy John surgery resulting in a lost season and possibly decreased velocity when he comes back, meaning there is a chance, when he finally returns, that we’ll never see the dynamo that we saw at the end of last season.

This, my friends, is the torture of potential.

Reyes is different than Aledmys Diaz. Diaz, while we knew he was talented, wasn’t expected to do anything close to what he did (raising expectations that he’ll do the same this year, something I’ve covered in the past but may write more about in the future.)

Reyes, on the other hand, has been watched closely for a while. I myself have partaken in this. I remember drooling over videos of this young fireballer as he worked his way up the system, counting the days until he joined the big league club. I was slightly worried when he failed a drug test, but I ultimately dismissed it as a young kid making a mistake and resumed counting the milliseconds until he joined us.

The thing we’re losing track of here is that many highly touted prospects, whether due to personality issues or injury issues, flame out.

There is, of course, the famous case of Billy Beane, the former Mets prospect who flamed out and didn’t find success until he became a GM.

On a more local note, remember Rick Ankiel?

Ankiel was a two-way player, a rare talent who could pitch and hit. His potential tantalized us. In the end, looking at the stats, he had one good season as a pitcher, and one as a hitter for us, and that was it. Whatever the cause (it’s been a while since I’ve thought of Mr. Ankiel, and I wasn’t as ardent a follower of the Cards then as I am now.) he didn’t realize his full potential like we had hoped or expected.

And that’s the key here. We expect too much of these kids. One of my fellow bloggers said something along the lines of “fans are “reaching for their brown bags now to help them breathe”

We need to back off a little and lower our expectations. Our high expectations had nothing to do with this injury, but putting so much pressure on a 22 year-old isn’t healthy. It needs to be more like it was with Diaz: a pleasant surprise. Hopefully, the injury will help us ease off on Mr. Reyes a little, and when he comes back, we won’t put the world on his shoulders again.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Prospect Watch: Harrison Bader

I enjoyed talking about our catching prospect Carson Kelly, so I thought I’d look at another prospect, Harrison Bader.

Bader made it to AAA last year, where he struggled. That was only in 161 AB’s though, and he had hit in all previous levels. Plus, remember, we just drafted him in 2015, as a 3rd rounder.

The interesting thing about Mr. Bader is where he plays: the outfield. He’s gotten time in all three positions out there, in fact.

We just signed Dexter Fowler, we have a pair of corner outfielders who are young in Randal Grichuk (24) and Stephen Piscotty (25). So where does Bader fit?

The instinctive reaction would be to say 4th OF/ PH/1B (he has no training there yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get him some.)

Currently our extra OF are Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez.

Pham is the veteran of the bunch, as last year was his second full season with the club. He hit 9 homers in 183 PA’s, not bad. His average, however, was only .226. One thing I did like was his OBP, which sat at .334, over a hundred points higher than his BA.

Martinez is a minor league journeyman who has hit for average in the minors (he hit .384 for Omaha in 2015 in 396 PA’s.) He hasn’t shown much power, though (10 homers in 2015, and a career high 11 last year.) Unless that ability to hit for a high average translates to the bigs, he’s nothing more than a bench player.

Both are 27 or older (Pham is 28 and Martinez is 27) so they are currently at or very near their primes, so what you see is what you get.

Bader, in contrast to the gentlemen mentioned above, is only 22, and already has displayed more power potential than any of them. He had a .283/.351/.497 slash line in AA last year with 16 homers before earning a promotion to AAA.

Given his struggles in AAA last year after being promoted (he had a .231/.298/.354 slash line in 161 PA’s) I don’t expect him to make an appearance in the bigs this season, but if he rebounds and continues to develop, I can see him being a 4th OF in 2018.

The more interesting question, though, is beyond that. We appear to be set at CF and RF with Fowler and Piscotty. Grichuk struggled a bit last year, hitting only .240 with a .289 OBP. The 24 homers and .480 SLG weren’t bad, though. Grichuk is still only 25, so he hasn’t reached his prime yet. Plus, he’ll be moving over to LF with the acquisition of Fowler, a position he’s better suited for. If he rebounds, Bader may become trade bait. if he doesn’t, we may have a position battle on our hands at some point.

As always, thanks for reading.

Editor’s Note: The initial version of this post included Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was selected by the Diamondbacks on waivers this offseason.  We regret the error.

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Good day all, been a while. I thought I’d dust off the keyboard and talk about one of my favorite stories of 2016: Aledmys Diaz.

