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Cardinals chat with Derrick Goold

Bring your Cardinals and MLB questions and comments, and talk to Post-Dispatch baseball writer Derrick Goold.


by Mike Smithon May 10, 2013 at 7:44 PM


  • Derrick will be here ASAP. He's dealing with a phone issue. Thanks for your patience as we all await the answer to: Why Gast instead of Wacha?
  • Greetings from what's going to be a chat-on-the-go. This is a busy Monday and because there is an early game, news to cover for the blog, and one ornery iPhone that has dominated my morning (great people at the local Apple story worked some magic. Thank you Todd Wellemeyer's brother and whatever role you had in the cloud) this chat is going to be an all-day marathon. We will go from now until first pitch, with some brief interruptions so I can do some reporting and maybe offer a different view or two of the pregame action here to the chat. Get your questions in now. I'm on my way to the home office to dig into them. It's time we had a chat ... Off we go.
  • Gast's promotion is an indicator of a few things. 1) how well he's been pitching and 2) how the Cardinals expect this to be a two-start appointment. When Wacha arrived they'll want him to do so after a little more experience in the minors and they'll want it to be more than a cameo --- at this point in the season.
  • Have you ever witnessed a more dominate pitching performance than the one turned in by Shelby Miller on Friday?
  • I have never covered a perfect game or attended a perfect game in the majors, nor have I been to a game where a pitcher retired 27 consecutive batters at any point in his game. I did cover Johan Santana's no-hitter at Citi Field last season for The Post-Dispatch, and while that will go in the record books as a no-hitter, I thought the more DOMINANT start was actually a day later when R.A. Dickey baffled and overwhelmed the Cardinals. That is one of the most dominant performances I've seen in person ... right up there with Carpenter in Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, Roger Clemens and Mark Mulder in the 10-inning duel at Busch II, and, of course, Miller's outing Friday. I agree with Matheny: We don't know if/when we'll see an outing like that again.
  • In your humble opinion, do baseball writers tend to give more weight to a Hall of Fame candidate who spent his entire career with one team?
  • Not anymore, if they ever did. I think that romantic notion is starting to fade with so many players moving around, and so many great players having a handful of jerseys on their resumes. I wouldn't be surprised if the Hall soon adopts a stance where the hat is blank. Albert Pujols may be the player who forces that idea on Cooperstown. What cap do you put on Pujols' plaque when his best, historic years were with the Cardinals but his induction will happen when he's technically an employee of the Angels? Options to consider would be no hat or a blank hat.
  • Who do you expect back first Boggs or Scrabble?
  • Boggs. The righty has four innings and no runs allowed in Memphis. Martinez had a late-game look-see yesterday in a loss to the Rockies. Class AAA will need a starter the next time through the rotation if Gast does well Tuesday. There are a lot of indicators that Boggs return is imminent. Rzepczynski has also had some solid outings there in Memphis. That's worth noting.
  • Since Tony Cruz has the easiest job in MLB, isn't really needed and the Cards are bringing back a former starter for the bullpen, how about sending TC down for another pitcher? I know one that's well-rested. Or, seriously, how about getting Cruz more work and not burning Yadi?
  • Oh, I'm not so sure that Tony Cruz has the easiest job in MLB. He does take an active part in scouting the opponent and adding to the meetings the team has with pitchers as they prep for the coming series. It was Cruz, you'll recall, who helped Molina put the dossier together on all of the Nationals hitters so that Wainwright could try a new approach with them earlier this season. Cruz has won the trust of the starters with his work off the field. That said: Yes. Yes, getting Molina a day off has becoming a recurring topic with Matheny, who continues to start him because he has faith in Molina and Molina says he wants to play. He would try to play 162 if he didn't already miss a game and now only 161 is possible. Cruz is going to start one of the games in the Mets series. That seems certain. But the mileage on Molina now is worth noting for what it means later and also where is he giving a little to gain to durability to do this.
  • Derrick, probably a different question, but I am sure you are tired of the Kozma trade questions and BP questions. I am wondering of all the Cards current minor league affiliates assuming you have attended games at some of them, where would you say is the best place to watch a game?
  • I have been to all of the full-season affiliates, and of the current affiliates the only places I haven't been are Johnson City, Tenn., and State College, Pa. I would like to see the Spikes home because I've heard raves from scouts and reporters who have been to that ballpark. The best place for a game that I've been ... well, my fondness for the backdrop at Quad Cities has been documented. Heck, I wrote a chapter about it in the book I authored. With QC out of the mix now -- the Houston Luhnows now have that affiliate -- I think it's a good pick 'em between Memphis and Springfield. The ballparks at both places are above average for minor-league ball, and the game-going experience with a sell out in Springfield is superb.
  • There has been some talk of Beltran possibly coming back next year at a reduced rate. What do you think the chance of that are, and how would that work with Tavares and a surplus of outfielders?
