Here's a transcript of the questions and answers from
Wednesday's live chat with Post-Dispatch baseball writer Joe
All right, everybody up for the final
pre-season St. Louis-based edition of Joe Strauss Live!!! Next week
The Tsunami comes ashore near Juno Beach, Fla. Given the recent
non-stop hyperventilation by Gateway City TV types about the
blizzard of the century, make that the storm of the decade... well,
at least the squall of the first week of February, it'll be nice to
head where the day's decision is sleeping with windows up or
Less than two weeks remain until pitchers and catchers report as
well as the deadline for the club signing its first baseman to a
mega-extension. Haven't heard of any February health surprises
except for lingering uncertainty about David Freese's timetable and
his eventual workload. We'll get into that during the upcoming
Since the end of the world failed to arrive -- in spite of
recent forecasts -- let's surf.
Sorry, have been AWOL for a few weeks. I hate it when real work and
responsibility get in the way of participating in the weekly JSL!!!
Here's some AP numbers you can pass on to BDJ and Mo: 7 years, 200
mil, AAV of $28.57 million. Vesting option for an 8th year at $30
million...or, if not, a $10 million buyout. If the 8th year doesn't
kick in, Cards net out at 7 years/$210 million/AAV $30 million. If
the 8th year does kick in, it's 8 years/$230 million/AAV $28.75
If Team Pujols is actually fixated on a 10-year deal, it's trouble.
I'm thinking (and hoping) that 7-8 years at a high AAV can get it
done. What do you think, Joe...are we in the right zip code?
Joe Strauss: I like your
math, though the team may think you're a bit heavy on AAV and Team
Pujols may believe you're too light on guaranteed years. You're in
the right area code. May have to reconfigure a bit to reach the
same zip code.
What if the Cardinals were to explore a trade for Jair Jurrjens?
His style works well with Dave and he has some nice potential. We
could send Kyle Lohse and Matt Carpenter. The Braves would have
Lohse for two more seasons as a solid pitcher while their two big
name prospects develop. They have a great pitchind depth so why
would they need JJ? Also, Matt Carpenter would be a nice for them
as well as Chipper continues to age and giving them a bench option
for the future.
Hey Joe, I
appreciate your time.
Joe Strauss: OK, we've
dispensed with the weekly Trade Kyle Lohse question. After an
exchange of punts we proceed to further action.
Hi Joe, thanks
again for the chat. Have a question about our defense. People seem
concerned about the lack of range of our defense. I have a feeling
our range will not be as great as last year, but having a defense
that is fundamentally sound, and consistently making the routine
play just as important. Playing smart defensively, throwing to the
right base for example and defensive positioning can be just as
important as range. Also having the ability to consistently hit the
cutoff is very important. I feel in the past couple of years this
team has been lacking in this. Your thoughts!
Joe Strauss: Despite its
86 wins, I thought last year's Cardinals team the least
fundamentally consistent in nine seasons covering the club. You're
right about merely making the expected play. The number of unturned
double plays last season was little short of outrageous. For all of
Brendan Ryan's potential for the spectacular, the routine at times
became baffling, especially during his deepest offensive funks.
Third base became a disaster after Freese's loss. Even Rasmus, who
possesses plus speed and plus arm strength, often out of position,
especially during the season's first four months. I would expect
those facets to improve. They'd better.
Now that we have
signed Nick Punto, will the Cards do some more "tweaking" or is the
twenty five man Opening Day roster pretty much set?
Joe Strauss: It appears
pretty set, barring injury, of course. Competition for the final RH
relief role may bear watching. Miguel Batista has to make the team
out of camp or be offered free agency. Punto's presence sets up a
bench including him, Laird, Jay, Craig and Greene. Of course, there
is no obvious RH-hitting CF among the bunch there. Craig is the
bench's leading power presence. Greene's spot on the team is not
secure but he will receive every benefit of the doubt.
Will Shelby Miller or
Lance Lynn see any time in The Show in 2011?
Joe Strauss: Lynn has a
shot. Miller should start at Palm Beach (High A) but could move
quickly. He is a talent who intrigues everyone, not just the
My concern is the failure
to deal with a sloppy defense. We now have a DH in right
field(despite the protestations of TLR and the front office) this
concerns me,an outfielder at second and a questionable shortstop
who may be better suited to play second. All of this with a team
that professes, pitch to contact. Was hoping they would work a deal
for someone like Stephen Drew and get a true shortstop and tighten
up the double play combo.
