Doug V

Toughness And Injuries.

I often hear, in real life and on TV, about being tough, or working through pain, or being a guy, or to “man up”.

With Alex Reyes, and indeed throughout baseball, I wonder if this is a factor.

Now, I’m no medical expert and don’t have a degree in any field remotely related to baseball, so you can take this all with a grain of salt if you wish.

That being said, I saw an interesting article on ESPN from, of all people, Mike Matheny.

In the ESPN article, Matheny talks about how players, specifically his pitchers, should communicate better with him, especially in regard to being in pain. The article cites how Alex Reyes had a decrease in velocity, still finished an inning, cited soreness afterwards, and ultimately had surgery and is now gone for the year, just after getting back.

Now, you know from past articles that I am not Matheny’s biggest fan. I wonder if he plays favorites with his players and I often question his bullpen usage. Here, however, I find myself agreeing with him. In today’s game, pitchers made a ton of money, so you would think they would err on the side of caution and not push themselves too much. This does not seem to be the case.

Toughness isn’t the only issue here. Velocity has become increasingly important in todays game, but you have to wonder if all of that heat exerts a lot of pressure on a pitcher’s arm. Why not take a few miles off of your heater, work on your control and save the magic bullet for, say, an 0-2 count? Or use the breaking stuff to get to 0-2 (or any 2 strike count, for that matter.) This seems like common sense to me, and yet we often see highlights of Aroldis Chapman (or Jordan Hicks for you Cardinals fans) and gaze in wonder. Me personally, every time I see a Hicks 100+ heater, I cringe, worrying about the long term health of his arm, and hope that he’s not pushing himself to throw those heaters due to pressure from outside sources.

Just some food for thought.

As always, thanks for reading.


The other day our young flamethrower, Jordan Hicks, hit 105 on the radar gun twice, something that had never been done before. It was impressive. What really stood out, though, was that the batter made contact on that second 105 mph heater, fouling it off. He obviously knew a fastball was coming.

Hicks’ reliance on his heater reminds me of a former Cardinal: Trevor Rosenthal.

Rosie was all about the heat. Sure, he had other pitches, but when you thought of Rosie, you thought of his blazing fastball. Rosie’s reliance on his heater worked pretty well for him though as he had two very good seasons for us, including two with more than 45 saves, before he started to struggle. Currently Rosie is a free agent recovering from Tommy John surgery. I’m curious what the market for him will be when he comes back.

Another thing Jordan and Trevor have in common is wildness. In his Cardinals career Rosie only had one full season where he averaged less than 3.3 BB per nine innings. In 2014, a year where had 45 saves, he averaged 5.4 BB’s per nine innings. Talk about a tightrope act.

Likewise Hicks is struggling with his control. He is currently averaging 6.5 BB per nine innings..

One area where they aren’t similar is strikeout rate. In every full season with us, Rosie averaged over 10 K’s per 9 innings. Currently Hicks is averaging fewer strikeouts per nine innings than he is walks per nine innings.

I realize we are talking about a very sample size with Hicks, as it is his rookie season and he has only pitched 22 Innings. That has come over 45 games, though, so they’re using him quite frequently. Extrapolated over a full season, that is 75 games and 79 innings. If you project his walks over the full season at his current pace, he ends up with 117. Plus the low K rate means the hitters are basically sitting there and waiting for strikes, knowing how wild he’s been.

Rosie had two good years with us (2014 wasn’t that good despite the 45 saves). I hope Hicks settles down, improves his K rate, and has more than two good seasons. The potential for it is certainly there.

As always, thanks for reading.


Paul DeJong: Legit?

Hey there folks…

Going into this season I’d planned to write an article about Paul DeJong, our young SS who had a breakout year last season, hitting .285 with 25 homers and 26 doubles in 443 PA. He ended up with a .532 slugging percentage. He also had 124 strikeouts and an OBP only 40 points higher than his batting average, so there were some signs he might crash back to earth and remind us of Aledmys Diaz.

Remember Diaz? In 2016 he hit .300 with 17 homers and 28 doubles in 460 PA’s, netting him a .510 slugging percentage. He also struck out half as much as DeJong did last year, 60 times.

He struggled last year though, for a variety of reasons, and was shipped off to Toronto in December for a mid level prospect named J.B. Woodman.

