C70 At The Bat

Giving Thanks, Cardinals Style

There’s been a lot going on so far this offseason.  We continue to focus on Giancarlo Stanton, new coaches have arrived, and we wait for some sort of activity.  However, today is a day to pause, reflect, and give thanks for all that we have individually and as part of various groups. It’s tradition around this part of the Internet to take a look at Thanksgiving and what it means as a Cardinal fan.  Some of the things we mention every year, some are new, but all are part of what makes it great to be a fan of the birds on the bat.

For instance, there’s solid and engaged ownership.  I know, the folks that like to point at Bill DeWitt as being cheap are starting to again crawl out of the woodwork.  You can point to certain situations where maybe some extra money might have made a difference, but there aren’t many of them.  When you look at the market size and compare it to the payroll, though, you can see that the owners have definitely invested in the club.  You also have them putting their own money into the stadium as well as the surrounding Ballpark Village.  It’s no coincidence that their run as owners has coincided with possibly the best extended run of Cardinal baseball in history, which is saying something as the club marked year 125 this season.

There are also a lot of fun players to root for in St. Louis.  For the most part, the players stay out of controversies and headlines, at least to a national degree.  We’ve not seen anyone arrested or anything like that.  You have guys like Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina who are such a part of the fabric of the club and then there are plenty of players that spend their time getting ingrained in the community, whether it is hospital visits or charity work.  It’s hard to top what Matt Holliday did here but it’s great that some of the guys are doing their best to emulate him.

We also should be glad to be relevant.  Yes, the Cardinals have come in second on some things in the last few years and the cynical among us would lay that at the feet of ownership or John Mozeliak and say that they didn’t do enough.  Maybe that’s true, though I think it tends to disregard the other side of the equation, that the player gets to choose.  Still, they’ve been involved in these things, like they are now with Stanton, and there’s a reasonableness to it.  I mean, how easy would it be for Twins fans or Padres fans to believe their team really is trying on Stanton?  Yet we trust that the Cardinals are in the mix.  They may not get him, but they could, which says a lot about where the team is at.

There’s also the fact that winning is an expectation, not a surprise.  Most fanbases would be thrilled with five playoff appearances in a row, while we sorta just treated that as the way things should be.  Missing October the last two years has perhaps shaken a bit of the spoiled fan mentality off of us (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but it’s great that making the playoffs is like the minimum we expect out of the club and those in charge not only know it, but share that attitude.  Losing long-term doesn’t fly here and folks know it.  We should be grateful that we’ve not had to endure it for much of the club’s history, especially recently.

The history of the Cardinals is another thing to be thankful for.  We can make a full team out of Hall of Fame players that spent a large portion of their career in St. Louis.  No National League team has more World Series titles.  Some of the greatest baseball playoff moments have happened with Cardinals on the field.  We’ve seen Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Albert Pujols, and many more that thrilled us and rank among the best to ever play the game.  It’s been a blessing to be able to watch amazing players day in and day out.

The Cardinals have a lot of young talent that should provide a lot of excitement over the next few years.  Some may not be with the club if trades happen, but right now thinking about players like Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Tyler O’Neill, Dakota Hudson, Harrison Bader, and Paul DeJong makes it easy to believe that the run of relevance will not be ending anytime soon.  There are quality players with more experience, like Carlos Martinez and Matt Carpenter, to mix with these young up and comers to make the present and the future bright.

There are also a lot of great Cardinal fans out there, a community that I enjoy reading and interacting with.  There are some that are more dour, there are some that are more cynical, but all of them love the Cardinals and most of them can have a reasonable conversation even when they might not agree.  It can be frustrating and headache-inducing at times to be on Twitter, but that’s just part of the deal.  Kinda like a family, you know?  You might experience some of those same feelings today at dinner, for instance…..