Joe Strauss: Your
concerns are legitimate and shared by many others within the
industry. The Cardinals have clearly committed to a more offensive
model. If Puma doesn't hit, that model falls apart. He is the
biggest variable in the team's offensive equation. It will be
interesting if this year is a transitional year for Theriot before
a return to 2B in 2012.
Have any other teams,
sensing obstacles (real or imagined) in the Pujols negotiations,
sent out feelers to the Cards front office regarding their openness
to a trade?
Joe Strauss: The
Cardinals profess no interest in trading Pujols, a good thing since
he has zero interest in waiving his veto power over any deal. I
have heard of no feelers regarding Pujols. That doesn't mean there
have been none.
Pujols talks. We hear
little to nothing. Are the two sides meeting?
Joe Strauss: After
nearly two weeks of inactivity, the sides have resumed discussions,
though neither side is willing to characterize their
Hey Joe - I
was at the Winter Warm-Up in January and asked Tony LaRussa to sign
my baseball along with the inscription "4X Manager of the year" -
he proceeded to say he was a 5 X Manager of the year. I asked him
what year did I miss and he never really said and put 5 X Manager
of the year on my ball. I dont think I missed anything did I? Now I
hope the hell he wins it again before he retires so my baseball is
correct. Just need your opinion on this. Thanks.
Joe Strauss: The
Baseball Writers Association of America named TLR its recipient for
the award in 1983, 1988, 1992 and 2002. Tony probably includes the
1996 Associated Press Major League Manager of the Year in his
count. Interesting that The Sporting News, which also gives out an
award and has often leaned toward Cardinals, never has bestowed its
NL Manager of the Year on TLR.
Joe: Couple of reports on
ESPN over this past weekend that Pujohls was asking for 285 or 300
mil over 10 years. I know the Cards from the little we've been able
to get out them claim the money isn't the issue but the amount of
years is. Yes, Pujohls will be 41 when the 10 years are up but
hasn't he proven that he takes his game more seriously than most
players and will most likely (barring injury) still be age
contributing at 41?
Joe Strauss: I seriously
doubt the Cardinals will guarantee a 10-year deal for anything
approaching a $28-$30 AAV. That's not to say a serious of options
couldn't be included to somehow take Albert through 2021 (or 2020
if the upcoming year is renegotiated and rolled into the
Does Pujols really
have that big of an ego to not stay with the Cardinals?
Joe Strauss: That
question reads a little one-sided to say the least.
There is talk that Allan Craig will be working with Jose Oquendo
in some time at third this spring. Of course we all want Freese to
kick ass all year long, but Craig is a power bat that, along with
an improved Rasmus, could really take the Cardinals to the next
level if he can break through and become a regular starter.
How committed do you think the team is to giving him time at third,
working out his throwing issues, and getting him on the field in
general? Do you see him getting time anywhere else this spring?
Does Craig regularly spelling Berkman fit into pacing Berkman for a
successful complete season in left?
That doesn't really seem to fit Tony's M.O. for those he sees as
core players. What kind of chances do you see Craig getting in
spring and through the year and how do you anticipate it shaking
out? How does the acquisition of Nick Punto affect this
O Master of
the tsunami, thanks for bringing the spring wave once again in this
hour of our frozen discontent.
Joe Strauss: Somebody's
going to have to play third base besides Freese. According to my
information, Freese is unlikely to play Grapefruit League ball
until at least the schedule's second week. Freese has set a goal of
playing the opener but few see the benefit of such a push given
that he is coming off double ankle surgery. Freese's
baseball-related activities to date consist of swinging a bat. The
club says it is going to play his rehab conservatively.
Even once on the field, Freese is unlikely to start long
interrupted stretches of games. His arthritic ankles will be
receive plenty of attention and may lead the club to afford him,
say, two starts per series. A time share is not a choice but a
necessity. Whether Craig, Greene or Punto starts when Freese sits
is to be determined. Punto is a switch-hitter and the best
defensive player among the lot. Craig carries power but is unsteady
at the position. Greene may possess the best mix of bat and glove
but has yet to demonstrate it at this level. The Cardinals will be
happy to get 115 starts out of David Freese.
