Greetings. Happy Black Monday. Welcome to the final Cardinals Chat to be Named Later of the 2013 calendar. Same as it ever was around the holidays for the Cardinals. They did their shopping earlier this season and they haven't been handcuffed by the Tanaka Watch, baseball's answer to Waiting for Godot. I'm told the midpoint between the final pitch of the 2013 season and the first bullpens of the 2014 spring training just passed. The Hall of Fame vote is on the horizon. And I'm sure there are some questions clinking around the chimneys still. Off we go.
A community project today: Submit some New Year's resolutions for the 2014 Cardinals and I'll collect the best of them for a single entry this week. Simply make sure to mark your entry as a resolution and put in all caps the player you're making the resolution for ... Example:
MOLINA: Resolve to take more time off when offered to do more with less and not risk the same knee troubles that have interrupted previous seasons.
Something like that. Only, you know, better.
That's pretty close. If you go over, you're talking .349ish.
It does not appear much. I've wondered in the past if Colorado would come calling to lure Mozeliak back to his home state as a president or some position with the chance to build a better ballclub and philosophy there. What they've done there hasn't worked consistently and perhaps a fresh look is needed. Mozeliak has repeatedly said that he considers St. Louis home and the Cardinals the franchise he grew up in. There's the chance for him to grow old with it, too. When h signed his most recent extension he mentioned the need in the coming years to discuss a succession plan of sorts, one that would presumably move him into a upper management role. He already has the responsibilities that some presidents have, and he certainly has the interest in the business side of baseball beyond building the ballclub. Mozeliak mentioned, by name, the assistant general manager, Michael Girsch, as one candidate for the role. There are others in the organization who would like that opportunity, starting with Matt Slater, the director of player personnel, and Dan Kantrovitz, who is working his way up baseball's ladder and now serves as the team's director of amateur scouting.
Some of free agents now, others are waiting on their paperwork to be validated so that teams know whether they count against the international spending limit or are true free agents. Diaz can sign with teams in mid-February after serving his year suspension for faulty paperwork.
Chris Carpenter? I don't know who will be on that first ballot. I'm a year or two away. But I do have to stay employed during that time. It is consecutive years.
Those concerns are warranted. They found other ways to score in 2013.
And South Florida will be brighter because of your arrival. Though, how well do Booche's burgers travel? Their delicacy is based a lot on coming right off the griddle.
Washington. Fister is a big addition.
Impossible to know because there will undoubtedly be an injury that influences the roster. And it could be ... no one, really. Taveras will be given a chance to win a spot on the roster coming out of spring training and could do what Matt Adams did. He'll make the team as a bench bat and then, as needed, make starts and get at-bats. Bench composition could shift with Taveras on it, or the Cardinals could go with one fewer pitcher to start the season because of the schedule. There are a lot of moving parts, as they say, and no clear answer for who will be nudged aside. When it happens, you can bet the answer will be obvious: health or production will give him away.
There is more evidence that suggests Bourjos is primed for a strong year. Start with the fact that the Cardinals are eager to give him the playing time, and he should be healthy to take advantage of it. Health is the major question -- not just having it, but keeping it.
The needs have been addressed. The depth is there. But titles are won in the summer, not winter. It remains to be seen how all of these parts fit together, and the Cardinals -- while celebrated for the moves they've made this offseason -- are not without their questions.
Sure. That's possible. The Cardinals could stash Martinez at Class AAA as the No. 6 starter, and it wouldn't be the first time that the team has done that with a starter they view as the Next Man Up. They would do it to help his development. But they would only do that if they think they have a better or the same level option for the bullpen. That's going to take one of the other pitchers zooming into the picture during spring training. It's possible. Butler, for example. A few years ago, a young pitcher was in a similar spot and getting starts in Class AAA was considered the tiebreaker only if all other things are created equal. Looking at Martinez's talent, you can see how difficult it would be for the Cardinals to say all things are created equal.
That's not the only consideration, and it might not be the primary one. He's on the 40-man roster which means that his options will start if/when he's sent down to Class AAA. There is also the matter of him gaining service time and working toward arb eligibility and free agency. That would happen whether he's in the lineup or on the bench. Think of Taveras 2014 as you did Adams 2014. Adams performed during spring training and left the club believing that he's "proved everything he needed to at Triple-A." Taveras has hit at every level he's been, and what he would get from a return to Triple-A would be playing time, experience in the outfield, and a chance to prove he can handle the rigors of day-to-day work coming back from injury, all without his clock ticking. Adams was in the same spot last year. His performance made it so there was no question he belonged in the majors.
The Cardinals do have an equation that allows them to compare players, apples to apples. It's a value-based view of the players, and a big part of the value that a player brings to the team is control. That means years of control (including arbitration) and it also means options available. The pitcher the Cardinals recently signed to a major-league contract has all three option years remaining. They put a value on that, because it allows them to move him from the majors to the minors this coming year without risking losing him. He is certain depth. Depth has ... yep, value. I get questions a lot about why the Cardinals don't flip some of their "blocked" players for lower-minor talent. I don't get that line of reasoning. Why would you flip Maness for a lower-minors prospect? A known quantity has to have more value than a promise. You don't give away talent for a lottery ticket. You keep talent for depth. The Cardinals aren't in a rebuilding mode, nor are they in a charitable mood. The risk of flipping a known talent for a prospect just to clear some of the redundancy doesn't compute for me.
I open the floor here for somebody to make that case. Please provide examples of where it has happened and when it has benefited another team.
Wait? They all had 20 year careers? They spent two decades each and retired, hand in hand together, after the 2031 season? Wow. If they're careers go that long, they moved around. I think your best bet is that one of them -- likely Wacha -- goes in with a Cardinals cap.
More defensive shifts will be the most obvious addition.
The 10-vote maximum does seem ridiculous this year. But the way to fix that for future elections is not just by simply uncapping the ballot and letting voters put as many as they want on the ballot, whether that's five for some or 55 for others. Biggio, Glavine, Mussina and of course Raines would be some of the obvious candidates that would appear on my ballot. Thomas would, too. I've come to realize I had a blind spot for how truly great his career was when I was younger. I find the comparisons I seen recently between Votto and Thomas interesting.
Pete Kozma is still around, yes.
If not, they should. The DH is already an increasing part of their world with the perpetual interleague play that was introduced last season.
The question presented as a fact that they would all be exceptionally good. On that premise, I just went with who is likely to spend the majority of their career with the Cardinals if they are as exceptionally good as the question stated. The odds of all three being exceptionally good, Cooperstown good, are obviously a lot longer than the question implied. It's Christmas. We can suspend disbelief for one question, right?
Neat is one word for it. Predictable would be another. Don't forget Izturis, Daryl Jones ....
Wacha will be good. He must develop a consistent breaking ball to complete his arrival.