So those are just some of the things Cardinal fans could be thankful for, but let me take a moment as I end this to say what I personally am thankful for.  I am thankful for the support that all of y’all have given me in the various projects I’ve done over the last 10 years.  I’m thankful for those that have occasionally dropped me a Twitter reply or message or even a comment here to say how much you liked a post or had some points you want to make on what you read, because that meant I knew you’d found it worth thinking about.  I appreciate everyone that regularly listens to Gateway to Baseball Heaven or Meet Me at Musial.  I am very lucky to work with two dedicated and informed fans in Tara Wellman and Allen Medlock and I like to know that their work is being heard.  I also am thankful for those that follow and interact with me on Twitter, because not only do I often learn something, it also makes the work day go by a lot faster!  I always tell bloggers and the like to do it because you want to, not for the hits or the exposure or the downloads.  That’s very true, but seeing people consume your work and apparently enjoy it is a great feeling.  Thanks for that.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that you enjoy time with friends and family during this weekend.  We’ll be back next week talking about Stanton and other things, I’m sure, so let’s just appreciate the rest right now, shall we?  Blessings to you and yours!

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Exit Interview 2017: The Index

We’ve reached the end of our look at everyone that wore the birds on the bat in 2017.  I hope that you’ve enjoyed the series.  If you’ve missed any of the posts or just would like to revisit a player to see how wrong I was, all the links are below!

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office–or, in this case, Bill DeWitt’s–for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

General Manager: John Mozeliak

Overview: Mo got bumped up this season, acquiring the new title of President of Baseball Operations while Michael Girsch slid into the GM role.  That happened in June, but so far it is difficult to see that there’s been many differences.  Girsch gets credit for the Marco Gonzales deal as well as the Mike Leake sell off, but neither of those were franchise-altering.  (Or even season-altering, really, though you do wonder sometimes where Leake’s innings for next year are going to come from.)  As the winter has rolled on, Mo still gets plenty of air time and seems to be the guy in command.  Which isn’t surprising, given that Theo Epstein, Brian Sabean, and Billy Beane have all moved up into similar titles but still are the “face of the front office” for their respective clubs.

When you look at what Mo gave Mike Matheny this year, it’s debatable how good of a job he did.  I mean, many of us expected a 85-90 win team out of what they had with a solid chance at a wild card.  Even though they just won 83, they did stay in the wild card race for a while (and even the division–remember they were tied in August with the Cubs).  It was difficult to foresee Seung-hwan Oh‘s struggles or Stephen Piscotty hitting the skids after signing that deal.  (Extending Piscotty this early in his career might be a different issue, one you could legitimately put against Mo’s record.)  There was no activity at the trading deadline even after media interviews indicated there would be, which is either on Mo or on the fact that it takes two to make a deal.  Some would say that’s a symptom of the lack of boldness the club has, that “coming in second” mentality, but it well could be that other teams are starting to ask the moon from the Cards and they didn’t see anything out there worth giving up that much for.

Outlook: The real test of how we view Mozeliak will likely come in the next few weeks.  With the news that the Cardinals are heavily in on Giancarlo Stanton, it feels like anything short of the MVP would be a bit of a letdown.  With all the talk about impact bats, Mozeliak and Girsch must bring in someone to slug for St. Louis, whatever the cost.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be Stanton but it does have to be someone.  If they wind up going to spring training empty-handed, much of the criticism that is already leveled at the front office will feel more deserved.  As I’ve said a number of times in a number of places, the reservoir of goodwill in the fanbase has been depleted.  It’s going to take a big move to add some more to it.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office–or, in this case, John Mozeliak’s–for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Manager: Mike Matheny

Overview: It was more of the same in 2017 for the manager.  If you were a fan, you probably shunted some of the blame off to the roster or the fact that players like Alex Reyes were hurt or players like Seung-hwan Oh were ineffective.  If you were a relentless critic, you probably pointed out that this was the second year the club didn’t make the postseason and there have been declining results for a number of years now.  Even if you were somewhere in the middle, there were plenty of things to pick at, including the fact that Matthew Bowman may be warming up at the moment even though it’s a couple of days from Thanksgiving.

All in all, it was–well, more of the same really seems to sum it up.  There wasn’t any specific growth this year and there weren’t decisions that made more sense or were completely out of character.  Matheny relied on certain arms in the bullpen on a very regular basis, which harkened back to some of his earlier bullpen usage, but with so many arms untrustworthy, it at least had some rationale even if it wasn’t necessarily the best way to go about it.  There was the extreme loyalty to players–Stephen Piscotty, notably in September, comes to mind–and there was the slow hook that cost a number of games when he was hesitant to pull a starter even when all the signs screamed for it.  (Leaving Luke Weaver in to throw 111 pitches against the Brewers sticks out for me, though the Cards won that game.)

