Here are the highlights from this week’s chat with Post-Dispatch readers.
Question: Who is on the shortlist to be called up or activated by the Cardinals, when the lists are expanded (from 26 to 28 players on September 1)?
A: From now on, it seems that the Cardinals are setting up these places for a pitcher (definitely) and possibly a third catcher, so that Andrew Knizner’s bats can be used more often from the bench. The most interesting decision with the expanded rosters will come in a few weeks when the Cardinals choose whether to put Dakota Hudson in the bullpen to end the season. It’s a possibility.
Question: According to statistics since the All-Star break, Cardinal’s rotation has been very good, the bullpen has been good, but the offense has been below average. At this point, which area do you think needs to be upgraded the most in the low season?
A: The line-up. The Cardinals need another bat. They really lack the cunning depth and consistency. If they could find a high-OBP diversion, the offense could be ignited. If they could see Dylan Carlson flourish as a number 2 hitter, it would help. They just do not seem to get many conventions started due to the length of the line-up. Tyler O’Neill has had a strong year. Nolan Arenado has provided RBI. Paul Goldschmidt has his wave in the second half. But time and time again, the Cardinals offense is less than the sum of its parts. And it’s both confusing – and needs correction.
Question: The attendance on Friday at the Lou Brock campaign night was 28,000 sold, with almost 20,000 in the seats. I do not think hunting for wildcards excites or inspires the local fans, but I do not think the front office sees it that way. How do you see it?
A: I think ownership sees the empty seats and does not need to remind the front office of them. They have already said that fanapathy was a concern. If you remember, John Mozeliak said it was a factor in why they aggressively persecuted Nolan Arenado. Fanapati was a clear concern, and he felt that the front office had to do something to prove to the fans that it could pull that kind of deal.
Wild-card is a strange, obscure thing to market. There are two of them. It involves a wider range of teams. The division title is linear – and better. Easier to market.
There is more going on here than just wild-card apathy. It’s the pandemic, the Delta variant, and please do not forget that many people have lost income, jobs, careers in the last 18 months. It’s going to shrink the entertainment dollar. Take a look at movie theaters and box office numbers. It’s all gone downhill, and baseball is, after all, an entertainment choice. In the last week, here in St. Louis, many schools are starting – today is the first day of school for some of the largest districts in the area – and some families are sending their children to a new school for the first time in person. I’m talking about experience here. It has taken a lot of attention and concern and preparation time.
And finally, this team has not captured the fan base’s imagination.
It just does not have it. Not even with Arenado added or Adam Wainwright flourishing.
Maybe that’s the style of play. Maybe that’s the position. Maybe it’s the baseball style in general. Maybe it’s the limited dollars families can spend. Maybe people still do not want to be in crowds. It’s probably a jambalaya of it all. And if you can see it, we can see it, Jack Flaherty sees it and mentions it, and you can bet the Cardinals see it.
Question: If Carlos Correa even finds himself in the shortstop opportunities for the Cardinals, would they pass him because of the baggage he carries with the cheating scandal? How would the fans embrace him? Is Trevor Story an alternative? I have a feeling they’m cycling with Paul DeJong.
A: No, they would not. He is an excellent player, but it seems that the Cardinals have at least one, possibly two, of the free agent’s short stops ahead of him on the wish list. We will see how the market develops. I am very interested to hear more about the contract Correa will apply for. I do not know how fans would embrace him. I imagine it will depend on how well he plays and how long he stays as a cardinal. It has been very difficult lately to read about the fans’ opinion related to players, from Nolan Arenado to Paul Goldschmidt. History is an alternative. They probably have a DH location, and that opens up a world of possibilities for what to do with that position. They can add a shortstop and make DeJong the super tool that plays everywhere and DHs some. They can use that place creatively – and first and foremost to add a bat to the offense, regardless of position.
Question: How does the organization view the following prospects: Juan Yepez, Delvin Perez, Luken Baker, Nick Plummer? Do you have a feel for their roofs?
A: Juan Yepez: Has penetrated the conversation in the same way that Xavier Scruggs did many years ago, Luke Voit did in recent years. A bat they have to find a place for, and most likely that bat will come off the bench somehow.