Then the season started and DeJong continued to hammer away, having hit 7 homers so far.

Diaz, meanwhile, is currently struggling in Toronto, with a .213 average, 4 homers, and only 2 doubles. He’s also struggling on defense, with a .969 fielding percentage, opposed to DeJong’s .988.

Pretty black and white, no?

Except for one thing: DeJong still strikes out a ton more. He currently has 31 strikeouts in just 83 plate appearances. He also only only has just 5 walks. There is a slightly higher seperation between the average (.260) and the OBP (.313). Still, either that distance needs to increase if he wants to have a long term future, or his batting average needs climb quite a bit. Yadier Molina for example, only has a 17 point gap between his average and OBP, but the fact that he’s hitting .316 makes gap that much more acceptable. (The OBP is .333 for those of you who failed Math. He also has 6 homers, just one less than DeJong’s.)

Back to Diaz. While has struggled in Toronto, one thing hasn’t changed. He doesn’t strike out nearly as much as DeJong, with just 9 strikeouts in 65 PA. Even if we added 18 more AB to Match DeJong’s PA’s, he’d still have quite a few less.

However, Diaz is also older, at 27, while DeJong is still just 24, so Diaz may be in the “what you see is what you get” stage, while DeJong (hopefully) has room to grow and learn some plate discipline. I hope he does, otherwise he’ll be a one dimensional player totally reliant on his ability to knock balls out of the park, a trait a lot less valuable than it used to be (see Mike Moustakas‘ contract for more details there.)


As always, thanks for reading.




I thought I’d take a look at how some of our off-season acquisitions have started the season, starting with our (sort of) Japanese import Miles Mikolas.

So far Mikolas has had two starts, both against the same opponent, the Milwaukee Brewers. One start was home and one was up north in Milwaukee.

The stat lines from the two starts actually seem very similar. He went 5.2 innings in the first start, 6.1 in the second, with four runs allowed in each game. Mikolas struck out 5 in both games and didn’t give up a walk in either performance. He also gave up a similar amount of hits: seven in the first, eight in the second.

The only real difference between the two games was that he gave up three homers in the first game and none in the second. I’m going to say, until proven otherwise, that the three homers were simply first start jitters. The man hadn’t pitched in the majors in a few years and had a new contract to justify after all.

Added together, Mikolas currently sports a 6.00 ERA with a 1.250 with a neutral WAR.

Noe this is admittedly a small sample size and he’ll likely settle down as the season goes on, but let’s play this out: Mikolas makes 7.750,000 a year for 2 years under his contract. Is that fair value for a starter with a 5.00+ ERA, neutral WAR and a slightly above average WHIP? Probably not.

However, last year, we had a starter with a 5.00+ ERA and a 1.50 WHIP who made a much larger salary (19,500,000) in Adam Wainwright, who had a 4.62 ERA in 2016, meaning his stats last year may not have been a fluke, whether there injuries involved or not. Wainwright is slated to make the same salary this year too. In addition, Waino got hammered in his first start this year. Regardless of whether he was rushed back for the home opener or not, an ugly start is an ugly start.

By that token, Mikolas is a bargain.

Now, things may reverse themselves and Waino becomes the Waino of old (seems unlikely) while Mikolas stays who he is, but right now, based on that admittedly narrow comparison, Mikolas is a bargain.

As always, thanks for reading.


Hello there guys. Been a while. Like the Cards, I got off to a slow start this season.

Last night though, the Cardinals were full speed ahead, thanks to a brilliant outing by Carlos Martinez, who struck out 10 Milwaukee Brewers in 8 and a third innings and didn’t allow a run. More performances like that from Carlos and he’ll firmly ascend to the mountain of being an ace.

Helping Carlos’ cause was Yadier Molina, who in addition to his usual excellent game planning and being a second pitching coach on the field, launched a homer, his third of the season in only six games. I realize it could be just a hot start (though aside from the homers he’s only hitting .261 with a .282 OBP) but that is the fun of early season musings like this, the what if scenarios.