  • Carlos Beltran would like to remain a Cardinal. Beltran and his family have fallen for St. Louis. He has expanded his role in the community this season and he's looking to do more. Beltran has said often that he would like to re-sign and continue a title quest here. So, a lot of whether that happens or not rests with him. Is he willing to not only take a reduced salary, but also the reduced role that is ahead. Some of it will have to do with where the Cardinals decide to play Taveras and what that means for Adams and Craig and, of course, Jay. There are a lot of moving parts here and the Cardinals have internal options at every turn of the roster that says Beltran is a tough fit. But his willingness to work within those roles or within the Cardinals' means would at least be a conversation starter ...
  • Do switch-hitters try to approach hitting form different sides of the plate as a "mirror image" or do they utilize different apporoaches?
  • Depends on the hitter. But more often it's a different approach. Some hitters don't even have the same swing from opposite sides of the plate. It's like two different fingerprints.
  • How valuable is Rzep to the club? Could he be released to free up a 40 man roster spot. Do you expect he will likely be traded come July?
  • A trade is more likely than a release. Rzepczynski has value because he's the top lefty reliever on the depth chart after Choate and no prospect has been able to dislodge him from that spot.
  • Derrick, Do you have any sense of the severity of Westbrook's injury beyond what's been reported so far? Sounds like he and the club are downplaying it, but we've been down that road before. Hopefully it's nothing too serious with as well as he's been pitching this year.
  • It's a good rule of thumb that we report what we know. It does us no good to hold back information to put in the chat or just because we wanted to sound superior/omniscient elsewhere. The paper demands us to print the most important elements of what we know and the extend of an injury fits into that demand. Look at the Motte story. You can check back to the coverage of Motte's initial injury and in the next day's paper we outlined that Tommy John could be the potential outcome and why that was a possibility. There was no reason to hold that reporting back until the next day. It was important to explain then and there what could be ahead for Motte, especially when our reporting revealed that as a possibility. With Westbrook, it's irritation/inflammation in the elbow. Any elbow issue is a concern. But there are levels. There's red alert. There's yellow caution. There's green go. This is more of a chartreuse. I thought it was interesting -- and conveyed this in the paper today -- that the Cardinals were downplaying downplaying downplaying the injury and yet they felt concerned enough to a) give him a cortisone shot and b) remove him from the rotation for at least two turns. Clearly they thought it was going to take longer than five days to clear up. And then it will take an additional five days for Westbrook to get back ready to start again. This does not rise to the level of other elbow concerns -- unless he's unable to flush that irritation out and picking up a baseball by the end of this week is not likely.
  • Two-parter: How concerning is Westbrook's injury and how concerned are you with the psychological effects the injury will have on a Cards team that, prior to yesterday when it was announced, was rolling?
  • I don't think a team that has been rocked by injuries to the closer, the veteran ace and the starting shortstop are going to pack it in now. I didn't get a sense from the clubhouse yesterday that Westbrook going on the DL was the final straw, the one that does a resilient group in. They'll keep motoring. They'll keep plugging. Injuries happen. At least they have talent now in the minor-league system to address it. Why have the "best system in baseball" if you can't use it, right?
  • Any thoughts why this club is so ineffective against left-handers?
  • I wrote about that in this morning's paper. (You can check that out here: www.stltoday.com) I think it has something to do with the style of pitcher as much as the handedness of the pitcher. In recent chats, we've discussed how similar the Cardinals' lineup is when it comes to the hitter. There are righthanded hitters with below-average speed and above-average power to the other way. They have a similar approach. They go up there looking for the first pitch to drive and modify their approach from there. As Freese says in the article, pitchers do take similar approaches against the Cardinals from day to day and the ones who have had success are the ones who throw the cutters in on their hands and sinkers in at their shins. De La Rosa was able to do it with his the movement of his split-change, a pitch he was able to locate to both sides of the plate. When a lefty faces the Cardinals lineup, Carlos Beltran moves to the right side and that further adds to the lineup's similarity. This is not some report drawn out of yesterday's game either. I've heard a few scouts describe the sameness of the Cardinals lineup and, similarly, the sameness of the pitchers who give them trouble.
  • What's the report on John Gast? Finesse pitcher, etc?
  • John Gast is a fastball-changeup lefty with a good breaking ball. It's not the wipeout pitch that lefty specialists/relievers have and it's the success of mixing pitches that has kept Gast in the rotation when the Cardinals had a need for a lefty reliever to emerge from the minors. Gast had some shoulder troubles late last season, but he returned after insisting that he was healthy and showed it late in the season. Those shoulder troubles complicated his command. From the Baseball America scouting report I wrote for the 2013 Prospect Handbook: "Gast has a deceptive, whippy release that gives him the system's best pickoff move and helps his stuff play up. His fastball ranges from 87-91 mph, and he also has a solid changeup and average curveball. When he's unable to control his fastball, he slips behind in the count and into trouble."
  • (Is that awful to quote something I wrote? It feels kind of wrong. Can one plagiarize one's self?)
  • Hey thank you for doing these chats, gives me something to do at school! If this starting pitching stays the way its going, would it mark as the best in Cards history?
  • Yes, and why stop there. It would rank with the best in baseball history. There will be a sag. Count on it.
  • Oscar Taveras was hurt last night during a slide, last update I've seen he didnt have a break and looked to be day to day, that was last night, has there been any other updates on him?