I'm a big Cards
and Pujols fan, but I'm thinking I'd rather have Adrian Gonzalez
for 12-15 mil per year and be able to afford some other players,
than Pujols for 28-30 mil per year. Your thoughts?
Joe Strauss: The
suspicion is that the Red Sox will tie up Gonzalez to an extension
during the season. Gonzalez is viewed as an attractive alternative
to Albert but it's unlikely he will be available next
Albert says it
will be a distraction to negotiate his contract after the season
starts. How much of a distraction will a non signing bring?
Joe Strauss: A lot of
that depends on Albert. But to think local and national media won't
approach him about the issue in-season is naive. His performance
and demeanor are certain to be scrutinized like never before should
he enter the season as a pending free agent. Albert certainly isn't
oblivious to how he positions himself. He has granted CBS
significant access both here and in the Dominican Republic for a
lengthy piece to be broadcast on 60 Minutes in April. The 60
Minutes crew is also expected to be part of the Jupiter
to take care of his contract situation if he really wants to stay
in St. Louis. Even if he took a hometown "discount", he would still
get at least 7 years and at least $25m/year. That would mean he
would have earned $275m over his career to play baseball. I know
we're dealing with billionaire owners, but it's sure hard to side
with players in these situations, especially when this contract
could affect the Cardinals' ability to remain competitive. I am a
Cardinals fan first and no player is worth signing if we can't
surround them with players like Carpenter, Wainwright, Molina, etc.
Your thoughts please on why Albert hasn't taken more control over
Joe Strauss: I'd be
stunned at Albert agreeing to any contract with a total value that
didn't start with at least a "2".
Your assumption that Albert is not heavily involved in his contract
Long observation, but my question is does this have any affect on
the ballpayer himself? I know they probably never read comments
from such forums, but they can't be completely isolated from these
kinds of things. Have you any inclination if this fan attitude is
know by Albert and if there is any noticable effect?
Joe, It's hard to
imagine that any baseball fan would not want the greatest player of
their generation to play with their favorite team. Reading the
forum boards, it's obvious that a lot of Cardinal "loyal" fans
actually want Albert to leave, or would shrug their shoulders if he
did. Some are actually focusing on his perceived "character flaws"
(who wants a generational icon on their team if they are not
absolutely perfect?) and the fact that since he is 31 he is on a
greased slide to oblivion, regardless of the fact that he will
probably be the best for at least the next five years and for the
five after that still better than 95% of the rest of the
Joe Strauss: Let's be
clear: most professional athletes are well aware of fan sentiment,
especially if it is negative. A leading reason for the media
blackout during Pujols' negotiations is at Albert's insistence. The
ugly back and forth that developed between the NY Yankees and their
icon, Derek Jeter, became instructive to Team Pujols. However,
Jeter was being asked to take a salary cut in the twilight of his
career. No one is suggesting the same for AP. The irony is that
Pujols' reluctance or outright refusal to address his situation may
feed the negative blowback he desperately seeks to avoid. It is
difficult if not impossible to envision a scenario in which St.
Louis turns on Pujols if he offers a gracious face during talks and
-- in the absence of an extension -- during the season. However,
offering no comment in effect tells the fan base that negotiations
are none of its business. (Forget the impact an extension may have
on ballpark prices.) Barring a positive outcome this month, I
question how well that approach plays locally.
Should we take the
signing of Berkman and the continued enthusiasm for the Schumaker
experiment as evidence that Mo and the controlling elements of the
front office simply don't buy the advanced defensive metrics that
websites like Fangraphs use? Do you think that this is because they
are skeptical of the whole enterprise (and Luhnow has totally lost
his foothold in terms of major league level decisions) or do you
think that they have internal measures that they are using that
just rate Schumaker and others as better than the publicly
available measures? I've heard TLR dump on these kinds of measures
(although I'm never sure how much of what he says publicly is
serious?), but what about Mo and the front office?
Joe Strauss: TLR is no
sabe. He is an outspoken critic of the Moneyball mentality and once
labeled the newfound approaches toward scouting and player
development as "experimentation." Jeff Luhnow no longer controls
the team's analytics department. Mike Girsch, recently promoted to
assistant general manager, has an analytics background. The team
owes Schumaker $2.7M this season. That is not bench money. Short of
acquiring Dan Uggla and moving Schumaker to the OF, the club's
financial structure dictated Schumaker wins all ties. Schumaker
also entered last season a career .302 hitter. Will he be next
season's starting second baseman? Debateable. However, he is
considered a core presence on this team. It is interesting to note
that the rise of analytics within the organization has corresponded
to one playoff appearance (and no postseason wins) in four seasons.