Matheny was hired to manage personalities and learn tactics.  You could argue how much of the latter he’s done–in his defense, he doesn’t bunt nearly as often and occasionally uses his closer outside of the ninth now–but there have been some cracks in the former as well.  It took a players-only meeting over steak in Cincinnati to get everyone back on track.  There were rumors of clubhouse dissention throughout the season and Tommy Pham always played like he had a chip on his shoulder (though that well could just be how Pham is).  There was also some disconnect between Matheny and the front office, which was different than in years past.  John Mozeliak may continue to profess how firmly he backs Matheny, but I think there is room to question that more than before.

Outlook: The club might not say it, but Matheny’s seat is a bit warm.  Signing a three year extension that begins in 2018 may have saved him this offseason, as the Cardinals probably didn’t want to fire him before that extension even started.  However, it’s probably not a coincidence that the team went out and got Mike Maddux as pitching coach, brought back Jose Oquendo, and moved Mike Shildt to the bench coach slot.  Those three, plus Oliver Marmol who did some good managerial work in the minors, are all strong contenders to be the next Cardinal manager should a team that most likely will be revamped this winter get off to another slow start.  Every offseason it feels like the team shapes itself to try to limit the manager’s weaknesses.  This offseason seemed to say that this was the last straw.  It could make for a very interesting 2018.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Kolten Wong

Season stats: 108 G, 411 PA, 55 R, 27 2B, 3 3B, 4 HR, 42 RBI, 8 SB, 41 BB, 60 K, .285/.376/.412, 109 OPS+, 1.9 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 5, Goat 6

Overall grade: A

Positives: Set numerous career highs, such as in all three slash stats….made no trips to Memphis for the first time in a while….hit .288 against righties but held his own (.274 with a .703 OPS) against lefties….hit .339 with three of his four home runs at home….hit .301 in the first half of the season….hit .347 in August….three of his homers came in August as well….hit .319 when he led off an inning….hit .292 on the first pitch….had a 1.006 OPS when ahead in the count….hit .293 in high leverage situations….hit .412 in four games against the Red Sox, whom he might have had a personal vendetta against….had a .796 OPS in night games.

Negatives: Ended the season in a 4-32 (.125) rut….hit .237 away from Busch for a stark contract in his home hitting….had a .509 OPS in September….went 3-14 (.214) leading off a game….hit .212 when there were two outs….hit .214 with two outs and runners in scoring position….hit .100 against the Cubs….hit .255 in day games….dealt with some nagging injuries which limited his playing time.

Overview: I wouldn’t say Wong came into his own this season but he definitely seemed more comfortable in his role.  The power numbers were down but his production overall was up.  It felt like he realized that he didn’t need to be swinging for the fences even though he did have the power to have the ball go out of the yard.  He wasn’t running as much as he did a couple of years ago but he was pretty successful when he did steal a base.  He occasionally hit at the top of the lineup but really was a threat in the seventh or eighth spot, putting a runner on in the bottom of the lineup.  It just felt like Wong knew what he could be and, to use a cliche, didn’t try to do too much.  Which would seem to bode well for his career as hopefully an above-average second baseman, even if he’s not an All-Star.

Outlook: For the first time in a while, it feels like Wong’s role is pretty established as well.  Barring a trade, which you can’t completely rule out given the way the team is looking to reshape things, Kolten should be the everyday second baseman with little controversy or drama next season.  There should be no real talk about “platooning” like there was at the end of spring training this year.  There should be no discussion about sending him to Memphis (even if you could, which I believe he’s out of options so that’s not on the table).  Just a good, solid, regular year for the second baseman.  That’s the hope, at least!