Luken Baker: Same. But with a higher effect profile, and thus a greater probability of being seen for someone who interferes with DH.
Delvin Perez, Nick Plummer: The Cardinals are, to put it mildly, really encouraged by what they have seen from their first-round picks Perez and Plummer. Without protection just a year ago in the Rule 5 draft, Perez has made great strides as a prospect, and Plummer has returned to that label by rising to Class AAA as of today. Roof? That is really the biggest question. Perez has taken on the strength and handles the shortstop position well enough that he can be seen to have a similar route to the majors as Edmundo Sosa, and then we will see how the bat translates. The ceiling is an appetizer, but there is a large gap between floor and ceiling. I think what Plummer is starting to do is define that floor. And that’s significant. His production says a floor to the fourth / fifth outfielder, and it opens up the possibility that he will get a place in the majors on the current trend in his career, and that the roof will be revealed there, much like Lars Nootbaar is doing right now.
Question: Would it be a worst nightmare for Cardinals fans if the team got the last wild-card spot this year? Think about what John Mozeliak would say. “We achieved our goal. Cardinals are in the playoffs. With everyone returning from DL next year, the analysis shows that we should win the wild card again with just a little fix. We hope COVID will be gone next year, so we will be again. over 3 million fans. ”
A: I do not know. I confess that I do not understand how the fans rotate against the team they confess to being part of. The lesson from 2006 is real. That team came in with 83 wins, won a World Series, and then the front office made the mistake of bringing so many of the players back for a reunion tour and thought that the team in October was what would happen in 2007 and not the 83-winning team the last six months. What happened? Loses the record.
So it was a bad concert for the fans? Was the title in 2006 the worst thing that happened to the fans? Or was a playoff spot something to celebrate because it so often leads to a title?
A wild card slot would not “achieve” its goal. They did not win the division. Period. They failed to achieve their goal as an organization. They found another route in, but they failed to reach the goal for the regular season. Full stop. If it leads to a title, they overcome the inability to be champions.
Second, good sauce. The Seattle Mariners have not been in the postseason since the flip phone or something. When was a playoff spot “a fan’s worst nightmare?” Brewers, as an organization, is about to go to the playoffs four years in a row FOR THE FIRST TIME in club history. They have no titles. The Cardinals over the past decade went to four consecutive NLCS. I have a hard time dealing with how a playoff spot is a “worst nightmare.”
Finally, we all hope that COVID will be gone next year.
Question: Who would you like to see close matches for the Cardinals next year? Alex Reyes or someone else?
A: Someone other than Alex Reyes, who deserves a chance to start for the Cardinals, or he will never start for the Cardinals, and will only do so for another team, possibly against the Cardinals.
Question: Lane Thomas hits pretty well without Jeff Albert training him. (Thomas’ Washington slash line is 545 / .667 / .818.) Shouldn’t they just reassign Albert to the minor-league system if they are not going to fire him?
A: It will be discussed, as I have outlined. When I talk to the Cardinals about their meeting, they point out how Albert is also responsible for the overall organization. He works well with the coaches, and he has overseen the work and implementation that has helped Lars Nootbaar, Jordan Walker, Nolan Gorman, Nick Plummer, Alec Burleson, and so on. And they point out that they can not reject the success they have wanted to see in the minors, where they felt they fell behind other teams (and did). It’s the organizational view, and it’s not exactly one that fans accept / want because they buy tickets to see the majors tonight, not to hear about the future.
Question: How important is it for the front office to build a better supportive cast behind Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Jack Flaherty before these players age or seek other alternatives? If this talent is wasted over the next 2-3 seasons, are we likely to stare at a lost decade?
A: It is becoming increasingly important for the reason you mentioned. The Cardinals have two of the best all-round players in the National League and one of the best young throwers in the game. To this day, they do not have a pennant in the Flaherty era. Does not have a championship in the last 10 years by Adam Wainwright-Yadier Molina, and would be in danger of not having a pennant with his $ 50 million cornerbacks. For me, it would be a forgotten opportunity.
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