Perhaps a reshaping isn't such a bad idea.
and looking at "plus" glove guys out there. Not much there- Colby
can catch, but throw? Jay is I think rated "average". Next are
Berkman, Holliday,Craig and maybe Tyler Greene. What is the feeling
about Adron Chambers defense? Think he might make team as speed guy
and late inning defense sub? Are the Cardnials thinking he needs to
play full time someplace for another year?
Thanks for the
knowledgable chat. I'm wondering about the outfield defense
Joe Strauss: Chambers
projects as a LF. He does not possess corner OF power. However,
Rasmus' explosion as a power presence coupled with Holliday's shift
to RF could allow for flexibility should Chambers develop into a
dynamic leadoff-type hitter. He will have to prove that at Memphis
Although the Cards have purchased "insurance" at third base by
signing Punto, should Freese have a setback, I just can't see Punto
being the everyday third baseman. It also doesn't look like they
will go outside the organization to sign someone else since they
already did when they signed Pumto. Using the third base by
comittee method has never worked out for the Cards over the last
couple of years. It seems that the only long term solution would be
to let Craig play for several months and see how it goes. What is
Hello Joe -
Joe Strauss: The
Cardinals remain exposed at the position should Freese go down for
an extended period. I'm not sure about your assessment of going
all-in with Craig at third base. However, your concerns are very
The Cards appear to
have zero leverage in this negotiation. Why then are they dragging
their feet? Everyone knows it is going to take a minimum of 240
over 8 to sign him, with a couple of option years to boot. Am I
just cynical, or can one begin to reasonably assume the team has
conceded to not signing Pujols and are just giving the appearance
Joe Strauss: I wouldn't
go there yet.
Assuming Punto is a lock to make the opening day roster, how would
you rate Descalso's odds of making the big club? I liked what I saw
from him last year. I assume Greene is the Guy he needs to beat
Joe Strauss: I believe
both your assumptions are correct.
Without hyperventilating, what is a reasonable timetable for Cox in
St. Louis? Are you hearing that he projects at 3rd or 2nd in the
Joe Strauss: If he moves
quickly, he could be here sometime in late 2012. It's difficult to
project where the Cardinals' greatest need will be: 2B or 3B.
However, Cox played more second base as an amateur and his bat
projects as more line drive than home run. It's too early to
discount his potential at third base, and projections remain split.
I look forward to watching Cox in major-league camp, where he will
be exposed to third base. Based on body type and how he projects
offensively, my first inclination would be to project him
ultimately ending up at second base.
Joe, if Albert, his
agent and MLB Union decide he should walk away from the Cards offer
(which is his right) and if he decides to stay the whole season not
approving a trade (which again is his right) what kind of
atmosphere will that present for the Cards and fans this season?
Joe Strauss: You tell
participant from Kansas City, and have always loved your Q & A
sessions. I'm gonna assume the Cardinals sign Albert. Give us your
longterm projection for what happens to the team down the road.
Will the Cardinals continue to increase their total payroll in
order to sign key home-grown players and free agents? Or, will they
basically freeze the payroll, hope for the best each year, and
surround him with mostly young and developing players and/or
bargain-priced reclamation project veterans? Or, if you think
there'd be another option, I'd sure like to hear it.
Joe Strauss: Payroll
will increase by necessity should Pujols remain. There doubtless
will be an effect on season tickets and the organization's new
single-game "float" policy. There is no upside (beyond a marketing
bump) to retaining Pujols if the organization doubts it can
surround him with talent to contend. The inability to reach the
postseason in three of the past four seasons WITH Pujols may offer
pause to both sides.
AP seems to have a bee in his bonnet. Nobody forced him to sign his
last deal and if he had underperformed I doudt he'd be providing a
If Cards cant get Albert
for a 5 or 6 year deal at 28-30, dont they have to let him go to
free agency and take back prospects? He'll be 32 at the beginning
of that contract - will there be teams lining up next year to do
better? Or do you think the Cards aren't willing to go even that
Joe Strauss: One thing
is certain: There will be a market for Pujols after this season.
Whether or not you endorse the club re-signing him, to suggest a
dry market for the game's best player is delusional.
