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Goold: 'It takes talent to get talent.'

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

Q: It's time for Wainwright and Arenado to decide on things. Also cards need to fix the OF. No more hope, need more certainty.

A: There are times for those decisions. This week is one, for example. MLB urges teams not to make moves or pull of big announcements during the jewel events, like the playoffs. And you'll recall the Cardinals had to get a special permission to announce their managerial moves a year ago -- those happened during the postseason, suddenly. There is a gap in games here where some business will get done.

-- Adam Wainwright working to finalize what his return for 2023 looks like.

-- Skip Schumaker going through interviews and consideration as the next manager of the Miami Marlins.

As for Arenado, his contract and the union will play a role in the timing of his decision/announcement. He said he intends to do that within a few days of the World Series. Around that time. That is closer to the time that his contract and the union wish -- around the time that free agency is opening up, the market begins.

Q: Derrick, thanks to you and all your colleagues in the Sports Depart for great coverage and these chats. I was surprised to hear about Wainwright's stride issue following the hit off his leg. With all the video of mechanics, how was this not picked up immediately?

A: As part of Wainwright's explanation, he said that he had not been as diligent in his video work as necessary to pick that up. We know from the real-time coverage and conversation that there was such a focus on the dead arm and the arm swing and the extension of his arm that anything about his stride may have been overlooked while trying to zero in on ways to make the "dead arm" revive.

It's a fair question to ask about how that process could have gone better, an alternative reason found earlier. This is not the first time, however, that something gets all the focus before revealing the issue. Wainwright had a similar thing about his leg stride and placement when he returned from his Achilles' tendon injury, but with the knowledge of a leg-related injury that is also where the focus was put, and he was able -- with help from coaches and peers -- find how his stride was effectively lowering his pitches from where he intended to throw them. Sinkers too low to challenge. Curves so low they were ignored.

Q: After watching Bader shine in the playoffs, do you think the FO has any regrets about that trade? Is this another Arozarena situation?

A: Not really. Montgomery helped get the Cardinals into the postseason as a division champ, and without him they likely falter, tumble into a pitching crater, and don't emerge from it in time to overcome even Milwaukee.

It takes talent to get talent.

And now both seasons are over. The 2023 season will offer a complete measure of that trade. Remember how well Voit did in the Bronx, and how that trade looked initially, and now how do you view it with Gallegos being a big part of the Cardinals' bullpen? One thing to keep in mind as 2023 arrives, Montgomery is due a large raise in arbitration and could be one of the Cardinals' highest-paid pitchers. Is he ready to also provide that kind of production -- or do they flip him for another need?

Q: What's the FO's perception of the team's development of starting pitching? It seems to me that over the past 10 years its gone from being the standard by which the league is judged to getting lapped by the Brewer, Dodgers, etc. Does the team intend to unify their approach to pitching the way that they have with hitting and Jeff Albert?

A: That is something definitely on their mind and of ongoing concern for them, yes. They feel like the lack of a pitching lab and some of the other things that they have been slower to embrace has them behind. They are making strides. Leveque has a strong reputation and track record. Some of the things that the major-league staff has been doing, Dusty Blake at the lead, should work its way down to the affiliates, too. That is where the pitching lab and tech use and investment would be valuable to the team. Yes, it's something they have wanted to address. Yes, it's something they're slower than they hoped to advance. And you bring up an interesting comparison with the hitting. The personnel is there to pull that together. And the need is, too.

Q: I would like to know where you think the Cardinals payroll should be at dollar wise? A lot of local writers like to put where the team payroll ranks from 1-30. In 2022 the Cardinals had the 12th highest payroll, and the Braves had the 8th highest. To me 12th vs 8th doesn’t sound like that much, but the 30 million dollar difference does. The Cardinals had a payroll that was just above league average, but do you believe most fans get that impression when you say the Cardinals were 12th? I understand saying the team ranks 12th in payroll is a factual statement, but in a world where several teams are bad on purpose I think it’s misleading.

A: The Cardinals, for a long time, tracked as a top 10 revenue team and a top 10 payroll team. Like revenue, the gap between No. 10 and No. 5 was enormous -- a continental shelf, I once described it. You might have as many teams stacked in the rankings between No. 8 and No. 16 as the difference between No. 5 and 6, or No. 2 and No. 3 for that matter.

The Cardinals compare well with Atlanta, and Atlanta's financials are publicly available. It makes sense for the Cardinals to be competitive with Atlanta's spending -- but that's about to change. Atlanta has the larger metro reason, that means a higher rights fee (more subscribers, more cable bills paying for baseball without watching baseball), and now Atlanta is also getting the infusion of huge crowds and the Battery development. The Cardinals comparison was making up for what they lacked in TV rights fee with huge attendance. Well, Atlanta has that huge attendance now too, so revenue is going to mushroom. Watch their financials closely. It's going to be remarkable.

As you'd imagine, a team that rests heavily on ticket sales and attendance took a hit during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. And the Cardinals did.

That dropped their payroll spending, obviously. That dropped their revenue, too.

This year, they're going to be back in the top third, if not just on the edge of it, and it's entirely fair to suggest that the payroll should reflect that.

But I would not stop there.

You brought up similar numbers that I did when writing about how, sure, the Phillies and Padres were low seeds into the playoffs, but they were also top five payrolls. Four of the six teams paying the luxury tax this season were in the NL playoffs. The Cardinals spent 25 percent less than the next closest team in the playoffs. That's a sizeable gap. And they were well behind the average of the other teams, between 40-50 percent. They were the only team in the NL playoffs with a payroll less than $200 million. And they weren't close to $200 million.

The Cardinals do not ever expect to get close to the luxury tax threshold, and yet here they are with a lot of room to go before they do.

Q: Thoughts on shortening the regular season to allow for longer postseason series? Division Series to 7 games, Wild Card round to 5 games, something like that? Regular season games can be really entertaining, and the Cardinals definitely had an entertaining season, but I don't think anyone would argue that postseason games aren't more entertaining as a baseball fan.

A: It would be fine to shrink back to 154. That makes a lot of sense. But I'm Ok with giving 162 time to breath with the new schedule and see how that fits and what that allows to develop as everyone plays everyone.

 

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