Baseball Geek In Galveston

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Offseason Thoughts…

Hey all, been a while. I got depressed by the Cards near miss, then even more depressed when the Cubs won. Due respect to them, though, they got the job done (in spite of their 184 million dollar free agent, Jason Heyward, who contributed good D and nothing else. Remember when everyone wanted to re-sign him?)

Now it’s time to move on to next season, and put the Cubs title in the rear view mirror and move on to us possibly being the ones celebrating next year.

How do we get there?

Let’s start with the starting pitching today, because in my opinion, that’s the most important thing we need to fix.

At the top, we’re set with Carlos Martinez, who had steadily developed and is now our ace. Slotting in at #2, in my opinion, would be Alex Reyes, who showed good flashes of potential.

Beyond that? I’m not sure. Other than Martinez, our regular SP all had ERA’s over 4.60. I don’t care how many homers you hit, that’s hard to overcome.

What is Adam Wainwright now? He’s not an ace anymore, at least not based on last year. Could he bounce back? Possibly, given that 2015 was an injury-shortened year, and he had a very good year in 2014. Rust may have been a factor, as he struggled early then stabilized in July. However, he struggled again late in the season. Too much work right after an injury, possible as well. Is age catching up? There are so many questions and possibilities, really the only way to find out is to send him out there again next year. I’d slot him in at #3 and see how it goes.

As for the rest..We have Mike Leake, Michael Wacha, and the return of Lance Lynn. I’d slot Leake in fourth, then split the 5th spot between Wacha and Lynn. Wacha struggled last year, so ease his load and the pressure on him while working to fix what issues at the same time. Plus splitting Lynn’s load allows him to ease is way back into the rotation without having a full load. He just missed an entire season, so I think it’s important to tread carefully.

If Lynn was ready for a full load, I’d almost say slot him in at 4th, Wacha in 5th, and make Leake a swingman, contract notwithstanding, as Wacha has more upside at this stage.

There are my thoughts on the rotation, what are yours?


As always, thanks for reading.


Three Good Things From 2016…

There’s been plenty said about how the team missed the playoffs and some vitriol tossed at Mike Matheny and others. Basically what you’d expect when a team comes one game short. I’d rather focus on the positive, though, so here are 3 things from 2016 that made me smile during the season and give me hope for the future.

1) Yadi.

It seemed like, heading into the season, that Yadier Molina was considered to be done, or at least close to it, by many. The wear and tear of being the most consistent catcher in baseball had caught up to him. After all, in 5 of the 6 seasons leading up to 2016 he’d caught 135 or more games. He’d hit .270 last year, his worst since 2010, and Brayan Pena was signed to help him shoulder the load and get him more rest.

Well, Pena got injured, and Yadi ended up making the most plate appearances of his career and hitting a team-leading .307 while doing so. That was his best batting average since 2013, and the 3rd highest of his 14-year career. He only hit eight homers, but it seemed like at times he carried this team. Plus, while he didn’t hit as many homers as his other teammates, he did whack 38 doubles, the 2nd most of his career. Yadi is definitely not done.

2) Piscotty

While others got more attention (Diaz, Gyorko, etc) Stephen Piscotty quietly had a very productive first full season in the bigs. He hit .273 with 22 homers, 85 RBI’s and .457 Slugging Percentage. Plus he had a solid .343 OBP. He’ll be 26 next season, with plenty of productive years coming potentially, so this could be the start of something special.

3) The Kids Are Coming.

Aledmys Diaz had a great rookie season out of nowhere, with a slash line of .300/.369./.510. He hit 17 homers as well. If he hadn’t gotten injured near the end of the season, he likely would’ve been the Rookie Of The Year.

Alex Reyes came up late in the season and ended up earning a spot in the rotation. He ended up 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 46 innings. While that’s a small sample size, it gives us a hint of what the 22-year-old may be capable of.

Luke Weaver came up as well, and while he struggled, going 1-4 with a 5.70 ERA in 36 innings, he’s only 23 and did show us some flashes of his potential that gave us hope.