Do you think that a
healthy Lance Berkman is still capable of hitting 20-25 HRs and 70
Joe Strauss: Yes. The
club is counting on him to deliver more RBI than you suggest.
We know that the front
end of the pitching rotation is good enough to win the division and
make a deep playoff run, but is the back end of the rotation and
bullpen good enough?
Joe Strauss: It was last
year and I don't see enough deterioration to doubt it this season.
The club underperformed offensively and defensively last season.
The rotation led the NL in starters' ERA and the bullpen held up
its end. This year's team needs to become more fundamentally sound
and more consistent offensively. Last year's futility against NL
Central bottom-feeders was inexcusable.
Hello Kelly Slater of
Chat, longtime reader and first time asker. I love the insight! My
question: Has there been any talk of re-thinking the offences'
approach to hitting in general or scouting opponents pitchers in
particular this off-season? Last season the Cards looked completly
lost when facing "6th" starters or any rookie who came their way.
Since I've read that Big Mac was vocal about his dislike of the
Cards batters' reliance on video scouting, has there been any
movement towards changing or augmenting the system? Will Big Mac
have a bit more pull in this or any other area in his second year
as hitting coach? Have the Cards begun taping at the lower levels
to accumulate some data on these no-names and rookies who made the
Cards look so lost last season? Thanks so much for the chats!
Joe Strauss: It's a
legitimate question and one that I'm sure will be asked (and
hopefully answered) during spring training.
Joe, I've been
hearing from an inside source (extremely reliable) that Albert and
the Cardinals are leaning towards a shorter deal (4-5 years) but
with the full $30 million per season. This would allow Albert to
get his payday while not paralyzing the organization with a
financial committment. Are you hearing anything that would indicate
this kind of contract is being considered, and if so, what is your
take on Albert taking a shorter deal, but full $??
Joe Strauss: Your
proposal would offer a true compromise, as the Cardinals would go
beyond their preferred AAV and Pujols would accept fewer guaranteed
years than he desires. However, he would indeed become the game's
highest-paid player. Such an arrangement would allow him another
bit of the free agent apple at 37. I can't attest to your sources,
but certainly the length of contract fits organizational taste. For
Pujols to accept such a contract would represent a significant
compromise on his part, given the recent 7-year deals afforded
Holliday, Werth and Crawford. Again, it's difficult to envision any
deal's value not beginning with at least a "2."
talks about getting back to a World Series. Surely he has to
realize that if he takes such a big cut of the team's payroll pie
it'll hinder the Cards affording a talented supporting cast to
build a winner. He wants to be like Stan Musial. The Cards have
tremendous tradition. It's cheaper to live around St. Louis. Aren't
these things worth something, or is Albert and his parasitic agent
only focused on the absolute top dollar?
Joe Strauss: I'm sensing
a slight preference on your part toward the organization in these
While I am rooting for Lohse to return to his 2008 form, I do think
he is one of the bigger issues for TLR to ponder this spring. Do
you think if he struggles in spring, one of the "6th" starter
candidates (Batista, Snell, or Walters) could bump him into the
bullpen to open the season?
Do you have an official recommendation, for entertainment purposes
only, for this weekend's game?
Joe Strauss: Lohse
starts the season in the rotation if healthy. Pittsburgh is this
weekend's Free Money.
The Albert drama is getting old. Can't the Cards face it? To keep
the m5n, you have to pay the m5n. Simple as that. Everything
they've done up until now points to the fact that they tried to
wait out the market in the hopes it would go down and it didn't
work out. So come strong and get it done. If the m5n wants 9 or 10
years, no - unless there's a vesting option that merits it. My
problem is that the Cards have not done enough to prepare the peeps
if the m5n walks away. If the Cards start whining at the 11th hour
before spring training I think it will be too little, too late and
the DeWitts will go the way of Mubarak. Ruin the public trust and
we'll run you back to Cincy. We'll be takin' it to the streets!
Joe Strauss: Sounds like
you're ready to lead the revolution.
Enjoy the readings.
Trying to place some logic into the AP outcome. Why would the
Cardinals make their particular back-to-the-playoff off-season
moves (on a scale of 10, about a 7's worth to me) if they did not
expect Albert to be part of the season picture WITHOUT the everyday
all-season annoyance of upcoming free agency? Yes, these guys are
"pros" & say they can handle such situations, but still, they
are human & wouldn't that put a damper on the overall
"chemistry" & ultimate success? Can't see the team being in a
pennant race & generating excitement when in the back of
everybody's minds Albert's heading....to the Cubs!?!?!? My logic -
they sign him.