Last year, Diaz hit .300 with 17 homers and 65 RBI in 460 PA’s. He also had healthy .369 OBP.

While we knew he had talent, the year exceeded all expectations, and that’s kind of the problem.

Was what he produced in 2016 a sign of what’s to come? Or was 2016 a case of a rookie catching the league by surprise?

To get some insight into that, let’s take a peek into his minor league history.

He joined the Cards in 2014, at the age of 23 (that’s another thing to keep in mind, he’s older than I thought. He’ll be 26 next year, 3 years older than, say, Bryce Harper.)

In 2014 he started poorly in the Florida State League, hitting .227 in a brief 13 game cameo. The Cards must’ve seen something they liked, though (perhaps it was the .352 OBP that came with that .227 average.) as he moved on up to AA Springfield, where he hit .291 in 125 PA’s. The OBP leveled off though, as it was only .311. He showed a little pop with 5 homers and 10 doubles combined between the two levels (179 PA’s total).

Diaz started 2015 in AA, where he hit .264 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 409 PA’s. The OBP rebounded a bit, to .060 points above his average at .324.

His performance earned him a promotion to AAA. Like he had when he was promoted to AA, he hit. In a 58 PA cameo, he hit .380(!) with a .448 OBP and a .620 Slugging Percentage, or SLP. Combined, he hit 13 homers between the two levels in 467 PA’s. His OBP was 60-70 points higher like it has been at all levels, save for that brief period in AA at the end of 2014.

In 2016, save for a 2 game cameo in the FSL, he spent the entire year in the bigs. Save for the power, everything he achieved is consistent with past performance. ability to hit for solid average, an OBP 60-70 points higher than his batting average.

Plus, looking closer at the power, it’s not that far (if at all) out of line. If you calculate what he did in 2015 out to 600 PA’s, he gets 16.7 homers. Do the same thing for the 17 homers in 460 PA’s in 2016 and you get 21.9, which seems more like maturation than an outlier.

Diaz may have gotten results faster than expected, but everything I’m seeing here points to 2016 as the simple maturation of a very talented young hitter.

All of this makes me very excited to see what 2017 brings on the offensive side of the ball for Aledmys. The defensive side? That’s another post.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

 

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Yadier Molina recently let the Cards know that he was interested in an extension. My co-hort C70 already covered this here, but I wanted to give my two cents.

First let me just say that, as a fan. Yadi is my favorite Cardinal right now, and one of my all-time favorites. I can’t imagine the Cards without Yadi.

As a wannabe GM however, this looks like trouble.

Five Points.

  1. Yadi is entering his age 34 season having caught a whopping 13,000+ innings as our catcher. He has been an iron man throughout his career but has started to break down, losing time to injuries the last year or two.
  2. Players looking for an extension at this stage of their career typically want what I call a “retirement” extension. Basically, a multi-year extension that pays them for what they’ve done, not what they’re going to do. The extension is basically a “respect” extension. These type of extensions always end badly for the team.
  3. We have Carson Kelly a young catching prospect who is close to being ready. In fact, if Yadi got injured during the season, Kelly would likely be called up and given a chance to start.
  4. As mentioned above, Yadi has been an iron man. I think this is something he is proud of, and I’m not sure I see him letting Kelly play 40-50 games next year. I can see Yadi readily passing on knowledge, but I can’t see him sit, watching the kid play, then giving Kelly pointers. Yadi may have too much pride for that. I think he will want to start every game until he can’t start another game. Knowing Yadi, that may be 3-4 more years.
  5. Even if Yadi is willing to sit, Mike Matheny might play him anyways, which is a good gesture of respect on the surface, but could negatively affect the team in the long run. Mo might have to sit on Matheny’s shoulder. In fact, if I were Mo, I ask the Cards for a second office, one in the clubhouse, where I could monitor and tweak the daily lineup.

In the end, if Yadi is extended, barring clauses that limit his playing time, (which I’ll talk about below) Kelly will likely have to be dealt. Then when Yadi breaks down, (he is human after all (I think)) we’ll be left scrambling.

If I were Mo, in extension talks, if he’d consider a “Health/Mentor” clause, which limits Yadi’s playing time, say 100 to 110 games a year. I don’t think he’d agree to such a clause.