Yadi’s career high in homers was 22, back in 2012. From 2013 until 2016 he didn’t hit more than 12. Last year however, he hit 18, the second most of his career, to go along with a career high of 82 RBI. Now, we all know that just about *everybody* homered more last year and the overall total of homers hit, 6105, was the most ever in a single season, so it makes sense to ask whether how many of Yadi’s homers were Yadi himself, and how many were just balls traveling farther, whether it be to balls being different, batters uppercutting their swings more, etc.

Let’s start with the basics: the ball can’t leave the yard if Yadi doesn’t hit it. His .273 average last year wasn’t his best ever, but the man is a career .284 hitter, which is pretty solid, and often gets lost when people talk about him, as they generally focus on his defense and his ability to guide pitchers (and the team) when he’s on the field. Yadi is a regular field general.

The key, in my mind, is patience. Yadi only had a .310 OBP last year, 37 points above his batting average, due to taking only 28 walks, his fewest since 2014. He does however have a career .336 OBP, which isn’t the worst mark I’ve seen, but it’s not exactly Matt Carpenter’s or Dexter Fowler’s either.

Even last night his homer was on a pitch out of the zone and the swing looked more like a golf swing than a traditional baseball swing. Obviously it got the job done. So far this season though, he’s only drawn one walk in six games. Pitchers notice trends quickly, so they will try to get him chase pitches out of the zone until he stops chasing.

I think he’ll hit 20 or more homers. Whether he’ll have a good batting average and OBP to go with that is another story. As I said above, it’ll come down to patience.

As always, thanks for reading.


Now that I got my FA rant out of the way yesterday, my mind wandered to the other side of the fence. Specifically, the big class of 2019. What if Bill DeWitt suddenly decided to open his wallet, or found 2 Billion dollars of pocket change under his couch? Who would fit our team in this little money is no object pipe dream?

One thing to note though: I’m just not randomly signing guys, but rather going off what the teams current strengths and weaknesses are.

The biggest names are, of course, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. As much as I like Harper, I like our outfield as is, so I’m going to dismiss him right away. We traded away Stephen Piscotty because we had a surplus, so it makes little sense to flip around and sign Harper. Don’t get wrong, he’d look nice out there, but I think we’ll be just fine with Dexter Fowler/Marcell Ozuna/Tommy Pham trio for the next few years as all 3 are locked up for a while, with Ozuna the first to be out of contract in 2019.

Machado is a different story. We have a good shortstop in Paul DeJong (provided he follows up his great rookie season with a solid campaign.) Third base, however, is up in the air right now, as Gyorko could be a free agent after 2019 if his option isn’t exercised. With the money he’ll make, I’m sure Machado will happily head back to third. Just imaging him along with a pair of other 26 or under players in the infield with DeJong and Kolten Wong (who hit .285 with a .376 OBP last year) makes me very happy. (I’d love Brian Dozier. Who wouldn’t? I’m comfortable with Wong there long term though.)

There are also other options there. Discount the age factor, and you could go after Josh Donaldson, who the Cards have been longing after for years. He’s 32, but he also hit 33 homers with a solid .270/385/.559 line which indicates he’s not declining just yet. He seems like a guy who might age more gracefully than others. And if you want to toss age entirely out the window, there’s always Adrian Beltre. Beltre is 38 and had his worse year in a while last year, but he still put up a .312/.383/.532 slash line with 17 homers in 389 plate appearances, which were his fewest since his rookie year. You could bet that was an outlier and give him a shot. Plus, he’s likely to sign for far fewer years than the other two, giving us a chance to find a long term option via our farm or trade.

Since I view 3B as our biggest hole on offense (I’m comfortable with Matt Carpenter at first, and we also have Jose Martinez there as a long term option. He had a .309/.379/.518 slash line with 14 homers in 307 plate appearances), let’s move on to pitching. Adam Wainwright is a free agent after this season, and barring sentiment and a drastic reversal of his decline, I’d be happy to let him walk, so let’s start with starters.

The biggest name here is Dallas Keuchel. He had a solid year last year, but he’s more of a finesse pitcher and is 30 years old who’ll want a long term contract. Nobody jumps out at me otherwise, until you look at a guy who isn’t officially listed as a free agent for next off-season yet but might as well be as he has a player opt-out: Clayton Kershaw. With all due respect to Dallas Keuchel, I’m going with Kershaw. How could you not?