Joe Strauss: I don't
envision a scenario in which Pujols' situation compromises the
organization's push to win this year. Now if the team badly
underperforms and Albert remains unsigned.... chilly.
Do you see the Theriot
deal as being a bust like the Khalil Greene deal?
Joe Strauss: That would
be extremely difficult to match. Greene cost $6.5M and a promising
reliever, Luke Gregerson. Theriot carries a lower price tag and
Blake Hawksworth, though versatile, does not offer the same upside
Yes, another Pujols
question. Is it safe to assume if an extension isn't signed before
the spring deadline, that Albert will be testing free agency?
I am convenced that Allen Craig is a very real offensive talent. As
you mentioned before he needs consistent at bats. How do you expect
TLR to use him or (please opine) what way would bring out his
skills most effectively?
Joe Strauss: It will
interesting to see TLR's willingness to move Craig back and forth
between third base and RF. Should Berkman produce against LHP, he
plays every day. If not, there likely will be at-bats at Craig's
former position. This spring is going to be a challenge for Craig,
whose production seemed to increase with his opportunities last
I keep thinking the real problem that could/might occur is in the
bull pen. I'm curious about the lefty they (Cards) got from
Toronto, I think his name is Tennet (?). What do you know about him
and what we should expect? I heard he was once considered a big arm
Joe Strauss: Brian
Tallet will be used as a LH specialist, a departure from how he was
used by the Toronto Blue Jays last season. Tallet admitted to some
physical problems that affected his delivery while allowing 20 home
runs in 77 innings pitched. Tallet was very good in 2008 but has
not resembled the same pitcher since. The last two seasons have
been different enough to worry about his durability.
ManRam signed in Tampa for just $2 million. Does this make the
Berkman deal seem a little bit pricey? Before he was busted with
PED's Ramirez was advocated to the FO by El Hombre. Although he is
certainly a PR risk, wouldn't Ramirez have been a decent fit
wearing the birds on the bat for a quarter of the price of
Oh waviest of
waves. I have but one query for you.
Joe Strauss: Ramirez
would have been a disaster here. He may prove to be a disaster in
Tampa. No thanks.
Really enjoy your writing. What do you think happens to the
Cardinals in the next 4 to 5 years if Wainrught goes down with arm
problems? I think it will take this long to recover - hoping Waino
really is healthy !!!
Joe Strauss: One need
only see how the club's fortunes rise and fall with Chris Carpenter
to gauge what a serious injury to Waino' would mean. That said,
your question is completely speculative. Wainwright has proven as
durable as any NL pitcher the last two seasons.
1. Assuming Pujols reaches free agency, what are the odds on him
resigning with the Cards? I mean he might not get any 280
2. In 2000, the Mariners had their best season after A Rod left.
What are the chances that the Cards might improve without Pujols?
They might add Fielder or Hanley Ramirez or some guy we've never
heard of from Japan or Cuba.
Joe, thanks for
reading my questions.
Joe Strauss: It's
difficult to set odds on free agency, but I'd set the odds at below
50 percent for Pujols' return should he hit the market. There
obviously would be scars created by the club's reluctance to engage
in talks before the 2010 season and an inability to reach an
agreement before the 2011 season.
As for the Cardinals' chances to improve without Pujols, I'll only
repeat what a rival executive insisted as recently as Monday:
Without Pujols this year, the Cardinals are fourth-place team. I
may not totally agree with that, but it represents a fairly common
Who could the Cards trade
to land a pitcher like Mike Pelfrey? Pelfrey has good upside and
would be another strong arm in the rotation, not to mention he's
now the Mets' opening day starter with Santana sidelined.
Joe Strauss: So why,
exactly, would the Mets trade him?
Baseball is a
youngman's game and when I look down the Cardinal's roster, they
are not young. Only a few players are young. Bottom line is the
Cardinals need to get younger if they want to win.
Joe Strauss: Some would
use the term "more athletic."
How do you think Jaime Garcia will fair this season? I think people
feel as though he's a one-year wonder. Thoughts?