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Luke Weaver

Season stats: 7-2, 3.88 ERA, 13 games, 60.1 IP, 59 H, 17 BB, 72 K, 1.260 WHIP, 3.17 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 2, Goat 3

Overall grade: B

Positives: Struck out over a batter an inning in the big leagues….after moving into the rotation at the end of August, ran off six starts with a 1.49 ERA and 49 K in 39.1 innings….lefties hit .210 against him….had a 2.77 ERA on the road….had a 1.71 ERA in August….had a .187 BAA when ahead in the count….with nobody out, batters hit .213….had a .556 OPS against in medium leverage situations….first time through the order, batters hit .212…..had a 1.80 ERA with five days’ rest….had a 1.64 ERA against the Reds….went 10-2 with a 2.55 ERA in Memphis.

Negatives: Had a 16.43 ERA over his last two outings….righties had a .793 OPS against him….had a 5.17 ERA in September….batters hit .450 on the first pitch….batters hit .339 with a 1.080 OPS when they were ahead in the count….batters had a .303/.369/.461 line with two outs….had an .857 OPS against with runners in scoring position….the line was .304/.360/.522 with two outs and RISP….batters had a .969 OPS in high leverage situations….batters hit .625 (5-8) after pitch 100….had a 5.40 ERA in three starts against the Brewers.

Overview: Weaver’s stock soared this season.  Already a pretty highly thought of prospect, coming in down the stretch and stabilizing the rotation was a huge bonus.  Couple that with a good season at Memphis and you can see why he would seem to be a lock for a major league job for 2018.  When you talk about the young arms the Cardinals have coming, Weaver is always close to the top of the list and was a definite ray of hope at the end of a muddled season.  Obviously, he still has things to work on as those late starts proved but there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to this young man.

Outlook: The question of course is where will that big league job be?  He could easily be wearing the birds on the bat, but with so many trading partners looking for pitching when the club is looking for an impact bat, it’s not a stretch to think that he’ll be part of a deal that brings that offense into St. Louis.  Whatever the case, he should be in the back of a rotation in 2018 and it will be very interesting to see how he develops wherever he is.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Adam Wainwright

Season stats: 12-5, 5.11 ERA, 24 games, 123.1 IP, 140 H, 45 BB, 96 K, 1.500 WHIP, 4.29 FIP, 0.2 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 4, Goat 7

Overall grade: C

Positives: Had his best winning percentage since 2008….threw seven scoreless innings against the Cubs on May 14….had a 3.08 ERA at home and batters hit .246 against him at Busch….eight of his wins came under the Arch as well….had a 2.64 ERA in May….received six or more runs of support in 12 of his 23 starts….batters hit .238 when they were behind in the count….had a .638 OPS against in high leverage situations….had a 4.16 ERA on four days’ rest….FIP was significantly lower than ERA….limited the Cubs to a 1.83 ERA in three starts.

Negatives: Had a 7.36 ERA in his last three starts….underwent elbow surgery after the season….gave up nine runs twice….gave up five or more runs five times….had a 7.32 road ERA….in his five losses, batters had a 1.222 OPS….had a 5.24 ERA when two or less runs were scored for him….had a 7.76 ERA (but a 7-2 record) when six or more runs were scored for him….batters hit .308 on the first pitch….the first batter he faced in a game hit .381….had an .807 OPS against when nobody was out….batters had a .864 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position….had an 8.66 ERA in the fifth inning….batters hit .326 on his first 25 pitches….had a 16.20 ERA in two starts against the Reds.

Overview: Let’s preface this, as most people do when they talk about the current state of Adam Wainwright’s career, with the fact that I’m a very, very big fan of #50.  He’s been a model Cardinal, he’s got an engaging personality, he comes off as a goofball, and he’s had a ton of success.  In a few years, he’s going to get a red jacket and reside next to his good friend Chris Carpenter and his longtime catcher Yadier Molina in the Cardinal Hall of Fame.  Wainwright’s earned a lot of rope and a lot of freedom in figuring out what’s next.

The problem is he’s used up a lot of that rope over the last couple of years.  ERA may not be everything, but when you follow a 4.62 with a 5.11, especially at 35 and especially when you are found late season throwing 75 mph fastballs, there are going to be questions asked and faith shaken.  Wainwright, as is his nature to put the best possible spin on everything, says the elbow surgery went great and he feels better than he has in a long time.  Which well may be true, but until we see some real results, I don’t think anyone is going to really buy it.  I know Waino thinks he’s only one tweak, one fix away from being back to what we expect from him, but that just hasn’t been the case in a while and it’s harder and harder to believe that it will be that way going forward.