As for relievers, there are a lot, so I’ll focus on the closer position. Several interesting names here, like Kelvin Herrera and Zach Britton, but again the best guy is an opt-out, Kenley Jansen. While it’s unlikely that he doesn’t re- sign with the Dodgers, he’ll be an interesting option if he doesn’t. He’ll be 31 at the beginning of the 2019 season, but given that he was a 3.1 WAR reliever last year, he might be another guy that ages gracefully. I like Luke Gregerson, but the closer position can be very volatile so bringing in a stable guy like Jansen (221 saves in the past 6 years if I remember correctly) is a no brainer.

Again, this is all fantasy, but it never hurts to dream a little, no?


As always, thanks for reading.



Thoughts On The MLB Offseason.

First, let me say I love baseball. I grew up with it, and I enjoy it immensely.

Having said that, I must say I think baseball players are vastly overpaid, which is why I’ve really enjoyed this off-season.

The team that did the best this off-season, in my opinion, was the Minnesota Twins, who spent little but filled multiple holes. (More detail here in this ESPN article Twins Off-Season.)

The worst deals, by far, were the Eric Hosmer and Jake Arrieta deals. San Diego was basically bidding against itself, and the Arrieta deal, while short at 3 years, paid a declining pitcher too much at 25 million dollars per year. I may have done the same amount of years, but with the last two years as team options. Make him earn those last two years.

What I could do with just one of those years of 25 million dollars.

Let’s reduce that even further though. The rookie minimum is 550,000 if I remember correctly.

Here’s what I could do with that amount:

  1. Pay off my mortgage
  2. Pay off my wife’s student loans
  3. Pay off my credit card.
  4. Get my wife a new car.
  5. Have money left over for multiple vacations.

The thing that seems to have been forgotten about baseball (and sports in general) is that they are entertainment. Sure, life would be boring without them, but they are not a necessity. Sports are not food, they are not water. They do not sustain us.

As I said, I grew up with baseball. There was a period, however, that I strayed from it, not watching a game for many years. I lived. I found other things to with my time. I met my wife, who as a nurse, performs a much more necessary job than an athlete but makes far, far less than the rookie minimum.

Next off-season, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will be free agents and likely get the biggest contracts ever. Just the idea of those contracts makes me cringe.

Just some food for thought.


As always, thanks for reading.







Player Watch: Miles Mikolas

Yes, I’m alive. Going to try to be more active as the season gets closer. One post a time though.

Anyways, one of the more interesting players in camp is Miles Mikolas. The Cards signed him to a 2 year/15.5 million dollar deal in the off-season.

Mikolas had a had a brief and uninteresting career in the big leagues before heading overseas to Japan, where he had success. That success is what prompted the Cards to sign him.

Personally, regardless of production, I like the deal. Compared, to say, a money sinkhole that a deal for a Jake Arrieta deal would be, 2 years at 15.5 million is very affordable, and if he washes out, it’s not as big of a blow as Arrieta struggling would be. The Cards have learned from the Mike Leake fiasco and are managing their money much more wisely.

Mikolas started on Sunday and got hammered to the tune of 6 runs on 7 hits in 1.2 innings.

My thoughts on that are:

It’s one start, and a super small sample size at that. Don’t burn the man at the stake until he has a much larger sample size to look at, which may not be until the regular season. Spring training starts, even good ones, are usually pretty short, as everyone tries to get their work in.

Mikolas, with his guaranteed contract, isn’t competing for a job on the big league club, so he’s probably not throwing his best stuff, as he doesn’t have to. He’s just getting loose and ready for the upcoming season. No reason to risk injury before the season even starts.

The guy is transitioning back to the majors after 3 years in japan. Whether you think the competition over their is lesser equal, or even superior (which is a discussion for another time) it’s *different*. Getting used to being over here again, may take some time, and that length of time may well spill over into the regular season. Give the man time and space and let him breathe.

As I said, I like the deal, mainly for it’s short term commitment. I consider it smart.

As always, thanks for reading.



This off-season, there are several players still available in in free agency who could help the Cardinals: Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas. Plus there’s that never ending rumor that the Cardinals have been trying to get Josh Donaldson.

What do these three players have in common? They all play corner infield spots, possible homes for Matt Carpenter.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Carp and that I would hate to see him traded or reduced to a bench role.