  • That's still the case today. Taveras was taken for x-rays after the game yesterday and according to an official those x-rays did not show a fracture. The word attached to the injury was "sprain," and even then it was stressed that it was slight. I would imagine it's sore today and perhaps even tender to run. That's according to the description I received last night. There will be an update later today.
  • Could Benji fire it up and play again if a crisis happened like Yadi being out a few months? I bet he could hit .250. Conditioning would be an issue.
  • I get the sense that while it's taken some time, Bengi has accepted retirement and his new role as a coach. That was part of the deal when he came aboard.
  • Derrick-The way the team has been playing as of late there really is nothing to complain about. I do wonder if they might look at sending Descalso down as they did with Boggs and Zep to get some consistent AB's at AAA and bringing up Jackson. The guy isn't getting much playing time as of late due to Carp and Koz and he is not going to get better sitting on the bench. thx
  • That's a possibility. But would you replace him with Jackson? That makes some sense based on recent performance. But Matheny has recast Descalso as the late-game defensive replacement. That is a trust position, mind you. The manager has to trust you at a variety of positions to get the job done. Yes, Descalso leads the team in errors. But he also was a Gold Glove finalist at third a few years ago, and he's played solid defense before at shortstop and plus defense at second base. The trick is to get him enough playing time for him to reliable at those positions, because if they can't rely on him as a late-game replacement then the playing time will be very scarce indeed.
  • Greta work as always Derrick. I know you can never account for injuries and obviously we are still months away from trade deadlines, but looking at the team right now, if everything stays the same, do you think an added bat off the bench from the right side would be more pressing than a reliever?
  • Greta work? That's gotta be better than Nancy Grace work, right? Is about on par with Brit Hume work? I kid. I kid. Thanks for the compliment. I'm trying to think if I've ever seen a team hurt by the addition of a plus reliever at the trade deadline. That's certainly a more impact move than tidying up the bench with a bat. The Cardinals could go either direction to fine-tune the roster. They could also be picky and see if the pitching depth they have can land the middle infielder of their desires -- not just for the stretch run in 2013 but the long run of 2014 at least, too.
  • (I was tempted to put in that poll: "In a bold move, the team convinces the PD to trade the beat writer." But I decided to keep things serious ... )
  • Thanks for the chat, DG. Carp rises from the ashes like a phoenix. Where does he fit? As far as I am concerned, just having him in the clubhouse is a huge boost, but we seem a bit loaded on the pitching front. Thanks.....
  • The Cardinals and Carpenter are in an interesting situation where they don't need him to start and they could use him as a reliever. It appears that if/when Carpenter returns and is ready for major-league duty he will take on the role that his performance earns and that is best for his health. There's some logic/opinion that it will be in the bullpen and that what starts with Carpenter as the seventh-inning answer (ala Mujica, c. 2012) could become Carpenter as a part-time closer and where it goes from there. Performance and health will decide, and those are the best possible determining factors for both parties.
  • True or False: Matt Adams will get 500 AB's for the Cardinals in 2014.
  • Derrick - I dont mind saying I was a little apprehensive when Joe stepped down from the beatwriter position - he was great - but you didnt miss a beat and enjoy your coverage and insight every bit as much ! My question relates to young players and how much (if any) influence they have in determining what role they will play in the big leagues....Ex: Rosenthall - has always maintained a preference for starting...is it kosher to ask for a trade if he is that set on it ? I realize that the big pay day influences them - but was wondering if this is ever an issue...
  • Thanks. Joe Strauss did not step down as beat writer. He and I were both offered opportunities to advance our careers in desired directions. I had the opportunity to see first-hand the level of coverage demanded from the baseball beat here at the Post-Dispatch and, I hope, contribute to elevating that level through the past nine years as a part of the beat. I had the fortune to sit between Rick Hummel and Bernie Miklasz at the ballpark almost everyday, and I count many friends in the baseball writing world who have helped me through the years understand not only what is EXPECTED when covering a team, but also what's POSSIBLE.

    Need is the biggest factor when it comes to what role a young player will have in the big leagues. Several young players are given priority tags. Taveras, Wong, Wacha, Miller before them, Rasmus before them -- all had priority status at whatever level they reached in the minors. They were going to be the player who got the lion's share of the playing time at the position they are expected to play in the majors. That's not always true for players who make a big-league lineup. Allen Craig, who has $31-million contract now as the cleanup hitter, was once pushed aside from third base to make room for Brett Wallace. Shelby Miller was never pushed aside to make room for anyone in a rotation. But Seth Maness could have been. He's done alright. If a player doesn't like the role he has when he gets to the majors .... tough. A real good way to take care of that is to not perform. The player will go back to the minors real quick. It isn't kosher to ask for a trade, though malcontents can get them. The best route for a young player is to put in the time, put in the performance, and get freedom -- by being traded, non-tendered or reaching free agency. Then he can choose whatever role he wants. There have been some issues in the past with this all over baseball. Players who think they can play in the majors now but are blocked (see: Howard, Ryan) or players who have an inflated sense of self. Howard is a good example. He may not have the career numbers that he would have if he debuted when he was ready for the majors. But it's impossible to say that the delay hurt him financially.
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