Outlook: Wainwright is going into the last year of his contract.  It’s basically impossible to see him in another uniform, but he’s going to have to pitch better than we’ve seen over the last couple of seasons to get much of a discussion about an extension to keep him in Cardinal red.  If he has another 5-plus ERA this season, you wonder if he wouldn’t see the writing on the wall and retire.  That said, if he does have a season that makes him a credible #4 in the rotation, adding a year to his contract wouldn’t be the worst thing.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Michael Wacha

Season stats: 12-9, 4.13 ERA, 30 games, 165.2 IP, 170 H, 55 BB, 158 K, 1.358 WHIP, 3.63 FIP, 1.5 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1, Goat 6

Overall grade: B

Positives: Stayed healthy all year long, tying a career high in starts….had his highest K/9 rate since his rookie season….threw a three-hit shutout against the Mets in July….threw eight scoreless innings against the Pirates in September, quieting bullpen/injury talk….lefties hit 28 points lower against him and had three fewer home runs….had a 3.41 ERA at home….had four wins and a 1.93 ERA in July….had a 1.63 ERA in games he recorded a win….had a 2.62 ERA in games where he got two or fewer runs of support….batters hit .193 against him with a full count, though the OBP was .495….had a .661 OPS against in low leverage situations….batters hit just .196 when they saw him for the first time in a game….the OPS against on the first 25 pitches was .466….had a 1.50 ERA in two starts against the Reds.

Negatives: His 3.0 BB/9 rate was the highest of his career….had a 5.40 ERA over his last three starts….allowed five or more runs seven times, including back-to-back games in August….righties hit .280 against him….had a 4.97 ERA on the road….had an ERA over 5.00 in three of the six months….batters hit .409/.417/.656 on the first pitch….they had a 1.057 OPS when they were ahead in the count….in high leverage situations hitters got him for a .348 average and four homers in 102 PA….batters had a .900 OPS the third time they saw him….had a 7.77 ERA against the Cubs.

Overview: It was a bit of a mixed bag for Wacha this season.  Again, you can’t overemphasize how important it was that he stayed healthy all season long.  That shoulder issue is always going to be a concern but seeing that he could make 30 starts is a bit less of a worry.  That said, there are still a lot of questions.  When you look at the results, you could see where the bullpen might be a good place for him (assuming the shoulder can handle it) but with the rotation in the….interesting shape that it is, it is difficult to imagine taking him out of that role.

The scouting report on Wacha coming up was that he had a high floor but a low ceiling.  While it seems to be that he could be better overall than the numbers said he was this season, it is very likely that the 2013 and 2014 Wacha was the best we are ever going to get out of him.  There are question marks around a lot of people, but I’m not sure there are any that have more than #52.

Outlook: Wacha’s going to be a starter next year and probably the third in the rotation, depending on what the team does in the offseason about shoring up that part of the squad.  With as many arms as there are in the system, you’d think the club would have a short leash on him and perhaps have that difficult bullpen conversation with him if necessary.  Then again, he could come out and be amazing.  We just don’t know.

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Exit Interview 2017: Luke Voit

For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Luke Voit

Season stats: 62 G, 124 PA, 18 R, 9 2B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 7 BB, 31 K, .246/.306/.430, 92 OPS+, 0.3 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 1

Overall grade: C

Positives: Made his major league debut June 25….had a .830 OPS at home….hit .316 in the first half with three of his four home runs….hit .317 when the Cardinals won….had a 1.197 OPS when he was ahead in the count….had a .317 average with two outs….hit .429 in seven bases-loaded plate appearances….had a .364/.417/.818 line with two outs and runners in scoring position….hit .303 as a pinch-hitter….hit .327 with 13 home runs and 50 RBI in 74 games at Memphis.