JA "one-year wonder"
might be a little tough. Garcia pitched very consistently for five
months last season. He likely will be challenged this year by a
heavier work load. Garcia did not average six innings per start
last season, mostly due to the club protecting him. A 1.316 WHIP
and a 2.70 ERA is not a typical combination. (NL average was
1.348.) Still, Garcia carried a 2.35 ERA into his last two starts.
If Garcia lowers his WHIP, averages six innings per start and
carries an ERA of 3.25 or better, he's had an excellent sophomore
I disagree with those who say the Cardinals added offense but took
a major hit defensively. By mid June I had stopped counting the
runs given up after the infield failed to turn a routine double
play. I don't see the major decline many others do, especially on
days Punto plays second. Am I incorrect?
Joe Strauss: I think the
defensive dropoff has been overstated by some, especially those
bothered by the trade of Brendan Ryan to Seattle. Last year's
defense often bordered on brutal.
It seems to
me that this year is a pivotal one for the Cardinals. Assuming AP
is signed - if the team still struggles, do you see the Cards being
major sellers this summer?
Joe Strauss: The
Cardinals have not been sellers in my nine years covering this
team. Given the composition of the NL Central, it's difficult to
envision a scenario in which the Cardinals are out of it after four
months. The better question is how well-equipped they are to become
buyers. That's very uncertain.
Does it even matter? Any chance Snell makes the pen as the swing
Does Dunc try to make
Snell into a groundball guy? If so, does Snell listen?
Joe Strauss: Snell is
virtually certain to start the season at Memphis. A lot would have
to go wrong for him to open the season in STL.
You kept throwing out little barbs about Freese's rehab or lack
thereof. Has there been a snag in his rehab and if so, how much
time do you see him missing?
Joe Strauss: No snag.
But as stated earlier, there is a limit to his ceiling this season.
The term "everyday" third baseman is a bit misleading due to
precautions designed to preserve his ankles.
Hard to believe I played
golf last Friday afternoon here in Kansas, where it was 70 degrees
out, and today it is a balmy 5 degrees with snow drifts several
feet high. Have you heard, who is the best golfer on the
Joe Strauss: Lohse
followed by 'Waino'. Carpenter has worked on his game, too.
Naturally, starting pitchers have more time to hone their game than
relievers and position players. Albert has made significant strides
since taking up the game but plays only rarely during the season.
Mitchell Boggs has playing priveleges at The Farm in Dalton, Ga.,
one of the 10 best places I've ever played. Mark McGwire once was
scratch. Jose Oquendo is truly the Secret Weapon. He has enough
game to occasionally go below 70.
Hey Joe, Any ideas about
what happens to the bench/25 man roster if Tyler Greene has a
disappointing ST? Thanks.
Joe Strauss: Descalso is
a factor. A dumpster dive for a bench bat is also not out of the
You seriously are blaming
one playoff appearance in the last four years on sabermetrics? Tell
that to Boston, Tampa, Texas, New York, Toronto, and a rising
Oakland team that has been rebuilt. 07, and 08 were products of a
transition period, '09 was a playoff team, and 2010 was a 90 win
talent team as well that fell apart because of injuries, and a
poorly managed season by TLR because of his refusal to accept
Joe Strauss: Further
proof that no one -- and I mean no one -- takes a critique harder
than a member of the Sabe religion. Funny how success typically
comes with payroll (Boston, NY, Texas). Still waiting for that
Oakland World Series appearance. And someone needs to brag on the
Jays. Always entertaining that when a franchise wilts it's on the
manager. When it succeeds, the numbers mafia pushes its way to the
fore. Like everything else, it's fair to say some organizations
apply resources better than others. That would include analytics.
I've heard poor trades explained as a failure of scouting but am
still waiting for someone to admit misapplication of analytics.
I'll probably be waiting a while.
If the Cardinals can't sign Albert Pujols to an extension, what
makes you think the Cardinals wouldn't bench him, or at least
severely limit his playing time, in order to try to force him into
requesting a trade? It wouldn't be the first time a business put
undue pressure on one of its employees.
Joe Strauss: Yeah, that
would work. But I appreciate your attempt at handing me the
baseball equivalent of a neutron bomb.
I ask because it is time for DeWitt and family to finally start
there own Cardinal Network once the current contract is up with
FSM. The network alone would bring in so much extra revenue. I dont
undertsnd why this is not an option, do you have any thoughts
Joe, I keep asking
this question and no one wants to touch it. What hold does FSM have
on the Cardinals other then there current contract.