In the end, that’s what we have for next year, hope. Hope that Yadi, Piscotty and the kids, among others, will lead us back to the playoffs next year.


Quick Hits:

1) Ageless Wonder Ichiro Back For Another Season. Along with Bartolo Colon, Ichiro is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

2) What’s Next For Jaime Garcia?

3) A Flashback To The Past: The Day The Cardinals Fired Red Schoendienst.

As always, thanks for reading.



Managers and Perspective…

As the Cardinals struggle to make the playoffs this year and the lynch mob gets ready to hang Mike Matheny should we fall short, I thought it might be time for some perspective, good or bad. I looked into Cardinals team history for managers to compare Matheny with, skipping Tony La Russa (who did have three losing seasons with the Cards) and Mike Jorgenson (who only managed half a season) and settling on Joe Torre.

Now this wasn’t the Yankees version of Torre. He joined the Yankees after he left us and had a great run there.

Before he joined the Cardinals, though, he hadn’t been a very successful manager. He’d managed parts of 9 seasons for two teams (The Braves and the Mets) and only made the playoffs once, in 1982 with the Braves. In fact, from what I’ve heard and read, part of the reason Torre got the job was because of the fact that he, Dal Maxvill and Ted Simmons, the Cards GM and director of Player Development at the time respectively, had a good relationship going back to the days when all three were players.

One thing to keep in mind, though: Making the playoffs then wasn’t nearly as easy as it is now. As things stand now we have three division titles as 2 wild card teams. Back then we had 2 divisions on each side and no wild cards. Torre’s one playoff appearance looms larger given that information.

In 4 full seasons including 1994’s strike-shortened season, Torre’s Cardinals only finished above 3rd place once, in 1991 when they finished second.

Matheny, on the other hand, has made the playoffs in each of his 4 full seasons as manager. Mike must be the better manager then, right?

Not so fast.

First, there are those changes I mentioned. While Mike has only made it as a wild card once, he’s also had the benefit of managing his entire career in the 3 division era. Go back to a 2 division, no wild card setup and two playoff years disappear – 2012 (the wild card year) and 2014, when the Nationals (East) and Dodgers (West) both had better records than us.

Plus Mike has had the luck to have a good owner to work for, one who invests in his team. Back in the early 90’s, after Gussie Busch died, the brewery, led by Fred Kuhlman, took over the team. They weren’t as interested in the team as Gussie was, as it distracted them from the core business of making beer. As a result, Maxvill didn’t have as much to work with as John Mozeliak does today. Would things be different if he had? We’ll never know. As mentioned, Torre already had an established relationship with Maxvill (and remains friends with him today.) A good working environment like that can (in theory) help overcome other issues like the aforementioned lack of financial support. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way, but I can see management’s thought process.

Matheny didn’t have an established relationship with Mozeliak going in, and that shows at times. Mozeliak feeds Matheny talented youngsters like Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martinez, Kolten Wong etc, and Matheny doesn’t always embrace them. He gives at bats to guys like Greg Garcia who don’t have as much upside instead of letting guys like Wong develop and reach their potential. To his credit Mike is using Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver, but those guys are only on the team due to injuries. Mike has no choice *but* to use them.

In the end, who’s better? How would Torre do if he managed today’s Cards? We know that after he was fired in 1995 he went to a Yankees team with more resources at their disposal in 1996 and immediately won a World Series (the first of four he won there) so I can’t help but think that with the resources of the current Cardinals team he’d do better job than say, having three third place finishes like he did when he was here.

I also think all of those resources (as well as more chances to make the playoffs) mask Matheny’s weaknesses. For example, he kept running Trevor Rosenthal out there when he was struggling. Seung-hwan Oh only became the closer after Rosenthal got injured. What if Rosie hadn’t gotten injured? A smarter manager would’ve removed him from the closer role earlier. Mike often seems to have “his guys” that he sticks with, no matter what, and while I’m sure the players he sticks with appreciate that, it doesn’t always positively affect the box score.

What do you guys think? Matheny or Torre?

As always, thanks for reading.

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