Negatives: Made just one start in September (technically October 1)….started nine of his 14 games then 10 of his next 48….hit .211 in the second half….hit .207 in July with 14 strikeouts….hit .229 as a starter….had a .497 OPS on the first pitch….hit .176 when he worked a full count….had a .412 OPS when the pitcher was ahead….hit .219 with nobody out….hit .158 in late and close situations….had a .420 OPS in high leverage situations, which feels like an internet pun waiting to happen….hit .100 against the Pirates….struck out 53 times in Memphis.

Overview: There’s probably a debate that could be held about whether the Cardinals did the right thing in Voit’s development by leaving him on the bench in the big leagues instead of letting him play regularly in the minors.  With Matt Carpenter usually manning first and Jose Martinez developing into a capable backup whenever Carpenter had a day off or moved to a different position, there wasn’t a lot of time for Voit to get starts.  For example, he got all of six plate appearances in the first half of September.  He never got regular playing time which probably didn’t help him get into a groove.

That said, it would be a big stretch to say that he should have played over Carpenter and Martinez on a regular basis, especially the way Jose hit down the stretch.  Voit probably should have spent much more of his season in Memphis, helping that club and getting regular at bats.  Of course, it could be that the Cardinals weren’t too worried about impeding his development because 1) he wasn’t going to develop anymore or 2) he wasn’t a big part of their plans.  After all, he is going to be 27 next season, which may mean that he’s about what he’s going to be.

Outlook: With Carpenter expected to move around and the uncertainty that still surrounds the outfield, it’s hard to know what we’ll see from Voit next season.  It feels unlikely that he’d get a lot more playing time no matter what happens, though.  He’ll probably move back and forth between Memphis and the big league bench depending on needs.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Breyvic Valera

Season stats: 5 G, 1 BB, .100/.182/.100, -22 OPS+, -0.3 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: C

Positives: Made his major league debut September 5….was 1-2 with a walk as a pinch-hitter….hit .314 at Memphis with eight homers….at Memphis hit over .300 at home, on the road, in day games, and in night games….hit .429 when he was seventh in the lineup….hit .424 in AAA when he was ahead in the count.

Negatives: Went 0-4 in both his major league starts….hit .257 in April….was only successful in 50% of his stolen base attempts.

Overview: Unsurprisingly, given his limited time in the major leagues, I don’t have a real solid opinion on Valera.  You can talk to Kyle Reis and Colin Garner about him and get much more interesting and insightful thoughts about the middle infielder.  Valera is supposed to have a very good glove and has hit well at Memphis in both 2016 and this past season.  It would seem that he’s probably not an All-Star level guy but that he could provide some value to a team either off the bench or perhaps starting for a team that’s not planning to contend right now.

Outlook: Whether that team is the Cardinals probably remains to be seen.  It would be surprising (or take a pretty good roster shakeup) to see Valera start the season on the major league roster.  He’ll most likely take another turn at Memphis given the fact that Kolten Wong is established (assuming he’s not traded) and you have Greg Garcia still on the roster.  However, either with injuries or ineffectiveness, it would not be a big surprise to see him get a chance to improve on that .100 career major league mark in 2018.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Sam Tuivailala

Season stats: 3-3, 2.55 ERA, 37 games, 42.1 IP, 35 H, 11 BB, 34 K, 1.087 WHIP, 3.70 FIP, 0.8 bWAR

Hero/Goat: None

Overall grade: B

Positives: Spent more time in the majors than ever before, with more games this year than the rest of his career combined….was not charged with a run in 25 of his 37 appearances….ended the season with four scoreless outings….did not allow a single inherited runner to score, though that was made easier by the fact that he never entered the game with a runner on….all four homers were solo….lefties (.222) hit one point lower against him than righties, though they had a higher OPS (.693)….had a 1.86 ERA away from Busch….gave up one run over 10 innings in June and July….third-place hitters hit .176/.300/.294 against him….batters hit .188 on the first pitch….they hit .159 when he was ahead in the count….had a .575 OPS against in high leverage situations….in 34 plate appearances with runners in scoring position: .111/.273/.111….the Brewers hit .077 against him….had a 1.80 ERA on zero days’ rest….had a 1.27 ERA and six saves in Memphis.