In the end, we may be between a rock and a hard place. If Yadi leaves, the pressure on Kelly to live up to his potential would be enormous. If he doesn’t fans will wonder why we didn’t keep Yadi. However, if Yadi stays and starts to decline, fans will wonder why we didn’t keep Kelly. I don’t see this ending well.

As always, thanks for reading.

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We focus on the stars in baseball (and rightly so in most cases) but sometimes who wins comes down to how deep a team is. Look at the Dodgers last year: They had a ton of injuries, but thanks to depth and front office resourcefulness, they made the playoffs and made the Cubs’ lives interesting. with that in mind, I thought I’d look at the Cards bench and see where we stand depth wise there.

Currently it looks to be:

Matt Adams 1B)
Jedd Gyorko IF)
Kolten Wong 2B, OF)
Greg Garcia 2B, SS, 3B)
Jordan Schafer OF)
Tommy Pham OF)
Eric Fryer C)

I include both Gyorko and Wong on this list because either one or the other will be on the bench, and both can play positions beyond 2B.

Overall, this isn’t a bad bench, though I doubt this will be what we have when the season starts, as the rumor mills are flying around Adams, with Matt Carpenter starting at 1B in 2017. Adams, if kept, is a nice power bat to have off of the bench.

I just covered Adams, so let’s move on to the rest.

Jedd Gyorko

Gyorko hit 30 homers in 438 PA’s last year while composing a .243/.306/.495 slash line. That screams “starter” to me, and if I had my druthers, I’d park Jhonny Peralta and his contract on the bench, and install Jedd at 3B. Instead, he’s the super utility guy, and will likely share time at 2B with Wong, courtesy of Mike Matheny. I don’t think we’ll see 30 homers again, but depending on playing time, 20+ is certainly possible.

Kolten Wong

As mentioned above, Gyorko will likely get a bit of 2B time, reducing Wong’s playing time. That is a shame, as Wong’s defense and speed are sorely needed in the lineup. Sure his bat still needs work, but the rest of the lineup is good enough that we can take the hit and make our D better. I get the feeling, though, that Mike will look at his lineup and say “we got Fowler for speed now” and put Gyorko in at 2B more than ever. Doing so would be a mistake.

Eric Fryer

Fryer is our de facto backup catcher. He likely won’t get much playing time, since if Yadier Molina is injured, Carson Kelly will likely be called up. Otherwise, Yadi will probably ground into dust, something that’s gone into more detail here. Personally, I think Kelly should be called up and be required to star 40-50 games to get experience, but unless Mo relocates himself to the dugout, sitting over Matheny’s shoulder, that ain’t happening. Where’s Art Howe when you need him? (Go read Moneyball people, if you haven’t already.)

Greg Garcia

With Gyorko around, I don’t really see the need for Garcia outside of an injury replacement. Whoever Gyorko is subbing for can pinch hit or play in the later innings. Flexibility is nice, but Garcia seems a little redundant.

Jordan Schafer

Schafer, a recent acquisition, is a substitute outfielder who has a little speed and can even pitch from what I hear. In fact, he was converted mainly into a pitcher last year, spending the whole year in the minors learning how to pitch. I like the Cards ‘pen though, and he struggled with the bat in 2015, so I’m not sold.

Tommy Pham

Pham is out incumbent backup outfielder. He struggled last year, with a .226/.324/.440 slash line in 183 PA’s. I like his plate discipline that, as evidenced by his OBP being nearly 100 points higher than his batting average. Again, flexibility is nice, but I don’t think we need bother Schafer and Pham, with Wong able to play the OF. Between Pham and Schafer, if I had to choose, I’d choose Pham, even with Schafer’s ability to pitch. I like Pham’s plate discipline.

Bonus: Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta *should* be on the bench. Doing so, in fact, clears many things up. Gyorko gets 3B time, Wong sees more action at 2B, and we have another valuable bat off the bench as well as a late inning replacement for 3B and SS. The move makes a ton of sense, but since he’s still owed a bit of money and has become a “Matheny guy” it’ll never happen.

In sum, it’s a solid bench, with a little redundancy in the form of Garcia and Schafer. Both have struggled, so I’d prefer better bench bats. Plus neither is young and isn’t what the bench is usually for, to groom up and coming prospects for starting roles?

That’s my two cents on the bench.

As always, thanks for reading.

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The Cardinals, as you know, are in the market for a center fielder. They are rumored to be in on Dexter Fowler, which would be a nice acquisition, but I thought I’d explore another option, as well as compare those two to one that got away.

