So before the season started, the United Cardinal Bloggers got together and did their regular roundtable. As always, I went last in the questioning and, as is distressingly more and more common, delayed getting the excellent answers provided posted. Let’s rectify that now, shall we? To our expert panel, I posed the following:
Give as much explanation as you like, but give me the Cardinals that will fit the following tags in 2019:Most SurprisingMost Disappointing
Team MVPTeam Cy YoungWhipping Boy
Player No Longer a Cardinal by July 31
Diane (Women Who Love Cardinal Baseball):
Most Surprising – Kolten Wong. A great first baseman will give him the confidence he needs and he will make great plays.
Most Disappointing – Marcell Ozuna. His shoulder will give him fits and he won’t be able to hit or throw well. Because of this, he will also be the Player No Longer a Cardinal by 7/31/19, since the Cards have Tyler O’Neill and others in the minors to take his place.
Most Valuable Player – Paul Goldschmidt. He will work hard to make the fans believe he was worth that contract.
Whipping Boy – Jedd Gyorko. He already has an injury and the Cards have other, younger players to take his place.
Most Surprising: Marcell Ozuna. He can’t throw but he can hit and he’ll surprise some by doubling up on the 16 doubles he hit for the Cardinals in 2018.
Most Disappointing: Miles Mikolas. After soaring into rarefied air and posting 18 wins in 2018, he’s set up for a stumble in 2019.
Team MVP: Paul Goldschmidt. As good as advertised.
Team Cy Young: Jack Flaherty. As good as advertised.
Whipping Boy: Dexter Fowler. Odds are against him living up to the measures expected of an $82.5 million contract.
Player No Longer a Cardinal by July 31: Jedd Gyorko. He’ll be dealt to an American League contender in exchange for a prospect.Rusty (Bird Law):
Most Surprising: Paul DeJong. That feels odd because he’s already been a relative surprise to begin with, but I think with health and 2 years of experience, this year could be a big step forward. His defense is very underrated and his early career numbers are in line with the first 2 years of Trevor’s Story. He exploded in year 2, Paul DeJong could too, albeit at a non-Colts enhanced level.
Most Disappointing: I have a hard time with this one, because I really like this roster. If someone is going to let people down it will be Harrison Bader offensively vs RHP. With his glove, I would love for him to hit well enough to play daily, but his bat could open a big chunk of games for O’Neill. If the other 7 are so good it doesn’t matter (see: Kozma, 2013) then he might play every day regardless. But I think it would disappoint a lot of people if he is only roaming CF for 100-120 games.
Team MVP: Goldschmidt. This seems like a cop-out, but I can reasonably pick against a guy that is going to be in NL MVP picture, let alone the team honors.
Team Cy Young: Jack Flaherty. The dude just seems poised to ascend to the Ace level this season. I love Mikolas, but last year might have been his last year as the team’s #1.
Whipping Boy: Carlos Martinez or Matt Carpenter. One because of health, role, etc., the other because people are dumb. Neither will make sense, but they will be the ones getting shredded on social media more than any other regular players.
Player No Longer a Cardinal by July 31: Two options for 2 reasons. Jedd Gyorko, because a contender suffers a big hit at 2B or 3B and desperately need him, OR Brett Cecil because…well, I think we know why.
Alex (Birds on the Black):
Most Surprising: Alex Reyes because he’s not going to have a single hiccup all season.
Most Disappointing: Jack Flaherty because he will still have a perfectly fine year but after his rookie campaign it will seem disappointing.
Team MVP: Paul Goldschmidt because he’s the best hitter we’ve had since Albert Pujols.
Team Cy Young: Miles Mikolas because I believe in his powers.
Whipping Boy: Also Paul Goldschmidt because since he’s now the best player on our team, a subsection of fans will never be satisfied, especially if his production is tick below Diamondback-level Goldschmidt.
Player No Longer a Cardinal by July 31: Chasen Shreve because he was designated for assignment today – but after this question was posed – so he seems as good of a pick as any. Also, this is probably cheating on my part.
CardsCards (Birds on the Black):
Surprising: Jordan Hicks becomes a knuckleballer.
Disappointing: Matt Carpenter puts up triple crown numbers, making twitter really really sad because he’s doing it from the leadoff spot, the offspring of an unmarried union.
MVP: Harrison Bader. Seriously. If we go by WAR, I think he’s going to be solid on offense, and his defense was no fluke. The secret to his success is that with Ozuna and Fowler flanking him, there will never ever be a time when he is called off. He might get 8 WAR from playing all 3 OF positions alone.
Cy: Michael Wacha – Mo hates complicating things, and Wacha following years of injury and mild ineffectiveness to become a staff ace in his walk year seems like the perfect hard decision disaster karma lives to deliver.
Whipping Boy: uh, there’s a guy on the team making over $16 million a year who happens to be a Cubs hero, was a disaster last season, spent the off-season as a built in Harper excuse, and is now blocking God amongst mere mortals Tyler O’Neill. If Dexter Fowler doesn’t want to be the first name screamed after every loss, I suggest he play like vintage Joe DiMaggio, and maybe hit Addison Russell with his car.
No Longer a Cardinal by July 31st: Matt Wieters – around mid May, Matt is going to point out that he’s yet to appear in a game, and that he really is worthy of occasionally playing. Yadi will give a nod to a shadowy figure in the corner of the clubhouse, and Matt will never be heard from again.
Josh (Pitchers Hit Eighth):
Most Surprising: Dex just to spite Cubs
Most Disappointing: Goldy who ‘only’ finishes 5th in MVP race
Team MVP: Flaherty who garners top 3 Cy Young votes and some MVP consideration
Team Cy Young: See above
Whipping Boy: Wong
PNLaCbJ31: See above as Cards truly go all in and acquire Rendon after Nats fall out of the race. Any chance Washington wants to throw Mad Max into that deal as well?
Josey (Viva El Birdos):
Most Surprising: Kolten Wong. We’ve been waiting for him to put the whole package together, and I think it happens this year.
Most Disappointing: Marcell Ozuna. I really hope I’m wrong, but it seems like the shoulder injury is lingering; he won’t be what is expected of him with that being the case.
Team MVP: Paul Goldschmidt. Perhaps I went with the easy choice.
Team Cy Young: Jack Flaherty. An impressive rookie season could set him up for a sophomore slump, but Flaherty has the tools to overcome obstacles and give the team quality innings.
Whipping Boy: Matt Wieters. He isn’t going to play much, we know this; however, I think it’s very foolish to expect him to remain a good hitter when he sees four starts (if even) a month and maybe an at-bat every other day.
No Longer a Cardinal by 7/31: Jedd Gyorko. There just isn’t anywhere left for Gyorko to play on this club.
I, of course, pose these questions so that I don’t actually have to answer them. However, trying not to be influenced too much by the first week of the season, I think Wong makes an excellent surprising choice–people expect him to field but not hit, though coming up through the minors the idea was that he could be a batting title candidate. Disappointing probably does go to Ozuna, though if Fowler stumbles significantly there will be a lot of people disappointed, if not surprised. MVP has to be Goldschmidt–as Rusty said, he’ll probably get NL MVP votes. Even though he was being his usual non-serious self, I think there’s something to CardsCards’ suggestion of Wacha as team Cy. The only thing stopping him is health, which is the only thing that stops him most years. Whipping boy? That’s probably Fowler, though Ozuna is making a strong early surge. And it really is hard to imagine Gyorko staying in SL all season, but I’m going to go with Mike Mayers, who has to get let go at some point to make room for others.
Always fun to talk baseball with these folks. We’ll do it again after the season!