Check out the highlights from Derrick Goold’s Cardinals chat with readers. The full transcript of the chat can be found here.
Q: How long will the players participating in the World Baseball Classic be away from the team, giving rookies more chances to play and make impressions?
A: Depends on how good their teams are. They could be gone for a little more than two weeks. Or they could be back within a week if their teams do not emerge from pool play. And, yes, there will be many players who get playing time and a chance to make an impression because of the players away for the WBC.
A short list of those players who will benefit: Walker, DeJong, Winn, Yepez, Burleson, Herrera, and Moises Gomez. Expect to see a lot of Walker and Gomez.
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Q: Do the Cardinals (in your opinion) have a rotation that is stable enough to make adjustments in season and stay ahead in standings if things start to fall apart again and innings need to be eaten?
A:No. Not today they do not. But I've often been told I make too big of deal about innings.
Q: After listening to the radio and hearing the terrible stats of Pirates outfielder Brian Reynolds it is hard to understand wanting to trade for him. The Cardinals need to spend 80 games evaluating their young players and not adding another outfielder to take bats away from the young players. The Cardinals batting stats were in the top 5 in MLB last year, which surprised me. The Cardinals still have money to spend and a lot of trade chips, play your young players and upgrade at the trade deadline.
A: The outfield production from the Cardinals in 2022 is a curiosity, for sure. It did rank well. The aggregate batting average of .247 ranked 10th, the on-base percentage of .325 was fourth in the majors for outfielder groups, and the slugging was subpar at 16th overall with a .394. Still, the OBP elevated the Cardinals' outfield as a group when it came to OPS and weighted Runs Created+, where they were just above average at 107.
So, not the power that usually comes from the corners, but enough OBP to buoy the overall production above average, and the outfielders did that without the steady performance of Tyler O'Neill or the consistency from Dylan Carlson, and with the injury and trade of Harrison Bader.
Forgive me for not getting wrapped up in the defensive numbers when it comes to Reynolds, who is one year removed from getting MVP votes, remains one of the rising outfielders in the majors, and is the rare available and improving young player. He's a talent. He'd be a good fit for the Cardinals. And if he's not the Gold Glove center fielder -- with the Cardinals, he does not have to be, so he can produce from the corner. The past two seasons he's been a .283/.368/.492 hitter. He's got a .861 OPS, and he's been 36% better than average. The Cardinals would benefit from that kind of lift in the outfield.
It's a good fit for every reason except that he's in Pittsburgh, and that is not the kind of deal that Mozeliak has made in his tenure with the Cardinals. The in-division whoppers? Nope.
Q: Happy Newest Year. Derrick: What are teams like KC, Cincy., Denver etc. that play in small markets when it comes to competing with the big spenders? Could you ever see a time when small market teams start folding due to not being able to spend and compete with the big boys?
A: Retraction like the Minnesota Twins once faced? I don't see that. The business of baseball is good, and the revenues are strong, and there is going to be support for some of the teams. But let's be clear here: Some teams choose not to spend what they can. That's just the facts. There have been teams who have stripped down their roster -- not because they cannot afford to pay better players, they just believe they cannot compete at this moment so why splash cash on the roster that's not going to yield a winner. That's a choice. That's a choice to not spend money. It's all part of the hedge-fund approach to baseball. If a team sees that spending an extra $10 million is going to get them from 78 wins to 80 wins, they don't see the benefit and would rather scale back and go for that better draft pick with 72 wins. Oh, and save money. The current CBA makes some strides in changing that dynamic, and the union will try to make more gains in that regard in the next CBA.
It's worth noting that Colorado doesn't have a spending problem. It's what the Rockies spend on that has them in a bind. Its teams like Pittsburgh (the same size as San Diego!) and the Cubs that stand out for their choices about not spending.
Q: Are the Cardinals content to hope for the best with their rotation for the season or are they looking at adding another front of the rotation type arm?
A: They have not stopped their shopping for another pitcher. One of the things they're not doing, though, is making promises about starting. It's caught them. The Cardinals had interest in and talks with Drew Rucinski, for example, and he eventually signed with Oakland for a one-year, $3-million deal that does include a team option. This is telling when it comes to seeing where the Cardinals are. They're not offering that certainty of starting like the A's could. That has an appeal for a pitcher trying to return from abroad and build value for the next contract. The Cardinals did not offer the same amount of compensation, not like some of the other suitors. So that's where they are -- still shopping, but offering the type of deal that usually is accepted closer to spring training when pitchers seek roster spots not roles.
Quick aside: There are some conversations the Cardinals could have now regarding potential trade targets that don't come to fruition until the middle of the season, as the trade deadline applies pressure. The Cardinals spend time exploring starters now for potential moves that could surface during the season.
Q: Is there any concern about the Cardinals having two key starting pitchers, both of whom are older, cranking it up abnormally early for the WBC?
Q: Do you think the Cardinals are still in the trade market for a front end starting pitcher? That seems like something they could really use.
A: Yes, and they likely will be till July. Brace yourself. It's going to be all season.
Q: In 2023, what sort of progression should we expect vs hope for from youngsters like Mejia, Baez, Cho and any other intriguing lower level guys I'm missing?
A: If they see steady time at a Palm Beach or Peoria, that's strong. That seems about right. They're still young, still moving up. Would be good to get to a level where the pitching is ahead of them and see how they adjust and how they close that gap.