I’ll set aside the fan in me though and try to look at it from a GM’s perspective by comparing the three and Carpenter.

This all assumes two things:

1) We keep Jedd Gyorko. By the way, I can easily see Gyorko sliding over to 1B to part of the rotation there if we get either of the two 3B options mentioned here. He has played all over the infield. Not many reps at 1B, but I think he’d do ok there.

2) Carpenter gets moved after we get any of the three. (I could see him being part of the Donaldson deal)

First up, we have Eric Hosmer. He’s a 4 time Gold Glove winner at 1B coming off of a career year where he hit .318 with a .385 OBP and homered and 25 times. Plus he’s entering his age 28 season, which is the prime of a players career.

As for negatives, well, his power isn’t what we’ve come from 1B these days, though his D offsets that a little.

Another issue is consistency. He has a bit of an even year/odd year thing going on. In 2012, 2014 and 2016, he didn’t hit above .270 and didn’t have an OBP above .328. S 2013, 2015, and 2017, his BA was .297 or higher each year, and his OBP was higher than .350 each year.

Given how much he’s going to make (thank you Scott Boras), I’d want someone I know is going to be consistent year in and year out. Plus, next year is an even year.

Next, we have Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas hit 38 homers and like Hosmer, is in his prime. Those 38 homers were a career high though. After those 38, his next highest is  22. Plus, even with all of those homers, he was only worth 1.8 WAR (Carpenter was worth 2.9) Part of that is, even though he hit a decent .270, he only had an OBP of .314. Plus, unlike Hosmer, he’s not a GG at his position. He’s a better fielder than Carpenter, but all of these guys are.

Even with those homers, last year wasn’t his best year. 2015 was by a longshot. In fact, he’s only had two years where he’s had a WAR above 2: 2012, 2015. Again, I’d like more consistency please.

Finally, there’s Donaldson.

Donaldson is a former MVP and he hit .270 with 33 homers and 78 RBI’s. The problem here is he’s entering his age 32 season. Historically the decline phase of a player’s career starts around their age 32 or 33 seasons, so while he was productive last year, how long will he remain so?  Plus, the cost to acquire him in a trade won’t be cheap. Toronto has been reluctant to move him (we’ve been banging on their door for a while now) so we’d likely have to make them an offer they can’t refuse, a deal that’s lopsided in their favor. No thanks.

In the end, I think we should keep Carpenter and our assets rather than try our luck on any of the three listed above.

Now Manny Machado next off-season? That’s another story…

As always, thanks for reading.



(Editor’s note: Perhaps due to Doug’s vacation, he seemed to miss the fact that Sierra went in the Marcell Ozuna deal.  We are sorry for the error.)

Hope everybody had a good holiday break!

Like everybody else, I was excited by the trade to acquire Ozuna.

I will miss Stephen Piscotty, as I think he’s a prime bounce back candidate next season.

But an outfield consisting of Tommy Pham, Ozuna and Dexter Fowler has the potential to be very, very good.

My question is what happens after those three? Who’s the primary fourth outfielder?

I’m afraid it’s going to be Randal Grichuk.

While Grichuk is admittedly still young at 25, I think we have two younger guys who could use the AB’s: Harrison Bader and Magnueris Sierra.

Grichuk did hit 22 homers last year, but he also struck out 133 times in 442 plate appearances. I realize strikeouts are up overall as more players try to hit the ball from the USA to Japan every AB, but that’s still a lot of strikeouts. His average was also low, at .238, along with a poor OBP of .285.

My concern is since Grichuk is the known commodity, he’ll become Matheny’s “guy” and swallow up all the AB’s that could go to the kids, who I think may have higher upside than Grichuk.

Bader, for example, did well in AAA last year. He hit .285 with a .347 OBP, and hit 20 homers. He did struggle in a big league cameo last year, hitting .235 in 85 AB’s, but that is a small sample size and you shouldn’t read too much into it.

The same can be said of Sierra, only from the other end of the spectrum. While Bader needs more AB’s to show he’s the hitter he was in the minors, Sierra needs more AB’s to prove what he did in his cameo was legit. In 60 AB’s, Sierra hit .317 with a .359 OBP, not bad for a 21 year old. He only hit .269 in AA though, so he needs more AB’s to prove that wasn’t just a small sample size fluke.