Here are the 2016 stats for our three CF

1) Fowler – .276 AVG, .393 OPB, .447 SLUG, 13 HR’s, 13 SB, average fielder.

2) Mystery Guest 1 -.284 AVG, .362 OBP, .428 SLUG, 14 HR’s, 14 SB, above average fielder.

3) Mystery Guest 2 – .291 AVG, 339 OBP, .389 SLUG, 2 HR’s, 2 SB,   above average fielder.

(note: for fielding, I’m using Range Factor per 9 Innings and Range Factor per Game and comparing it to the league average in those categories as a quick and dirty way to evaluate these guys. After all, CF is the outfield position where range matters the most.)

Mystery guest one is Adam Eaton. With the recent trade of Chris Sale, the belief is that the White Sox will be sellers now. Eaton is only 28, meaning he’s in his prime and will be for a while. He’s fairly well rounded, has a little pop, has a little speed, gets on base and fields well. He’s also very affordable, having signed a contract that locks him up until 2019 with team options for 2020 and 21. Basically, he’s guaranteed 18.4 Million, with  a possible 9.5 million year in 2020 and a 10.5 million dollar year in 2021. Both years he has a 1.5 million dollar buyout. While that does lockup CF until 2019, blocking it for any prospects, that’s less guaranteed years than Fowler will likely demand and at a much lesser financial cost for comparable production. The cost in prospects may be another matter, but I think it’s definitely worth exploring before handing a wad of cash to Fowler.

Mystery guest two is our old friend Jon Jay. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you know that I wasn’t Jay’s biggest fan, however, in Jay’s past he’s gotten on base at a good rate and provided solid D according to the range factor method I’ve used. He also rebounded a bit last year, hitting .291, albeit without the plate discipline he’s had in the past. The contract he signed with the Cubs was only for a year, and just 8 million dollars, which makes me wonder why the Cards didn’t consider bringing him back. He’d have made a nice stall tactic while Harrison Bader gained some more seasoning in the minors. Again, I wasn’t Jay’s biggest fan, but the reasonable cost and short-term nature of the deal make it a sensible fit.

Of the three, (if Jay was hypothetically still out there) my preference would be Eaton. Less of a financial hit than Fowler and the youngest of the three. As long as the prospect hit isn’t too bad, Mo should definitely consider trading for him. I’d be happy to have Fowler, don’t get me wrong, but Eaton makes more sense.

As always, thanks for reading.

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John Mozeliak and Brett Cecil

The Cards reportedly have signed Brett Cecil, a former Blue Jays reliever.

Cecil, a lefty, was a valuable man out of Toronto’s bullpen from 2013-2015, before struggling last year, and even that (he started slow before finishing better) makes him look like a solid buy low candidate.

Except…

7 million plus per year isn’t that “low” for a buy low candidate. Yes, I know there’s a bullpen revolution going on, so the Cards are jumping on the bandwagon. Bandwagon jumping can be dangerous as it has burned many teams.

And yes, I realize 7 million isn’t what it used to be. In 2016-2017 terms, it doesn’t buy you as much as it used to. Still, it’s not the 7 million that really bothers me.

What bothers me is the combination of two things: 4 guaranteed years and a no trade clause.

Now, I haven’t seen the actual contract yet, but if the 4 guaranteed years are correct, that he has no vesting options or team options to protect the team, then that’s a lot of guaranteed years for a guy coming off of a bad year, even with the 2nd half rebound.

What really bothers me, though, is the no trade clause. What if the Cards are struggling one year (hey, it can happen. We just missed the playoffs, even if we were in the hunt until the very end.) and Cecil is having a good year. a lefty doing well could net some nice pieces via trade. The Cards won’t be able to explore that option though because of the no-trade clause. The afore-mentioned guaranteed years don’t help as far as trades go.

Last year, when John Mozeliak signed Mike Leake after missing out on bigger names and gave him 5 years at 80 million with 4 of those years guaranteed (the 5th is a mutual option), I wasn’t a fan. Last year he went 9-12 with a 4.69 ERA while making 15 million. I realize, like 7 million, 15 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but does that sound like a 15 million dollar player to you?

Now don’t get me wrong I hope Cecil (and Leake for that matter) have good years every year from here on out, but if they don’t, the guaranteed years (and no trade clause in Cecil’s case) could cost us some valuable flexibility down the road.

 

As always, thanks for reading.

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