Negatives: Had a 3.97 ERA in August….lineup leadoff hitters got him for a .375 average….batters had a .875 when the count was even….had a .314 BAA in close and late situations….in 28 high leverage plate appearances, put up a .391/.500/.565 line….had a 4.15 ERA on one day of rest….in six plate appearances with two outs and runners on first and second, allowed three hits.

Overview: Overall, it was a very solid season for Tuivailala.  The problem was that he tended to stub his toe at just the wrong time.  About the time Mike Matheny would trust him with a situation of higher importance, he’d go out and have a bad outing.  Then it was back to the far reaches of the bullpen.  Even with his success, he threw just four times between September 1 and September 20, for instance.  As many other arms struggled out of the bullpen this season, it’s a little surprising (to me, at least) that he didn’t get more of a run, bouncing between Memphis and St. Louis for much of the season.

Outlook: Tui should be out of options next year and while he still may still have some rough edges (and given the gap between his FIP and his ERA this season, may have had some good luck) he should still be too valuable to give up on.  I guess he could be some extra piece in a big trade but I’d be more likely to believe he’ll start on the Opening Day roster as a sixth or seventh inning reliever.

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For the sixth straight year, we’re taking a look back at everyone that played for the St. Louis Cardinals this season.  Whether they were a major contributor or a bit player, here all year or for just a little while, we’ll look at their season and talk about what went right and what went wrong.  The stat line listed is just their time in St. Louis, though splits and other numbers in the discussion may be for the entire year.  Imagine this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a little review on their way home for the winter.  As always when you see incredible artistry in the blogs, all credit for the header work goes to @cardinalsgifs.

Player: Miguel Socolovich

Season stats: 0-1, 1 SV, 8.68 ERA, 15 games, 18.2 IP, 27 H, 4 BB, 14 K, 1.661 WHIP, 5.41 FIP, -0.7 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Goat 1

Overall grade: D

Positives: Opened the season with two scoreless innings against the Cubs….also threw three innings of one-run ball against the Marlins in May, picking up his only save….strangely, had a 0.00 ERA in the 2.2 innings he threw in his only loss….batters had a .640 OPS when there was one out….had a .143 BAA (1-7) in high leverage situations….had a 2.45 ERA in the ninth inning….had a .200/.200/.400 line on three days’ rest (four games)….Cubs had a .393 OPS against him….had a 1.20 ERA in July for Memphis….his ERA was 3.09 in night games for the Redbirds.

Negatives: His last three games for the Cardinals: 2.1 IP, 7 ER, though he did strike out five in that span….allowed five runs without recording an out against the Yankees….had three appearances allowing four or more runs….batters hit .338 against him….lefties torched him at a .406/.472/.750 rate….evenly split his innings between home and away but his away ERA was 10.61….batters had a 1.078 OPS against him in May….in nine plate appearances against fifth-place hitters, allowed .286/.444/.714….batters hit .282 on the first pitch….had trouble even when ahead, allowing a 1.039 OPS in those situations….batters hit .438 to lead off an inning against him….on zero days rest (2 games): .889/.909/1.333, with 10 of the 11 batters he faced reaching.

Overview: I’ve been a proponent of Socolovich for a couple of years but it became obvious quickly this past season why the club had never really committed to him.  When you look at 2015 and 2016, both at the big leagues and the minors, it looked like he could be a decent part of a bullpen.  I don’t know that we were talking about the late innings but he seemed capable.  Of course, those were small samples and especially last year, when he had a BABIP of .073, some of the numbers could be a bit deceiving.  It all caught up with him in 2017, though.  Even at Memphis he struggled at times, putting up a 5.68 ERA in August in route to a 4.15 mark overall.  It’s probably best summed up by the fact that he faced 87 batters at the big league level this season and 15 of them touched him for an extra base hit.  That’s not real sustainable and he was sent back to AAA never to return.

Outlook: The Cardinals allowed Socolovich to become a minor league free agent after the season and while I guess you couldn’t rule out him returning on a minor league contract as a depth piece, it would seem pretty unlikely.  There are a lot of arms in the system that the big club would like to see pitch over a return by Soco.

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