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Goold: Jake Woodford has seized the role the Cardinals have been looking for

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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: As we are in the home stretch, Pujols is closer to 700 than I think most of us expected. It was a nice story to begin the season, but was probably a long shot. Now that he's given us a great season to cheer for, but if he doesn't get there, is there a difference between 4th all-time in HR vs. 4th all-time w/ 700 homers?

A: I asked this question of Matt Holliday, recently. He, like many others, are openly hoping that Albert Pujols gets to 700 home runs. And I asked -- why is the round number so appealing? What's the difference between 699 and 700? I've often wondered that when it comes to Dale Murphy. He has 398 homers. If he had 400, would the gates of Cooperstown open to him as if he's cracked the code to ancient treasures? If so, goodness, how can two homers be the gap that is keeping someone from that honor? Clearly, we like the tidy, cool, round numbers. But for generations we didn't have an issue saying 714 was the most or 755 with was the most. Those aren't round numbers, and yet they held great gravity. Must be aesthetic as much as anything. So, yes, if Pujols gets to 698 or 699 that will shine out as the fourth-most all time and be a number that captures his career in three digits. 700 will just look...rounder.

Q: Woodford has been looking very solid, not surprising. Do you think he stays with the club through the playoffs?

A:The way the pitching staff is currently constructed, yes. Absolutely. He's provides length and he offers a chase reliever -- that is a reliever who can be used in middle innings when the Cardinals need to chase down an opponent who has a lead. That's the role the Cardinals have been looking for someone to seize, and he has.

Q: The balanced schedule starts next year. How many victories do you think it will cost the Cardinals?

A: Not as many. I think there are two teams in the NL that will see a favorable change due to the balanced schedule -- Colorado (chiefly) and Arizona. Those are two teams in markets smaller than their division rivals and spending less than their division rivals who will have fewer games against the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres. And, yes, while some of those games will be more against the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox -- there is also going to be the chance for the Rockies, let's say, to face the AL Central more often, which is closer to their level of competition and spending than, say, the Padres and Dodgers.

The Cardinals are going to lose games against the Reds, Pirates, etc., but still gain games against teams that they line up well with.

The change for the Cardinals will be when they dial up those expectations and leave the division title bar behind and start aiming for the best record in the NL as the goal.

Q: How will 2022 impact Flaherty and O'Neill's arbitration this winter?

A: It will be a factor. Being on the field is a plank of any arbitration negotiation. That's part of it. Everyday players have a better case than platoon players, and so on with injuries and missed time. Both will see a raise, but neither will see the potential Launchpad probably expected coming out of 2021.

Q: Chances Waino learns the knuckleball and go for his 250 wins at age 45?

A: It's not zero. Just not likely. But it's not zero chance.

Q: I love a feel good story as much as the next guy but Sunday's at bat by Albert sure looked suspicious. My son was with me and said...."Oh that’s a joke. He just laid a high fastball up in the zone and made it easy for him." I tend to agree. Let’s not go with an all-out conspiracy by major league baseball. However, it sure did look like the Cubs Hughes said to himself...."Let me just throw it as hard as I can and see what Albert can do with it”. Would you disagree?

A: I disagree. But this is the internet and facts routinely run behind fanciful fiction. That's the real issue. I find it interesting that people are rushing to explain why Albert Pujols hit a home run in his final swing against the Cubs and not just -- oh yeah -- Albert Pujols is good. Why detract from what Pujols did by trying to suggest it was a conspiracy of Cubs to give him a homer.

Give me a break.

In today’s 10 a.m. video, columnist Ben Hochman discusses Albert Pujols’ chase of 696 homers, while recalling this day in 1998, when Mark McGwire hit his record-tying 61st home run. Also, a happy birthday shoutout to Jason Isringhausen. And, as always, Hochman picks a random St. Louis Cards card from the hat. Ten Hochman is presented by Window Nation!

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