So will the kids get the AB’s they need? We’ll see. It’s important to note that sometimes Matheny does in fact go with the kids. Paul DeJong, for example, got his chance last year and made the most of it. I hope they two young outfielders do, as I don’t view Grichuk as the long term solution here. I think he’s more valuable as trade bait at this point.


As always, thanks for reading.



What Willie McGee has to offer…

Hey there folks, I’m back from vacation. I had a good time, and it felt good to get away. On to blogging.

A while back, the Cards hired an old friend of the organization, former player Willie McGee, to be a coach. Willie’s role wasn’t specified.

A little disclaimer: I grew up in the 80’s, and Willie was my favorite player, but for reasons other than stats. I liked him because he was like me. I was this super skinny kid with a long neck, and there was a player who looked like me in regards to physical build, not necessarily like what you’d imagine a baseball player to look like. he was my Altuve.

As a player, Willie flashed a variety of skills. He won an MVP, a Silver Slugger, 2 batting titles, 3 Gold Gloves, and stole 352 bases. He didn’t hit many homers (79 in 2201 games) but power wasn’t emphasized as much in the 80’s, when he won the MVP with 10 homers (though his slugging percentage was over .500 thanks to a league leading 18 triples.) His career average was .295, with lifetime of .333, so he was more of a contact hitter than an obp guy.

That wide range of skills opens a lot of doors for him coaching wise. Willie could work with our outfielders on their defense, giving them positioning tips, etc. He could be a baserunning coach, giving tips there as well. Kolten Wong has some speed, having stolen 20 bases a few years back. Willie could help him get back in touch with his inner speedster.

The most interesting role for him though would be as a hitting coach, simply because he doesn’t fit, but in a good way.

Willie is a throwback to a bygone era where players didn’t need power to be successful. he wasn’t a power hitter coming up, and he didn’t try to change that. That’s a mindset current players don’t necessarily allow themselves to have. They change who they are in order to succeed, and sometimes become worse players in the process.

As a hitting coach, he could help players work with who they already are, using himself as an example. He could help them become the best version of themselves as a hitter.

He’d certainly be a better choice for the job than John Mabry, who’s the ultimate “Those who can’t, teach” hitting coach.

Just some food for thought on our new coach. Welcome back Willie, from one skinny guy with a long neck to another.


As always, thanks for reading.


Why Release Rosenthal?

The Cards yesterday cut Trevor Rosenthal, who had reclaimed the closers job in our bullpen before getting injured.

Rosenthal needed Tommy John surgery, which makes him a risk, as there are no guarantees he’ll be the same pitcher when he gets back.

Plus he made 6.4 million dollars last year, not exactly pocket change.

Still, given what closers have been getting on the FA market (Mark Melancon signed a monster deal last off-season, Greg Holland might decline a roughly 17 million dollar qualifying offer to test the FA market) it is cheap.

Why not wait it out? After all, you gave a qualifying offer to a guy who *did* overcome Tommy John (Lance Lynn), so we have evidence that recovery and regaining the ability to perform at a high level is possible right on our own team. If Rosie signs with another team, recovers and performs, all for what’s considered reasonable money these days (don’t get me started on salary inflation) we’re gonna look a little silly, especially if we blow our money on a guy like Holland.

I’m just afraid the Cards haven’t learned anything from the Mike Leake and Brett Cecil disasters and will go out and throw money at a guy like Holland. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe, given how volatile relievers can be, that they aren’t worth that kind of money. Maybe a rich team like the Dodgers or Yankees can get away with spending that kind of money on a one inning pitcher like Aroldis Chapman, but a middle market team like the Cards needs to be smarter with its money.

I realize that the bullpen has gained more prevalence these days. People who didn’t already know that saw it watching the playoffs. I’m not sure offhand if any starter made it into the 9th inning, maybe Justin Verlander. Otherwise it was bullpen, bullpen, and more bullpen.

That, of course influence other teams to follow that path. Playoff success can be a Siren’s song to other teams. believe the Cards shouldn’t listen to that song. Don’t go out and blow money on a closer (or an expensive setup reliever) guys. There are better places to use our money.


As always, thanks for reading.





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