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Goold: Cardinals front office faces no more pressure than usual to upgrade roster

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Sports columnists Ben Frederickson and Jeff Gordon run through some popular names in the free-agent class and assess their potential fit with the Cardinals.

Check out the highlights from Derrick Goold’s Cardinals chat with readers. The full transcript of the chat can be found here.

Q: Next to starting a runner on second in extras, in my opinion the next worst rule change is the only two pickoff attempts rule. Your thoughts please.

A: To me, these rules are all about the math.

The runner at the second is foolish and against the spirit and mathematical symmetry of baseball. It introduces a runner on base that the offense didn't earn and the defense did not give up. All of sudden there's an imbalance to the box score because a player can score a run without any reason for being on base at all. Ugh. Brutal.

I don't have the same issue with the limited pickoffs. I actually like it's potential. Thanks in part to Tony La Russa all those years ago, teams have really neutralized baserunners and that has only fed into the risk aversion that now dominates data-driven teams. Steals just don't have the right probability to give it a go. So, let's change that equation. And the limited pickoffs do that. The bigger bases may do that. But imagine the tension of knowing a guy is going to go because the pitcher has run out of pickoffs -- or even the tension that the next one better get the runner because it's the last chance the pitcher will have.

I like the potential that has to add some tension to the moment especially when that moment has become so predictably dull because data says stealing is not the move.

Q: As of now, who would you project to be the opening day starter? Or is that person not yet on the roster?

A: Adam Wainwright is set to start opening day vs. Toronto.

Q: Would you agree that there’s more pressure on the Cardinals front office this off-season to field a team expected to make a playoff run than field a team good enough to get in and hope for a run?

A: No more so than usual. There should be, it seems. But I don't get the sense that there is. Not sure where that would come from, honestly. Fans are buying tickets. Ownership is happy with the results. The media continues to bring up the need to raise the payroll, to compete with the NL giants, and the lack of a pennant for 10 years -- and we get pushback when we constantly bring that up.

So, we still will.

Q: Will Jordan Walker get a real shot to make the club out of spring? Or is he destined for Memphis?

A: He will get a real shot in large part because it's expected that he forces his way into a real shot. He has had an impressive year and the Cardinals cannot ignore it.

Q: As someone who is impartial, free of St Louis sentimentality, how would you rate the Wainwright contract now that we know all that money counts against the cap next year?

A: A couple of quick things:

-- MLB doesn't have a cap. There is a luxury tax threshold and it acts as a soft cap, but there is no cap in place in MLB. And the Cardinals are not close to the tax threshold.

-- Not all of the money counts against the Cardinals' payroll, just most of it. There's some rebate because of inflation/interest, so the present day value of the $10 million they owe down the road is not $10 million. And that gap -- say $2 million, maybe more -- is the benefit. It's just not the full amount deferred. Hope that helps.

And, yes, Charlie Morton will make $20 million in 2023 for Atlanta. Adam Wainwright and Morton are comparable, right down to the stats and experience and all of it, and it's entirely fair to suggest that Wainwright would get close to Morton on the open market.

Q: Can you speak at all to the differences in approach/methodology/strategy that we may see from Turner Ward vs. Jeff Albert's previous approach to hitting?

A: Probably not much, honestly. They bring different things to the table, and they did as colleagues -- Turner Ward was part mechanic, part cheer squad, and part peer, in the sense that he could relate to the hitters in a way with a way of talking that was really helpful for this past year's team. Heck, his sayings got their own t-shirt. That shows you how he was able to connect. Brandon Allen is going to join the hitting coach group, and he'll bring some of the same approach that Albert did, and Packy Elkins is going to remain as the coordinator, so the analytics and how those are being used will be about the same.

Q: Derrick - You mentioned in your article that the Cards were unlikely to enter the fray with the headliner SS group. Does that group include Turner, Correa, Bogaerts, and Swanson?

A: The description I got was related to Turner and Correa especially -- the two shortstops aiming for and likely to get the biggest deals of that group. The Cardinals are hanging out on the edges to see where the market goes next.

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