Joe Strauss: The current
deal with FSM runs through 2017. A Cardinals network doesn't seem
to be on the horizon.
If Albert DOES
want to stay with the Cardinals and DOES want the Cards to compete
every year he is here why wouldn't he just take a few million a
year now since he had plenty of money NOW for himself his kids and
there kids. That way the Cardinals could continue to improve there
lineup year after year. But if his ego is telling him he should be
the highest paid player of all time I don't see how it could be
good for the Cardinal,s to compete do you?
Joe Strauss: Is it
Pujols' ego that tells him he should be the highest paid player or
I am a
transplant out in California. I read from the PD and other media
about the Cardinals but don't get the neighborhood atmosphere. Do
the articles give the fan base in the St Louis area justice when it
comes to the reactions of the Pujols negotiations. Which way would
you say the fans are leaning, Organization or Albert?
Do you think we needed to upgrade at some everyday positions and do
you think the Pujols issue affected the team's actions this
I have a
premise to my question. I think the Cards didn't really seek
experienced starters (which I think they needed at more than one
postion) to be aquired through trade due to the pending Pujols
negotiations and it's potential effect on payroll.
Joe Strauss: The
uncertainty surrounding Pujols made the club far less inclined to
discuss long-term deals this winter. As you saw, they refused to
commit to more than two years with any new player. Once the Pujols
situation clarifies, the organization's ability to project payroll
will do so as well.
Everybody talks about
Pujols wanting to be the games highest paid player. That got me
thinking, is there any gamesmanship being played by Dan Lozano in
an effort to outduel Scott Boras in terms of highest AAV or
contract terms. Most people think Scott gets GM's to compete
against themselves, does Lazano have any of this in him?
Joe Strauss: It's
difficult to get teams to bid against one another when only one
club has the ability to negotiate. Your question may become more
timely in 10 months.
Any club reaction to
Keith Law's recent ranking of the Cards system (14th)?
Joe Strauss: I missed
the press release but I would imagine the Cardinals are gratified
that a third-party grades its system among the game's top half a
year after ranking it among the industry's worst three. I was
does it bother you when others in the biz report the same things
you've been reporting for months (e.g., olney declaring pujols
would veto any trade)? this was not a shocker to those who follow
you, but the blogosphere and interwebs blew up at this
"revelation," even local tv outlets re-reporting it.
seems like some
colleagues are attempting to crowd your surf ...
Joe Strauss: It's the
environment in which we work. Two local stations have a stated
policy not to credit the P-D even if they read from it verbatim.
Again, ethics are a problem only if you have them.
Joe, apologies for
blowing you up with questions today, but the rush of catching my
first wave has a grip on me. I'll chill out after this. Would you
grew that, although unpopular, in order to restock our questionable
farm system, we may need to trade a big name at some point as long
as the theory of cheap talent surrounding high priced superstars is
in play? We obviously missed the boat on trading pujols, as much as
that would've sucked. Who do you see, in a scenario where aren't
contending,as fetching a restock the farm type of yield. My
thoughts would be wainwright as much as that would also suck.
Thoughts? Thank you so much!
Joe Strauss: The
Cardinals restock through the draft and signing players in Latin
America. Due to no-trade leverage it's difficult to see what player
would constitute a lure for prospects. Are you going to move
Last week on MLB
Network, Cal Ripken made the point that if Albert wanted to get
this done he simply walks or rides the elevator upstairs at the
stadium. Ripken like Pujols knows the drill also being a former
franchise player who only played for one team his entire career.
The point is when does the madness stop here with Albert putting
his cards on the table?
Joe Strauss: It's easy
to ask a player to sign for less than market value before he
reaches free agency. It's a lot more difficult for that player to
do so. This is big boy stuff. What one side sees simply as
requestion a home town "discount" can be perceived by the other as
organizational arrogance. This isn't CandyLand.
If fans like me ventured
down to Jupiter to catch a weekend of games in March, how would one
best try to find you to say hello and thank you for all your fine
Joe Strauss: Look for
the guy La Russa's yelling at.
wrap for this week. Plans call for the chat to pick up next
Wednesday from Jupiter. I understand the interest in Pujols'
situation and hopefully the matter will have gained clarity by next
week. Thanks for your questions. Gotta get packing. Aloha.