The Cardinals have made a number of moves that backfired in recent seasons, but they’ve caught a few breaks, too.
Remember when the Cardinals put together a deal with the Miami Marlins for slugger Giancarlo Stanton? Remember how the big fella refused to come to the STL?
At the time that made fans sad. Since then, Stanton has suffered one injury after another for the New York Yankees as his career veered off course.
These days he is nursing a calf muscle strain that could linger into the regular season. “It's disappointing, because you want to get guys going and built up,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters. “But it's just a little bump in the road and we're equipped to handle it.”
Last season, Stanton played just 18 regular-season games and five more in the postseason after suffering a biceps strain followed by a knee strain – and then a quad strain in the playoffs.
This was nothing new for Stanton, as Dayn Perry noted for CBSSports.com:
The slugger has dealt with injury problems throughout his career, as he's been on the IL six times, not counting last year's transfer from the 10-day to the 60-day IL because of that aforementioned knee injury. Just three times in 10 seasons has Stanton played in 150 or more games. Not counting Stanton's rookie season of 2010 (he wasn't called up until June), he's played in less than 125 games in five of nine seasons. Absent all that missed time, Stanton might have already topped 400 home runs for his career (he has 308 entering 2020).
The Yankees originally acquired Stanton from the Marlins prior to the 2018 season. He's signed through 2028 and still owed more than $200 million on the $325 million extension he signed with Miami in November 2014. Needless to say, Stanton's penchant for injury raises concerns about that salary obligation moving forward.
Bill DeWitt Jr. is thankful that's not his problem. He's got enough bad contracts to pay as it is.
Here is what folks are writing about Our National Pastime:
Tom Verducci, SI.com: “Gravity is a powerful force. Start with this: The past 10 defending world champions won an average of 11 fewer games after their title season. Only one of those 10 teams won more games in defense of its title: the 2018 Astros, who improved by two wins. Seven of the past 10 defending champs never even made the playoffs. So there is something going on in recent years that makes it very hard to defend a title. Now, remember, the Nationals didn't even win their division. They won 93 games, four fewer than Atlanta. They lost their best hitter, Anthony Rendon. They rely enormously on starting pitching, and last year had incredible health in that regard to withstand what statistically was the worst bullpen ever for a postseason team. Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez all made at least 27 starts. Never in the franchise's history have four players made that many starts in back-to-back years. All four of them are in their 30s. The Nationals on paper have enough talent to get back to the postseason. Recent history tells us they may be due for a correction.”
Will Leitch, MLB.com: “It is a cruel irony that, after years of Joey Votto being brilliant, the best thing the Reds had going on, the year he finally got some support from his pitching staff was the year he stopped hitting. It was downright bizarre to watch Votto in 2019. This Hall of Fame-caliber hitter seemed to lose his hit tool entirely, with his OBP dropping 60 full points (and 100 points from '17) and his walks dropping at a crazy rate. Tellingly, the man who was intentionally walked 20 times in '17 only got two in '19. Votto typically has more walks than strikeouts, but in 2019, he had 47 more K's than walks, a crazy number that couldn’t possibly repeat itself. Votto might not be the superstar he once was. But this is still a guy who led the National League in OBP seven times, including three years in a row from 2016-18. He has plenty of thunder in that lineup around him, and a team that, at last, is gearing up to win right now. Votto could be one of the key players in the National League. Vintage Votto might just get Cincinnati to the postseason.”
Michael Baumann, The Ringer: “Last year’s Tampa Bay Rays didn’t exactly have a set lineup; apart from Willy Adames, who played shortstop no matter the situation, nobody played more than 125 games at a given position. Even everyday starters like Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows moved from spot to spot to suit the situation, while injuries and Tampa Bay’s characteristic roster churn mixed up manager Kevin Cash’s toolbox even further. This year, the Rays’ setup somehow might be even more convoluted. Pham is gone, off to San Diego in a trade that brought back right fielder Hunter Renfroe, who’s a good defender and hits for power but sported a .289 OBP last year with a massive platoon split—he hit lefties better than righties to the tune of more than 170 points of OPS. The Rays also added former Cardinals slugger José Martínez, another right-handed corner guy who hits for even more power, has an even more severe platoon split, and plays zero defense. Those two will fit somehow with Meadows, incumbent first basemen Nate Lowe and Ji-Man Choi, and fellow newcomer Yoshitomo Tsutsugo—all four of whom are left-handed hitters. The Rays also look set to platoon in center field, where they’ve added a righty who can’t hit (Manuel Margot) to go along with their lefty who can’t hit (Kevin Kiermaier). This puzzle would be simpler if the Rays’ roster were expanded to 32 players and not 26, but perhaps the next month will provide some insights into how, exactly, Cash aims to set up his lineup.”
David Schoenfield, ESPN.com: “Let's be honest here: If (Addison) Russell had hit better in 2019, he wouldn't be floating out here in free agency, even with the domestic violence suspension in his recent past. Russell's best season came in the Cubs' 2016 championship year, when he produced a 4.1-WAR season at age 22 thanks to some pop (21 home runs) and superb defense. He's still just 26 years old, so it's not unrealistic to think there's still something here, especially with the plus glove, but the bat has regressed. Is he still one of the 40 best shortstops on the planet? Probably. Will any team give him an opportunity, or need to give him that opportunity? If so, it probably will be in the minors and he'll have to show improvement at the plate.”
“I can talk about high school guys, I can talk about college guys in this year’s draft and things like that. A lot of good pitchers in this year’s draft. A lot of good position guys as well. I really enjoy that side of the game. Maybe because I enjoy the game of baseball. But I do like that side of the game because I’ve been there. It’s tough. You’re going to grind through the Minor Leagues. You’re going to grind through the college ranks and things like that.”
Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, to MLB.com, on studying baseball’s prospect pool.
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